The Great Beater Challenge 2021 – Searching for a Theme

1992 Ford Mustang with sunset.

The Great Beater Challenge is a go pending any further COVID-19 outbreaks and I, along with my three teenage sons, are registered. As some of you may recall I bought a 1992 Ford Mustang at a local auction at the end of September. It became my daily driver for several months before my middle son took over driving duties. Given that used cars prices have gone a little crazy lately and the garage is full of other needy vehicles (more details to come later) this is likely to be our ride for this year’s event. We just need a theme to go with it and I would be open to any suggestions in the comments.

Perhaps before we get into the theme discussion I can catch everyone up on the Mustang’s last several months. Unfortunately, some jerk hit and run the car leaving a rear fender flare damaged and a scrape running half the length of the body. I suspect it was an aluminum trailer by the lack of any paint transfer. We live in a newer community so trades trailers are a pretty common sight. I get that some people might view it as just an old, cheap car so the damage they did does not matter but it is my old, cheap that I enjoy and take care of. The whole incident was very frustrating and the damage is tough to fix properly so it has been left as is for now.

The middle boy with the Fiero drove the Mustang until we equipped his Fiero with winter tires which cannot be a common combination these days. In fact, the winter tires we used were the ones that came with the Mustang (as bought) on the unattractive stock 14″ rims. We managed to source a second set of factory Pontiac rims very inexpensively and had the tires swapped over. I do not know if it is the color, Fox-body love or general Nineties nostalgia but the Mustang to generated quite a few compliments from his peer group.

As far as repairs goes it has been pretty minimal thus far. The EGR valve was replaced which cleared the check engine light. The starter had always sounded a big dodgy which I had been ignoring up until the point it stopped starting the car. It was, however, good enough to give up the ghost next to the house. Interestingly, the car was not equipped with the factory original starter despite the low mileage (~85k kms/53k miles) but likely the starter had seen a hard life from its time in the North West Territories. Actually, the starter turned over just fine but the solenoid that engaged the gear to the flywheel no longer functioned. Someone had obviously been in there before as all the bolts holding the solenoid on to the starter itself were stripped. Luckily, a whole new starter was cheap enough to justify not bothering with drilling out the stripped hardware or facing any additional issues. An advantage of owning an older but once common car I guess.

You might assume like I assumed that changing the starter would be a breeze since the Fox-body Mustang housed V8, straight six, V6, turbo inline four engines as well as the regular inline four cylinder which was the smallest of all these options but this was not so. It was strategically placed that one could not even see it from up top but made effectively hard to reach from the bottom by the placement of the front suspension. In the end it was not that horrible of a job but not as easy as all the empty space in the photo above might have lead one to believe. Beyond the above (minor) issues the Mustang has proved to be an excellent car thus far. It is actually quite charming and I enjoy driving even if my wife rolls her eyes a bit (a lot).

This year’s Great Beater Challenge will not feature dramatic mountain landscape like in years past but instead we will be traveling east to Saskatchewan. Ghost towns, “bad lands” and prairie landscapes are all likely sights for a bit of a change of pace.


Getting back to themes my first thought was something related to the Mustang’s reputation for Cars and Coffee carnage … but perhaps that idea is lacking in taste. Given the long production run of this Mustang body style themes from the Eighties and Nineties are likely do-able. While I do not mind some modifications I will likely shy away from anything that costs a fortune as big expenses do not match the spirit of the event. I have also become rather fond of the Mustang over last the several months and would also be leery of any changes that would permanently wreak or de-value it to parts only status. Traditionally we have not done much theme wise except for in 2019 with our pig themed Tercel so I would love to step up our game a bit. So any ideas?

Further Reading:

Great Beater Challenge 2019 Toyota Tercel

Great Beater Challenge 2018 Pontiac Laurentian

Great Beater Challenge 2017 Honda Civic

Great Beater Challenge 2016 Dodge Aries