After driving my 2006 Ford Fusion (COAL) for a couple of years, my daily driving had gotten to be as exciting as watching the dryer dry clothes. When it came to cars as a passion, I had lost my way. Do not construe this as the Fusion was a bad car, far from it. The Fusion was everything that I bought it for; reliable, good mileage, and with a touch of sporting flair. Yet, I was starting to really miss the fun of driving. If most of my driving is the daily commute, I at least wanted to have some joy and excitement into it. I wanted another car that had some character. Plus, I missed having the sun on me and I wanted another convertible.
[Target accquired: 2004 “40th Anniversary Edition” GT convertible]
I really enjoyed the hell out of my 2001 Mustang GT convertible (COAL). I started my search for one of the same vintage (2001-2004). On Autotrader I located a 2004 40th Anniversary Edition Mustang GT with a manual trans in the San Francisco Bay Area. While all 2004 Mustangs had “40th Anniversary” badging, there were only 5700 of the “40th Anniversary Edition” cars built. The “40th Anniversary Edition” package consisted of Arizona beige dual hood, roof and trunk stripes, Arizona Beige side stripes, Arizona beige Bullitt wheels, and a spoiler delete. 40th Anniversary Edition cars were available in Black, Oxford White, and (exclusive to this package) Crimson Red. Inside, these cars had the Parchment interior with the Interior Upgrade Package, and some other 40th Anniversary goodies. My research determined the Crimson Red car I was looking at, with the options it had on it, was 1 of 69 built (source). That added bit of rarity reminded me of my 1992 Tempo GLS (COAL), so I determined this was the car to have.
[Photo from the original CarMax listing.]
Then the reality of my situation set in. The economy was still in tatters at this time, and the foreclosure on our house was a glaring tarnish to my credit score. Lending practices had tightened considerably after the Great Recession, and I was finding it almost impossible to locate a lender that would issue a loan on a used car without a substantial down payment. Capital One was a different story, with a catch. They were still pretty generous with their lending, offering me a really decent rate (considering that foreclosure) and would finance 110% of the value of the car. That catch was they would only lend on a car purchased at CarMax. I had always assumed CarMax was a dumping ground for used rental cars, almost like the Wal-Mart of car lots. I figured they would not have what I was looking for. The desire to be in another convertible was strong, so I decided to browse their inventory anyway.
[From Maxine’s first photo shoot.]
Boy was I wrong. CarMax had all sorts of performance cars in their inventory. Additionally, their website allowed me to search inventory nationwide. I wasn’t able to locate an ’01-’04 Mustang GT with a manual. I broadened my search to also include the retro Stang. I located a nice Performance White 2006 GT convertible with a manual transmission in Tucson, AZ. I paid the $200 fee to have the car shipped to the local store in San Diego. If I drove the car and didn’t like it, I was only out the $200 with no obligation at all to purchase the car. A couple of days later, I got the call that my car had arrived. I went down and took it for a test drive. When I arrived they had it sitting on the front row in front of the main doors. It sat in a line of Mustangs, Corvettes, BMW M Cars, and a gorgeous Audi S6. The next day the deal was closed and I now had my second convertible, a 2006 Mustang GT Premium.
The specs were very similar to my previous Mustang. 4.6L V8 engine, 5-speed manual transmission, live-axle rear wheel drive, black leather interior, premium interior with 6-disc CD changer. Differences from my car were newer generation (the “retro” Stang), 300-HP from the 3V engine (compared to 260 from the 2V engine), 18” chrome Bullitt rims, and a Shelby styling bar (not a structural roll bar) across the interior. Oh, and obviously she was Performance White and not Mineral Gray. Bone stock, except for that styling bar. A few days after purchase, she was dubbed “Maxine”.
[Time to go racing again!]
I barely had plates on the car before I had Maxine at Race Legal again. Race Legal is a ⅛ mile drag strip set up in the west parking lot of Qualcomm Stadium. It is to help keep racing off the streets and on the track. I had so much fun racing Maxine at the track. I was there so many times, I lost track of how many passes I did down the 1/8th mile.
[Every convertible needs to experience a parade at least once.]
A couple of months after purchase, Maxine was pressed into parade duty for the San Diego Gay Pride parade. A friend of mine had a last minute “convertible cancellation” and put the call out over Facebook. This was my second time driving dignitaries through the parade route, the first being with my previous Mustang convertible. As you can see from the photo, the styling bar served some purpose. The following Pride season, Maxine was also used in the Long Beach Gay Pride parade.
[2010 Hurst Mustang, the inspiration.]
