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How a rivet brought Nono's car home (6 photos)

For Christian Gassi, a quick fix to stop the grill of his grandfathers car from rattling meant more enjoyment out of a car that holds a special place for him and his family

It was a car that has been a special part of his life and two details brought the car back into his life.

Christian Gassi’s 1969 Mustang has been a part of his family for years and it all started when his grandfather Del Pettenuzzo bought it.

“His neighbour worked at Ford and the car came in brand new from the factory to the dealership,” Gassi said. “His neighbour took it home and my Nono saw it in the driveway that day and took it off his hands. He was technically the second owner, but (the neighbour) had only owned it a couple of days.”

Pettenuzzo eventually sold the car, but it was a decision he regretted.

“He had it for a while and then decided to sell it,” Gassi said. “He always regretted selling it. It’s a beautiful car. He was driving down the road one day and saw a black Mustang Mach 1 sitting in someone’s driveway. He went into the driveway and looked underneath and saw the details of the car that made it realize it was (the same one he owned).”

Among those details was a rivet he had put in the grill to stop it from rattling when the car was being driven.

“He looked at that and realized it was (the same car) and knocked on the door,” Gassi said.

After buying the car, Pettenuzzo restored the paint back to its original colour.

Gassi spoke of how his grandfather “was a big part of raising me.”

“That car was his baby and I idolized him,” Gassi added. “I had always wanted that car, even since I was little. His one request was when he passed away was to keep it in the family so me, my mom and my stepdad made sure that happened. Now we get to take care of it, just like he did.”

Pettenuzzo died in September, but with the car still in the family, Gassi enjoys hearing stories about his grandfather from people who knew him after they see the car.

Gassi’s memories of his grandfather are plentiful, but there are always new stories when he meets people who knew Pettenuzzo well.

“Its great hearing that kind of stuff,” Gassi said. “That car hadn’t been seen in the Sault in maybe 15 years because he had moved out to Haviland and never brought the car into town. Now everyone is seeing it and the memories are starting to come out about him bringing it to the car shows. I guess his brother had the same one but a different colour so they’re all telling me these different stories. It’s cool to hear them. It makes me happy that people are enjoying looking at the car and I get to hear all those memories about my Nono that I didn’t know.”

What’s it like to have the car that his grandfather owned while he was growing up?

“I’ve dreamed about that car since I was five years old,” Gassi said. “To have it now is like a dream come true.”

Brad Coccimiglio

About the Author: Brad Coccimiglio

A graduate of Loyalist College’s Sports Journalism program, Brad Coccimiglio’s work has appeared in The Hockey News as well as online at in addition to regular freelance work with SooToday before joining the team full time.
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