I bought the car from a little old lady in Brentwood, CA. She had owned the car since 1969. It looked faded now, worn down, and trembled a bit when I test-drove it. But it had heart. I know now that I needed that car as much as it needed me. She rolled off the assembly line in San Jose, California, on February 25, 1967. I rolled off the assembly line only three and a half years earlier. She (I cannot bear to call this particular car “it”) is a 1967 Ford Mustang coupe, pebble beige exterior, black interior, automatic transmission, factory air conditioning, and AM radio.
Buying that car was a dream come true. I have always loved the original Ford Mustang years (1964 ½ -1969). My dad worked at the Ford plant in Edison, New Jersey, in the mid-Sixties where many Mustangs were born. He could never afford one. But now I could. If my wife would agree . . . I explained my connection to the car. “I’m in my forties and have never owned a cool car,” I lamented. Always inexpensive (cheap), used (old, but not “classic old”) cars. No one admires you in a 1979 Madza with a silver spray-paint job, this I know! I told her, “I’m at the age when men have mid-life crises. Some get cool cars others find young mistresses. Since I’m fairly certain that I can’t have both . . . if I could choose, I would choose this 1967 Mustang.” I got the car.
Guys love the car: “That’s a ’67, right? Got a 289 under the hood? My cousin had a Shelby back in the day.”
Girls love the car: I was stopped at a traffic light when a pretty girl walking her dog passed in front of me. She smiled, nodded approvingly, and mouthed, “I love your car.”
Kids love the car: The car next to me rolled down its window and a high schooler said, “That is one pimping ride, sir.”
I’ve owned the car for seven and a half years. She had been my car in good weather and bad. Since I’ve always referred to her as my “Mid-Life Crisis Car,” I thought I’d explore that theme a bit, if you will indulge me.
The car is like me in many ways: Slow to start, needs time to warm up every morning, shakes a bit when it’s cold outside, squeaks and groans, occasionally screws come loose, the paint has become chipped from other car doors, as well as from rocks kicked up along the road. The once flawless interior is scuffed and worn, we both must carry insurance, are sometimes running on fumes, need regular maintenance, and wish we could roll back the odometer.
I think of driving on the roadway as a metaphor for living your life. First of all, what’s more important at 65 mph: what’s in front of you or what’s in the rearview mirror? The past is for reference only, folks. What counts is where you are going.
So we need a roadmap, right? Make sure your map is up to date and accurate. Places change and new routes are always appearing. Just because you’re driving a classic car in its forties doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the latest GPS technology to correct and monitor your course.
Beware of the passengers you choose to bring on the journey. The more they weigh (emotionally), the more fuel you use to travel the same distance. Pick up hitchhikers at your own risk. Speaking of fuel consumption. If you have extra weight in the truck (such as regrets and guilts from your past), dump it out at the first rest stop!
Change the radio station occasionally to see what you’re missing. Don’t be afraid to sing out loud while you drive. It’s fun!
Flick on your high beams once in a while, too, to see a bit further down the road, then return your eyes back to the patch of road immediately in front of you. Stay the course.
Always remember to take care of yourself. Oil is the lifeblood of your car’s engine. Change your own oil regularly and give yourself a tune-up, too. Stay healthy for as long as you possibly can, both mentally and physically. Go see Mr. Goodwrench and Dr. Goodwrench when necessary!
Don’t drive too slowly; otherwise you’ll never get anywhere.
Finally, don’t drive straight through without stopping for some Scenic Views. Don’t miss the beauty of life. What is a blur at 65 mph can be majestic when standing still.
These are just a few of my musings on the topic of old cars and my own mid-life phase. It’s not a crisis, really. Just a stretch of road where I felt a little bit lost and unsure if I was still on the right road and was still on time to make my destination.
Did I mention the 1967 Mustang is up for sale now? Yup. I guess my mid-life crisis / phase is over. Know anyone passing through who needs her next?
I’m just saying…