Faces of Mustang ‘A snapshot of a nation captured via an American classic’

  • Marcus Bastel

These images are part of the Faces of Mustang (FoM) – ‘A snapshot of a nation captured via an American classic’ project. I’ve set up FoM pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share and publicise the project.

I was photographer, writer, planner, organiser, art director, fundraiser, marketing director and driver and by the end of it I was very tired. A Kickstarter campaign and my credit card put me on the road in the summer of 2016 while Ford and GTB were kind enough to loan me a Mustang, and during a 5 week period I travelled over 8000 miles across small town USA and met up with Mustang owners. I conducted interviews and heard often heartfelt and very personal stories. Among the people I met were a racer from Alabama who strapped on his gun before stepping out of his house for a chat; a ‘real Daisy Duke’ from Colorado; a mother who was barred from driving demolition derby for being too aggressive; and Bruce and Dave, friends who were still fixing the same cars together 30 years on.
I drove a total of 181 hours, zigzagging through 26 states from Michigan in the north, to North Carolina in the east, Arizona in the south and as far west as Nevada; I met people in 15 of these. We connected via social media, people referred me to their friends, and I knocked on doors when I saw a Mustang (or two!) parked outside. Some people were a little wary of the stranger on their doorstep, but once I explained what I was doing people warmed, suspicion and awkwardness dissolved, one anecdote gave way to the next and, before we knew it, hours had passed. These encounters were initially posted to FoM pages on social media and have since been compiled in a book, interview excerpts are on https://soundcloud.com/user-372478219/faces-of-mustang I met many different people on this trip and every one of them was unfailingly kind to me. For the most part we steered clear of election talk, connecting over their Mustangs and the memories they hold – good times and bad ones, friends, family and community, the need for speed and a splash of adrenaline. More images and stories via marcusbastel.com
I hope to return to meet people in the missing 35 States in the future.
Guy and Marylyn with his 2015 Mustang EcoSport in Granville, Ohio
I’ve always been into cars, what interested me wasn’t the horsepower or even some of the features, but the artistic nature of the car, the style of the car. At one point we were in New York City, it was during the world fair in ‘64 and there was a Mustang. I thought, ‘man that is the sexiest, most beautiful bodyline on a car I have ever seen, I want one of those!’ There was a weekend when I didn’t have a gig and we were invited to go to this party. Marilyn’s roommate turned up, in a red, brand new 1964 and a half Mustang convertible. I got to see it first hand. Even the inside of it was artistic to me, it was the first car that had an instrument panel dashboard that looked like it had two cockpits. It had that fancy two tone pony interior and that struck me, and I thought, I have to get one of these one day. Anyway we finished college, we got married, and we had a child and I still had this desire to have a Mustang, but, we couldn’t afford to own two cars. There was the child and there was the drum set and right there was my frustration. In 1969 we lived in Pittsburgh and I spotted a used ‘68 Mustang. Over time I owned another 7 Mustangs, fixed them up, searched scrapyards for spare parts, often wary, for there were snakes and rats living in the undergrowth of those places. When the 2015 model came out I decided to treat myself and I ordered the exact car I wanted, a fastback with all the trimmings of the 50th Anniversary Edition and I totally love it.
Clay and his 2002 Mustang GT in Newark, Ohio
I left my dads house late at night to drive home, I didn’t get far, just around the corner a deer ran into the road. I turned the wheel and the car shot up the embankment, I saw the tree coming and then just black, which I guess was me looking at the night sky, straight up. Next thing I know the car flipped and just pancaked, slapped right on the road landing upside down dead centre of it, still pointing the way I was going. I’m upside down just hanging there. It was insane. I was looking for my phone then, to take a selfie, but I couldn’t find it. Looking at the car now I realize I am lucky to be alive. I got away with a mild concussion, a few scratches and some bruising. But the car… my Mustang … it’s a complete write off. I really loved that car. My friend, Mark, helped me get her back here after she was towed. Mark’s got an ‘03 Mustang GT, those two used to be sisters, Ruby and Daphne. I guess we won’t do anymore cruising together, not for a while. But I will get another Mustang in the future. Thanks for taking the time to come out here and note it all down, it’s nice for something good to come from the loss of my Pony!
