I’m feeling a bit weird right now. Yesterday I finally drove a 1966 Ford Mustang that I’d bought as a gift for my brother back in 2012, and have been storing ever since. The experience was so invigorating that I don’t know if I can ever look at my Jeep collection the same way.
Maybe this is just the newness of a fresh relationship tugging at my emotions, but my god, I can still feel my heart beat a few rpm higher than usual. After bleeding and adjusting the drum brakes all morning (and tracking down dastardly leaks), I spent the afternoon yesterday for the first time a 1966 Ford Mustang that I’ve technically owned since 2012. The experience was incredible. (Okay, to be fair, I did limp the Mustang a few miles to a car show back in 2012, and I tried driving it down the block in 2014. Both times, the machine died).
The sound of those 289 cubic-inches squeezing burned combustion gasses through a big hole in the car’s exhaust pipe; the sight of that beautiful, long, bright red hood and awesome vintage gauges; the acceleration. Yes, I said it, this thing feels quick!
The problem is that none of my other cars — not the 360 V8-powered 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, not the 1991 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 five-speed, not the “Holy Grail” 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.0 five-speed, not the 1992 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 automatic, not the 2000 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 automatic, and definitely not the 258 inline-six powered 1985 Jeep J10 — feel quick at all. Relative to the Mustang, they feel downright lethargic!
And it’s not even because they are actually any slower. I bet that five-speed Jeep Cherokee XJ can accelerate as quickly as the Mustang to 60 mph. But the Jeep sure as hell doesn’t feel like as eager, and that’s because the Cherokee — like every other car I own except maybe that diesel manual Chrysler minivan that my parents are storing at their house in Germany — sound downright boring!
None of the AMC inline-sixes or even that 360 V8 have even remotely interesting aural outputs. When I step out of that Mustang and jump into any of my other vehicles, it immediately hits me that something really important to the automotive experience is missing. It’s that sweet, sweet V8 bark.
I feel like I just entered a hot, steamy new relationship, and now I’m talking about neglecting all of my friends to hang out with the exciting, attractive new thing in my life. But have no fear: This will not happen. The Mustang can try to lure me in with its Candy Apple Red paint and that great sounding motor, but my other vehicles have a simpler charm that I can still appreciate.
My J10, for example, has a bench seat. How awesome is that? Also, it’s a manual, which is great. And heck, it’s four-wheel drive with manual locking hubs. Plus it has a giant bed, which I can use for practical things like hauling Changlis from shipping ports to homes of prolific automotive bloggers.
My Cherokee XJs are handsome in their own right, and incredibly capable off-road. My manual Grand Cherokee feels downright refined, and my Golden Eagle? I think, with a bit of buffing, I can make it look just as pretty as that Mustang.
That’s right, Ford Mustang. You will not be a siren, leading me to ditch my long-time automotive friends. They’ve been good to me, mostly.