A Mustang Historian
A Mustanger A Great Friend.
By Craig Cunningham
Mustang Owners Club of California
I first met Bob in 1995 when he came to one of our MOCC general club meetings. At that time, he was a senior captain for United Airlines and flew worldwide, lived with his wife Joyce in La Crescenta and owned a large commercial building where he stored a number of Ford vehicles.
Bob lived for cars, particularly Mustangs. In 1995, Bob owned a superb 1966 Mustang convertible, a 1957 Thunderbird and a 1970 Cougar Convertible and was always looking for other Fords from the 1950 to 1970 era.
Bob was a very giving person and volunteered to assist other club members with many car projects including my 1966 coupe. He participated in almost all club activities and had a great time meeting members and answering restoration questions. On many occasions Bob was a guest speaker at our monthly meetings and really spellbound our members with his terrific knowledge and anecdotes. Bob regularly attended our officer meetings and served as a director of the club. Bob also worked with Lee Iacocca on a variety of Mustang projects and was the driving force behind the Lee Iacocca Award.
In 1996, Bob located the first production Mustang coupe in Riverside CA. Recognizing the importance of the car, Bob purchased it and began a total restoration. The car had a great history having been incorrectly shipped to White Horse Alaska where it sat in the show room unsold for two years and then went through thirteen owners before Bob. He did not restore the car to only be displayed in shows. Bob wanted but to give other mustangers an opportunity to see and enjoy the car as it was originally built. The car was first shown at our Woodley Park show, then on to the Knott’s Berry Farm show, the Peterson Museum, Vista Ford shows and best of all when it was on display in the lobby of the Airtel Plaza Hotel at our 2009 MCA reginal show.
Bob was an excellent author who often contributed to our club magazine, The Running Horse. However, he will be most remembered as an author, for the outstanding writing of the “Mustang Genesis” book that received worldwide distribution and acclaim.
I had the distinct honor of having many lunches with Bob and have been a house guest at his new home in Escondido. It was always great fun to tour Bob’s eight-car garage and drool over his four-post car lift.
In November 2019, Bob was a guest of Ford at the” Ford vs. Ferrari” movie which was shown at the 20th Century Fox Studio. Bob’s coupe was one of the automotive stars of the film.
One of Bob’s other interests was traveling with his wife Joyce. In 2019, Bob enjoyed a trip to Italy and was also a guest with the club at our yearly Palm Springs cruise.
Bob enjoyed auto auctions whether big or small. In 2019, he auctioned off his 1964 ½ Mustang coupe.
Bob also enjoyed the opportunity to use one of my personal watercraft near Fresno. I can still see his grin while traveling over the water at 60MPH!
One of my best recollections of my relationship with Bob was when he invited me to accompany him and his first Mustang Coupe to the Beverly Hills estate of Lee Iacocca to have Mr. Iacocca see the 1964 ½ coupe and pose for some outstanding photos.
As you can see, Bob Fria was one great friend and I will have those memories to look back on for the rest of my life. And yes, the world has lost one of the most dynamic human beings of all time! Bob, keep all the cars in heaven running perfectly. There will be an inspection and judging shortly.
Do you remember?
Photos courtesy of Pat Fitzgerald