Bruce and his 1968 Mustang Fastback in East Liverpool, Ohio
I was looking for a ‘68 Fastback and saw one but he wanted too much money. Then I saw it advertised elsewhere and it was obvious he couldn’t sell it so the price came down and I got exactly what I wanted. I was 16, it was my first car. We grew up working on these cars, you get attached to them that way. My ex-wife was jealous of the car. She said I just kept it because it reminded me of all the dates I’d had in it, but that wasn’t it, I just like the car and besides I had plenty of those dates with her. Maybe what I remember best was when I wrecked it. I was on a first date, we were going fast but we weren’t racing, and then this old lady backed out into the middle of the street and sideswiped the car. The state trooper arrived and the lady said we were racing and I said we were not. I was with friends, there were another 3 cars behind us and we were driving fast, but we were not racing, of course my friends took off when I had the accident! And the state trooper asked ‘Who are your friends?’ I told him ‘I ain’t telling you who my friends are, and we weren’t racing’. I ended up getting a ticket that night but not for racing. It didn’t look good arguing with a cop on a first date, but we dated for five years after so that was lucky. I didn’t think I would be here 30 years later, still owning the same car and still fixing them up with friends from back then. I don’t have any kids or anything but I hope I can pass it on to someone one day.
Bart and his 1967 Mustang in Weyers Cave, Virginia
I had my first Mustang when I was 13, taking it apart and putting it back together. I got another two years later that was in better shape and sold the first one. By age 17 I started racing: I was fast. There was one time, we were at the mall, there was 35 of us racing. Then, at one point, six state troopers come rolling into the parking lot and I thought ‘OK, I am going to jail tonight’. The chief of police stops his car right in front of me and gets out and I say ‘How are you doing Mr Green?’, I built some decking at his house for him. He says ‘Bart, I want you to get in your car and take it home, I don’t want to see you tonight’, and then he says ‘You put up quite a battle, there was nothing that touched you within six car lengths’ ‘How do you know that?’ I ask, and he points up to the sky and says ‘We got good proof, but tonight is your lucky night’, and I walked away with 3500 bucks! I am still racing some today, mostly on my home track in Maryland which is a quarter mile length while most are just and eighth of a mile. I still have that need for speed. I think once you’re a motorhead you’re always a motorhead. My grandson, Jojo, has it in his blood already. He’s only seven now but when he was two he got a chair to climb on to get to the keys and we found him outside in the car trying to start it up. He’ll be a motorhead when he gets older just like I am.
John in his 2015 Mustang in Hazard, Kentucky
When I was a kid my neighbour had an ‘87 Fox Body and we would go and listen to it. I guess that made me kinda want one. It was a while before I was in the position to go and make that dream come true. Then in 07 I was finally able to spend the money and got myself this Orange ’05 V6 and was very happy. When I sold it I wanted to have one just for shows and for a weekend drive in spring and summer. I like taking it to the shows, I like making the car look better and getting the attention and the compliments for it. It’s a huge social scene and a great way to meet people. I have an adopted daughter, she is going on 14, and my thing with Mustangs has gotten her into cars. She helps clean it up before we take it to shows and if I miss a spot she is the one who points it out. She won’t let me clean the tail pipes because she says I’m doing a bad job. When we win a trophy she goes up with me to collect it. She likes the modern new ones, when she sees the Snake she’s elbowing me and shouting ‘Shelby, Shelby!’. That’s the dream, get this one paid off and get a Shelby and have them both. Of course then my daughter might insist on driving the Shelby and telling me that I am doing a bad job driving it. People say get your children involved in cars so they don’t get into drugs. When I retire I’d like to go west to the desert, if you find a car there you can grab it and apply for the title and, if no one claims that car within 30 days, it’s yours for $30.
