By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
He placed a "For Sale" sign in the window. Then he took it down. Again the sign went up. Again, it came down.
But on Saturday, Greg Lamica finally parted with the red 1997 Ford Mustang GT.
"It's hard because you fall in love with the vehicles and to ultimately part with it is hard," said Lamica, of Austintown. "I've been struggling with it for a year now."
Lamica, with his wife, Ann, and 12-year-old son, Mark, attended the Mustang Club of America National Mustang Stampede Car Show at the Holiday Inn MetroPlex on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Hosted by the Mahoning Valley Mustangs, it is the first time the national show has come to the area. Lamica was one of 308 Mustang owners from across the nation who showed off a car at the event.
Most were for show, but a few, like Lamica's were for sale. One, a 1968 Shelby GT350 in "Acapulco blue," had a dashboard signed by designer Carroll Shelby. Asking price was $46,500 -- or another muscle car.
Some owners paid extra registration fees to have their cars shown inside the hotel. There, a 1970 Shelby GT500 convertible, showing off all original parts, was valued at $150,000.
It wasn't for sale.
John Hougelman, who co-chaired the national event with fellow Mahoning Valley Mustangs member Joe Horne, said all proceeds from registration fees and a Chinese auction will be donated to Forum Health Tod Children's Hospital.
He wasn't sure how much this year's event would net but said regional shows in the area have raised $12,000 for the hospital over the past four years.
Entries in the show dated back to the first year Mustangs came off the line -- 1964 -- and were judged in at least 75 different classes.
Cars came from 28 states, including California, Washington and New Mexico and had various colored license plates to prove it.
Car show regulars
Katie and Jim Engel brought their 1991 white Shelby in from Farmington Hills, Mich., a suburb of Detroit Motor City. The couple has a collection of Mustangs and Cobras and frequents car cruises and shows, not only to see cars but to meet people. Today they show off some of the same cars they showed off decades ago.
Jim Engel is a Ford quality control retiree, who worked for the auto maker for 42 years, and says that's a main reason that Mustang blood runs in his veins.
His wife said her first Mustang was a 1965 fastback. She later bought a high-performance 1969 Boss 302 so she could compete against her six brothers.
"It was probably the most affordable sports car at that time for a woman," she said. "It was a way to join the guys' world."
Hougelman said he bought his first Mustang at age 17, a 1966 yellow fastback, and he drove with a lead foot. He's had about six Mustangs over the years.
Today, he has a 1970 Mach 1, also yellow.
"This is my favorite," he said. "When I was 18 years old, it was on the showroom floor at the local dealership that I worked at. I couldn't afford it. I had my '66, but I couldn't afford a new one."
He bought the 1970 car 10 years ago, restoring it and driving it "all over," including to the Atlanta and Charlotte motor speedways.
His dream car is the 2003 Mach 1, in yellow.
The new Mach 1 was on display at the show, part of the Ford Motor Company Living Legends 2 Tour. Ford was also slated to bring in the 500 horsepower GT40 concept car, the Forty-Nine concept car, the new Thunderbird and a never-before-seen 2003 Mustang Pony.
For Lamica, his dream car is a Cobra R, a racing Cobra. In years they were built, only 300 were produced at a time, Lamica said.
His wife shakes her head when he mentions it.
"It's his only vice," she said. "I have no problem. Get what you want." (For the record, she wants a 1969 Mach 1.)
Lamica said he'll settle for a 1997 or 1998 Cobra. He likes the body style but wants to move to the Cobra for its higher horsepower and "big, big, big, big" engine.