The holiday season for many – not for all, but for some – is one of family reunions. Just a few weeks ago, I had profiled a 2.3L four-cylinder ’88 Ford Mustang LX I had owned from my late-teens through my mid-20s. Even if the exact year and configuration of my Mustang didn’t set the world on fire, I loved it. It was the perfect car for me at that time, being easy both to fuel and insure, and I liked the way it looked. Have you ever seen a photo of an extended family (not necessarily your own), and wondered, based on appearances, how some of them could be as closely related? I now present my Fox-platform Mustang’s Aunt Gertrude.
Here she is, sitting bolt-upright, wearing her finest polyester slacks and matching blouse from J. C. Penney’s designer collection. She is a prim, no-nonsense lady. Well… maybe she’s just a little fancy. She is slightly upscale, being a Mercury, after all. She’s one of about 41,500 four-door sedans produced for ’79, in the Zephyr’s second-most popular body style of four that year – after 43,000 Z-7 coupes with their flashy, basket-handle rooflines. (Total Zephyr production that year was around 125,500 units, a figure less than one-third of that of its Ford Fairmont sibling.) With her costume jewelry, which includes a bright, shiny, stand-up hood ornament and Lincoln-style cooling slats on her front fenders, she takes pride in the restraint in her overall presentation.
She may be about as curvy and sexy as a Maytag washer, but obvious hotness was never Gertrude’s role, from the get-go. She is there to be as quietly strong, accommodating and efficient as possible – with just enough extra ornamentation to keep her from being confused with cars of lesser, more plebian pedigree. “Kids these days, with all of their plastic scoops and spoilers and LED lights.” Hers is a name that can actually be pronounced with vowels and consonants, from The Sign Of The Cat. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, though, and Gert is attractive in her own way. After all, there is just a little Cougar inside of her.
Cultural Center, Flint, Michigan.
Saturday, June 25, 2016.
- From William Stopford: Curbside Outtake: 1978-83 Mercury Zephyr – That Very Rare Clean Design;
- From Paul Niedermeyer: Curbside Classic: 1980 Mercury Zephyr Z7 ; and
- From Jim Grey: Curbside Classic: 1979 Ford Fairmont – The Ur-Fox.