Ashley and her 1965 Mustang in Raleigh, North Carolina
My grandma bought the car new in the 60's, I’ve inherited it a few month ago. I want to restore it and eventually give it to my son, but not until he’s around 30. Since I brought the car home I’ve had several people come by and offer to buy it but the car has sentimental value to me. I really associate it with my grandma although I don’t think I was ever in it with her. I remember my uncle taking us for ice-creams in West Virginia in it when I was a kid. Everyone I tell about having the car tells me about how their granddad had one or that they used to own one. The car has been around for so long it really is a piece of American history. I’m excited for my son to grow with it, and I feel like it’s dangerous – no airbags or anything – but I’m excited for my son to grow up with it. Actually, my first car was a Mustang, a convertible, I was always driving way too fast in it. One time I was driving home to my parents and I got pulled over going like 97 and the cop is just looking at me like ‘what are you doing?’. He was so nice to me, I told him I was heading home from college and I started crying and I told him that I wanted to get home faster and he said ‘do you have cruise control?’ and I nodded and he said ‘use it’, and he let me go, probably because I was crying. I did get a lot of tickets in the car though. It didn’t like to go slow, you know, it would like putter around when it was slow, but once you got it past 60 it was really happy.
Cory and his 2015 Mustang GT in Greenville, South Carolina
My dad had a ‘92 Foxbody GT and when me and my brother were 8 or 9 he would put us in the back, make us swear not to tell mum and go and do donuts. I didn’t really know what was going on it was just loud and the whole car was shaking and I thought ‘wow this is cool!’ This is the 5th Mustang I’ve had. Once I was driving through Greer, with a friend, he also had a Mustang and both our cars were real loud, we were driving through traffic beside each other. Suddenly, my friend took off and left me and I see his hand out of the window waving. I thought he was just being dumb. Then I hear a siren and this cop car flies over the hill and he is on my butt, so I pull over, I wasn’t even doing anything. He jumps out of the car and he is like ‘where is your friend going?’ and I say ‘I don’t know’, and he says ‘well tell him to come back’, so I call him and he says ‘no, I’m not coming back’. The cop was pretty mad. About a month later I was trying to sell the car and I got a call from someone in Greer who wanted to see the car so I took it over and when I pulled up and got out it was actually the same cop. I’d told him when he pulled me over that I was trying to sell it so I didn’t get into trouble. He said ‘so you weren’t lying, you are trying to sell it?’ and I said, ‘yes sir, I am’. He said ‘well let me see it’ and he looked at it and we drove around and he let the ticket go. He didn’t buy it, but it was kind of funny.
Joel with a 1970 Mustang he is putting back together in Billingsley, Alabama
My sister and her husband were into hot rodding back in the 60's and got me into it. He was a Bowtie guy (Chevrolet) and she was Mopar (Chrysler). I like to be different. Everyone around here is Chevy, but I’m Ford – Ford is my first choice by far! I’ve always liked the older Mustangs, I can fix anything on those, with the new ones I hardly know where to put the gas. As for racing, you always think you are faster than anyone else and then you are out there and someone beats you by six lengths. I used to street race when I was young, I had a ‘70 Mach 1. One night, when I got off work, me and this boy, who had a Dodge Charger went out on the road to race. They flagged us, we took off and I jumped him. I got 2 or 3 car lengths ahead of him when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something running towards the road. I thought it was a kid, I turned the wheel and ended up in a guy’s yard, slid right up and hit his porch. The guy in the Charger hit what he thought was a kid too and we both ran down there. It ended up being a dog – a white dog – which I am sorry for. I love animals, I got four dogs myself, but I’d rather it be a dog than a kid. After that I said I would never race on the street again, and I didn’t. I like track racing anyway. When my oldest son Jason passed away in 2008 everything here came to pieces. I let it all go. Then my youngest son Ross started pushing me to get back into it and we’ve started working on some projects since.
