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The state of the Mustang hobby on display

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Oct 1, 2016

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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Ponies at the Pike (Gabriela Moya)

Story by Brian Kennedy Pictures by Gabriela Moya The Long Beach Mustang show, held on the lawn near the Queen Mary for years, now finds itself at the Pike, an area next to the seaside still in sight of the grand old ship in downtown Long Beach. The lawns were full on Sunday, September 25th, with hundreds of Mustangs lining up side-by-side up the hill and around the corner from the Long Beach Aquarium for the event now known as Ponies at the Pike. You’ve read reviews of this show in prior years (written by me), so this time, we’re going in a little bit different direction. Rather than give you the full narrative, here are some impressions that might or might not be a reflection of what the state of the Mustang hobby is today.

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The tiny gas-power 1965 replica pulls an even tinier one (Gabriela Moya)

Unexpected Gem The unexpected surprise of this show was not a full-sized car at all, but a miniature one. Owned by a chef from Las Vegas, the tiny gas-powered Mustang looked for all the world like its full-sized 1965 brother, complete with miniaturized authentic door handles and badging recently added. Sporting a fiberglass body and towing a trailer with an even smaller Mustang, this one pedal-powered, the car was just right for a parade. And with its new engine, from a Honda generator, it could do 31 mph. Fun fact: the owner’s father bought it for $537 in 1965. It’s now worth more than $20,000, at least if an offer the owner received lately was authentic. But there’s no way he’s selling, and who could blame him? This is a unique piece, and it made everyone who saw it happy.

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Modern muscle on display (Gabriela Moya)

Modern Muscle Like it or not, vintage Mustang fans, it’s true: the hobby has passed you by, if your definition of the Mustang stops at 1973. (And yes, I’m talking to myself here.) The good news was that this show had something for you, too, but wait for that. First, the new stuff. Lots and lots of modern cars, from a lineup of 2001 and 2008-09 Bullits to many, many S550 (new generation 2015-up) cars turned up for this event. Now, I personally don’t quite get the point of buying a brand new car and putting it in a show, but these were mostly modified, some highly so. We’re talking intake mods, superchargers of various descriptions, and other under hood goodies that would drive the price of the original cars from, say, $35,000 to well into the $50K range. The most extreme of these had fender flares, huge wheels, and custom paint jobs. Excess was the order of the day. What didn’t strike me as quite right was that these cars had pride of place near the top of the hill near the lighthouse which is at the peak of the grounds the show was on. I’d rather have seen the classics up there.

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1969 Boss 429 (Gabriela Moya)

Classics, Too Speaking of which, there were a couple of lovely ones. One was a 1969 Boss 429, complete with authentic-style tires and all correct under the hood. The owner said it had been punched out past 500CID, but noted that the mechanicals were all stock as far as appearance went. The body, too, was exactly factory correct. He also said that he didn’t drive it hard any more. The value has made that impossible. Another very nice classic—a blue fastback owned by a fellow who had had it since 1989, when he bought it right out of high school. He had done the restoration himself, a very tasteful and correct job, rendering the car to look just like it did when it came out of the San Jose factory. A third was a Boss 351, which was resplendent in white with black accent striping and hood detailing. Very correct and menacing looking. One final example: a 1965 Wimbledon White coupe with a red interior and mostly the right stuff under the hood, save some accessory valve covers. But—there’s always a but—there were also a lot of cars from the 1965-70 era which were modified in one degree or another. The most egregious, one that had double-sunroof panels cut into the top. Others had various levels of incorrectness, including misapplied stripes, improper wheels, and chrome bling under the hood. In general, given that this was a club show, the cars looked OK. But there were only a handful of examples that were anywhere close to “reference” cars for originality and correctness. The Mustang hobby, one might say, has gone the personalization route. To me, that’s too bad. But hey, different tastes for different folks.

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An unrestored Pinto (Gabriela Moya)

Etcetera A couple of other notes that made the day bright. First, there were a few other Fords around, including an unrestored Pinto and several Mustang II models (1974-78). These collectively have become so out that they’re way back “in,” and it was fun to see them at the show. There were also some other cars like a 1960s Lincoln and two CHP Mustangs from the 1980s to lend some variety to the collection. Final Note If you see this show advertised next year and you have an interest in Mustangs, by all means go. It’s in a beautiful spot with lots of cars. Just don’t expect to find a hobby that’s stood still on the classics. Mustangers have moved way into the future.

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