Saturday, April 29, 2017

History and the Art of Muscle Car Maintenance

History has a prominent role here on The Chant.  Sarge is a self-professed amateur historian and often writes about famous people and battles.  Juvat regularly regales us of flight ops as an Eagle driver, and every once in a while I'll pontificate about a sea-story.  All tales of what once was- History.  This being the blog of three older guys who once served, there's more time behind us than in front of us, so we write what we know.

I think some of us spend a fair amount of time reminiscing about the past.  That's possibly because we don't necessarily like where things are going in this country- remember all my pithy political postings?  Living through the last Administration was tough for a patriot who values limited government and believes that the best way to raise everyone up is to allow an economy to flourish under un-burdensome regulations. Things are hopefully getting better, but the jury is still out of course.


Or maybe we reminisce because for those so honored to serve, we really enjoyed our lives in uniform, looking back on those days fondly. Naval Aviation was a blast and life as a Lieutenant in a fleet squadron is probably the best job, in any service, anywhere.  Period.  Bold text. Underline. Exclamation Point.  Flying in a seat with a view out the front of the airplane really can't be beat, in my no-so-humble opinion. Skimming the clouds, riding a 30 million dollar roller coaster, and getting paid quite well to do it, all the while with limited responsibilities or family duties outside of flying, is an incredible opportunity, one I'm so glad to have had, and I know I was fortunate to get.

VS-21 JOPA, probably on a no-fly day.  Yes, I once had hair.

If you're like me, you sometimes wish you could be a kid again, just for a day though.  I think I'd enjoy experiencing the the fun that was had, to live in the blissful ignorance of a child again, free from the heavier burdens that adult life carries.  Sometimes in that squadron though, you don't have to act all that grown up anyway.  When you're not flying, ready-room life can be fun- the camaraderie, the banter, the non-so-PC talk that comes with living in a steel can, far from those that feel they have a right to judge us.  And Navy life allows the occasional port visit to foreign lands.  These respites from work allow squadron members to let down their close-cropped hair, cut loose and de-stress. Maybe even a chance to imbibe a little.  What would I give to do that again?  Probably more than I have and less than it's really worth.

While it's fun to think bout being a 20-something aviator again, I'm quite happy with where I am in life, and have been very content at each stage of that life.  It helps having my beautiful wife at my side, as she makes life fun and keeps me from being too serious and set in my ways. And every once in a while she surprises the heck out of me, encouraging me to do something that the straight-laced, by the book rule-following conservative wouldn't normally do.

Pinterest

Remember Sarge's post about his childhood toys- the ones that he and his brothers still have up at the old homestead in Vermont?  They're in surprisingly good condition.  I took good care of my own toys as well, keeping nearly all of them in one of my dad's old footlockers.  But after I moved away and my mom's subsequent move to an apartment closer to her work, I expect she helped them find their way to someone who would appreciate playing with them.  My Hot Wheels collection was undoubtedly the favorite of all my possessions.  I'd set up the vinyl tracks in some elaborate fashion all over the house, usually starting with some elevated launch position on a bookshelf or the TV cabinet, for the gravity assist of course.  I never played with them in the dirt, nor did I crash them together like some kids are wont to do.   So I vividly remember the day I parted with them, feeling like quite the grown up, giving them to a young boy my older sister babysat.  I also remember feeling almost sick when I visited him a few years later as my younger sister took on that part-time caregiver role.  I saw how most of my treasures were ruined- axles bent, wheels missing, paint chipped, some with smashed roofs- all evidence of hard play that they didn't deserve.  When E-Bay came around, I slowly rebuilt part of my collection, often paying far more than what I spent as a child.

Cars have always held my interest.  In addition to my Hot Wheels, I had a subscription to Popular Hot-Rodding, both fueling my appreciation for muscle-cars that I still hold today.  Now it's the more refined Car and Driver, which I've enjoyed since my 20's.

1967 Mustang Convertible

A year before I was born, my mom bought a '67 Convertible in downtown San Diego.  It was Lime-Gold, had a 289 V8 putting out 271hp, with factory A/C and the optional center console.  I loved that car and dreamed of the day when I'd get the chance to drive it, making no secret of the fact to my folks that I hoped it might be mine someday.  In the early 80s it came under disrepair, to include a shredded ragtop, and my family wasn't able to afford the repairs.  It sat under a tarp in our yard for over a year.  Unfortunately, that yard was in Southern Oregon now, a much wetter climate than San Diego, and I saw my dream car slowly deteriorate.  Then on March 29th, 1983, needing money for bills my parents sold it.  That day is memorable because it's the day before I went to the DMV to get my learners permit.

Years later, as I began to buy my own cars, the timing of my car needs, available funds, family requirements and Mustang styling never matched up.  With the '67 as my dream car, few of the other Pony bodies met my tastes and none could come close to that first model redesign- a perfect mix of styling, muscle, sport, and trim.  After that, they just got too beefy for my tastes ('70-'73), too WTF? (Mustang II), too divergent from the original (Fox Body), and just not retro enough ('93-'04).  Now I've grown to love any classic Mustang, but that one year has always been my favorite.
Ugly Mustangs through the years,  '73, '75, '84, '93
I finally realized that if I wanted something like a '67, I'd have to quit dreaming and lay down the cash for an actual '67 convertible.  With almost 45 thousand convertibles sold that year, there are plenty out there.  The internet (E-Bay again) was very helpful in finding quite a few that were affordable, and relatively comparable to or cheaper than, a new one.  But most of the affordable ones (for me) would still need work to put them into stable road-worthy condition, or to make them look like they once did.  I've never been all than handy in the garage and needing a daily driver, I soon figured out that my desires outweighed my needs and skill-sets.

