Steve Magnante's 1001 Mustang Facts. Steve Magnante

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Название Steve Magnante's 1001 Mustang Facts
Автор произведения Steve Magnante
Жанр Автомобили и ПДД
Издательство Автомобили и ПДД
Год выпуска 0
isbn 9781613254004

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year Mustangs first hit the streets. A lifelong car enthusiast, he has been an automotive journalist since 1992 and feels grateful to have witnessed the resurgence of true performance throughout the Mustang line. Today, Steve is one of the regular vehicle commentators for the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction series on Velocity Channel and enjoys a modest collection of hot rods, including a 1984 Mustang GT convertible.


      Although many people have played a part in spurring my interest in Ford Mustangs, I’d like to shine a light on some of the material objects that lit the fuse of fascination when I was a kid. Fortunately, I’ve managed to hang on to most of them, as shown in this roundup picture. And as full-size Mustangs have special stories, so do these models and artifacts from my youth.

      The trio of Mustang-themed Fleer AHRA Drag Champs trading cards in the front row entered my life in 1973 when I was nine years old. The wear and tear came from being tucked in my pants pockets and passed around to friends at school. The Sandy Elliot Mustang in the center was particularly influential to my young mind. Its diagonally striped tail graphics harmonized perfectly with the graceful fastback roofline. My fanatical appreciation for Cragar S/S mags and chromed “steelies” started right here.

      On the right, Ed Terry’s 1970 Ford Drag Team Mustang taught me to appreciate the silhouette of a Mustang’s undercarriage blasting off the starting line. The nose-up stance, the spindly steering links and lower control arms, fully extended and barely keeping the skinny tires on the strip, the bundle of header tubes twisting around the deep-sump oil pan, and the massive traction bars feeding the thrust into the rippled sidewalls of the slicks. These images permanently registered in my mind and became a standard by which other cars were measured.

      The scale miniatures on display also have special stories. The chrome-plated Hot Wheels Boss Hoss Mustang near the center of the group is the one I sent away for as a six-year-old kid in 1970. At the time, Mattel’s Hot Wheels phenomenon was only in its third year. To fan the spectraflames, Mattel offered three cars in a mail order–only Collector’s Club scheme (the King ’Kuda Barracuda, Heavy Chevy Camaro, and Boss Hoss Mustang). The ads ran in comic books. I saw one and begged my mom to send in the $1.00 fee. Of course, I wanted the Mustang.

      A few weeks later, I was the coolest kid on the school bus. I remember absorbing the visual feast of its redline tires, chrome mag wheels, ducktail spoiler, exposed engine with blacked-out inner fenders and firewall detail, louvered Sport Slat–style backlite filler, and that awesome blue-tinted windshield. I still get a kick out of it today.

      To the right of the snazzy chrome Mustang is the comparatively bland 1965 Mustang 2+2 from Matchbox. Sure, it lacked the juvenile thrill of the Boss Hoss, but as a Mustang, especially a fastback Mustang, I had to have it. And yes, this is the one Mom bought me around the same time the Boss Hoss arrived. I appreciated its higher level of realism and especially loved the red interior and steerable front wheels. The scratches and chips are leftovers from many playground police chases and desk top races. I think of Mom every time I hold this one.

      The scruffy Wild Cat Mustang below the ’65 2+2 was once crisp, new, and had an engine, when Mom and I spotted it inside the Matchbox retail display case around 1971. The point of purchase was a small luncheonette diner with a candy and toy aisle for kiddies just like me. The cool thing was how Mom bought me this car and then we enjoyed a lunch of hot dogs, French fries, and Pepsi right there at the food counter as I rolled it around.

      I remember being fully aware that Matchbox was on the run at the time, chasing Hot Wheels with its new Superfast wheels and simply trying to be cooler. Before the 1968 arrival of Hot Wheels, Matchbox pretty much ruled the toy car market and focused on realism rather than flash. After Hot Wheels, Matchbox cars were suddenly outmoded.

