No. 743,
April 16, 2014

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Mustang story.
Let me tell you a simple story of the Mustang. In the summer of 1964, I was 9 years old. My parents took us to the World's Fair, and I remember EXACTLY two things about it. I remember gliding on the moving sidewalk past Michelangelo's "Pieta" in the Vatican exhibit.  (As a good catholic boy, one would burn in h*ll if you didn't remember that one.) And I got to ride in a Mustang convertible at the Ford exhibit.  Two years later, my father bought a yellow Mustang convertible. 'Nuff said.

Atlanta, Georgia


Hold on there, Cap'n!

Wait a split second there. Are you saying Formula 1's story about developing cutting edge technology in order to be relevant for the times is actually tosh? Are you saying that hybrid tech has already been done, and that the real engineering challenge would be to develop autonomous cars that race each other at the limit sans overpaid/overpaying pilote. Are you saying that the NASCAR style crash that bunched the field and gave them enough petrol to go balls out ain't really s'poze to happen on tracks with rights? No please don't say that too loud; it's too much fun keeping a straight face while Niki instructs us in good manners.

Eastchester, New York

The most special car in the world.

It was 1980. I was 16. Busy kid, involved in every music program the school offered. Early morning rehearsals. Late afternoon, early evening practices. Weekend gigs. I needed a car. Even my parents, who both worked, knew I needed a car -- I didn't even have to beg! There was no way they could get me everywhere I needed to be (as well as my younger brother, who was a 4-sport athlete, with year-round practices and games region-wide).

I knew my dad was out looking for a good deal on a fixer-upper each day after he got off work. Not that we were poor; but we certainly weren't rich. Mom and Dad made a dollar stretch, and Dad wrenched everything himself. If something - anything - needed to be fixed or built, he figured it out.

Many nights, I'd wonder what he'd end up finding. I knew it wasn't going to be anything fancy, or super cool. Please don't let it be a Pacer I'd pray before falling asleep. I'd wake up and my next wish would be: please don't let it be a Chevette. Of course, I knew I'd be grateful for any set of wheels. But what good is reading Road and Track when you're a kid if you can't dream about cool cars?

I remember when Dad drove it up into the driveway. It was still in its factory gold-green paint (I think it was called Sauturne Gold) with a black vinyl roof and black interior. A 1966 Ford Mustang. There was plenty of rust rot in the fenders and quarters, the trunk floor was Swiss cheese. The rockers and passenger front footwell were nasty. And there were some pretty sizable engine components in the back seat, packed in a box.

The most beautiful basket case I'd ever seen.

Dad and I (or mostly Dad, with me assisting and watching and learning) worked all summer on that car. We ordered replacement body parts for the worst pieces. We patched and repaired what we could. Dad tore down then rebuilt the motor. I learned the fine art of replacing brakes and brake lines, fuel lines, and muffler installation. I sanded, and sanded, and sanded some more. When we were done, it was a beautiful car. It still had issues, but we'd get to those, he promised.

And we did, each summer, tackling a new project as we restored the Mustang further. We had big plans for the summer of 83, and we'd get started the week after I graduated high school. Maybe we could drop in a V8, make it a total sleeper! Dad said maybe we could start looking for another Mustang to restore: his dream car would be to find a black 65 convertible with the white top and white interior.

But Dad died that spring. Heart attack during his morning run. And like that, he was gone.

I still have the memories of that car and the time we spent together, that 1966 gold Mustang with the black top. That car will be forever my most favorite car in the world. Sadly, a year after Dad died, Mom sold the Mustang. It still had issues, and without Dad to help me sort it out, it was beyond my skill set -- and certainly, beyond my finances, especially with college. I remember when a father and his teenage son came to our house, bought it, and drove it away. I took some solace in that. Maybe that's what old Mustangs are for: fathers and sons (or daughters).

Saw a '66 in gold/black a couple years ago in traffic. Like a crazy person, I pulled a U-turn and raced to catch up. When the driver stopped at a convenience store, I jumped out, too. After assuring him I wasn't a nut or a robber, I explained that I'd had that exact same car years ago. He gladly showed it off to me, even let me sit in the driver's seat. Even the smells were the same. I told him to name me a price. What would he take? Just shoot me a fair deal and we'll drive straight to my bank, right now -- it's just down the road.

He shook his head and smiled. Sorry. Not for sale. He was saving it for a grandson. Took my number and said he'd keep an eye out for other 66's in gold/black.

Probably for the best. Don't know how I'd be able to see that gold and black Mustang in my garage every day and not get a lump in my throat.

So, happy birthday Mustang. It's not every car that can say it helped shape someone's life, and is a rolling testament to a son's love for his father, and a father's love for his son. Just special cars can claim that. And for me, the Mustang is the most special car in the world.

St. Charles, Illinois