Saturday, December 21, 2013

Santa’s Naughty and Nice List (Mustang Style)!

While planning my Christmas list this year, I began to think about what if Santa made a “Naughty and Nice” List of Mustangs.  There are so many that could make that list but I decided to help Santa to make sure he doesn't miss any.

I’ve decided that the nice list should be a collections of Mustangs that over the years stood the test of time for the contribution they made or they brought about some nice new feature that had us saying “Hey…..that’s nice” but did so in a milder more calm “daily driver” manner than would the “Naughty” list.  The list below will chronicle each car and the reasons they made the list.

The “Nice” List;

1.      The 1964 ½ Mustang Coupe – This new car ushered in a new breed of cars coined as the “Pony” car, but it did so in a milder manner than what was in store for its near future.  The original classic Mustang came equipped with a mild 260 cu. In. V8, but did manage to turn lots of heads and sell at a record pace for the folks at Ford.
2.      The 1974 Mustang II – This car was a fresh update for the Mustang brand but it came during the genesis of the gas shortage and makes the “Nice” list due to the fact that it did receive the Motor Trend Car of the Year honors.  The new platform was even smaller than the original Mustang introduced in 1964 and was able to meet the new U.S. emissions and safety standards.
3.      1984 SVO Mustang – This car could also be considered for the “Naughty” list but I chose to keep it here for the reason that this new breed of Mustang brought some new technology to the table that was worthy of a second look.  This European-styled hatchback was equipped with a turbo-charged 4 cylinder engine that was as quick as the V8 GT’s!  It boasted a 0-60 time of 7.5 sec (fast for the day).  The SVO’s were only built for three years (84-86), but still remain very popular with collectors. 

4.      2005 Mustang – Retro was the word used to describe this “all new” Mustang that Ford brought to the public in the fall of 2004.  The car and the sales for this one was another home-run and the throwback styling was very popular with the older generation who was ready to buy a new Mustang again.  Many of the body lines rekindled the look of the 1967 fastback Mustangs.
5.      2011 Mustang V6 – How does 300 horsepower and 30 miles per gallon sound?  When the new 3.7 liter V6 Mustang was released it was rated at 305 HP and 31 MPG!  That was enough power to get the V8 guys to take notice and the 30 MPG was more than enough to get everybody talking.  These horsepower numbers of over 305 was equivalent to the output of the 1996 Cobra Mustang.

The Naughty List should be a collection of Mustangs that strike fear in the other drivers as you drive by and make you wonder if the guy behind the wheel can handle the beast he’s driving!  This list is not for the faint of heart, but more for those who dare to live on the edge and take a trip on the wild side from time to time. 

The Naughty List;

1.      1967 Shelby GT-500 “Eleanor” – Okay, it’s a movie car but it’s one of the most recognized Mustangs ever built.  This car was the star of the 2000 movie Gone in 60 seconds and was built by Classic Recreations in Oklahoma.  Each one came equipped with a NOS system in the trunk and its attached to an “Armed” toggle on the dash and a “Go Baby Go” red button on the shift knob.  If you wanted one of the movie cars built for you, they ran approx. $100,000 for the base model with 535 horsepower or open the wallet up a little wider and get the 770 horsepower version for approx. $189,000.
2.      1968 Cobra-Jet 428 Mustang – This mid-year offering from Ford was built for the drag strip and that’s just where it made most of its claim to fame.  It came equipped with all the upgrades, mods, and goodies for the strip.  With 11.5 second ¼ mile runs at 120 mph quickly earned top honors at the 1968 NHRA Winter-Nationals in the Super Stock Class.
3.      1970 BOSS 429 Mustang - This car was so “Hot” it had to be sent to an aftermarket company (Kar-Kraft) for the big bad 429 cu. in. engine to be shoe-horned into the engine bay.  The beast under the hood was believed to have a horsepower output somewhere between 500-600 HP!  Another reason these cars made the list is the eye popping colors Ford painted them (Grabber Orange, Grabber Green, Grabber Blue, Calypso Coral, and Pastel Blue) and the giant hood scoop was painted matte black. 
4.      2000 Cobra R Mustang – This limited edition Mustang (only 300 built) packs a 5.4 liter/385-horsepower engine under the hood that was capable of 170 mph!  With its bulging hood, lowered suspension, bigger brakes, large rear spoiler, and side exhaust it is clear that this Mustang was ahead of its time for performance.  By the way, it was only available in the color “Performance Red”.  

5.      2013 Shelby GT-500 Mustang – One phrase defines why this car makes the list……200 mph!  If that did not impress you I’ve got another number for you- 662 horsepower!  Do I have your attention now?   The 5.8 liter supercharged V8 power plant in this beast will propel it from zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds and the ¼ mile in a mere 11.8 seconds.  It also packs a ground pounding 631 lb-ft of torque! 
      I hope that each of you have been good this year and maybe Santa will bring you what you asked for……as for me, I’ve been nice this year, but my wishes are on the Naughty list! 

