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)