Ford sold a million and a half Mustangs between 1994 and 2004, so it may be a little unrealistic to assume that all of them have noticeable exterior damage. And yet, every time I see one parked on the street or driving next to me, there it is: a fender dragging on the ground, a big tear in the convertible top, huge areas of peeling paint, or some other major, noticeable damage. It’s not always the same damage, but every fourth-gen Mustang has apparently been wrecked or vandalized in some way. It seems like it can’t be true, just because of the sheer number of Mustangs made during those years. But each and every time I see a Mustang of this vintage, it looks like it has seen some shit.
There are other vehicles that always seem to have a specific type of damage or degradation: The Camry dent, the second-gen Lexus GS’ faded tail lights, the Scion TC’s hatch handle, the third-generation Ford Explorer’s crack in the body-colored plastic below the rear window. But with the Mustang, it’s just random damage.
I know, old cars often have dents and scratches, and the newest of the fourth-gen ‘stangs are already old enough to get a part-time job at Six Flags. But there’s something different, something more significant about the Mustang, particularly the fourth-gen, and I don’t think it is a quality or manufacturing issue.
I don’t want to sound like I’m blaming the drivers here. I don’t want to sound like I’m saying Mustang drivers are more reckless, or aggressive. I don’t want to give the impression that I have some grudge against Mustang drivers just because one ran a stoplight and gave my femur seventeen degrees of freedom. I certainly don’t want to insinuate that Mustangs are carriages of destruction and that everyone behind the wheel of one is a lunatic who should have their license revoked.
That’s not what I’m saying.
I’m just saying that all fourth-generation Ford Mustangs look like they lost a bar fight.