      What about you?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Paul Walker and James Dean……….Gone Too Soon!!

As I was reflecting this weekend about the very tragic death of another one of our Hollywood actors, I could not help but be reminded of another young actor who was taken from this earth too soon.  The striking similarities between the deaths of these two young men were eerie and I thought the two needed to be compared.  These two California born actors were lost before they had achieved their greatest accomplishments, but they both lived life to the fullest and made such an impact in a short time.

Quick Facts:

·         Age at time of death:  James Dean 24 years old, Paul Walker 40 years old.

·         Profession:  Both Hollywood actors

·         Movie Career: James Dean was the star of only two films at the time and had just finished his third when he was killed.  Dean made an impact on the teens of the 50’s and 60’s with his rolls on film and his off screen allure.  Paul Walker had been in many TV and movie rolls during his career, but gained the most success as the star of the very successful Fast and Furious movie series and was currently filming the 7th instalment of this series.  Walker had a large impact on the street racing and tuner scene of today’s youth.

·         Hobby: Both Dean and Walker enjoyed driving race cars in their off time.  Dean had already owned a few sports cars and had begun competing in the Palm Springs Road Races and also at Bakersfield. His final race was at Santa Barbra where he drove a 1955 Porsche Super Speedster and was running 4th when he had engine trouble.  His racing career was halted by Warner Brothers until he had finished filming Giant, his next film at the time (It would be his last).  Paul Walker also enjoyed weekend racing and had competed in the Redline Time Attack racing series with his BMW M3 E92.  He also was a member of the AE Performance Race Team (Always Evolving race team owned by Roger Rodas).

(This is believed to be the last photo of Dean by his 550 Spyder)
(This is thought to be the last known photo of Walker by his Carrera GT)

·         Car Wreck:  James Dean was killed in a Porsche 550 Spyder and Paul Walker was killed in a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, both were exotic sports cars capable of extremely high speed and acceleration!

·         Controversy: One big question in both deaths is whether speed was a factor.  It has always been assumed that the wreck that killed Dean was due to high speed and/or his daredevil lifestyle; however recent evidence suggests that Dean was driving the car and was only traveling approx. 70mph.  Prior investigations had suggested that Dean’s mechanic (Rolf Wutherich) was driving and that they were traveling in excess of 100mph.  Dean and his mechanic were actually driving to a car race in Salinas, California and decided to drive the 550 Spyder instead of towing it.  There is also a backstory of this Porsche 550 Spyder and the possible “curse” the car had.  In the case of Walker’s wreck there is also questions about what caused the wreck…..was it speed, who was driving, was it a mechanical failure?  If you have seen the crash photos it does seem that speed was most likely involved because the car was ripped up badly and then caught fire.  Initial investigations into Walker’s accident say that the driver of the Carrera GT was Roger Rodas, who was a close personal friend and financial advisor.  Roger was also an avid race car driver and owner/CEO of AE Performance Race Team.

It’s very odd that James Dean known for his “Rebel” type persona, and Walker known for his love of fast cars (on and off the screen) and that they both left this World in such a violent way-while in a sports car doing what they loved.  Call it irony or fate; these two men will always live on through the big screen as we relive their glory days on film.  But one thing is for sure……..they will forever be missed!

RIP: James Dean (Feb. 8, 1931 – Sep. 30, 1955)
RIP:  Paul Walker (Sep. 12, 1973 – Nov. 30, 2013)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Top 5 Car Nicknames!

Nicknames are a funny thing……sometimes it’s taken as a compliment and other times it’s an insult, but never the less a nickname can stick for a long time. 

During the Barrett Jackson car auctions at the various locations each year, you hear the guys in the booth refer to a cars’ nickname and I always wonder about the back story behind that name.  I decided to compile my Top 5 car nicknames and see if I could decipher the riddles on a few of these………hope you enjoy my favorites! 
(Photo I took of an original Shelby Cobra at the World of Wheels Show) 