Barbara, her 1996 Mustang Black Betty was parked outside, Springdale, Arkansas
My friend’s older sister had a classic Mustang. When she sold it I vowed that one day I would get a one too. In 1978, when I was 20, I got a blue ‘70 Fastback with a big 351 engine and I loved the power it gave me. When my husband and I separated he got the car and I took my son. Some years later my dad said he saw a Mustang and went to look at it and asked whether I'ld be interested looking at it too and I said ‘well, sure’. He knew I liked Mustangs and he said ‘I’ll get it for you – you gotta pay me back – but I get it for you’. At one point I went to see my parents with a boyfriend and he drove it. It’s hairpin curves and hills, and goes up and down all the way and I was telling him about a runaway truck ramp ahead, full of sand and gravel and with weighted barrels at the end, to stop runaway trucks. Then we were coming down this steep hill and I said ‘right there, it’s right there’ and he hits the ramp and buries my car in sand and gravel! I had to climb out of the window. I don’t know what on earth made him do that. We were going – 50 or 60 mph – and he hits that runaway truck ramp and buried my car. I could have ripped his head off – it was my only car and I was a single parent, it wasn’t a good time for me. Then I had an ’86 Fox Body which my ex-husband totalled in the snow. The one I have now, I’ve had for about ten years. She’s called Black Betty and I love her. My dream car is a ’65 coupe. One day! I have faith.
Special Ranger John and his 2015 Mustang GT in Claremore, Oklahoma
I’m a Special Ranger and I’ve been in law enforcement for 32 years. I wear a cowboy hat, badge and a colt 45 to work and I drive a Mustang. I took my driving test in a ‘67 Mustang in 1972. It was my cousin’s and I learned to drive in it. We started hanging out when I was 13 or 14. She would take me out to the country and let me drive. It was like being outlaws, like Bonnie & Clyde, out on the back roads, stirring up dust. I wasn’t real good at driving – missing a couple of curves and landing in the ditch more than once, but it being a rural area everyone had tractors to haul us out with. Driving home after the test I made her sit in the back, so it would feel as if I was driving the car on my own. I’ve had a soft spot for Mustangs ever since, but this one is the first I have owned, I saw it and knew I had to have it. We had a Corvette at the same time and once took both to a car show, I took the Corvette and my wife took the Mustang, and the Mustang won a prize and the Corvette didn’t. I sold the Corvette ‘coz I’m competitive, which is human nature, especially in guys, you just don’t wanna get beat. I am not as much into speed as I was as a young policeman, when I got into car chases and stuff and thought it was great. After my heart surgery, I just have to go it a little slower, it changed my perspective on life. I am glad to still be here and I hope to get another ten years or so, but I guess it’s not up to me.
Kevin and his 2010 Mustang GT in Seminole, Oklahoma
My sister was 18 when I was born. Her first car was a ’65 Mustang GT. It was about the first car I remember and by far the coolest thing I had seen aged four. My first car was a ’74 Mustang II in a hideous green. We were living out in the country, the car was burning a lot of oil and the motor needed rebuilding to fix that. We didn’t have a lift to get the car up, or a hoist to lift the motor out, so my dad helped me rig a chain up over a tree limb. We hooked it to the motor and we hoisted it out and rebuilt that motor. I was 16, it was my first car and I was proud of my achievement. I had a string of other cars, then got a ‘91 Mustang convertible and I’ve stuck with convertibles ever since. The last one before this was a ’01 Cobra convertible, my son loved that car. He said, when I came to pick him up in it he was the coolest kid in school. Nowadays it’s my daughter who is into Mustangs more than him. My wife and I have been talking about driving the Pacific Highway, from Los Angeles up to San Francisco, in a Mustang convertible. Maybe next year … we’ll see. Sometimes we just take it for a drive, stop for a burger somewhere and then take the long way back. One day I was standing out here with the car running and she came out and asked what I was doing. I said I was listening to the music. She said the music wasn’t on, and I replied the music of the car – the motor. She just shook her head.
