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Car Lust Classic: "The Ford Mustang: Can You Go Home Again?"

(Submitted by Car Lust reader and Carspotting: Auto Archeology Editor Michael E. Gouge)


Mustang guest post
For my fellow car lovers, there is no need to explain the bond a 16-year-old has with his first car. Mine was a 1966 Mustang in Nightmist Blue, and it opened up a world of freedom, of escapism, of pleasure in the sound of an engine purring along an open road. In other words, this angst-filled teenager discovered a home, a sanctuary, in a Mustang.  Three decades hence, that old pony car--along with my youth and a new-found euphoria for the open road--are but memories.

Click here to read the rest of the original post by Michael, and to leave your comments.

Thomas Wolfe, the acclaimed Lost Generation author who hailed from my hometown of Asheville, N.C., famously wrote, “You can’t go home again.”  The phrase comes from the title of Wolfe’s follow-up novel, published posthumously, to his thinly veiled scathing depiction of Asheville in his classic 1929 work, “Look Homeward Angel.”

Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and fame … back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

I’m offering this brief note on literature because I find myself in some ways journeying back to those youthful dreams and memories Wolfe found are often ruined by time and circumstance. My time machine: A descendant of my long-lost Mustang.

Mustang guest post 2

It’s true: Asheville looks much different than it did in my youth, not to mention Wolfe’s time.  And the late-model Mustang I purchased a few days ago bears little in common mechanically with my old ’66, which carried me to my first job just a few hundred yards from Wolfe’s homestead. The photo above shows me with my first love. I was just 13 years old when my father purchased it.

But in some ways, I have come home again with this new pony. Behind the wheel of my latest Mustang, subtle design cues stir my memories. Everything is different, modern, even a bit bulky. But a spirit remains. Not a memory, but more like déjà vu.  I catch fragments of a sensation.

As an upperclassman in high school, I owned a Mustang II Rallye hatchback profiled previously in CARSPOTTING. Some of its DNA filters into this late model as well, and I’m drawn back to those days of Van Halen and sitting in the corner of a grocery store parking lot with friends waiting for a new adventure to present itself.

As you may know, the Mustang debuted in 1964 and forever changed the automotive landscape, starting the pony car wars and becoming a symbol of youthful freedom for a generation. I grew up fascinated with these beauties, annoying my parents with shouts of “Mustang” whenever one passed. These days, the carspotting thrill becomes seeing them hidden away in barns, junkyards, and fields — like the above collection of photos taken recently across western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina.

The original Mustang sold more than million cars in just a year-and-a-half, so plenty of them survive in one state or another. And I’m willing to bet nearly every one of them were beloved by at least one young owner.

Yes, Mr. Wolfe, it’s not the home I once knew and loved. But it takes a part of me back there with the curve of the dash, the hint of a side scoop, the ‘60s typography on the gauges, and timeless look of a running pony against a tri-colored stripe.

I roll past the places of my youth; as The Beatles used to sing, “Some have gone, and some remain.” Despite being a different decade and different Mustang, the feeling is eerily similar.  For a moment, this reverie gives me the urge to pull over just ahead. But how ridiculous would it look for a middle-age man to plant himself on the hood of this Mustang in an abandoned Bi-Lo parking lot with David Lee Roth screaming from the stereo? 

Everyone knows you can’t go home again. 

--Michael Gouge

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I hurriedly bought my maroon 1965 Mustang from a guy who was suddenly being shipped out to Vietnam. This cool Mustang was a chick magnet, but during icy Nebraska winters it had a worrisome tendency to turn around and suddenly proceed trunk-first down the slippery city streets.

Of about the 30 or so cars I've had since I started driving, I've had multiple Camaros and Firebirds in various guises, Challengers, Chargers (old and new), a GTO... but I've never had a Mustang. Never had anything against them, but I guess I just never was much of a Ford fan enough to own one, although back in 1989-90 I was pining big-time for a new 5.0 LX model (remember those?), but insurance would have been way too high for a single male under 25 at the time so I wound up with a used 85 Monte Carlo SS instead.

I have to, however, give Ford kudos for sticking with the Mustang thru thick and thin - something GM and Chrysler can't be praised for with their similar models - and yes, I even include the often-maligned 74-78 Mustang II in that category (it may not have been what dreams are made of, but at least it was there). I just hope Ford doesn't screw it up too bad with its pending 2015 redesign.

Count me among the non-Mustang group. Never been particularly interested in them with the exception of the late 60's/early 70's when they were making the Boss & Mach versions. But even those I'm not passionate about. The Corvette got into my heart at an early age, and I've never looked much beyond that in terms of practical lust worthy older muscle cars. Certainly I drool over some other cars (AMC Javelin...oh boy...) but I don't know that I could pull the trigger unless it was the steal of the century for a Mustang. Good cars, important to car history, but just not my thing. The whims of car lust.

Thanks for running my article again. For the non-Mustang fans, check out my other articles on www.autoarcheology.tumblr.com where you can find photos and stories on Camaros, Mopars, imports, and other lust-worthy abandoned beauties.

Loved my 88 with a five speed. except in the rain or snow.

There is a timeless nature, class, and sporty appeal to the 1st generation Pony car.But after around 1969... They are just bulky or dated. IMPO.
I too found a certain flair in the Mustang 2. My mom liked them got some odd reason. Always looked to those cars when a family member teen was looking for their first ride in the 80's.
However, in all around coolness, it's the pre 70s that count.
The Mustang 5.0 in the late 80's was a performance bargain (11 grand, or bout as much as a base model Honda Accord DX 2 door). They err the exception to the prior cheapness the Fox platform just couldn't sem to shake when I saw them.
However, how well built "were they"?? I have not seen any 5.0 LX or GT models since Vanilla Ice made his first video.
Early 60's though? They seem to hold on forever and a day. I have a friend in SF Calif who has had his since he received it in high school... In the early 80's. Over 300 k on the clock.

Fairly frequently, I see a teenage boy drive past in his 65-66 coupe. It's good shape and looks to be well cared for. No silly mods, just a nice old car serving another generation.
The other week at a car show i parked next to a woman whose father bought her a new 1967 V-8 coupe as a 19th birthday present. She still has the car and aside from a repaint and some detailing, it's nicely original.

As I've said before, the common coupes far outsold the performance models. It's good to see them survive as a reminder of how the "good old days" really were.

BTW: At the hobby store last week, I noted AMT reintroduced their 1/24th scale model of a 65 Coupe. It would be fun to build painted a single color like the old Ford promotional moldels...the genesis of the AMT kit.

You can't go home again?? Not if you never leave. I have my Dad's old Dynasty Green with white top/interior 65 Mustang Convertible.
The build date for my car is the same day the Mustang was officially unveiled by Henry Ford II at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York, on April 17, 1964. That same day, the new car also debuted in Ford showrooms across America and almost 22,000 Mustangs were immediately snapped up by buyers.All my 4 siblings took their DMV test in it...a cinch with power steering & power brakes.Its had several paintjobs,reupholsteries & softops over the years. but never an accident. A full restoration is planned

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