  1. The Judge (Pontiac GTO) The Pontiac GTO was built from 1964 – 1974 and landed right in the middle of the “muscle car” era of the 60’s and 70’s.  Even though the car was enjoying success, a new model was introduced in 1969 called “The Judge” and that name was used in many new advertising slogans, like “All rise for the Judge” and “The Judge can be bought”.  After the car hit the streets with its great looks and ground pounding performance, it became clear that this car had been built to Judge all other muscle cars of the day.  Just to make sure you were noticed, the most popular color was Carousel Red (a bright shade of orange) and emblazoned with a decal package written “The Judge” on the front quarter panel for all to see.
  2. The Beetle/Bug (Volkswagen Type 1) This German automobile was produced from 1938 to 2003 and was intended to be a cheap/affordable mass produced car for the people to enjoy driving on the newly formed road network.  Adolf Hitler worked with Porsche in the development and design of this car and it was an instant hit.  The car quickly became known as Käfer, (which is German for beetle) and I’m sure you can see why from the overall shape of the car.  The Volkswagen Beetle or Bug as it’s also been called is one of those cars that everyone loves and it even has a cult type following everywhere you go.  Most folks who have owned one seem to have many fond memories in this car and some still own their original cars today.
  3. Jeep (Willys/Ford GP) The Willys MB US Army Jeep and the Ford GPW were built from 1941 to 1945 as a small 4x4 utility vehicle to be used as a military personnel carrier during World War II.  The Willys version was called the GP (for Government Purpose) and the Ford was called GPW (for Government Purpose Willys).  How the vehicle got the name Jeep has many origins but I’ll cover a couple for you to decide.  Many of the early Army mechanics used the term “jeep” when referring to an untested or untried “prototype” vehicle.  Others say that the term was used because of the popular comic strip/cartoon character Eugene the Jeep.  He was Popeye’s mysterious/small “jungle pet” who was able to quickly move around between dimensions and seem to always be able to solve problems and get out of sticky situations.  The story goes that the Army soldiers quickly coined the term “Jeep” to describe this vehicle after seeing it mimic these same abilities in the field.  Nevertheless, the Jeep became one of the most popular off-road vehicle ever and still captures a large portion of SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) sales today.
  4. Godzilla (Nissan GT-R) The GT-R is a sports car produced by Nissan (of Japan) beginning in 2007 and is still being made today.  This incredibly quick twin turbo V6 car has become a benchmark type sports car that all other modern sports car makers strive to match.  When it hit the US streets in 2008 the car immediately earned a nickname that fits so well……Godzilla! The heritage of this car came from the Nissan Skyline GT-R produced in Japan from 1969 to 1974 and also between 1989 and 2002.  These early cars carried the street name Godzilla because it was large and in charge and tearing up everything in its path.  Using all four wheels and 545 HP to power this car from zero to sixty in a mere 3.2 seconds, this car killed the competition worldwide.  With numerous lap time records at the famed Nürburgring track in Germany, it was logical see how the green lizard was eating up all the other sports cars who attempted to challenge this Japanese giant!  The current GT-R record setting time of 7:18 minutes is 9th fastest of ALL time (Production Street Legal vehicles) and the new 2014 Nismo Edition GT-R is rumored to break that record.
  5. Cobra (Shelby AC) The Shelby AC Cobra was built from 1961 to 1967 and still remains one of the most recognized and sought after sports cars in the World.  This one is not as simple, but the Cobra story begins with the British car builder AC Cars in the early 60’s; they were using a Bristol straight 6 engine in their small two-seater cars.  Carroll Shelby sent a request to AC asking if they would modify one of the cars to fit a V8 under the hood and AC accepted the challenge.  After some dead ends with Chevy, Carroll finally got Ford to deliver him one of their new 260 cubic in. V8’s (a new lightweight high performance small block V8 engine) to be installed in the car.  As testing and development continued it was easy to see how this car was going to be something special.  These cars would go on to set records and win a ton of races……making Carroll Shelby a house hold name!  Now what did Carroll intend to call this new little hot-rod?  The name Cobra is said to have come to Carroll in a dream, he kept a pen a notepad by his bed and many times thoughts and ideas he had during the night would be jotted down to review the next morning.  The story is told that he had a dream during the night where he saw the name Cobra on the front of his new car.  After waking up the next morning he saw this name and decided that would be the name of this new lightweight car he was producing.  But wait- there is more to the story- as it turns out Crosley (an engine maker in the early 50’s) had built some special Copper Brazed (CoBra) parts for a new lighter weight generator engine used during the war.  So Shelby tells that they ran into some legal issues with the copyright of the name Cobra as it turned up that Crosley had called their engine a cobra.  However, by the time Shelby tried to copyright the name it had been lost in the shuffle of various companies and trademark renewals.  In the end Shelby was able to copyright and use the name on his famous two-seater sports car and the rest is left in the history books.

Now this list is just a few of the car names that were the most interesting to me.  There were so many other names that had interesting stories.   Maybe I will take some of your favorites and do more research and work on a 2nd top 5 list. 

Thanks, Joseph

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mustang #1 and #1 Million!

