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Published: Friday, May 20, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Family restores Stanwood man’s dream Mustang as he battles cancer

  • Before its recent restoration, Robert Kash's 1966 Mustang Coupe needed paint, a new interior and a mechanical makeover.

    Photos courtesy of Robert Kash

    Before its recent restoration, Robert Kash's 1966 Mustang Coupe needed paint, a new interior and a mechanical makeover.

  • Robert Kash's 1966 Mustang Coupe, painted "Snakeskin Green," was recently restored by his son Michael Kash and his son-in-law Don Avila.

    Photos courtesy of Robert Kash

    Robert Kash's 1966 Mustang Coupe, painted "Snakeskin Green," was recently restored by his son Michael Kash and his son-in-law Don Avila.

  • Robert Kash (center) with his 1966 Mustang Coupe, which was restored recently by his son Michael Kash (left) and son-in-law Don Avila. Robert Kash, wh...

    Photos courtesy of Robert Kash

    Robert Kash (center) with his 1966 Mustang Coupe, which was restored recently by his son Michael Kash (left) and son-in-law Don Avila. Robert Kash, who lives in the Stanwood area, is battling colon cancer.

He calls it "my pony." For Robert Kash, it's a dream ride.
It's been a dream since the Stanwood area man was a teenager -- and was lucky enough to drive a brand new Ford Mustang.
"I was living in California when I was in high school. I worked for a gentleman who ordered a 1964-and-a-half Mustang," Kash said Tuesday. "He wanted me to go down to L.A. and pick it up. I drove that Mustang from L.A. to Pomona. That felt so good."
These days, the 65-year-old is not feeling great. In August, Kash was diagnosed with cancer. He is undergoing chemotherapy as he battles stage IV colon cancer. The late-stage diagnosis means "surgery is not a viable option," he said.
"I'm a fighter. I'm not giving up," said Kash, who lives with his wife, Nancy, at Lake Martha in the Seven Lakes area. "It's just another phase of my life."
Kash's already upbeat outlook recently got a high-octane boost. A dream came true when his son Michael Kash and son-in-law Don Avila presented him with a meticulously restored 1966 Mustang Coupe.
"His spirits have been lifted greatly," said Mike Kash, 42, of Gold Bar. "He's got his calendar marked with car shows."
Since 1997, Robert Kash had been a Mustang owner, but it wasn't a car he could drive or show off. "I bought that car in 1997," he said. "I think I paid $3,000 for it at the time."
Kash and his wife lived in Monroe in 1997. With 5 acres and a barn, he had room to work on the car. He also had the luxury of time to finish the project. But with four children grown and gone, the couple moved to a smaller house at Lake Martha. There was no storage space for the old Mustang, which had a dented body, faded paint, mechanical problems and a worn-out interior.
Don Avila, 33, is married to the Kashes' youngest child, Marni. They live in Granite Falls. For years, the old Mustang was parked on their property.
"We parked it where it wouldn't be visible from the road," Avila said. "It just sat there, his dream car."
When Robert Kash told his family about the seriousness of his illness, Avila wasted no time.
"We couldn't let him not enjoy this," Avila said. Soon he was on the phone with Michael Kash. The Gold Bar man works as a service technician for Speedway Chevrolet in Monroe, and also has his own car shop.
Avila hauled the car, which couldn't be driven, to Gold Bar on a trailer. Michael Kash spent months working on the transmission and engine, and in acquiring new parts. "Don and I worked on it constantly," he said. Michael Kash believes the car's in-line 6-cylinder engine is original.
Avila works in an aircraft paint shop. He did much of the exterior work. Doors and panels were replaced, and other body work was needed.
They didn't keep the project secret from Robert Kash, who paid for much of the work. "I think my dad had set aside about $10,000 to do it, for parts," Michael Kash said.
The paint job was done by a friend of Avila's, C.T. Grubbs. Instead of a Ford stock color, he used "Snakeskin Green," a color Robert Kash said had been used on Dodge Vipers.
Once the car had new paint, the restorers then kept it secret from Robert Kash. Michael Kash would send his father "teaser pictures" via Facebook, showing small details.
On a trip to California, Avila said, Robert Kash asked to see "pictures of the pony." Avila, who has a 4-year-old daughter, used his phone to send a photo of a toy pony.
The finished car was revealed a few weeks ago at a family celebration in Gold Bar. "Bob was stunned. I'd never seen him cry, but he was crying," Avila said.
"I had no words to express exactly what the boys did. It's really heart-crushing," Robert Kash said.
He said he drives the Mustang "whenever it's sunny outside." He took it to a car show in Burlington last weekend. "Oh yeah -- I go out driving and see a lot of thumbs up," he said.
"Bob is a wonderful, wonderful guy. It was truly a labor of love," Avila said. "We're not happy about the reason we had to do it as fast as we did."
Michael Kash sees the project as a long overdue gift. "It's not often we get a chance to give something back to our parents," he said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Story tags » StanwoodDiseasesPeople

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