Brandon and friends with his 1996 SVT Mustang Cobra and a couple of toy Mustangs in Pueblo, Colorado
Brandon: My first car was always in the garage and that’s where I wanted to be, washing, fixing and modifying it and hanging out with friends. That’s where we were, if we were hanging out, we were always doing something in the garage and we learned stuff. If I had a problem with something I would call one of the other guys and ask them whether they knew how to get it fixed. It’s still kinda like that. Dan’s got the tools, Justin’s got gas and parts and Charlie and me, we bring the beer! Justin: To be honest, I don’t know how many cars I have. Sometimes I think I should sell a bunch and bring in higher quality ones – investment cars. But then I think, ‘nah’, it takes away all the fun of just seeing a car and thinking ‘wow that thing is so cool!’. It doesn’t matter if it’s in good shape or has just been dragged out of a field, you just see it and think ‘WOW, I have to have this car!’. And then, at some point, you put a new seat in it, and that’s how it starts … four years later you’ve rebuilt the whole car, for no good reason; it just becomes a project. Rachel: I don’t know how to do any of it, but I like the Mustangs and, apparently, the ‘96 SVT Cobra will be mine when Brandon gets his next fantasy car. I help with the detailing sometimes, when we go to shows. When he asks me whether we can spend some money on a car, I go, ‘hmmm … OK!’ This is what they do – they stand around and look at cars all day!
Sarah, Waylon and Tristin and her 1988 Mustang LX Convertible in Montrose, Colorado
Sarah: When we met I was driving a white ’99 Mustang GT. I got that coz I like going fast. I had a Nitrous System installed to go even faster, but that spooked me so we took it out again, it was kinda fun though. Waylon: When we met I lied about my age and made out I was older than her, we started going on dates soon after. I wanted to drive her Mustang but I couldn’t drive standards, so I was always the co-pilot. But it was a turn on, being in a hot Mustang with a really cool woman! Sarah: I’ve always had a hard-on for Mustangs, the old school ’65 Mustang just turns my crank, I’ve always wanted one of those. But I’ld get whichever I could get, whichever was available to me. I’ve just always loved them. When I think of a sexy hot racing car, I think of a Ford Mustang. I had to give up my Mustang after we got pregnant eight years ago. I did it for my son, we just couldn’t afford it at the time. Waylon: Sarah is probably the better driver. Six weeks after our first son was born she won the Demolition Derby in Hotchkiss county. I lost my voice that night from all the yelling and screaming. Sarah: Crashing cars for fun! I no longer compete in the Demolition Derby’s, I got thrown out for being too aggressive! I would just get rage and hit everything, and, unfortunately, that’s not really how the sport is supposed to go, that’s just how road-rage goes! Waylon (nods): The best part was… she was the only woman there, the ‘All American’ Colorado woman!
Marcy and her 2007 Mustang GT in Norwood, Colorado
I was a Mustang fan from before I could walk. My dad kept a ’67 Fastback, my absolute dream car. He sold it to my best friend, rather than me, since he said I would kill myself in it. This is my first Mustang. I was looking for it for sometime. We don’t have a garage to park it in, so after last winter it took a while to get it running since mice had moved into it. Once I was driving home, going about 90. And in an instant there were four deer in front of me. There was nothing I could do. I was told don’t’ swerve to miss them’ so… I swerved! Missed 3 but hit one. The whole passenger side of the car was smashed. My dad came up with a sledgehammer and starts pulling on the fender which is completely crushed onto the front tyre. He shouts ‘I’ll get you back on the road, don’t you worry!’, and he gets it so I can drive back to the house. The car was $800 short of being totalled! One day, I was getting breakfast in town, some guy walks in and is looking around – it was a small place, there were not a lot of people there – and he comes up to me, and he says ‘is that your Mustang out there?’, and I looked at him and said ‘uh, yeah, why?’, and he says ‘it’s great to see someone drive a sports car the way it’s meant to be driven’. I took that for a compliment. I like to drive fast. I’m the same way on a horse, I’m all about horsepower! When I get on one I want to go fast, I want to push it to its limits. That’s just the way I am.