Long before the debut of the Ford Mustang on April 17, 1964, the assembly line was already cranking out thousands of the all new two door car.  Dealers throughout the United States were already receiving the new car in anticipation of showing them off on the launch date.  A few of the early pre-production Mustangs were to be used for promotional purposes and were not to be sold; these cars are usually kept within Ford for various testing and marketing.  It turns out that one of those early models was a Wimbledon White convertible wearing serial number 5F08F100001 and it was delivered to George Parsons Ford in Canada.  This was among those pre-production cars that were not to be sold to the public, however while on display at the dealership the car caught the attention of an Eastern Provincial Airline pilot named Capt. Stanley Tucker and he knew he had to have it.  He talked the dealership into selling it to him and drove away in his new white Mustang convertible.  This was just one of the near 22,000 Mustangs that were sold that first weekend of sales.  The funny thing was it seemed like just another Mustang being sold to the next happy customer, but very soon Ford and the folks back at headquarters in Dearborn realized that there was something extremely special about the car that Capt. Tucker had purchased.  After it was confirmed what had taken place, Ford officials knew that this was Mustang number 1 and that it was not intended for this car to be sold.  Ford contacted him and told him the story of this car and began trying to convince Capt. Tucker to sell it back to them, but he was not interested in this because he was having too much fun driving his new convertible. 
(Photo courtesy of Ford)
He had already driven the car approximately 10,000 miles when Ford reached out to Capt. Tucker again in the winter of 1965; however this time they were offering an incentive.  Ford was offering to trade an all-new 1966 Mustang optioned with anything he wanted in trade for Mustang number 1.  Now by this time Mustang fever had swept the nation and the sale were skyrocketing.  During the first year of production the sale reached an amazing 417,000 and Ford was having a hard time meeting the demand for this hot new sports car.  The cars incredible low price tag and youthful looks had everybody wanting one.  It only took just over two years of production for the Mustang to reach the 1 million car mark.

Now here comes the cool part, Ford was offering the let Capt. Tucker decide how he wanted the car to be equipped.  He accepted and picked his new 1966 white convertible up as it rolled off the assembly line, and yes there was a lot more excitement and fanfare this time as took position of his new Mustang.  This one had the newer 289 V8 engine with a C4 Cruise-O-Matic transmission.  Ford called Capt. Tuckers new Mustang number 1 million and I guess that was fitting because it was a once and a lifetime trade.

Shortly after the trade took place Ford shipped Mustang number 1 back to Dearborn to the Henry Ford Museum where it was freshened up with a new coat of paint and has never been driven since.

On a personal note, while attending the 45th Mustang Celebration at Barber Motorsports Park in 2009 with my Dad, I was in for quite a surprise when visiting the Motorcycle museum.  Guests were allowed to visit the floor level of the Museum and Ford had loaned Mustang number 1 to be displayed throughout the weekend and I was able to see it for the first time.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2014 Range Rover Sport Unveiling

Once again it was time to visit another launch party and unveiling of an all-new vehicle and this time around it was the 2014 Range Rover Sport at Century (Land Rover Huntsville).   Now I know what you are thinking, a launch party for a sport utility vehicle?   Trust me this is not your mothers grocery-getter……but it could be, even if she wanted to drive to Mount Kilimanjaro to finish her must-have list.
 The guests enjoyed food, drinks, and music as they looked over the features of this incredible all new SUV from Land Rover.  What sets this multi passenger vehicle apart from the others is the fact that it offers sports car performance and handling abilities as well as full all-terrain benefits.

Before you get too excited hearing all about the 150 mph runs or the ability to tread almost three feet of water, let me remind you that it is a thing of beauty.  This is one of the few SUV’s that will cause you to look twice when you see it.  It’s the most sophisticated off-road capable vehicle I’ve ever seen in my 40 something years.  The new Sport is not so boxy looking and offers a smoother/sleeker profile that is even 800 pounds lighter than last year’s model.

(One of the first things you notice if you are already familiar with these upscale SUV’s is that this new model is lower, longer, and wider than previous Sports)
Just because I know you can’t wait any longer let’s talk features; each one of the trim levels offers full-time 4-wheel drive with electronic traction control, and an 8-speed automatic transmission.  The base or SE trim offers a 3.0 liter 340-horsepower supercharged V6 engine and the standard Terrain Response system.  If your budget will allow for a few more goodies, then step up to the HSE trim and you are treated to perforated leather/heated seats, sliding panoramic sunroof, fog lamps, 20 inch wheels, and wood trim inside.  Now if you are ready to pull out all the stops and just get what you really want, then go for the V8 Supercharged trim and you’ll get a whopping 510-horsepower engine that will propel you from zero to sixty in 5.0 seconds flat! (No…..I’m not kidding). 

