Thanks to the generosity of a group of friends, I recently spent a couple of days in the company of Rocky, a 1967 convertible Mustang, to celebrate my birthday.
I’ve never been a huge Mustang fan myself. My Americana fetish is more of the Mopar nature. If I was ever going to take the plunge and own a death trap like this, it would be a contemporary of the Mustang, the Plymouth Valiant convertible – a better engineered and built car, that drives better etc etc, but that didn’t ever grab the public’s imagination like the ‘Stang. Perhaps if they’d got their act together with the Barracuda nameplate earlier….
I took Rocky for a spin to the beach with my Route 66 travelling partner and resident photographer, James. The whole thing was a terrifying experience. While the brakes seemed capable of stopping the beast from a moderate speed, the steering was vague and loose, and the engine, a larger than stock 357, seemed rather reluctant to propel the car forward with any real enthusiasm. Although the soundtrack it emitted warmed the heart of an old v8 fan like me.
Still, much fun was had. The younger members of the family enjoyed being picked up from school in Rocky, and my wife and I had a lovely day cruising around the picturesque beaches of Sydney’s north.
At the end of the two day adventure, I was exhausted. Every minute at the wheel involved unblinking concentration just to keep the car in the centre of its lane. The fact that I took a call from a friend in Perth, a former Mustang owner, making sure I wasn’t buying the thing he’d seen in my Facebook post (“They’re awful!” he said) was of some comfort.
So, it’s official. James and I won’t be driving Route 66 in a classic Mustang. I guess that means we’ll be hiring a modern day version, one with airbags, abs and air conditioning. And a collapsible steering column. In other words, one that has a fair chance of getting us home alive after a few thousand kilometres across America in September 2016.