Ric and his 1968 Mustang Coupe in Sierra Vista, Arizona
When I was 5 or 6 I was at my Grandma’s and my Uncle Gene was there in his red ‘68 Mustang, and the two of us were going for a drive. My grandma made cheese sandwiches, wrapped them up and off we went. We drove way up into the foothills, all the way to the top, and there we got out of the car and looked across the LA basin, ate our sandwiches and then my uncle asked if I wanted to drive the car back. And of course I wanted to! So, he sat me on his lap, and while I was steering he was running the pedals. We were going down a winding mountain road without guardrails or anything. And I’m all excited. There was a sharp curve ahead of us and I’m looking at the view and feeling grown up and then, suddenly, my uncle is shouting for me to turn the wheel, and he grabs it and turns it, and my heart is pounding real hard because I saw how close we came to the edge. He told me to get back in the passenger seat after. That was the first time I drove a car. When we got back to my grandma’s we had to tell her about our close brush with death, and she was very angry with him for letting me drive. For years, every time I talked about getting a new car or anything she would say ‘I hope you will be more careful than when you drove that Mustang!’ and I would go ‘I was five or six years old back then Grandma!’. The car had belonged to Gene’s older brother, then my dad drove it to take my mum to their high school prom, then it was handed down to Gene and then I drove it.
Tina and Marcus with their pony's in South Sioux City, Nebraska
Tina: I went car shopping with my dad. There was a little red Mustang at the lot, a basic 4 cylinder convertible, it didn’t have nice wheels, the interior was red and it just wasn’t for me. Marcus: A week later my dad was shopping for a car and we were at that same car lot and, I saw this red Mustang, so I test drove it and left in it. It was a red '90 convertible with bad wheels, my first Mustang. Later I went cruising and was parked up somewhere and Tina came over to join her friends. That’s how we met. Tina: It took a while to work out that it was the same Mustang. Marcus: Once a group of us went to the Ozarks, we heard about these old suspension bridges so we set out to find one. We ended up going down gravel roads, through forests and finally got to one of those bridges. Tina and me were the first and as we slowed, she shouted ‘Let me out!' The bridge was rusty, with frayed cables and planks with big gaps for driving across. When she was out of the car I just went for it. The crossing was extremely loud. The other cars and Tina followed. Then a huge truck zipped across, never even hesitating. Tina: In 2015 we went to Vegas for the 50 year Mustang celebration. There wasn’t enough time to drive, so we booked flights and rented a Mustang. It was booked a year in advance, but when we got there they had no Mustangs left and offered us a Camaro, I said ‘I can’t go to a Mustang rally in a Camaro!’. We didn’t have to wait long before our horse came in.
Scott and Pam with his 1965 Mustang in Wayne, Nebraska
Scott: I was going to be 50 – and the same applied to the ’64 and a half Mustang, it makes us about the same age. I thought it would be a nice birthday present to myself. We have family in Tucson, Arizona, so we tend to go down there in the winter. We were at a car show there and my wife Pam found what I was looking for. In the middle of the car show sat a 1965 Mustang with a ‘for sale’ sign on it. Pam: The first car I ever drove, to go to school in – was a cute little ’78 Mustang 2. I learned to drive in that car. We lived on the outskirts of Lincoln and I went to a school in the country, so we were allowed to drive from quite young. I was about 13 years old when I started driving it to school functions. The car was so light that, come winter, we loaded the back with rock salt and dog food to weigh it down and give it more traction on the Nebraskan roads. Scott: I remember getting my school permit to drive to driver’s education. I had to get to driver’s ed to learn how to drive, but I had a school permit to drive there – crazy! Pam: The Mustang Scott got in the end has a production date and number in the motor area. The build date is April 6, 1964, and Scott was born almost exactly nine months later, on January 7, 1965. Makes you wonder no? Scott: Makes me cringe. The first thing my niece said when she saw me drive up in my ’65 Rangoon Red Mustang was ‘Nice midlife crisis!’.
