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New Generation Taking Over

Published on Wed, Sep 18, 2019

By: Brian Kennedy

The 50thanniversary of the Mustang Mach I got due recognition at the 23rdAnnual Ponies At The Pike Show hosted by the Beach Cities Mustang Club on Sunday in Long Beach. More than 300 cars showed up to compete for trophies and eyeballs.

With so many cars present, there were, of course, a bunch of fascinating stories to be heard and fine automobiles to feast one’s eyes on. One which impressed me was a 1964 ½ Coupe owned by an interesting woman named Yolanda. She’s owned the car since 1968, and it has taken her through the passages of life from school to adulthood with kids. Her son was with her. The car was for sale, at a price approaching $20K. Probably a bit high, and she knows it, but she doesn’t have to sell it.

Heck, I think she should drive it some more. She told me she couldn’t even get in it for years, but she’s recently lost 157 pounds, and she’s much more nimble this way. The car has seen about 250,000 miles on two rebuilds, with the original engine still humming along. The paint is Rangoon Red. Generally, it’s in good condition, and if the astute reader will comment that the price is a bit high, consider the story as part of the cost. The family acquired the car when Yolanda was 14. Her older sister had been killed in a different Mustang. This one became a dear friend to the family and especially so when Yolanda got her license a couple of years later. Irreplaceable memories can’t be had inexpensively!

But of course I’m going to say that—I’m a 60s Mustang kinda person. There were other points of interest, and, in fact, more cars of recent vintage—a lot more—than 1960s machines.

(As for the middle 1970s, almost forget about it—two cars, by my count, represented the Mustang II era of 1974-78. But their scarcity is actually becoming quite a value. Someone’s gotta find some more of these and get them to shows, in whatever condition.)

Also impressive—my friend Felix’s 1964 ½ Coupe, Wimbledon White with a red interior. His dad bought it brand new in 1964, and Felix has had it restored in the last couple of years. The car received tons of questions and compliments all day long. Those of you who follow Mustangs might know that these early cars had generators rather than alternators, and more than a few people stuck their head under the car’s hood to get a glimpse of the unit there.

The car is also resplendent of other early cues, like the fact that its engine is a 260, not the more familiar, later, 289. The engine displacement callouts on the front fenders indicate as much. It also has seatbelts indicative of an early car and door lock pulls that are also different from what would be used as this generation of cars went on. It’s a study in the very  idea of the “64 ½,” which never really existed but was the nickname for the cars produced and sold between April 17th, 1964, and September of that year, when the cars made the transition to true 1965 models.

Moving the attention to new cars, the series which began in 2015 was on full display in the form of multiple rows of cars winding up the hill to the lighthouse on site. These new-generation cars were mostly resplendent with loads of mods and tweaks. I saw at least and handful of brands of superchargers, for instance—Whipple, Paxton, and Vortec among them. Think about that—this hobby has people in it who pay upwards of $40 thousand bucks for a new car, then add, what? Five, ten, twenty thousand dollars more goodies? Some of these Mustangs were quite close to over the top.

You could buy a nice vintage fastback for this kind of investment, but that’s precisely not the point. The point is, the Mustang scene has moved generations, and it’s just a good thing for the vintage crowd that the S-550 (current model) crowd is doing what they’re doing, because they’re the ones who are going to keep this niche of the hobby alive for the next couple of decades.

Case in point: next to me (and my ’66) in the display area was a young man with a 2017 Mustang GT. He’s started the process of customizing it, with a Borla exhaust and new H-pipe by Mishimoto, a headlight kit, a new grill with better air induction properties, and a few other tweaks. He didn’t go crazy with the mods—or better, he hasn’t, yet. But before next year’s show, he’ll do more, he told me, and he’s looking forward to putting the car into competition with others of a similar mind.

Speaking of goodies—the show had a number of sponsors on site also, many of whom gave away items for auction to raise money for the club. These included Stang Stuff, Rally Innovations, SW-Lights, and others. Attendees could scope out their offerings as they planned for a brighter and faster Mustang future.

So Mustangs are alive and well, and the Beach Cities Mustang Club deserves recognition for their part in things. The show takes place roughly this time every year, by the way, with last year’s being an October date that was rained out and moved to the spring instead (just in case you’re looking at online calendars). That gives you a year to get a Mustang, register for the show, and turn up bright and early on a Sunday morning next fall.

The organization of the show was impeccable, with cars parked in exact spots exactly on time and well ahead of the 9am opening. Communication was via mail and email prior to the show, and nobody could say they were unclear about what to do to have a safe, efficient, and happy show. Exiting with one’s display car was just as easy as entering, and participants went home resolved to do it again next year.

Random notes:

In the day-of-show entrants’ area was a Mach I that properly should have taken its place with the cars celebrating the 50thanniversary. Recently getting a rebuilt engine, the red Mach was clean under the hood and running better than it had when first redone. When the owner first took the car home, there was an issue with interference in the valve train that had to be sorted out. “Fettling” is a word not much used, but it’s key to having a vintage car run right. (And a process that can be time-consuming and frustration-inducing until it’s finished).

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