On October 1, 1968, my grandfather became the fourth owner of a Vintage Burgundy 1965 Mustang. The bill of sale quoted a cost of $1300, and the Mustang became my mother’s first car. Mom drove the Mustang through college and to her first school teaching job. Michigan salt nearly killed it. By the time I checked in, the car had been sitting uncovered in my grandmother’s backyard for two years. Mom couldn’t bear to let it go. Dad would occasionally get it running and take the kids for rides, but with its rotted exhaust system, the noise terrified my four year old ears. Maybe it was its lack of a working braking system that kept me out.
Times and people change. Even though the noise initially unnerved me, I loved cars from the womb. I drew them, I read about them, I dreamed about them. Mom and Dad dragged the car home when I was about seven. By the time I was 11, I was sitting behind the wheel, changing oil, taking rusty pieces apart and putting them back together, checking the air in the tires, listening to the radio. Mom told me that the Mustang was mine if I wanted it. I can’t remember wanting anything more.
The Mustang taught me how to weld, fabricate, fix, tune, and appreciate fine art. It’s undergone two major surgeries at my hands, and we have traveled the earth to the tune of 75,000 miles since Mom gave me the best present anyone ever has. She’s now seen me through high school and college, marriage, days at the beach, color tours, job interviews, bitter disappointment and blissful happiness. Even today, turning the worn key with the galloping horse image makes me feel like an 11 year old kid, sitting behind the wheel of his vehicular soulmate. Thanks Mom…