Sunday, June 8, 2014

Classic Mustang farewell blues

I have to admit, there was a tight little knot in my throat. And while I didn't cry, my eyes did well up a bit.

 Very rarely do I get emotional over inanimate objects, but as our faithful 1966 Mustang 289 convertible was being loaded onto the transporter Thursday morning, I had to keep reminding myself, "It's time."

The Mustang gets loaded onto the transporter for consignment in Charlotte.
It was time. We bought her from a fellow in King 19 years ago. Kim, a lover of Mustangs for as long as she can remember, had just purchased her very first brand-new car, a 1994 Mustang. That was the year Ford reintroduced it's classic (although updated) Mustang body style.

"But, you know," said Kim a few months later, "as much as I like my car, there's nothing like the original Mustangs."

So, after about a year of some casual searching, we found the Wimbledon White classic with the blue interior. Originally from Oklahoma, she needed some work (the car, not Kim), but she was drivable. Money was exchanged and memories were made.

Gradually, little by little, we fixed her up. One day while I was driving, the drive shaft fell off. It needed a universal joint. Then a master cylinder needed to be replaced after brake fluid seeped onto the floorboard.

Shortly after that we decided to have the engine rebuilt. We took it to Jimmy Livengood in Tyro, who sublet the piston work to machinist/stock car driver Ralph Brinkley. There were hairline fractures in several of the old pistons, so Brinkley replaced them with racing caliber bangers.

The car always had impressive pep in her step after that.

Kim said the original '66 Oklahoma plate is the car's birth certificate.
 We even personalized the car with its own license plate: "OUR 6T6." I hope that took a moment to assimilate. "OUR 66" was already taken.

Over the years, more work was done. We revitalized the automatic transmission; we had a new convertible top put on it. Then, in 2001, we took the car to Scott Winfield of The Paint Shop in Winston-Salem, where he did a marvelous frame-up restoration. We even had the bumpers rechromed.

The irony here is that the more work we did to her, the less we drove it. She did serve as a reliable backup car for a while, especially when one of the others was getting serviced, but several things were starting to come into play.

Old cars need to be driven, otherwise dry rot takes over. Seals deteriorate. Fluids become less fluid. And sometimes we'd go months without taking it on the road. Out of sight, out of mind. Some of that was because as Kim and I got older, it got more tedious to go to where the car was in storage (we don't have our own garage) just to get it.

The 1966 Mustang and the 1994 Mustang. You choose.
Also, because we'd done so much work to it (especially after Winfield's astounding paint job), we were leery of taking it on the road for fear of any collateral damage (read scratch).

And then I recently read a story in Car and Driver magazine that convinced me the time had come to unload it. The baby boomers, of which Kim and I belong, basically created the current classic car market. But we're aging out. And the generations that are following us could care less about the cars we loved as kids.

Right now, the market appears to be heading overseas where classic American metal is now revered — and valued. Our car may have to learn to speak French or German.

Plus, we're approaching an age where it's probably wise to downsize, if not begin to divest yourself, of your assets.

So we made the monumental decision to consign the car, where Streetside Classics in Charlotte will advertise internationally and try to sell it for us.

I suppose there's a chance that it won't sell and the car will be back in storage in 90 days. But I think not. We still have the pictures, we still have the memories — driving with the top down in the county, getting treats at either Sonic or the Barbecue Center, cruising Main, drawing approving glances from friends and strangers —so the time is right.

The time is now.

1 comment:

  1. My husband loves mustangs, also. His first car, though was a 1997 Chevy Blazer. We just got rid of it at the end of last year when the transmission went up in it. We didn't have the money to fix it. We donated it to the veterans and decided to buy a new car that wouldn't nickel and dime us.

    Diana Hayes @ Baldwin Subaru