The car in which I learned to drive is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Not the actual vehicle, but the model; the iconic Ford Mustang.
Growing up, we were a Ford family, and over the years my parents drove a Sunliner, a couple of Falcons that I washed at a young age, a pair of Torinos, a Fairlane 500 and two Mustangs. All came from Jack Madden Ford in my hometown of Norwood, Massachusetts.
The Mustangs were undoubtedly the coolest cars my parents ever bought and our cool next door neighbors were also in the Mustang club with a late ’60s beauty in blue.
My folks’ first Mustang was a green 1970 coupe (shown here with my brother Chris) a car that my father absolutely loved. The official color was called medium lime metallic, one of sixteen colors offered by Ford that year. Don’t you wish automakers of today gave consumers a vast array of paint choices like they used to?
A few years later, on the night before Mother’s Day, my parents were hit by a drunk driver and the Mustang was totaled. My parents were OK, but obviously rattled by being taken to the hospital by ambulance. They replaced the crumpled pony car with a much larger Gran Torino.
Fast forward a decade to when I was a junior in high school, and my parents decided to try a Mustang again, the trauma of the crash obviously a fading memory. The new Carter-era horse, a brand new 1979 model shown here with my mom’s Mercury Monarch, was grey with a funky red interior and a stick shift. My father felt it was important to know how to drive a stick, so on Sundays he would take me to the mall and teach me how to drive. This was when blue laws were in effect and stores were closed so I had the whole parking lot to myself.
At driver’s ed the car emblazoned with the words “Student Driver” wasn’t nearly as cool as my dad’s ‘Stang, and we never learned about manual transmission in class so that mall lesson was pretty vital. Ask my wife, who still can’t drive a standard. In fact, when we first started dating I had a car with a stick shift, and after Kara stalled it out a few times, we decided the next car should be automatic. My brother also has a manual transmission defiiciency, which is why I was the designated driver during our family trip to Italy a few years back.
Coincidentally, the second Mustang met a demise similar to its predecessor. It was wrecked in a crash when it was less than six months old. At that point I had a learner’s permit, and my parents decided bigger was better for a freshly licensed driver. The new car in the family lineup was a Ford station wagon with the Country Squire option…yep, the faux wood on the side. My parents never bought another Mustang but at least I can say I learned to drive in one.
Truth be told, the first car I ever drove was a fire truck.
Feeling a twinge of nostalgia, I recently took my son to Hoffman Ford in East Hartford to check out the new Mustangs. Maybe it’s time….
Read about my favorite car right here: https://dennishouse.tv/2013/12/02/my-wheels-in-big-wheels/