There is one other top of the line trim that Century had on hand at the unveiling, the Autobiography model, that is fully loaded with every feature you could ever want and more including a cooler in the center console, 825 watt Meridian Premium stereo system, 21 inch wheels and bright red Brembro brake calipers, and an additional performance enhancement package that takes the top speed to 155 mph.
I almost forgot to mention that if you are not afraid to sling a little mud and have a ton of fun, you might ask about Land Rovers off-road driving school.  No matter you skill level or experience, the folks at Land Rover will teach you the essential skills needed to maneuver your Range Rover over and around many off road obstacles as you learn from the pros.  Visit today and find out more details about the Land Rover Experience Driving School.  Land Rover has over 65 years of all-terrain experience and they have pulled out all the newest technology to make sure you get unmatched performance on and off-road.  It does not matter if you live in the city or out in the country, reward yourself with this strikingly fashioned vehicle that Land Rover has created to be driven……anywhere!
The new 2014 Range Rover Sport went on sale in August and is already a hot ticket, so make plans to visit the showroom this week and decide if this all new Sport utility vehicle from Land Rover is going to be on your Christmas list!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Corvettes and American Heroes

I recently heard a father talking about his daughter having a school project where she had to name two American heroes’ and tell why they were a hero.  I began to reflect on what my answer would be and how I would tackle this project.  I’m not sure but I think my answer would have changed as I have gotten older and wiser.  If you Google American Heroes, here is a list of some of the top photos that come up; John Wayne, Babe Ruth, Neil Armstrong, and lots of photos of American soldiers…….I’d say those are spot on! 

A few years ago I remember reading an article about three American Astronauts and their love for speed.  The “Astrovette” story by John Nelson captured the story of Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr., Richard Gordon Jr., and Alan Bean. It was fitting that these men who lived their lives on the edge of speed as test pilots and military aviators would also share a passion for technology, performance, and fast cars.  Although the specific details are sketchy, General Motors (GM) and a local car dealership in Melbourne Florida made the decision to give Astronauts of the 1960’s an executive lease of a brand new Chevy Corvette for one year.  Many of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Space Program astronauts could be seen speeding up and down the streets of the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, TX or the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida and the reserved parking spaces at JSC were commonly lined with various colors of Corvettes.  This opportunity was just a nice way of saying thanks to the men who risked their lives for our country and was a great promotion for GM, the Chevy Corvette, and the US Space Program. 
I’m sure it was quite a thrill for each of the guys to get to choose the color and type of Corvette they wanted, but there was one special group of three astronauts from the Apollo 12 crew who decided to order and drive matching cars.  Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr., Richard Gordon Jr., and Alan Bean drove matching Riverside Gold 1969 Corvette Stingrays and even had a couple of extra flares to set them apart.  Each of their cars wore specially painted black wings and red/white/blue logos on the front fender.  The special red, white, and blue emblems on the side of each car also had a unique label to set car apart.  Bean’s Corvette had “LMP” on his logo (Lunar Module Pilot), Conrad’s car had “CMD” (Commander), and Gordon’s car had “CMP” (Command Module Pilot).  They also had a photo shoot done with their beloved cars as a way to remember them and the December1969 issue of Life magazine even covered this story. 

Each of their 1969 coupes came equipped with a four speed manual transmission and 429 cubic inch /390 HP engine.
Due to complaints from the public, this lease program between the US astronauts and Chevrolet came to a close just a couple of years later.  The history and lore of these Corvettes and their whereabouts would continue to be chased for many years but I will let you do the research on, as Paul Harvey use to say; “The Rest of the Story

The US astronauts will always be my heroes because most of them had already served in our military before joining or being recruited by the US Space program.  They pushed the limits of speed and were also known to be a little bit of a rebel at times and I guess that’s what it took to have the guts and glory of flying into Space.  They gave every little boy and girl something to dream about and goals to strive for and that’s why they are still my heroes!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The road less traveled

Okay, summer is here and for many of us it’s time to hit the beach, drive up to the mountains, or head out west.  All of these family adventures usually begin with…..”Where are we going?”  I personally like the mountains and the cooler air, the drives along winding roads that twist through the trees and overhanging rocks, but many of you prefer a trip down south to the beach.  Either way, its vacation time for you and your family.

I was recently eating lunch with a friend of mine and he had just returned from a road trip out west where he and his nephew rented a convertible Mustang and traveled along parts of the old historic Route 66 highway that was once so popular with travelers.  He told of the many stops they made and how much fun it was to just cruise the back roads with the top down and their hair blowing in the wind.  They saw the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, and many sights that I’ve never seen.  As we continued to talk it got me to thinking that I need to plan a trip like this with my family.  Now before you can say it, yes, I’ve seen the movie “RV” with Robin Williams and that’s not the kind of road trip/vacation I want to go on. (But a funny movie if you have not seen it)  I’m talking about a trip that takes you back into American history and travels to areas of our county that are dying off so fast that soon no one will even remember them anymore.  It’s sad to say this, but I’m just as guilty of planning our travels with one thing in mind, what route are we taking that can get us there the fastest and stay on the bigger highways and interstates.  It’s just the way our society has changed-we plan a trip and it’s more about the place we are going than the journey getting there.  Back in the old days we use to take our time as we traveled and part of the vacation itself was the things we would do along the way. 
George Strait had a song in 2001 named “The Road Less Traveled” and the lyrics said this; “There’s a road, a winding road that never ends, full of curves lessons learned at every bend…….for the road less traveled ain’t for the faint of heart, for those who choose to play it safe and never stray too far, me I want to live my life and one day leave my mark”

I’m going to do my best to plan a road trip with my family that includes taking “the road less traveled” and see part of this awesome country we live in and just enjoy the ride wherever it takes us!  Who’s going to join me as we take a road trip this summer?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Reasons you might be a Mustang Fanatic!