2005 Mustang                                                                    Pinterest


It was after the 2005 redesign that I saw something that matched my dreams.  Unfortunately the timing still wasn't right.  I had kids at home and a sporty Mustang just wasn't practical enough to justify my wants.  A Minivan, a 4 door sedan, and a double cab pickup were the family vehicles for the next phase of life.  There was the occasional dalliance with a pony car- a rental in Hawaii during a port visit, my father-in-law getting one on loan from the Ford Dealer in town when his F-150 was in the shop, but I had pretty much put my desires out to pasture.

It wasn't until a very late-at-night landing at an airport on the Gulf Coast of Florida in 2015 that I rekindled by dream.  Every rental car was already taken and my reservation for a (government authorized) compact car could only be filled by a brand new Mustang, the last car in the lot.   I came home re-energized from that 5 day trip, feeling like quite the kid again, or at least a Fleet LT, telling my wife how much I loved driving that car.  She then did something very "unwifely" in my opinion, saying "You should get one!" What?  Did I hear that right?  She's encouraging me to do something completely impractical?  She had to tell me more than once, but a little over a year later, with an almost empty nest, the stars aligned enough for me to finally get my  own '67 Mustang, (50th anniversary edition)- a 2017 Ruby Red Metallic fully loaded 2.3L Ecoboost Premium Convertible.  My own Hot Wheels that I can actually drive.



My only regret is that it didn't come in Lime Gold.

Ok, now what else is on my bucket list?

22 comments:

  1. You are a very lucky man. That "Stang" is a beauty, as is the wife who would let you get it. My favorite was the red, '65 Mustang that I bought as a teen back in 1971. My second car. It's the one that I had when I started dating the lovely missus all those many years ago. I'd dearly love to get another, but here in the Northeast it would need to be kept in a garage during the winter months and the wife is not very likely to park her car outside to give me her space. Sigh..........

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not really having a 2 car garage was another reason I couldn't really consider a 1967 Mustang. I do get to park her in there now though, as my wife parks on the street!

      Delete
  2. 69 Mach 1 was my first 'Stang...Finished out Army flight school with it, let my little sis play "Mustang Sally" for the first year i was working in Vietnam ... (to this day I regret letting it go.......) Finally gave in to the bug and scooped up a 2006 GT...alas, incoming Grandgirls necessitated a move into a 4-door F150 (which I still drive and love). BUT...both of my Grandgirls are always thrilled at the sighting of a "Horsepower car", each claiming that a Mustang will be their first car! Papa (me) provided, of course!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OOPs... I should insert: I drove said '69 for several years after returning from Vietnam. Everything about it was PERFECT. But, prior to heading back for my second adventure in SE Asia, I traded it in for something more 'practical" (spit) to let the new wife drive while I was gone. Said wife became my "ex" and I was too broke to chase down a new Mustang.

      Delete
    2. Just don't let them be fast girls in fast cars! Glad you made it back from Nam. Tough job being an Army Pilot there.

      Delete
  3. Good things come to those who wait, Tuna. Great post!

    "What would I give to do that again? Probably more than I have and less than it's really worth"

    An AWFUL lot of truth in those two sentences. I will probably quote them many times in the future (properly cited of course).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does ring true. I hope no one comes around with an offer because I don't need a second mortgage.

      Delete
  4. Excellent decision. Now what is it the wife wants? Doesn't matter, GET IT!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Always. I think this is payback for all the goodness she gets. She's very grateful, and now I am too.

      Delete
  5. The Mustang. Whether it's a car or an aircraft, 'tis a thing of beauty.

    Your ride is MOST excellent. As is this post. You're posts are worth the wait!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just need the proper inspiration I guess! Thanks.

      Delete
  6. Nice red ride! It seems they rent an awesome number of those out here in Florida-land. Either that or there are many, many older men, living here with their young, blonde daughters, keeping the Ford Dealership afloat. See the blog for another, older version of the same car.

    http://davesdailys.blogspot.com/2008/11/can-forty-two-year-old-man-drive-this.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A good story so far! All that's posted is up to the point where you got into the office upstairs. Am I missing something?

      Delete
    2. Disregard. I figured it out.

      Delete
    3. Although is Nov 24th, 2008 the end of the story- your dad walking out without the car?

      Delete
    4. Sorry. I have always had the tendency to leave a cliff-hanger. We got the car. Just like the picture. My dad kept it for two years and then got a '52 Fairlane (I think it was). That's the one I learned to drive in. Thanks for encouraging me to finish it up. I'll work on it.

      Delete
  7. Thanks for the post. Happy to read that you have been able to fulfill your dream.

    Paul L. Quandt

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sweet looking ride, Tuna! You've probably pegged more than a few envy meters!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm still hoping to peg the speedometer! 110 is all I've managed so far.

      Delete
    2. Where do you go to get that kind of MPH? What does it peg out at? I need one of those. Bad.
      The closest thing around here is the "experience" at the Daytona Speedway. $350+ too much for the wife to consider. Bucket list item though. Maybe on my eightieth coming up in a year or so.

      Delete
  9. Super post Tuna!

    The first brand new car I ever bought was an '88 GT 5.0. I really enjoyed that car. Until I went on deployment and the Gf rolled it up in a ball. Ah well. Now I buy new guns and drive used pickups.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And did you trade in your Gf? Haha

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)