Legendary Sleeper

Muscle Car Review|December 2019

Legendary Sleeper
A Special-Order Q-Code Custom 500
Richard Truesdell

The year 1966 is remembered by many as the pinnacle of Ford’s Total Performance Era. Jimmy Clark had just won the 1965 Indianapolis 500 in his Ford-powered Lotus 38, the first win ever at the Brickyard by a rear-engined car. And just over a year later, Ford won its first 24 Hours of Le Mans in the famous staged One-Two-Three finish.

In February 1966, jet airplane mechanic Don Revere Smith walked into Hayward Ford, the San Francisco Bay Area’s legendary Ford/Shelby performance dealership, to special-order a truly unique, full size muscle car. After talking with Roy Miller and Roy Boynton, two of the high-performance sales specialists at Hayward Ford, Don selected a Custom 500 two-door sedan in Nightmist Blue. But rather than ordering it with a 289, 352, or 390 V-8 and loading it up with power-robbing options, he chose the then-new 428ci FE V-8 and the heavy-duty C6 Cruise-O-Matic three-speed automatic transmission.

So began what would be a five-decades-long love affair with his fabulous Ford that only ended with Don’s passing in 2018 at the age of 97. The story of that 52-year journey comes from the car’s second and current owner, Peter Batagios.

“I met Don and the 428 about 18 years ago,” says Peter. “I was in a small parking lot with my wife Anne’s occasional track car, a rare 1997 Acura Type R. I was worried when I saw the 428 trundling in and aiming for the small spot next to me. Then I can hear that Ford. I looked over at the 428 badge and wondered, How did he get that in that car?

“He noticed that I noticed. He was smiling and said, ‘You know what it is?’

“I said I did, and before I could get a word out he said, ‘It’s not for sale!’

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December 2019