This July, I am going to drive from my home in Brooklyn, New York, to Los Angeles and back again. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a special trip for me, not just because I get to see the whole country and spend time with some of my favorite people (including my dad, who will join me for the entire length of Route 66 from Chicago to California), but because the idea of driving a Ford Mustang clear across the USA has been on my mind ever since I was a little kid. It’s going to be epic, and I’m truly lucky that I get to do it. But why is the Mustang so special? Why does it matter what kind of car you take on a 6000+ mile trip?
Back in the 1980s in Boise, Idaho, I had three posters on my bedroom wall that I can clearly remember. The first one was the ubiquitous pre-pubescent male car poster: the Lamborghini Countach. A red one, in profile, with the scissor doors wide open. Truly a demonstration of my rare, refined taste, I thought, especially at my age, which I could still represent by holding up enough fingers. Then I also had a movie poster for a completely forgettable film called License To Drive starring both Corey Feldman and Corey Haim. (The late ’80s were peak Corey.) And finally, there was this poster, which 30 years later is framed and hanging in my kitchen:
When I look at the Mustang Does It! poster, I see what you see, which is an awkward, weird, and if we’re honest, bad-looking poster, but I also see the tangible beginning of my life long love affair with the Ford Mustang. Somehow the Mustang bug bit me early. I had the Hot Wheels, the models, that poster, and it must have hit a fever pitch around 1987 when my high school aged brother Jason brought home a 1968 Mustang Coupe.
That’s me and Jason (sporting a period correct pair of deck shoes and sweet mullet) washing the ’68 in the driveway. Look at the super weird way I’m putting my hand on the door. What the hell am I doing? Do I think the car is a Jeopardy buzzer? Also, just to illustrate what a car nerd I was even as a child: I am wearing a sweatshirt with my very own bad drawing of a Countach on it.
Jason’s ’68 was a 289 V8 car with a dual exhaust (I think it had glass packs) and a three speed on the floor. I remember feeling like a huge bad ass when I got to join him and his friends cruising around Boise on a Saturday night. After Jason went to college, my dad would fire up the Mustang from time to time and say things like “hold on to your butts” and lay some rubber to entertain me and my friends.
As the years went by I grew up and never forgot about my dream of owning my own Mustang. I would rent them at every opportunity, trying to get a vicarious taste of what it would be like to own it, and still dreaming of the ultimate Mustang road trip. In 2012, after years of owning some real New York City beaters, I traded in and bought the first new car I ever owned, a 2012 Mustang GT. Here’s me with the car about 20 minutes after purchasing it in Brewster, New York:
It’s got a 400+ horsepower V8, a 6-speed manual transmission, and a 3.73 rear end, so it’s definitely got the balls to tackle any challenge the USA has to offer, but it also has a premium interior with leather, Bluetooth, and a pretty darn good stereo and will make for a nice highway companion also.
It’s hard to own a Mustang and not mod it a little bit. Now my car has some upgrades like SVT Brembo brakes, a Steeda fiberglass vented hood, Eibach springs, brake ducts, and some 19″ staggered Forgestar CF5 wheels. I might even throw on the BOSS 302 side exhaust just for maximum eargasms around the country. The second I bought this car, I knew it sealed the deal on the cross country trip. Now’s the time. I’ll be chronicling the trip here on puppyknuckles.com starting in late July. I can’t wait. Stay tuned!
I vividly remember a ride in Jason’s Mustang where he had the car going above 60mph on Mountain View drive (probably more like 40mph) and me crapping my pants a little at that speed. That was probably my first ride in a car driven by someone other than my parents. Great trips to you, looking forward to hearing about it!
And your arm is clearly given that rare brother touch exchange, but with the safe wedgie proof distance of six feet.
I remember riding with you in your mom’s (1970?) Chevy Nova when the throttle stuck wide open. We were in the back seat and about 10 years old. She very alertly put it in neutral to retain power steering/brakes, pulled over to the side of the road, and shut it down. These days I think most moms would panic, start texting for help and the car would go over a cliff, Toonces-style.
I saw the article over on Kinja. I know your trip is likely over, but having done the coast-to-coast drive a couple of times myself, try to see Zion National Park in Utah if you can on one of your future jaunts. Zion National Park and Glacier National Park are the two single most beautiful places I’ve seen in the US (so far). Thanks so much for the great articles!
My folks showed me pictures the took from their last trip to Glacier. Looks unbelievable, and kicking myself I didn’t have more time to include it. And I think my Dad would love Zion. Thanks for the comment!
Awesome story Dave, reading it through for the 3rd time in two weeks and you’ve inspired my wife and I so we’re planning for late spring to get in my new 2014 GT – Ottawa to Chicago and then RTE 66 to the Santa Monica pier, visit my Sister in Lake Tahoe then my Aunt and Uncle in Fernie BC and then home. Glad I got the Recaro’s…..nice work and great pics….gonna be looking for a nice used digital Nikon…..
Scott – sounds like a great trip. Would love to see some pics! If you’re on Instagram, find me @puppyknuckles