A FORD being burnt to the ground by vandals wouldn’t normally attract worldwide attention. But the torching of a classic Mustang Mk 1 in America has caused a public outcry and a mass outbreak of generosity: thousands of dollars of donations have poured in.
Well-wishers sickened by the act of mindless vandalism have contributed more than $11,800 (£9,000) to a GoFundMe campaign – despite the wrecked car being insured.
The orange Mustang had been restored by Fred Welcome and given to his grandson, Nino, for his seventh birthday. Nino suffers from Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, a rare condition that affects his mobility and speech.
Nino had nicknamed the car “the Pumpkin” and had his wheelchair and walking frame painted to match the Mustang’s vibrant colour. His family would tell him bedtime stories that involved Nino and his adventures in the Mustang.
After the family held a garage sale, the 1970 cult car was parked overnight on the driveway, outside the family home, in Springfield, Missouri.
At around 3am in the morning neighbours spotted that it was on fire and called the fire brigade. Despite a quick response, much of the Mustang was damaged.
“It’s easily his most prized possession in the world,” said Nino’s father, Brett. “He loves it more than anything, except his family.”
“The car can be replaced, but his feelings for it — it’s like his whole life,” said Nino’s mother, Tonia.
Brett Welcome told Driving: “We’ve gotten some pretty good leads on the arsonists — hopefully they will lead to an arrest. The outreach has been amazing. I’m a pretty stoic guy, and it has brought a few tears to my eyes, the goodness that is coming from all over. Nino’s car will be restored, I have no doubt. And Nino has made friends all over the world now.”
Brett added that they told Nino that sometimes bad people do bad things, and that the car would be sent for repairs so it could be returned “new and improved”.
Vandals are reported to have smashed a rear window and thrown lit fireworks into the cabin. The incident took place last week, during a spate of arson attacks on the same day.
One donor to the GoFundMe campaign, Cody Draper, said “This is like someone setting a da Vinci painting on fire. I hope your son can see that car restored to its former glory!”