As with almost all of my previous cars, Maxine wasn’t stock for very long. I browsed the internet forums for all sorts of inspiration for Maxine’s modifications. I ran across images of the Hurst Performance Vehicles 2010 Hurst Mustang pace car. One of my dream cars since I was a kid has always been the 1972 Hurst Olds convertible. I love the white/gold color combination of the Hurst cars. These new Hurst Mustangs reminded me of the Hurst Olds and I loved the look of them. Just like I did in creating my “Shaker GT” with my 2001 Mustang, I wanted to replicate something that wasn’t built. Maxine would emulate the look of the 2010 Hurst Mustang.
First up had to be some gold stripes. There wasn’t a place that made a kit for the gold/white “reverse stripes” the Hurst Mustang had. I had installed all the stripes on my previous Mustang. They were precut kits and were fairly easy to do. This new stripe layout seemed out of range of my skill set. I shopped around and got a couple of quotes from some local vinyl places, but I wasn’t ready to pay that steep of a price. So I settled for a set of dual lemans stripes in a gold color, which I installed myself. At the same time I added the stripes, I replaced the rear spoiler with one from a Shelby GT500. Next up were a set of 19” Mustang GT “take-off” rims. Just like my old Mustang, the panel between the taillights was painted flat black and the sequential taillights were installed. To finish off the exterior, I replaced all the GT badges with GT badges from a 1968 Mustang/Torino GT. The only thing that I did to the interior was remove that blasted styling bar. When the top was down, I wanted unobstructed view from the top of the windshield back to the trunk. To give the Mustang a more throaty sound, I installed a Borla “Stinger” axle-back exhaust system. This was the next step up the Borla ladder for me, and it made the car sound so great.
Around this time, I got a new assignment at work. For three weeks out of each month, for 3-4 days at a time, I would be working out of my company’s office in the San Fernando valley. It was cheaper (and quicker when you factor in airport times) to travel the distance by car. I had the option to rent a car or drive my own. Of course I chose to drive my own. 152 miles door-to-door, one way. That ended up being a 2-4 hour drive (depending on traffic) from my home in San Diego. While it may seem like I was putting a lot of additional miles on my car, I actually wasn’t. Once there, the commute to the office was less than 1 mile. Compared to my daily commute to the local San Diego office, the mileage ended up being about the same over the course of the week. Many times I made that trip with the top down and the tunes blaring. On these trips, I mostly cruised around 75-80 and Maxine would return 22-24 mpg. Not bad for a 300-horse V8 muscle convertible. It was no question that this was worth the trade off from the Fusion. Another benefit of working out of that office is that I was 5 minutes from the canyon roads near Malibu and Mulholland Drive. I took many drives up and down those roads. Throw the top down to feel that warm breeze. Behind the wheel of Maxine was a great place to be. The Borla exhaust echoed off the canyon walls. There was no need for the radio, that was music to my ears.
After a while, I felt it was time to change things up. It was time for some new tires. When I got new tires, I upgraded to a set of 20” Sport Muscle rims. Maxine also sat closer to the ground, thanks to a set of Ford Racing lowering springs and Tokico D-spec adjustable shocks/struts. Rounding out the suspension mods was a front strut tower brace.
I really, really, really wanted to emulate those Hurst “reverse-stripes” from the Hurst Mustang. I had installed several sets of stripes, and started reading up more on vinyl wraps online. I figured I could give it a shot. If I messed it up, I was just out the cost of the materials. Off came the lemans stripes. I taped off the pattern for the stripes and laid down a matte gold carbon fiber vinyl sheet. It took some work and a lot of patience, but i was able to pull off exactly the look I was going for.
Several months later, I had a couple of unfortunate things happen with Maxine. The first of which was my fault. Traveling in heavy rush hour traffic, I glanced over my shoulder to check to make sure that lane was clear of traffic merging from the incoming freeway. It was just for a second, but when I looked back forward the truck in front of me was completely stopped. I wasn’t moving more than 15 mph and I hit the brakes hard. It just wasn’t quick enough, and front of Maxine collided with the lowered tailgate of a rusted out first generation Ford Ranger. The impact caused his tailgate to raise up and slam back down… just as he was starting to accelerate forward. He looked in his mirror and just drove off, probaby not sure of what happened. I assumed my grille was shattered, which would have been an easy fix. Nope, the leading edge of the hood was dented downwards and the paint was cracked and chipped. If you look closely in the pic above you can see the bend in the leading edge of the hood.
About a month later, I walked out to my car in front of my house to find the A-pillar has been bashed in and the lower left corner of the windshield is shattered. Knowing how strong the A-pillar has to be on a convertible, and the damage inflicted, I can only assume someone took a bat to my car. To this day, I have no idea why.
