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Ramblin' Man: Ford Mustang's magic, mystique is America

By: name Newspaper
April 19, 2014
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In this photo made on Oct. 29, 2009, the Mustang logo is shown on the grill of a car on a Ford dealership in Wexford, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The Mustang isn't just a car, it's a culture.

It just celebrated its 50th birthday.

But for multiple generations of car lovers, male and female, it was the car of a lifetime.

And it's proof that 50 is still sexy.

I had two Mustangs, both here in Colorado.

There was the 1966 mustang, red, factory mags, run by a modest 286 engine. It wasn't fast.

But it was on the edge of muscle car-dom. It had just the right rumble.

It was just enough car to allow me to cruise Nevada Avenue, back when a few guys could get together and with the change in their pockets cobble enough together to go out and just drive up and down Nevada avenue with other muscle cars.

That was the Mustang culture to me.

I also had a 1964.5 fastback.

I bought it at a salvage yard on Las Vegas Street. Someone had painted it an ugly, flat brown. I rebuilt it and had it painted pearl white. It was no easy buy. I had to talk my dad, Al, into lending me the $400 to buy it.

Then I had to sell it while at the University of Colorado in Boulder where I went to college because I got, like many students, suddenly poor. I wept, my beloved stang's taillights fading into the distance.

These were the "Mach 1" models, the Shelby and the ultimate mustang, the Boss.

My mother-in-law Donna Jolly drives one now, a sleek, white muscle car. And she's a teacher.

Mustangs were also movie stars.

A 1971 Mustang starred in the 2000 movie "Gone in Sixty Seconds."

"2 Fast and 2 Furious" had a 2003 Saleen, "I am Legend" had the Shelby, "Transformers" had a Saleen and "Charlie's Angels" had a 1976 Cobra.

The No. 1 Mustang in the movies, though, is as iconic as they get. And I hate the word iconic.

The 1968 GT 390 Fastback that Steve McQueen muscled through the streets in San Francisco in what is the greatest chase scene ever in "Bullitt."

If a car could be said to represent America, it's the Mustang, its hood low and long, its maw seeming to chase you on the highway, ready to swallow you up. Its muscle, and most of all, its magic.

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