It’s the age-old dual of Ford vs. Chevy that all car guys love to argue about and most folks don’t even know why they argue about it.  You may have been born into a Ford, Chevy or Mopar family and the only reason you are passionate about that brand of car is because that’s what your daddy drove, therefore that’s what you have always driven!  I understand that completely and there’s a certain amount of family tradition that goes with the type of car you drive or the manufacturer you are loyal to, but when you declare your allegiance, you better get ready for the rivalry that comes with it.  Most of the time it’s all in fun, but some folks are very serious about it and you would think their last names were Hatfield or McCoy.  I have even heard the saying before: “That boy is into his Mustang so much, he bleeds Ford blue”!  I’m sure that the Chevy guys are just as crazy about their Impalas, Malibu’s, or Bel-Air’s, but it seems the Ford guys are the more loyal to the Blue Oval.

I’ve been to the local drag strip many times and without fail, if there is a classic Ford and Chevy staged in the lanes next to each other, you watch the crowds rise up and take notice as they cheer their favorite toward the finish line.  People love their Mustangs, Camaros, or Chargers and they take pride and ownership in that particular brand more than any other.  But when you drive a Ford Mustang it seems you instantly become part of a large family of loyal fans and you are accepted just because you drive a Mustang.  There are car shows/cruise-in’s/meetings/clubs/and even a song or two dedicated to the Mustang, so I’d say it’s become kind of a cult-like following.  The online Webster dictionary defines a Fanatic as “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion”; I think I resemble that remark, do you?
Maybe we should review some of the signs that you may have this condition.

Let’s look at the top 5 reasons you might be a Mustang Fanatic:
  1. You already subscribe to more than one monthly mustang publication.
  2. Your screensaver album has more photos of Mustangs than family.
  3. Any of your children or family pets are named Shelby.
  4. You own more than four shirts with a Mustang on it.
  5. You can tell anyone who asked you what happened on April 17th, 1964.
I’m sure you could add a few of your own to this list but it’s all just part of the passion and devotion that defines who a Mustang owner is!  The Mustang nation of fanatics grows more every year and as we approach the 50th anniversary I’m excited to say that it’s only going to get bigger!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Old Flame

Think back and see if you can remember that special girl that you had a crush on……you chased her, dreamed of her, then one day you finally worked up the courage to take her out and the relationship began.  Then a strange transformation took place, your whole world revolved around her, she is all you thought about and you spent all your hard earned money on her.  Everything was working out great and you loved her so much, but as time went on your relationship grew farther apart and you didn’t seem to spend as much money on her and you began to see a few flaws in her and you even seemed to lose your desire to spend as much time with her.  Even if it lasted a long time, the relationship lost its spark and you sometimes found yourself looking around at other girls (note to self……this can lead to big trouble).

Okay, have you figured out that I’m not talking about a girl?  I’m talking about an old flame……your old car you used to have, she was your baby, but now somebody else is driving her??  You sold her, traded her, etc…….it doesn’t matter the reason, the fact is, she’s not yours anymore!  It’s a sad day after she is gone and you realize you wish you had her back.  I’m sure many of you can relate to this.

The O-Jays in 1978 had a song titled “Used to be my girl” and it had a few lyrics that will remind you of that old car you wish you had back!  I respect her, when she was mine, I used to neglect her, she wanted more than I could give……..And if I had the chance, I’d take her back, as a matter a fact, right away, like today…..She used to be my girl”. 

Yes, if we had the chance, many of us would love to take back our old car that was our pride and joy!  We would most likely treat her with more tender care this time.  Sometimes guys are able to track down their old rides and are able to restore them to the way they once were.  Maybe you would do things to it this time around that you did not have the time or funds to do when you owned her before.  Truth is that with the internet, car clubs, car forums, and databases, you may find that it is easier to find your old dream car.  If you are one of the lucky ones to get a second chance to own that “Old Flame”, make sure you treat her with more respect this time!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The new 2014 Jaguar it your type?

I had an opportunity to attend a launch party and unveiling of the all-new 2014 Jaguar F-TYPE.  You might ask why this is so special, well; this 2014 F-TYPE is the first new roadster from Jaguar in 40 years.   The historical E-Type debuted in 1961 and ended in 1974, so the gap will finally be bridged, and I can assure you that there are some major advances in style, technology, and performance.  I will get back to the features of the car shortly, but let me set the stage for this very special event first. 

