In-Motion Classic: 1971 Ford Mustang Sportsroof – Summer… Gone In Sixty Seconds

Labor Day weekend is upon us in the United States, which marks the unofficial end of summer.  I’m that eternal optimist who doesn’t consider summer actually gone until the fall equinox arrives on September 22nd.  Yep… I’ll be doing all kinds of summery things until the very end, as long as there’s sunshine and / or reasonably warm temperatures.  That glass is half-full, Baby.  Still, I’ve always considered it a very good thing to be able to let go of stuff when it’s time.  One of my goals for this year was to try to live and experience things more fully in the present, and try not to let the subtle, nagging dread of the fun being over taint positive experiences and adventures in the midst of enjoyment.

I have a decided bent toward nostalgia (as I’m sure much of the CC readership would concur), which can be a good thing in decent measure, but a curse if it becomes your life.  It has been a very good summer for me, and I have been mostly successful in my goal of carpe diem, albeit with room for improvement.  With that said, there are certain, recurring touchstones that bring me joy, one of those things being a viewing of the original, 1974 movie “Gone In 60 Seconds”, starring the late, inimitable stunt man, H. B. Halicki, and a yellow 1973 Ford Mustang Mach I Sportsroof fastback named “Eleanor” (pictured above).

In my mind, and the time I first watched this movie in the early ’90s, that car-crash-fest managed to give immense personality to what was, up to that time, one of my least favorite iterations and bodystyles of the Ford Mustang.  This movie changed all of that.  It’s hard not to respect a car that’s not only still running after being flogged nearly to death by a car thief on the run, but still speeding with amazing resilience and seeming effortlessness as it roars through the streets of no less than six cities in Southern California.

To this day, the sight of a 1971 – ’73 Mustang Sportsroof reminds me of that movie, as did this car.  It’s not hard for me not to feel nostalgia when I’m back home in Flint, Michigan, where I spotted our featured car and where I spent my formative years.  My other half recently remarked to a group of our friends in the area (and with no trace of malice) that Flint could be referred to as “The Used-To-Be City”.  Nobody laughed, and I bristled (still love ya, Babe), but for an outsider who’s not from around those parts, that could very well be the common perception.  There are still many great things in and around the Flint area, even if they’re not as numerous or the all of the same ones many of us from the region remember and cherish from Genesee County’s more prosperous past.

The sight of classic cars tooling around familiar streets in the summertime puts me in such a happy, mental place, like I’m riding my favorite, blue Schwinn through the streets and on the sidewalks of my old neighborhood with my shirt off, no-hands, no helmet, and with an orange popsicle in one hand.  The sounds of various lawnmowers hum in the background and the sweet smell of freshly-cut grass is in the air, while the occasional, screaming guitar solo or thumping bass (or both… I love Flint!) from a passing car punctuates the ambient sounds of traffic and conversation in the East Court Street area.  The occasional, tinkling bells of an ice cream truck can be heard faintly in the distance, alternately increasing and decreasing in volume, as the van winds around.  Dogs bark, and joggers stop to chat, as heard through my house’s front screen door…

Wait.  I’m doing it again.  What I will say is that with regard to enjoying things in the present moment, it is because I have been so deliberate in trying to experience life and living it throughout this season that I will be able to move forward without regrets that I should have done more, or that my summer somehow felt “robbed” or unfulfilled in some way.  Fall will be here shortly, which will present another set of opportunities to live in the right-now.  When autumn arrives, I am confident that I will be able to look behind at this summer (with the rear, three-quarter view of our featured car being, in my opinion, its most flattering) knowing that it was time well spent, and worth every second, penny, and adventure.  To the here and now.

Downtown Flint, Michigan.
Thursday, August 17, 2017.