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California Special Mustang voted Coolest Cruiser at Fort Macleod’s Spring Breakout

george bailie

George Bailie of Lethbridge with his 1968 Ford California Special Mustang, which was judged Coolest Cruiser at the Fort Macleod Spring Breakout.

A 1968 Ford California Special Mustang drove off with the top prize Saturday from the annual Spring Breakout show ‘n’ shine in Fort Macleod.
The Mustang owned by George Bailie of Lethbridge was judged best of show among the more than 70 vintage and custom vehicles that lined Fort Macleod’s historic Main Street.
Bailie has owned the blue Mustang 39 years and has collected a trophy case full of prizes at car shows, but it was only bad fortune for the car’s previous owner that put it in Bailie’s possession.
Bailie saw the car in Calgary and made the owner an offer, but was turned down.
“About two years later he phoned me and asked if I was still interested to buy it and I said sure,” Bailie explained. “He said, ‘I’ll give you a good deal.’ What had happened to it was it had been stolen and stripped. They had taken all the chrome and the bumpers and the seats and everything out of it. All it was, was basically the shell.”
“He had bought all the parts to re-do it, but he said he was just sick and tired of it and just wanted to get rid of it.”
Bailie had to sit on a five-gallon pail to drive the once-beautiful car home, because it no longer had seats.
Bailie said despite the car’s poor condition, he didn’t think twice about buying it.
“It took about 30 years to do it,” Bailie said of the restoration. “It took a long time.”
The Mustang sat in his driveway, and since he did not have a garage he could only work on it when the weather was good.
Restoration progress was slow, but Bailie never wavered in his commitment to restore the car.
“I always liked the style of them,” Bailie said of the California Special Mustang. “My friend had one he bought new in Lethbridge. I tried to buy his car a few times but he wouldn’t sell it.”
Bailie at one point promised his grandson the car would be ready for his 16th birthday, and it was. Bailie did as much of the work himself as possible, and while it would have been easier — and cheaper — to buy one that had already been restored he takes satisfaction in the finished product.
Bailie, who is a member of the Porcupine Hills Classic Cruisers in Claresholm, takes the Mustang to as many shows as possible.
Along the way, he has collected about 40 trophies for first place or best of show.
Showing off his prized car never gets old.