Upon entering the dealership the lobby was flanked by two of the all new F-TYPE convertibles and also a 1970 E-Type 2+2 Coupe.  All guests were treated to food/drinks/music, and a wonderful atmosphere where you were encouraged to check out all the features of this new vehicle.  The showroom was filled with approximately 60-70 guests including several members from the North Alabama British Motoring Society.  Many of these car enthusiasts had driven their own classic/vintage British motorcars to the event.  One very special club member’s car was featured inside, a 1970 E-Type 2+2 coupe with a 4.2liter straight 6-cylinder.

Okay……now for the scoop on the new car that Jaguar is not referring to as a tribute, but flows with the classic E-Type’s DNA.  The 2014 Jaguar F-Type is available in three models; Base, S, and the V8 S. This two seat fabric top roadster sets itself apart as totally different looking from anything in Jaguars’ current family, and is described on the brochure as “Pure Driving Pleasure”.  Each model is equipped with a Roots-type twin vortex supercharger under the one piece stamped aluminum hood.  The Base has a 3.0 liter V6 engine with 340 HP, the S model has a 3.0 liter V6 with 380 HP, and the mighty V8 S has a 5.0 liter V8 with an incredible 495HP.   The supercharger is mounted in the “V” of the engine to keep the profile of the hood more compact which maintains the sleek look to the hood line. 

As I reflect for a moment, one of the more exciting thrills of the evening was when the sales manager unexpectedly fired the engine on the V8 S and blipped the throttle a few times……..I can assure you that the guests were awake and eager to hear more from the beast growling under the hood!  That leads me to tell you about the Active Sport Exhaust system Jaguar has made standard on the S and the V8 S models. It features active bypass valves which open during more spirited driving, allowing exhaust to exhale a bit more freely.  The result is quite frankly unlike anything I’ve heard before……..the best way I know to describe it was a deep American V8 rumble mixed with a healthy dose of Ferrari.  By the way, this system does has a manual switch so that you can take control of when and where you want to make a little music of your own.  When you decide to take part in a little of the spirited driving that I mentioned you can do so at a pace that will impress even the tougher car magazine editors.  The new F-Type’s V8 S will take you on a major head rush as it reaches the 60mph standard in a mere 4.2 seconds, and is reported to have a 186 mph top speed.  (I hope I’m invited back for one of those “spirited” test drives I keep referring to)  In case you are curious how that stacks up against some stiff competition, in a recent Automobile Magazine test drive the Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet was only able to reach 60 mph in 4.5 sec. and the “as tested” cost was $18,855 more than the Jaguar.

I almost forgot to mention that it delivers a whopping 460 lb. ft. of torque through the 8-speed automatic dual-clutch gearbox.  If you are feeling the need for speed and decide to flip the switch on the dynamic mode to the left of the joystick looking shift lever, the F-Type will reward the driver with a host of race inspired goodies--quicker throttle response, quicker steering, and the adjustable shocks become more firm to plant this roaster into the turns with a more race inspired feel.  The action heats up even more if you decide to take measures literally into your own hands by switching to sport mode on the shifter knob--you can change gears when you want to and then if that wasn’t enough go for it by flipping the paddle shifters from behind the wheel and never take your hands from the wheel.  If this type of driving excites you then choose the Performance Pack option and enjoy the 8inch touch screen in the dash as it displays the G-Force meter, lap times, and other “go fast” info you race junkies are looking for from a rear wheel drive sports car.

My favorite part of the car was the sexy hips that the roadster was sporting in the rear--the side profile of the car rolled over and into a point near the back of this car reminded me of the classic look of its older brother in the showroom…..the E-Type but with a more refined and glamorous look.  It’s hard to imagine using the two terms racy and glamorous in the description of this car, but trust me that’s how I felt about it.  I overheard one guest say that the car “looks fast even when parked”.   And even though I’ve heard that term used before, it certainly rings true with this ride.
There are so many more features of this all new car that I don’t have time to cover, I could go on for hours.  But the best thing you can do is go see it and decide if this sleek new roadster is just what you’ve been missing in your garage!  The new 2014 Jaguar F-Type is most defiantly my “Type”.  The hardest part of your visit to the showroom will be……what color do you want?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Boys to Men!

I reached another milestone this week……..I began helping my son learn to drive a 5 speed manual shift car.  I must admit that he did great, much better than I did my first time trying to drive a manual shift car.  He picked up on the function of the clutch quicker than I expected and I think by the end of the summer he will have mastered it pretty well.  He seemed to be excited and nervous and the same time and surprisingly I was calmer with him than I thought I would be.  Dads can get a little nervous also during these early driving lessons and that may be why I learned to drive a stick shift car with lessons from my mom. 