      My seven-year-old eyes thoroughly examined this little orange Mustang to see how its British makers were adapting to the challenge posed by the upstarts from Hawthorne, California (Mattel). Close inspection revealed the same basic body shell as the older white Mustang but with many little detail changes, including enlarged rear wheel openings, the elimination of the raised wheel lips, a hole in the hood for the exposed engine, green windows, and the elimination of the steerable front axle. But details such as the grille, taillight panel, B-pillar vents, and Ford nameplate on the leading edge of the hood were identical to its older and less flashy cousin. Looking back, the exercise of scrutinizing this little toy car formed the base of my inquisitive nature, and is used today when I examine a real Mustang to see if it’s really a Boss 429 or a clone.

      The Matchbox Boss Mustang Superfast below the chromed Hot Wheels Boss Hoss was added to my fleet in 1972. It appeared in my Christmas stocking and was from the final holiday that I still believed in Santa Claus. I was eight. Thanks to my fascination with Mustangs in general, I was aware when the 1971 Mustang family appeared as a larger car and loved it, especially the fastback. That prepared me to realize how Matchbox followed Hot Wheels’ lead toward fanciful designs and away from faithful renderings of actual cars.

      I remember being a little bit put off at how this Mustang had huge wheel arches and a general softening of the realism found in older Matchbox cars, including the white 1965 2+2. It was clearly a child’s toy and I didn’t like it. As I approached my second decade of life, I needed more realism in my Mustangs, which brings us to my infatuation with 1/25-scale plastic model kits of Mustangs.

      As I’d been with the 1971 Mustang family, I was also aware when the pint-size Mustang II arrived in 1974. By 1974 I was 10 years old and was there with Mom, sitting in line at the gas station to get our 5-gallon daily ration. If you remember those days, it was scary. But to a 10-year-old car fanatic, it truly seemed as if my world was going to come crashing down soon. I’d also discovered my first stack of vintage car magazines by 1974 and was “polluted” by images of Shelby GT350s, 428 Cobra Jets, Boss 302s, and other Detroit muscle machines. The mid-1975 Mustang II MPG edition was super depressing to my blossoming sensibilities. Something had to be done.

      I retreated into the world of fantasy. I put away my 1/64-scale metal cars and entered the realm of the 1/25-scale plastic model car kit. The larger format allowed much greater detail and the optional parts in most kits let me build cars to suit my tastes, which explains the 1977 Mustang II in the picture. Although the original model was lost in 1978 when Dad came home and saw my report card (a purging of my “distractions” followed), I recently recreated it as seen here. Savvy viewers will notice the 427 SOHC and five-lug Cragar S/S mags I added to remedy the V-6 and 302 small-block engines supplied in the kit. With Mom’s help, Dad eventually apologized for tossing my model car collection into the dump. Undaunted, I continued to build.

      By 1985 I was a 20-year-old Junior at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. With more than 100 model cars built since 1974, the 1969 Boss 429 (seen behind the Mustang II) was constructed during a semester at the University of Stirling in Scotland. While other U.S. transfer students took weekend trips to Glasgow or London to see new-wave music acts such as The Smiths or Siouxie and the Banshees, I remained in my dorm room hard at work on this project, with studies and homework wedged in where possible. More than just a Boss Nine, it replicates the pre-production prototype featured in the February 1969 issue of Hot Rod magazine down to the blue rocker covers. I was into realism so I whipped up the two-piece air cleaner (on the roof). This model was my recognition of the most mighty Mustang possible. I think it deserves an A. My Scottish professors gave me Cs, which were good enough to pass all classes despite more than a few absences.

      Finally, the 1970 Mustang Boss 429 is not one of mine. But it has a funny story. While I was away at university in Scotland, I had a girlfriend at home. When I discovered my project’s Boss 429 hood scoop was lost, I called her and asked her to buy a Monogram Boss 429 model kit and grab its hood scoop. She did this and mailed it to me in Scotland where I painted it and installed it on the model. With the scoop, she included the plastic lamb figure with the note “I love ewe.” Cute, huh? Then, she built the Boss 429 model