Friday, July 15, 2022

 I finally got the car that I've been wanting...

It only took 16 years! 

It is noteworthy to mention that the car that I wanted at the time was a brand new car!

The year was 2006, I was running out my Cadillac love. The last years of my Seville ownership experience hadn't been too pleasant.  I'd had a good time with my '90 Honda Civic SI, and I'd been running a few older Buick Rivieras. I was on my second mini van, a Chrysler Town and Country. I started messing with Datsun Z cars and thinking about a Mercedes. There was a lot going on in my head at this time.

I was still reading several automotive buff books and had seen the new retro Mustang that was making the car show rounds. It looked pretty good to me, it might be considered a pastiche of Gen 1 Mustang styling cues, but I thought that it was a cohesive design.  The word was that this was going to be the "new" Mustang in a few years. 

While my first car was a '66 Mustang coupe, the latest 94-98, and 99-2004 models didn't really appeal to me. The '69 and '70 models were the last models that really hit me emotionally when they were new. They would have been pretty affordable in '75 and for quite a few later years. Oh, they would have cost me more than the 300.00 I paid for my coupe, but they would have been less expensive than the motorcycles that I was riding. The motorcycle was always my priority and came first, then it was having a Cadillac. When I stepped up to Harley Davidson there wasn't a lot of extra money to also pick up a Mustang. Even if I had really wanted one. My favorite Mustang of that era was the '70 fastback, either a basic Sportroof, Mach One, or Boss 302. They weren't going to get any cheaper over time. Of course, I had no idea of just how expensive they would get. 

The early 2000's was the era of the retro styled car. VW brought out the new Beetle, Jaguar brought out their X300 XJ6 and the XKE cribbing XK8. Chrysler brought out a PT Cruiser and Plymouth Prowler which didn't really copy any of their older designs. Ford finally rolled out a retro T Bird.

Unfortunately there wasn't going to be any retro style Cadillac Eldorado or De Villes.

I read all of the anticipatory articles, then the reviews. Financially it looked like I would be able to swing a new car.  If I was going to get a new Mustang, I wanted it to be a GT convertible. 

But of course reality always rears it's ugly head. I had just bought a new Ford F150 to use in my swap meet car parts business. My Wife wasn't going to drive my truck, and we still needed a "family car" since we still had a couple of kids at home. Our  Chrysler mini van was on it's last legs and it reliability was an open question. So it had to be a car that my Wife could drive, also on the horizon my youngest Daughter was going to be in high school soon and I'd imagined that she was going to need something to drive. It wasn't going to be  300 hp. convertible! Though my Wife had driven our 295 hp Cadillac STS without any problems. 

So a new V6 Mustang coupe was going to be it. I found a nicely equipped example right before the '08's were going to be released. I already knew that they were going to look identical, and I also knew that I was going to hold onto the car for a long time, so buying the '08 at a higher price wouldn't be the best idea. Buying a new car just as the new model is released means that you just bought a years worth of depreciation. However if the price is marked down sufficiently and you plan on keeping the car a long time you can come out ahead. The difference in appearance between the '04 last year SN95 and the '05 S197 was so substantial it had to have affected sales of the 2004, as well as later resale value. You'd have to have been a real "New Edge" fan not to have waited until 2005.

My '07 was equipped with the Pony package which consisted of 17 in. Bullitt wheels, rear deck spoiler, and the grille mounted fog lamps. Maybe that's why I got challenges from other drivers who mistook it for a GT.

Internally it had leather, the Kicker stereo/CD and most importantly, ABS, which was still an option on the six cylinder cars. It is still a great looking car, and the fastback roof line mimics the '65-'66 Shelby look with the side windows, is a real winner. I think that the coupes actually look better than the convertibles.

But I still wanted the top to go down, and I wanted the V8. But I enjoyed the new Mustang and put a lot of miles on it. I think that these V6 models are highly under rated.

As soon as I could afford it, I started looking around trying to satisfy my V8 cravings. I couldn't afford an '05 so I took a look at the last of the Fox bodied late '80s models. These cars had been popular when new and that popularity carried on into the resale market. Also, a lot of Mustang fans were not excited by the new SN95 design. By the early 2000's Fox body cars began to develop a collectible status and prices started to climb. It was always the same story, they now cost more than what I wanted to pay.

So I took a look at the SN95 and found that from an engineering standpoint they were much more advanced than the old Foxes. Clean examples were much more affordable. I wasn't crazy about the looks at first, but that would change over time. My '96 has turned out to be a very satisfactory experience. 

I had even tried to grab some of the classic Mustang glory and do an end run around high prices by getting a fixer '70 coupe. I would have preferred a V8, fastback model. But I was going to beat the system, at least that was the plan! It ended up looking pretty good, and these coupes are still pretty inexpensive, so I got it for cheap. But even after all my work it was going to need a pretty big investment to bring it up to par. The drivetrain was still a disappointment, certainly nothing like my '07 V6. It would take a lot of money to upgrade the mechanicals, and some of the ergonomic and safety faults were just inherent to the design. Newer cars have certainly gotten better over time.

But I did like the classic look. 

The later restylings of the S197, starting in 2009 carried it further and further away from it's classic retro design. The rear end styling really took years for me to accept, even if only barely. The intro of the new 5.0 Coyote engine made up for a lot of shortcomings, however.

I have been impressed by the new 2015 Mustang, especially the fastback roofline. Though there isn't much, actually nothing, to tie it with the S197s. In this way it's much like the SN95 to post 2004 models, a complete change. Not really a bad thing, but I still had a thing for the retro look. The new IRS seemed like it would deliver a smoother ride, something you don't really get with a Mustang.