As I reflected on our successful first driving lesson, I began to think about at what age a boy truly begins to develop his passion for cars.  Boys play with hot-wheels and model car when they are little, but at what point does the spark light their true excitement for wanting their first car?  I guess it depends on the boy; some kids may get into computers/girls/sports/etc…..but if they are destined to be a “Car Guy” at some time in their early teen years they begin to take more notice of cool cars.  They start asking questions about the make or model and the specifics of the engine size or horsepower.  If the dad is a car guy this development will usually be quicker than if the dad or grand dad is not into cars or hot rods himself.  No matter what age it happens, this can be a wonderful time for some father / son bonding as they share in the love of all things cars!  I tell people all the time that you are NEVER too old to play with cars!

(This photo is my son at a one of many car shows we enjoyed together when he was younger)
That leads me to another related topic… shows; taking a kid to a car show is so much fun and can be a great event that you share with the whole family.  Most car shows and cruise-ins are very family friendly and have something for all ages like face painting, games, contest, or even a kid’s choice award where the kids under a certain age get to vote for their favorite car/truck at the show.  Don't miss a great opportunity to share in this great past time event with your family and you can even relive a little of your youth as you tell them some stories of the "Good Ol Days"!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Now it’s time to wax!

After giving you tips last time on how to wash your ride, now it’s time to wax it.  Most folks forget that waxing a car not only makes it shine, but it protects the paint and if have not priced a paint job lately, trust me you want to do all you can to protect and prolong the finish on your ride.  Waxing the paint on your vehicle can help protect it from contaminates like tree sap, bird droppings, road grit/grime, acid rain, dirt, smoke, and even small rocks.  Most small scratches can also be removed from the paint surface if you wash and wax your ride correctly.
The first step is to make sure that your car or truck has been washed and dried completely (hopefully following instructions from my last article).  You should never wax a vehicle while the surface is hot; always allow time in the shade for your ride to cool.  The brand of wax is up to you, but I do recommend that you read the instructions on the bottle carefully because the manufacturer sometime gives specific tips that are to be followed.  There are two main types of wax or polish to use on your vehicle; carnauba based wax is derived from tree leaves and provides the best deep “wet-look” to your paint finish, and the newer polymer waxes or sealants do a better job of bonding to the paint.  The polymer products offer longer protection of your vehicles finish; however, they don’t always give the impressive “glossy” look that the carnauba products will.  When it comes to applying the wax you want to get some of the waxing pads, they are small round (approx... 6 inch) terry cloth type pads.  These pads make it easy to apply the paste or liquid wax onto the vehicle.  I always put my wax on the pad then rub onto the surface in small swirling motions and only do small sections of the car a time.  Another excellent way to apply the wax to your ride is by using an orbital buffer.  These buffers are relatively inexpensive and can make the task simpler than the old fashion hand polishing.

(I took this photo in Somerset, KY at a car show…….look at that shine!)
Make sure that after each section of the wax has dried (formed a white haze), then remove it with a clean/dry cloth.  I always use the new “micro fiber” rags to wipe off all of the wax and then a second one to polish the paint.  If you use this technique, I promise you that your ride can also have that awesome deep “Glossy” look! Now you have no excuses not to wash and wax your ride this winter and get it ready for the Car Show and Cruise-in season!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

What's the best way to wash your car?

Folks are always asking me how I have kept my cars so clean and shiny and I usually tell them its hard work, but today I thought it was time to share a few of my car cleaning tips that should help you keep your ride clean and looking good!

There are more car cleaning products on the market today than ever and I know you are most likely overwhelmed anytime you try to find the best stuff to use on your car or truck (even if it’s not a show piece).  I have been told all of my life that you should never use normal dish soap to clean your car that it is too harsh and will damage your paint and/or strip all of the wax on your car off.  Well, I’m not sure if that is true or not, but I have always used a soap specifically designed for cars.  The products I use when I hand wash my car are not the highest priced stuff in the store, but I do use ones that give you lots of soapy suds.  Always make sure you let your car cool and try to wash it in the shade if possible. 
The best way to wash your car is to use two different wash mitts (I never use any type of sponge……it can trap dirt or grime to easy).  Use one mitt to clean the car from the top down and wash it in sections, that way you can wash a section and then quickly rinse it off (not letting the soap dry).  Use the second mitt to wash the lower section of your car and the tires and wheels.  This second mitt will always be the one that removed most of the road grit and grime from the lower sections.  You never want to use this one on the main areas of your car like the hood or top.  Don’t even put the second mitt in the bucket until you are finished washing the upper sections of the car.  Some folks even use a second bucket for this mitt.  Make sure you rinse the car off completely with lots of water to remove any soap.

2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta………Photo courtesy of Road and Track
Here is another tip that adds a little time but is worth the effort.  I use one of the synthetic chamois cloths similar to the ones the Olympic athletes used to dry off with after getting out of the pool events.  This allows you to safely dry the car and remove all of the water that has beaded up on the paint……water spots look awful and collect more dirt.  Then all you have left to do is put some shine on your tires and you are ready for the local cruise-in!!
I hope these simple tips will help you keep your ride clean……….stay tuned for another blog soon that will guide you how to wax your car and give it that show shine!!