HEREFORD — In a nondescript garage in Hereford, a man has spent hundreds of hours perfecting a 54-year-old friend for the big time.

That friend is a 1966 Ford Mustang coupe. And the multiple hours spent by 52-year-old former-mechanic-turned-coffee-shop-owner Shannon Schofield is the fulfillment of a "bucket list" item — taking a car to the Mecum Auctions and selling it.

"It's been a bucket list kind of thing for a while to do an auction car," says Schofield, who owns Jo2Go in Sierra Vista. "Why this car? Because I had it."

The Mustang was given to Schofield as payment for a paint job he did on another vehicle. The interior was about "40 to 50 percent there," he says. It was black. The exterior was blood red. It was missing a front fender. 

On a blustery Friday morning, Schofield revealed the car to the Herald/Review. It's painted in primer, the interior no longer there. He must have it in auction-ready condition — that means newly painted, shiny, pristine and downright gorgeous — by March 10. The auction runs March 11-14 in Glendale.

Since mid-January, Schofield has been spending roughly six to eight hours a day prepping the Mustang for Mecum. The car will have a new, soft black leather interior complete with the trademark ponies on the back seat. It will be outfitted with a new radio, new wheels, new suspension, power disc brakes and new tires.

The half-century-old car also will be painted taillight blur. To the untrained eye, "taillight blur" is orange. But Schofield describes it as "oranger than redline red and redder than hugger orange."

"The car needed some love and attention," Schofield said. "The engine had been rebuilt. I'm going to do some upgrades to make it a better, more drivable, more current car."

An Oregonian who moved to the area in 2006, Schofield is a retired Ford mechanic who accompanied his brother to a Mecum Auction in Las Vegas and was immediately hooked when he realized he too could turn a car into a Mecum Auction beauty.

"My brother did a '64 (Chevy) Impala," Schofield said. "We went to Mecum in Las Vegas. We saw how the auction worked. There were about 600 cars in the auction. I saw 50 cars where the guys could paint better than I can."

But according to Schofield, the rest of the vehicles on display had a few flaws. That gave him the impetus to launch his own project.

"Paint-wise, my car will be a 10," Schofield says.

He plans to put a reserve on the car for $20,000. Mecum will charge him anywhere from $300 to over $1,000, depending on the day the Mustang is displayed, Schofield says. If he wants the Mustang shown on TV that costs about $750. Placing a reserve on the car commands a 10 percent fee that goes to Mecum.

"This is not a high-ticket item compared to cars that will be in the millions," Schofield said. "A car like this — for $20,000 to $30,000 — usually moves across the block very quickly."

But is there a chance that Schofield could fall in love with this taillight blur Mustang and actually keep it?

"When I started this, I would have said 'no,'" Schofield says. "However, we've become very intimate late at night out here. I've had many hours out here with her. "

Schofield jokingly says that the deciding factor on whether he keeps the Mustang will be the "other her" — his wife.

He said he'll decide if the Mustang stays in his garage permanently once he's done with it and takes it out for a spin.