(I ran into this old friend at a local show recently and remembered featuring it here on September 13, 2011. It is still owned and loved by the same lady. I think that a golden anniversary warrants a re-run of this story.) Let us all agree: the Ford Mustang has been written to death (one small but worthwhile contribution is the CC that can be found here). Although Curbside Classic is generally not the place for fawning over one of the most widely restored models of all time, it is our motto that Every Car Has A Story. And when the story involves a young woman who went into a Ford dealer in 1967 and drove out in the car she is still driving over forty four years later, this is our kind of story.
Most of us do not marry our cars. We live with them for awhile, but the relationship inevitably starts to go bad. They begin to disappoint us in small ways. They let themselves go and start to cost a lot of money. At some point, they stop even trying to make us happy. Eventually, we break up and move on. But rarely, a new car and its owner develop a unique relationship, like a bond that cannot be broken. It is a beautiful thing, and that is what we have here.
About a month ago, I looked up on my way to work and found myself behind this car. Another Mustang convertible. Yawn. It turned into a shopping center. Do I follow it, or not? I almost kept going. CC had recently run a couple of Mustang items, including a great story about a ’67 convertible owned by the father of CC commentator EducatorDan (here). I am not sure what, but something made me flip my turn signal.
Maybe it was the warm, sunny morning. The Mustang’s top was down, which was in its favor. The car was not red, which is always a plus with me on a commonly restored convertible. I think that the kicker was the regular license plate which this car wore instead of the hobby plate. I followed the car to its stopping place, hopped out and introduced myself to the owner, and asked if I could photograph her car.
This started a delightful ten minute period of my life as we chatted about her Mustang. This is a 6 cylinder / 3 speed model that the owner bought brand new in May of 1967. Appropriately, she chose one painted Springtime Yellow. She has owned and driven this car ever since. Up until a few years ago, she drove it regularly. But as the car got older, it was driven less and less frequently, for reasons we all understand. However, two years ago, she and her husband took the car to a local shop known for Mustang restorations, and had the car brought back to a condition that could make her proud of it again. And she still drives it, at least in nicer weather, about five thousand miles a year.
Not everything on the car was redone. For example, the bumpers carry the same plating that they had the first time she turned the key. So it is plain that this car has been well cared for its entire life. You do that in a good, stable relationship.
I think that a long term relationship with a car is like a good marriage. You learn to get over the little disappointments and to remember the good things. You come to terms with and maybe even appreciate the little idiosyncrasies and personality quirks. (Aren’t we lucky that our cars are so forgiving of our own?) You become forgiving of some of the infirmities that come with advancing age. You learn to listen to it. Mostly, you enjoy it because it has become so much a part of your life. You make and keep a commitment, even when it becomes costly.
The owner did not share her name, and I did not press for it. I shared with her some memories of my own ’68 Mustang, also a 6 cylinder/3 speed, and how I wished that mine had been a convertible instead of a hardtop. My Mustang was an enjoyable car to drive in 1979 and ’80, and this one was enjoyable to look at now.
I have never owned a car for a long, long time. In my youth, I was a serial car philanderer. As soon as I netted the current object of my affection, I became disillusioned with its shortcomings. My eye would wander, and I would stumble across a new love, starting the process all over again. I only owned my Mustang for six months before I fell hard for a 1959 Plymouth (CC here).
Fortunately, my wandering car-eye did not carry over to my personal life. I am happy to report that I have been married to the same wonderful woman for over twenty one years. Maybe this has transformed my 4 wheeled relationships as well, as I find myself keeping cars longer than I ever have, sometimes too long.
I am secretly envious of the owner of this Mustang. If only I had changed my ways sooner, there might have been a car or two in the garage that, instead, went away a long time ago. In any case, I am certainly glad that I chose to hit the turn signal and follow this yellow Mustang, which turned out to have quite a story, indeed.