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A wrench and a dream: How one student is rebuilding a 1965 Ford Mustang

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

By Andrew Carroll, Studio M staff // 

Mike Pigott and his 1965 Ford Mustang. (Photo by Andrew Carroll)

Mike Pigott is a 21-year-old engineering student at MTSU who has been chipping away at building his dream car for over eight years.

Even though the car isn’t finished, Pigott is very close to achieving his goal of building his first running car from scratch.

“The car actually cost $2,400,” Pigott said of the Mustang, which was found in a back field of man’s house, where it sat for over 10 years. (Usually a 1965 Ford Mustang in decent condition with a 289 cubic inch V8 can sell for over $35,000) Even though the car wasn’t in decent condition, that did not deter Mike from building his car.

“Every year I just put in my nickels and dimes — whatever I have,” Pigott continued. “If I had to give an estimate on how much money I’ve put in the car, I’d say upwards of $10,000, easy.”

What Pigott is building is a resto-mod, or a classic car that has updated with components like an anti-lock brake system, or ABS, and power steering. He also plans on giving it a nice paint job to pretty the car up to where he can enter it in car shows and drag races and come out with a prize.  

“The current goal is to get it running,” he said. “I’m very close. The goal is to get it running, drive it down the street and have a blast doing it.”

Project cars like Pigott’s 1965 Mustang are excellent ways to spend time and money to make something truly amazing, but it is a largely known fact in car culture that a car project may never be finished.

Even the iconic cars seen in movies like The Fast and the Furious still get time and attention from mechanics wanting to sculpt a bigger and better car. However the daunting thought of never being finished does not stop Mike.

Mike’s family and friends are big supporters of his work by occasionally helping him in the shop by holding a wrench, but the biggest supporter is himself.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Mike’s mother, Amy Brown. “At first I was kind of hesitant, but he’s learned skills he didn’t know he had by going to different car meets and seeing older gentlemen that work on cars on a regular basis. I think it’s a very good thing.”

“I haven’t really worked on it a lot, but I like it,” said Mike’s 17-year-old sister Danielle Pigott.

Pigott has seen trials and tribulations like no other by building a classic car from scratch, going to the length of rebuilding a 302-cubic-inch engine from a 1980s Fox Body Mustang to put in his car to spending every last dollar on car parts. Building a car is no easy task, but one day in the very near future, he will hear the roar of an engine turn over an breathe a sigh of relief as his hand built car comes one step closer becoming his dream car.

Andrew Carroll is a journalism student at Middle Tennessee State University. 

Studio M, a project of the College of Media and Entertainment at MTSU, allows student journalists to be published statewide and nationwide. It’s made possible through grants and donations from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Tennessean and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

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