Janet Hough and Victor Reilly own and run Bucket Panels in Moorabbin, and have been together for over 43 years. Throughout their journey, Janet and Victor have remained diehard hot-car fans. They also had a lot of fun racing Honda Odysseys for many years, plus a bit of touring on their Harley-Davidson. And while a number of cars have come and gone, the one street machine that has steadfastly remained is Janet’s beloved 1966 Mustang.
Having first featured the bright yellow fastback in our June 1986 issue, Street Machine couldn’t resist catching up with Janet and Victor to see what the three of them have been up to over the ensuing 37 years.
First published in the August 2023 issue of Street Machine
You’ve owned the Mustang for a very long time!
JH: Our daughter Raewyn is about to turn 40, and I’ve had the car since before she was born. I never thought I’d be able to afford a Mustang; however, a mother had gone guarantor on a car loan for her son, who’d stopped making payments. She just wanted out of it, so I was able to pick it up in ’83 for just $3500.
VR: We did the original build at Bucket Panels. Jan initially wanted it to be black, but we convinced her to paint it yellow, and it’s stayed that way ever since.
It certainly did very well at its first outing.
JH: Yes, Top Coupe and Top Ford at the ’86 Nationals. We nearly didn’t make it. Towing it up to Canberra, the trailer got the sways and nearly jack-knifed. We went across the road and off through some trees before coming to a stop. Luckily, we managed to get it back on the road.
VR: This wasn’t the first time the car was nearly destroyed. It was almost finished for the ’84 Nationals when it suffered an engine bay fire, which almost burnt it to the ground.
What about after the Nationals?
JH: We did a few shows through the next couple of years. It went in and out of storage a couple of times, as we’d bought a house that didn’t have a garage.
VR: We also did the ’92 Nationals at Calder Park. The bonnet flipped up while cruising around the Thunderdome. I took it back to the shop, repaired and painted it overnight, and had it back at Calder the next morning ready for judging.
What came first: your relationship or the car?
JH: We were already going out. We’re good friends of Carol and David Ryan of Rare Spares and met at David’s 30th.
VR: After we started going out, I built an XT Fairmont for Jan, which was sold off to build the Mustang.
Ever thought of selling the Mustang?
JH: Never! When we moved house, it had no carpets. Victor’s mum kept saying, “Sell the car, buy some carpet.” But no, we lived with bare concrete floors for years rather than sell it. We’re going to hand it down to Raewyn, even though BMWs are more her thing. However, her husband Dion is very happy to take it, along with all of our other cars – he loves them!
VR: You never sell them. Once you’ve built a nice car and sell it, you’ll never replace it – you’ll never have another one again.
What’s been the reaction to the car over the years?
JH: I’ve had old boyfriends come looking for me at shows to say hi after recognising the car. Also, for years I’d be out picking up parts for the shop, and I’d see a big poster of the Mustang in reception – it was kinda weird.
VR: We’ve met so many really nice people through the car world. People like Dave Ryan and Alan Hale, plus many other lifelong friends. It’s a real ice-breaker; people will come up to talk to you about your car.
It’s still in fantastic condition!
JH: We gave it a mini-rebuild about 10 years ago. Victor made it more driver friendly; he nanna-fied it for me. I am, after all, 72 now!
VR: Yeah, after years and years in storage, all the chrome had corroded and the paint and lost its pop. Steven from Bucket Panels repainted it [in XD/XE Blaze Yellow], and I got my good friend David Young at Huntingdale Electroplating to redo all the chrome. The engine was rebuilt with alloy heads, new cam and the original tunnel ram swapped for a single four, without any loss of power. The trans was also rebuilt, the diff got a new ratio and we added power rack-and-pinion steering and air conditioning. There’s also billet rocker covers, billet bonnet hinges and an alloy radiator to stop it from getting hot. Inside, there’s km/h Dakota gauges and a powerful Pioneer sound system, while a Mustang console and T-bar shifter replace the old B&M. The carpets have been replaced, but it’s still the same trim.
JH: It wasn’t an easy car to drive, but now it drives beautifully – 20-25 miles to the gallon, cruising with air con on, the stereo blasting, one hand on the steering wheel. It’s really lovely.
Who drives it more these days?
JH: I still love driving it. However, Victor looks after it and drives it more often than I do.
I understand ‘JANS66’ is the only Ford in garage?
VR: I had a really nice FC Holden back in the day, and I just seem to build Chevs – probably built 50 cars over the years. I’m still building cars; always got four or five on the go at any one time. We’ve got a ’64 Impala hardtop that we use for weddings and formals, and I’m nearly finished a ’64 Corvette Stingray. It’s going to be very nice; it’s got an 800hp supercharged LS in it.
Ever thought about taking the Mustang back to Canberra for Summernats?
JH: Canberra in January is hard for us, as that time of year is all about family. These days, we prefer driving it to showing it.