Monday, December 12, 2005

NLPRacing bleeds Ford Blue, inspired me to ramble down memory lane

Inspired by NLPRacing's post on how he bleeds Ford blue, I decided to take a spin down memory lane and explain my own Ford roots. The first car I ever rode in (to the best of my memory) was my parents light blue 1963 Ford Fairlane, a car that I grew up in. My father wasn't really a "car guy," don't get me wrong he appreciated cars, but it wasn't his hobby like his three sons. My parents next car was a 1968 Mercury Montego MX, fire engine red 2 door with a black vynl top. And then in the early 70's my mom got a Pinto Coupe. So in my early formative years, there were not many options beyond Ford. Neither of my grandfathers drove Ford, but my uncle John did, and my uncle Ed. My Aunt Ann drove a chevy wagon and then a red buick skylark, before going to foriegn car and never coming back. My uncle Jim was the only one that never in my lifetime drove an American car, that I can remember. He had a Volkswagen Squareback, then a Volvo 240 wagon and replaced that with 2 Hyndais, ever the trail blazer uncle Jim.

My parents stayed on the Ford path for many years, having a second Pinto (wagon) another Fairlane (67 wagon) a Maverick then an Escort when they first came out. My parents eventually let the Ford path, going to GM and Chrysler, but the effects were irreversable for me. My older brother and his friends were probably the biggest Blue Oval influences after my parents. My older brother having many cars over the years, including a 73 Pinto Wagon, 66 Pony Mustang in Rangoon Red with 289, 69 Mach 1 which I'm not sure he ever got running, but the collection of Ford short blocks under our house, infuriated mom and dad, but cemented my love of Ford. I would watch and sometimes help as my brother and his friends would pull engines and transmissions in the driveway of all of their houses. Tom and his best friend John both had 66 Mustangs, and were the first people to take me to Englishtown Raceway Park to see drag racing. I remember the bunch of us going down in John's Mom's LTD Country Squire.

My first car was the Fairlane wagon (67) that my parents had bought and gave to me, I never got it on the road, but spent hours sitting in it and tinkering with it. I would go through all of my Car Craft, Hot Rod and Popular Hot Rodding magazines, looking up which headers and carbs would fit, as well as daydreaming about customizing my ride with all the cool stuff in JC Whitney. Now I look at JC Whiteny and wonder how I thought any of it was cool, but I was 15. The first car I actually drove wasn't a Ford, neither was number 2, both brand X bombs that didn't last long. My first reliable car believe it or not was a 79 Pinto. Yeah laugh all you want, but I learned to drive a stick in that car and had a lot of fun. Yes a Pinto can be fun, it actually handled well and with the manual it felt fast enough for a kid hell bent on destruction. I drove that for several years until I got my first brand new car at the age of 22, a 1988 Ford Festiva ( I know, not cool) with 68 hp and a 5 spd manual. I remember reading Csaba Csere's review in Car and Driver, comparing it to a BMW ( if you don't believe me, look it up, I think I have a copy of the article somewhere) and although my parents wanted me to get the Escort, I got the Festiva.

You know what, it may not have been "cool", but it was fun. I beat the snot out of that little car, racing my friends all over, not winning mind you, but racing none the less. We tore up the back streets in our suburban wasteland. I remember my twin brother opted not to get a new car at the time, but instead bought a used Mazda RX7, much cooler, but it was the Festiva I was driving when I got my speeding ticket for going 100 mph in a 55 mph zone. Long story, not proud of it, but that's the way it goes. You know what, strike that, I am proud of it, 100 mph in a Festiva!!!! Yeah the wind was at my back, going down hill on a long straight stretch of I-90 near Albany, but you gotta love it. I was drafting my buddy's Toyota Corrola GTS Twin Cam.

The Festiva stayed in the family until 1993, but I had moved onto bigger and better things. I bought a series of beater and project vehicles including a 78 Thunderbird, which we took to the track and my brother won a trophy in. A 77 Lincoln Versailes, former executive car. and some more brand X crap. But I was primarilly a Ford Blue Oval nut.

The peak for me, was when in 1990 I got my 91 Mustang LX 5.0 notchback coupe. Deep Emeral Green with the 225 hp 5.0, T-5 manual and 3.08 factory rear gears. I went faster in that car than any before, with brief stints up to the 140 mph top of the speedo. Many times on long trips I would run at 120 mph for an hour or more without any trouble at all. At one point, much to my parents dismay I had 5 cars, 4 of them Fords. I swear that Chevy truck was just cause it was so cheap, and the Plymouth Police car, well every boy dreams of being in the Dukes of Hazzard, don't they? Bob and I raced the Mustang and T-Bird over the years, him winning more races than I, but having a lot of fun and driving them both to and from the track. Over the years many of my friends like Boomar have been Ford fanatics too. I remember one trip to Englishtown where I had my Mustang, Boomar had his and a Friend of ours had his dad's Mustang. Much fun was had by all.

As an adult I've kept it Ford Blue Oval, buying a 92 Crown Victoria, 93 Taurus SHOmatic, and now a 99 Ford Ranger 4x4. Ford is still a huge part of my life, or as this blog would imply, my lack of a life. Boomar and I attend many Ford days at Englishtown, and have made trips to Nashville and Carlisle for Ford/Mustang events. A few years ago, I made a personal pilgrimage to Dearborn to see the Henry Ford Museum, as well as Ford World Headquarters.

So there you have my Blue Oval roots. It's amazing how a car brand can be so important in your life. But so I don't seem like such a geek, I compare it to those that follow a sports team, and know all the stats and players even those before they were born. It's a healthy hobby, fun and family friendly.


NLPRacing said...

That's a nice story. I am proud to say, that I have never owned any vehicle that wasn't a FoMoCo product. My Festiva is the first non-US built Ford that I've ever owned. I do like the Festiva, I drive it everyday back and forth to work getting about 40 mpg. I plan on turning it into a little SCCA Road Racer one day. Unless something major happens, I will probably never own anything besides a FoMoCo product, which now includes Land Rover, Jaguar, Volvo, Aston Martin, Mazda as well as Ford, Lincoln & Mercury, YEAH! I really enjoy reading about your views of Ford, keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great times Joe, lets head back to Englishtown with some rentals this spring , think any chnace of gettings some GT's.

And yes the Festiva was behind me all the time, but the fact that it stayed in my rearview was because of the driver ( of course meaning not many people coild have kept up with Mike in his Celica our Me in my RX7's). Had you driven the Mazda more it would have gotten in your system . zoom zoom


Big Ford Fan said...

Bob, that's a great idea, where could we rent a couple of Mustang GTs ? If not GTs, even just a day of flogging V6 Mustangs. We just have to remember to buy the extra insurance.

I love Mazdas, especially since they're part of the FoMoCo family.
But my heart will always go to Ford over all others.