Mark T Smith

1965 Ford Mustang

In the midst of a Global Pandemic, living in a red zone, socially distanced, empty city…

Empty city? Perfect!

The keys are smaller than most, the ignition key has an almost Egyptian quality to it, an artifact from other time. The key goes in keys up. All the teeth and corresponding pins are worn. Not in a precision, machined manner just worn, just familiar. Three pedals, Right! Click. No buzzers, no lights, no bells, you hear the key turn in the cylinder. Two pumps on the gas pedal and on the second or third revolution the V8 awakes. Small block, 289 – 4.7 liters. This one has been rebuilt to stock HiPo specifications. All stock except the modern 650cfm carburetor, electronic ignition and high torque starter. Rumble. Only certain cars Rumble.

Reverse, clutch out slowly. Everything about the car is tactile. You notice the manual steering immediately. Clutch pressure is light for an old car. Out into the world, back into the limelight. That Prairie Gold sparkles in the welcome sun. The steady rumble of the 289 in the background.

Shifting the Toploader takes some technique, but mostly patience. Once this transmission has reached operating temperature the gears click together smoothly with a reassuring and robust consistency. The interior is Classic American space area charm, but the front seat ergonomics are lawn chair grade after an hour. By modern standards, this whole thing is a Model T anyway. Besides that is the charm, the direct connection to driving – in this case an American automotive icon.

But in an empty city, with empty streets. Squeal, Smoke, 1 Big Chirp, 2, wind it out, 3, exhaust overtakes induction noise. Intoxicating. This is my 1965 Ford Mustang.

My first column for Auto News. In the middle of a pandemic, strange times but classic cars and all that they bring to their owners are strong comfort in these days of uncertainty.

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About Mark T. Smith

Mark T. Smith is a celebrated American painter. He is best known for his colorful, complex paintings and his passion for the application of art into the fabric of everyday life.

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