When life hands you lemons, it’s time to cut them up and garnish a good stiff drink. I took this as an opportunity to make more updates to the car. The windshield was replaced. The stripes came off to prepare the hood for repair and painting. About a year prior, I had purchased a Saleen Heritage rear bumper off of eBay for a ridiculously low price. This bumper was part of the Heritage body kit that was installed on several Saleen cars like the Parnelli Jones, Dan Gurney, and Heritage Edition Mustangs. Comparing to the stock Mustang bumper, the license plate is moved to between the taillights, the lower area is reshaped for different shaped exhaust tips. I installed the bumper and then dropped the car off at the body shop. Once it was all repaired and repainted, I had my Borla tips cut off and replaced with Saleen Parnelli Jones quad tips.
[New stripes, wheels, hood scoop after the body shop.]
After I got the car back from the body shop, the car looked great. I took some of the extra paint the body shop supplied me and color matched the wheel’s spokes to the car. I installed the fake hood scoop from the California Special Mustang GT as well as a set of clear front corner lights. It looked great, but still something was missing. Stripes! I replicated the Hurst stripes again, but this time instead of matte gold carbon fiber I just went with a matte gold outlined with a black pinstripe. This made the gold really pop against the white car.
Just like all of my previous Fords, Maxine was a very reliable car. I enjoyed the time spent with her performing all of the regular maintenance like oil and filter changes. Coming up on 100K miles, I knew that it would be time to replace the plugs. For once, I was actually terrified of performing maintenance on a car. When the 3V engine was introduced in 2005 (Mustang and F-150), Ford used a new two-piece spark plug design. Many people found out the hard way that after 100K miles (normal plug change interval) that the spark plug stood a good chance of breaking off in the head, requiring a tow to the dealer and a very time consuming extraction. Not wanting to take my chances, I scheduled the spark plugs to be performed by a Ford dealership. While the car was in the shop, I also had them replace the clutch.
[A good shot of the Saleen Heritage rear end. Check out those quad tips!]
About a year later, my life and hobbies started to outgrow Maxine. I enjoy photography, and I was finding it very difficult to cram all of my camera gear for a location shoot into Maxine’s small trunk. Cycling was also a new thing for me, and the trunk mounted bike rack wasn’t an ideal situation. Finally, my husband James has never been very fond of convertibles. Being of fair skin, he sun burns pretty easily. So anytime he was in the car, it was top up. Then, a chance encounter on a drive down the coast led me to purchase one of my dream cars.
[How Maxine looked at the time of sale.]
Maxine stuck around for a while after purchasing the new car, relegated to secondary driving duty. My intention was to split my driving between them, but just like all the other times of having multiple cars that didn’t happen. Maxine continued to be parked more than driven. While she wasn’t being driven, a second vandalism happened to her. She was parked on the street in the same spot when her windshield got bashed. This time, it looked as though someone had kicked in the right rear fender, as well as the right front fender. I guess someone in my neighborhood wasn’t too fond of Maxine. The majority of the dent was popped out just by pushing from inside the trunk. The rest of it required actual bodywork due to it being right over the crease line on the fender. After getting a quotes from a few body shops, I elected not to have the work performed.
[An unfortunate kick in the ass.]
At this point, I decided it was time to say goodbye to my girl Maxine. I removed the stripes to help make a quicker sale. I didn’t get any bites for quite a while, the first bite happened after about a month. When he showed up for the test drive, he was driving a 1964 Falcon with a very healthy sounding small block. We talked for awhile and I introduced him to Maxine. He loved all of the modifications that I had done to her, and how it made for a unique but not over the top Mustang. He was now retired and his wife wanted something that was fun but also a bit more refined than his Falcon.
[There she goes, off with her new owner.]
As we talked about our cars, I was brought back to when I bought my first Mustang. The original owner of my first Mustang knew that I would take good care of her girl, and wanted me to be her knew owner. I knew that this guy would take good care of Maxine, and I wanted him to have her. A couple of days later, he and his wife drove off as the new owners of Maxine.
[2.5 years after selling, Maxine is still with her new family.]
As I’ve been writing my C.O.A.L. entries, I’ve been going through a lot of nostalgia. I dug up the Release of Liability to snag the address of Maxine’s new owner. A couple of weeks ago, I drove the 40 minutes north from my house… just to see. Sure enough, there was Maxine sitting in the driveway under the car port. From what I could see, she still looked to be in very good condition. I was happy that I saw her, knowing that she’s still being loved by her new owners. The one thing I did notice, the wheel spokes had been repainted from white to gold!! Maybe I should have left the stripes on it?