There’s a lot more than beautiful lines to love about a classic Mustang though. The interior is simple, with a basic gauge layout and a handful of switches and knobs to control lights, wipers, and climate control. The wood rimmed steering wheel with undercut finger grooves feels good in my hands, and the low back bucket seats, though devoid of any organic shape, are comfortable. At some point in recent history someone replaced the original radio with a Pioneer cd player, but even without that modern touch a healthy 289 singing through dual Flowmasters is music to any gearhead’s ears. Plus, that view! The view over a 68 Mustang’s reverse hood vents is pure magic. Sitting in traffic is a bit more tolerable looking over that long, lean hood, listening to the lope of a big cam in a small block. The beauty of a classic car in its pure form is everything you need, and nothing you don’t.
Purity of form is not for the faint of heart though. Driving a classic car every day can make you appreciate little things you take for granted in your boring late model. That handful of switches and knobs are not necessarily ergonomically placed and the curve of the steering wheel can obstruct your view of the gauges. There are no power windows. No cruise control. No stereo controls cleverly hidden on the back of the steering wheel. No electronic fuel injection. No bluetooth, gps, or back-up cameras. The climate control fan blows like an old man suffering from emphysema in comparison to the hurricane swirling from the dash of my wife’s minivan, and the modern stereo is almost necessary to hear music over the wind noise in the cabin at interstate speeds. Manual steering and drum brakes at all four corners demand greater effort from the driver. The old three speed automatic transmission would also benefit from an overdrive gear – particularly with a set of 3.55 cogs spinning in the 8″ rear end. And if I’m really being honest, it’s evident when driving the car at speed that fifty years of suspension technology have evolved in the years since the car rolled off a dealer lot. All things considered though, the old Mustang has really aged well. So well in fact, that over the last forty years creative Mustang enthusiasts and the automotive aftermarket have engineered a dozen modern solutions for every one of the car’s shortcomings.
So far, for me at least, the pros of owning and driving a classic Mustang far outweigh the cons. As a guy who appreciates the mechanics of things, I like to feel what my vehicle is doing and I’ve never really minded the unrefined NVH (that’s noise-vibration-harshness for you non engineering types) of an old car. Purity of form, on most days, works for me.
That said, I am also a husband and father. With that comes a greater appreciation of modern safety and creature comforts. So to that end, I will be addressing a few things. I’m planning on installing modern three point seat belts to keep the kids safe, updating the climate control so my wife can ride comfortably during the Virginia summer, and looking into inexpensive brake and handling upgrades to make exit ramps and track days a little more fun. Stay tuned.
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After years of commuting in a reliable and comfortable, but boring Chrysler Concorde I decided to buy a classic car to enjoy daily. With the support of my wife I ventured out for a few test drives and cruised home in a 1968 Ford Mustang. The Mustang has now been my daily driver for the past month and change. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to give up your modern appliance to drive a 47-year-old car every day? That means rush hour traffic. The grocery store. Soccer practice. The mall. Everywhere.
For starters, it’s been a long time since I’ve owned a car that’s compelled me to turn around for another look every time I slam the door and walk away from it. That’s pretty cool. And I’m not the only admirer. Thumbs up and approving nods from teenaged boys in Subarus and middle-aged guys in Camrys are now just a part of my commute.