‘Coming here is following a call to be quiet. When I go quiet I stop hearing myself and start hearing the world outside me. Then I hear something very great.’
William Least Heat Moon – ‘Blue Highways’
Faces of Mustang ‘A snapshot of a nation captured via an American classic’
These images are part of the Faces of Mustang (FoM) – ‘A snapshot of a nation captured via an American classic’ project. I’ve set up FoM pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share and publicise the project. I was photographer, writer, planner, organiser, art director, fundraiser, marketing director and driver and by the end of it I was very tired. A Kickstarter campaign and my credit card put me on the road in the summer of 2016 while Ford and GTB were kind enough to loan me a Mustang, and during a 5 week period I travelled over 8000 miles across small town USA and met up with Mustang owners. I conducted interviews and heard often heartfelt and very personal stories. Among the people I met were a racer from Alabama who strapped on his gun before stepping out of his house for a chat; a ‘real Daisy Duke’ from Colorado; a mother who was barred from driving demolition derby for being too aggressive; and Bruce and Dave, friends who were still fixing the same cars together 30 years on.
When we got bored we would get on the road and egg others on, trying to initiate a chase. Sometimes, we would get chased down all these country roads by some rednecks in pickup trucks. This was before everyone was carrying a gun.
The first thing my niece said when she saw me drive up in my ’65 Rangoon Red Mustang was ‘Nice midlife crisis!’.
One time, this guy I had beat racing before wanted to race again. So, we went out, and took off, and he moved over at me, and I darted out the way and went right between the gas pumps of a gas station doing 110 plus mph. It scared the you-know-what out of me.
I like to drive fast. I’m the same way on a horse, I’m all about horsepower! When I get on one I want to go fast, I want to push it to its limits. That’s just the way I am.
When we met I was driving a white ’99 Mustang GT. I got that coz I like going fast. I had a Nitrous System installed to go even faster, but that spooked me so we took it out again, it was kinda fun though.
My first car was always in the garage and that’s where I wanted to be, washing, fixing and modifying it and hanging out with friends. That’s where we were. If I had a problem with something I would call one of the other guys and ask them whether they knew how to get it fixed. It’s still kinda like that. Dan’s got the tools, Justin’s got gas and parts and Charlie and me, we bring the beer!
My first car was a ’74 Mustang II in a hideous green. We were living out in the country, the car was burning a lot of oil and the motor needed rebuilding to fix that. We didn’t have a lift to get the car up, or a hoist to lift the motor out, so my dad helped me rig a chain up over a tree limb. We hooked it to the motor and we hoisted it out and rebuilt that motor.
In 1978, when I was 20, I got a blue ‘70 Fastback with a big 351 engine and I loved the power it gave me. When my husband and I separated he got the car and I took my son. This is the fourth Mustang I’ve had, I’ve had her for about ten years. She’s called Black Betty and I love her.
I get to the point were I get obsessive about them getting wet or dirty. This one hasn’t been rained on in 40 years and I am not letting mine get wet either. Right now my sister – in – law is here. I scared her when I took her out in my GT earlier even though we were only going down the block. Then it started to rain.
I used to street race when I was young, I had a ‘70 Mach 1. One night, when I got off work, me and this boy, who had a Dodge Charger went out on the road to race. I got 2 or 3 car lengths ahead of him when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something running towards the road. I thought it was a kid, I turned the wheel and ended up in a guy’s yard, slid right up and hit his porch. The guy in the Charger hit what he thought was a kid too and we both ran down there. It ended up being a dog – a white dog. After that I never went street racing again.
My dad had a ‘92 Foxbody GT and when me and my brother were 8 or 9 he would put us in the back, make us swear not to tell mum and go and do donuts. I didn’t really know what was going on it was just loud and the whole car was shaking and I thought ‘wow this is cool!’
There was a weekend when I didn’t have a gig and we were invited to go to this party. Marilyn’s roommate turned up, in a red, brand new 1964 and a half Mustang convertible. I thought, ‘man that is the sexiest, most beautiful bodyline on a car I have ever seen. Even the inside of it was artistic to me, it was the first car that had an instrument panel dashboard that looked like it had two cockpits, and I thought, I have to get one of these one day.
Next thing I know the car flipped and just pancaked, slapped right on the road landing upside down dead centre of it, still pointing the way I was going. I’m upside down just hanging there. It was insane. I was looking for my phone then, to take a selfie, but I couldn’t find it. Looking at the car now I realize I am lucky to be alive.
I was looking for a ‘68 Fastback, I was 16, it was my first car. We grew up working on these cars, you get attached to them that way. My ex-wife was jealous of the car. She said I just kept it because it reminded me of all the dates I’d had in it, but that wasn’t it, I just like the car and besides I had plenty of those dates with her.
When I was a kid my neighbour had an ‘87 Fox Body and we would go and listen to it. I guess that made me kinda want one. It was a while before I was in the position to go and make that dream come true.
My first car was a Mustang, a convertible, I was always driving way too fast in it and I did get a lot of tickets in the car. It didn’t like to go slow, you know, it would like putter around when it was slow, but once you got it past 60 it was really happy.
My stepfather and I went out and found this ’73 convertible. It was one of those horrible 70s colors and I stripped it all down and it sat like that, from 1993 until 2010, when I had enough money to rebuilt. There are a lot of people that have cars and don’t drive them, but I’m gonna drive it every day until someone runs into me and then I‘m gonna walk away and try and find another one.
They used to call my father ‘Trader Ray’ when I was growing up. There would be a different car in the driveway every week and then he would trade it away.
He came to visit last summer and I took him for a ride in the Terminator. When we got back he had tears in his eyes and said that this must be the fastest car he had ever ridden in. He said ‘when I die I want you to bury me in this car’. He passed away this March, bless his soul. The car is not buried with him but it’s now a family keepsake for us.
I took my driving test in a ‘67 Mustang in 1972. It was my cousin’s and I learned to drive in it when I was 13 or 14. She would take me out to the country and let me drive. It was like being outlaws, like Bonnie & Clyde, out on the back roads, stirring up dust. I wasn’t real good at driving – missing a couple of curves and landing in the ditch more than once, but it being a rural area everyone had tractors to haul us out with. I’ve had a soft spot for Mustangs ever since,
I still have that need for speed. I think once you’re a motorhead you’re always a motorhead. My grandson, Jojo, has it in his blood already. He’s only seven now but when he was two he got a chair to climb on to get to the keys and we found him outside in the car trying to start it up. He’ll be a motorhead when he gets older just like I am.