I was constantly watching Mustang videos and one fan stated that the car to get was the '13-14 Mustang GT. It still had the classic profile combined with the new engine and improved lighting. Being newer it would be available used with lower mileages. This was a persuasive argument.

I started scanning CL religiously and found a fair amount of the later cars, I was still ambivalent about the styling. I would still look at the earlier cars but the low mileage cars must have been considered to be already collectible as the asking prices were pretty high. I really did want a low mileage car, but I wasn't closed mind about it! 

Then "my" car popped up. It was bright blue, with a tan top. The paint looked to be in great shape, it was really shiny. The interior, also in great condition, was tan leather seats with tan and black door panels and the dash and console were black and tan with silver panels. I had been hoping to find a Mustang with a bright, colorful interior! And this was it! It looked to be in very good condition and the mileage was 116,000 miles, less than most I'd seen. According to the ad, it was in perfect running shape. There was only one little problem, it was in Los Angeles. 

I communicated with the seller via e-mail and set up a time to check it out. I had to work around his work schedule. As we got closer to the date we spoke over the phone. 

One of the bad things about travelling a long distance to check out a car is that it's hard to simulate nonchalance, obviously you are interested, you just drove 350 miles to check it out! It makes it hard to bargain on the price, it's not like you are going to just turn around and leave if you can't get the price withing a few hundred dollars of the price you wanted to pay. Obviously you've invested a certain amount of time and money already, gas is really expensive now. However, if the car is not in the condition it was represented to be, the smart thing to do would be to walk/drive away. 

The other problem is how will you get the car home? I've previously bought two cars in southern Calif. The first was not a runner, so I took my truck and picked up a trailer near the car's location and towed it home. The other was a good running car that I had previously checked out while on a trip down south with the Wife. We rented a car for the trip down that we could drop off near the seller after we bought the car. That was one of my favorite car buying experiences. I got a couple of years to enjoy the Jaguar XJ6. 

The other alternative was to drive a car down and have my Wife drive one of them back. That wasn't going to happen! So a trailer rental was arranged. The sale of the XJ6 was also being currently arranged and the appointment for pick up was being set up. To top it off the '07 Mustang was at the transmission repair shop! Talk about walking and chewing gum! There is always a lot of moving parts spinning around at the same time in my life. Lucky for me my Wife is a wiz at coordinating everything.

So I was driving the truck down, that would call for an early start.


The interesting part, to me at least , is that I have wanted this car for a long time, before I acquired any of the other cars I've bought in the last 16 years! Before the '07 Mustang, the '96 Mustang, or the '70 Mustang. Before I wanted any of the Jaguars, the XJS, the XJ6, or the Mark VII. Before the Explorer and the Flex. I didn't mention the truck because it's a truck, not a car, though. I actually wanted this model F150 from the first time that I saw one on the street. So I have wanted this particular model Mustang for a very long time. 

So, why didn't I buy one sooner? 

Good question. I think that initially it was because of the cost, so I bought other alternatives instead, then I got bogged down in the ownership of these vehicles. As I always say it's not easy to sell old cars and that can lead to years of inertia. As time passed, the value of this generation of Mustangs began to decline, especially after the introduction of the new 5.0 motor. 

Then last year I bought the Flex. It wasn't new, but it was "new enough " with only 30,000 miles on the clock. It replaced the Explorer which was quite old with 275,000 miles on it. Though I'd pressed it into service for several long trips, the truck was still my main go to, though I'd also used my '96 Mustang. 

The experience of driving an almost new car was quite refreshing, so much so that it has affected my thinking about messing with old cars.

I had actually thought about buying a brand new Mustang, I even had my Wife's support! I think she has known of my frustration working on some of my project cars. She really didn't want me buying some raggedy ass old car, so I had been directing my attention to the 2015 to 2020 models. Then I realized that I still kind of liked the earlier body style better. Especially since I was planning to hold onto the car for a long time. So I had started looking for  2013-14 model. They still had the classic retro style body. I didn't try to pretend that they were better looking than my 2007, but I didn't want to buy a car that I'd have to immediately have to do a lot work to.

I'd start my CL searches looking for 2005-09 models, then switch to the '13-'14 models and follow that up with the 2015-20's. I had rented a '21 GT convertible last Summer and found that it was okay, Yes, it was, and felt really fast, but that wasn't my major consideration. I had taken a test drive of a 2016 V6 six speed coupe at Morgan Hill Ford a few months back. I thought that the six was a pretty good runner and they are quite a bit cheaper than the GT. Even more affordable are the fours, but I still feel that's a bridge too far. 

My car's bright blue finish and interior really grabbed my attention and the relatively low mileage was a plus. The car isn't perfect, and it is 16 years old. But it is pretty good, and I can handle the price without financing. In fact I was feeling a little bit of uncertainty as I waited in line at the bank to withdraw the funds for the purchase. I kept thinking about the poorly fitted top, worn tires, chipped paint, and couple of little dings. While it certainly looked better than my '96,  it didn't look as good as my Flex, which is nine years newer with 70,000 miles less on the clock. It also cost me almost three times as much! Luckily reality sunk in and I began to consider the Mustang in a better light. 

We loaded up my new Mustang on the trailer for the trip home. I was a little concerned about the truck, since it had the same mileage as our '07 Mustang. Well, if things went bad we could always drive home in the Mustang and come back later for the truck. We made it home without any problems, and I even unloaded it myself without any complications. That's a good sign. I think that this will be the start of a beautiful relationship. Maybe I won't describe it like that to my Wife, no need on giving her something else to laugh about!

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