Mary Ann and her 2015 Mustang GT Convertible in Fort Dodge, Iowa
I met Mary Ann outside the local Target in Fort Dodge. I noticed a yellow Mustang convertible – with a number plate that read ‘TWEETY’ – in the parking lot, and thought I’d wait a few minutes to see whether Tweety would turn up. It wasn’t too long before Mary Ann returnedd and I got to talk to her for a few minutes whilst taking her portrait. She told me that her husband, after retiring, had bought himself a ’15 Mustang Shelby GT and, not wanting to be left behind, she bought herself a treat, too.
Ed and Amanda with his 1968 Mustang Shelby GTKR and the Bullitt car in Irwin, Illinois
When I was a kid my dad had a garage, he would come home from work and work on cars. When I got older I watched Bullit and read Mustang magazines, and thought ‘I gotta get a Mustang’. Then, before I turned 16, we bought a ’69 Mustang Mach 1. It was in bad shape, but my dad and I got it going, it was my first car. A few years after, we bought a ’67 Fastback. It started out a $400 box of parts, sat around for a while and then we decided to turn it into the Bullitt car. We put a new motor and a different drive train into it and fixed up the body, we did everything but the paint job and I’ve been driving it, ever since. It was a real father and son project and now means a lot to me. Then a ‘68 Shelby happened. I had heard about it through a friend who knew someone who had restored it, it got hailed on and was sold… but it was still around somewhere. So, one Sunday a bunch of us got together and we went out to look for it. We got to a house that had a Thunderbird sitting out front and we asked whether he knew about the Shelby. He pointed us towards the Indiana Stateline and in the end, we found it. I went back four or five times and decided that I couldn’t live without it. It was the same with the ’10 Shelby. For weeks every text message, every conversation, to my wife was about this Shelby. Then my Dad said he would go half, he wanted me to have it. It was like a parting gift, as if he knew he wouldn’t be around for much longer and he has passed away since.
Eric with his 2009 Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 in Grosse Point Farms, Michigan
Since I was 13 I’d helped my uncle, who worked at a body repair shop and scavenger yard, he taught me how to fix cars. I guess I fell in love with the classic Mustangs during that time. I told my dad that for my first car I would get a classic Mustang. But all I could afford was a 4-cylinder ’81 LX Automatic just before I turned 16. She wasn’t a pretty car, but to me, it looked amazing. Then, through being young and foolish, I managed to snap the throttle cable. My uncle pulled one from another Mustang and quickly fitted it. Something wasn’t right, though. When you put the car into ‘DRIVE’ it was really sluggish, like starting a standard up in fifth gear. My workaround was to put it in first, then shift to second, and then go into ‘DRIVE’. People must have thought the car barely roadworthy, but I loved it – I felt faster having a shift system, of sorts, and I thought I had a pretty sweet ride. Being one of the first of my friends to have a car, there was often three or four of us piled in, cruising around town. When we got bored we would get on the road and egg others on, trying to initiate a chase. Sometimes, we would get chased down all these country roads by some rednecks in pickup trucks. This was before everyone was carrying a gun. We were 16, maybe 17, years old at the time, getting up to mischief because there wasn’t much else to do in a small town. But, looking back, I am glad about it all – you learn from all the stupid things you’ve done.

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