NZ Classic Driver
FORD’S PONY CAR
When I was asked to write about my favourite classic car, my initial reaction was, “Where do I start?” After all, a few of the cars I have owned could be considered as classics and I have had good experiences with all of them.
The one that really came to mind, however, was my beautiful red 1973 Mazda RX-3 10A four-door. It looked the part with its alloy wheels and could it go, although it was hard on gas and went through spark plugs at an amazing rate.
However, my choice as an all-time favourite would be the first generation Ford Mustang and, more specifically, the car that my daughter Julie and her then-husband, Grant, purchased at a roadside sale while visiting San Diego in the USA.
That was back in 2003, and when my wife and I visited them in the USA we had some marvellous outings cruising the nearby freeways. This very fittingly included the Californian exit/entry points to Route 66. During their time living and working in Los Angeles, the car was used as their regular mode of transport.
The Mustang was shipped to New Zealand in 2004 where, following a nervous wait for local certification, roadgoing requirements required the fitment of new headlights and a rear-mounted brake stop-light, along with new front brake pads and new shoes for the rear. With these cars being so popular in New Zealand, getting a Mustang-based personalised plate registration proved tricky, so MYUS66 was chosen.
Memory suggests that my love affair with the Mustang started in 1965 when Ivan Segedin appeared with his Fleetwood Motors-sponsored car. As well, the racing Mustangs of the likes of Jim Richards, Paul Fahey, Rod Coppins and Red Dawson at Wigram in particular could not help but grab my attention. They looked and sounded wonderful and the racing from these icons was always top-draw stuff.
Following Ford’s 1964 launch date to 2018, 10 million Mustangs have rolled off the assembly line. As far as looks go, I suggest that the first generation (1964–1973) car remains the best. It certainly is a headturner, and while there is nothing wrong with the screaming sound of a highly sophisticated four-cylinder engine, like so many others I still have this special attraction to the sound of a well-tuned V8.
The 289ci engine in Grant’s Mustang remains in essentially period condition, as much as it can. It is left-hand drive and is obviously basic when compared to the modern generation Mustangs. Never a car in show condition, with a paint job that was relatively new but not perfect, its brown floor carpet had badly faded, there was no head lining and the upholstery is not in the best condition (the latter two have since been attended to). The car’s Holley carburettor had been replaced by an Edelbrock unit and since bringing it to New Zealand, Grant has fitted a Stroud heat shield in the engine bay to keep it cooler.
Remembering its age, it is still a fun car to drive and its good looks remain. The first generation Mustang – the best classic around? Absolutely!