I think everybody spends time thinking about living a lifestyle larger than the one they currently do. Being directly on the dividing line between upper and lower middle class, we don’t want for much, but we don’t have a maid service or send Finn to private school or enjoy ski vacations on the West Coast. What we’ve got is due to luck, hard work, and no small amount of privilege—I’m not so stupid as to ignore that truth—and believe me, I’m thankful for the life we have together.
I do still dream, though, of having true fuck-you money, living the kind of lifestyle where we could just do something large and irresponsible without worrying about groceries for the next six months. A spontaneous trip abroad. A summer cottage somewhere warm and within sight of the water. The ability to go to graduate school and not worry about crushing debt. Given who we are, we’d probably still be working, but just to have the ability to do those other fun things the shiny people get to do as a matter of course would be great. As I’ve gotten older my vistas have scaled back somewhat, and now I dream of having the time, space and education to pursue other careers and travels.
It was with anticipation, then, that I waited for the flatbed to drop off Matt’s Mustang on Friday afternoon. The guy drove it off the back and parked it out front, and I hustled to get it in the driveway, recalling past horrors involving cars that weren’t mine out there. I’ve always wanted to have a stable of old cars to play with, and the Scout has been my salve for that itch. It’s nice, then, to have another, completely different one to play with for a while.
This Mustang is a 1965, black over red coupe with a 6-cylinder engine and an automatic transmission. Beyond that, there isn’t much mechanically. It’s only got manual steering and manual drum brakes, which means parallel parking it in the driveway is a full-body workout. The engine bay is about as complicated as a tractor’s: there might be eight wires in total, and three hoses. Sitting inside is like going back in time. You sit in two low-back bucket seats with lap belts, inches off the ground. The steering wheel sticks way out into your lap from a shiny steel and plastic dashboard. The ignition is to the right of the steering column, and the engine fires right up. Being a 6-cylinder it idles rougher and sounds more agricultural than the Scout. The transmission is vague and floaty: the detents that indicate where you are in the P-N-D-L sequence are rubbed away, so there’s a bit of guesswork involved before you unlock your left leg from the brake pedal and hope you’re aimed in the right direction.
I grabbed one of the Scout plates and put it on the back to take it for a spin around the block to give Matt my impressions. Out on the road, it’s another whole world. It cruises happily in second gear, and the world looks completely different from behind the shiny chrome wheel. The windows crank down smoothly, the wing windows let the breeze inside, and it just floats down the road.
I noted a bunch of things I saw and reported back to Matt: it hunts for second gear when it gets warm. There’s a clunk from the driver’s front suspension going over speed bumps. The seatbelts were installed backwards (latch on the door side). There’s rust in both rockers at the B pillar. But it fires up immediately and runs like a top.
I took Finn down the street for ice cream on Saturday night, and she had a big smile on her face the whole way there. So did I.
Matt has been awesome and told me it’s ours to drive around for a while, so we’re just waiting for him to send us the plates so it’s legal and then I’ll get Jen behind the wheel for some fun—she’s said this was her dream car (well, a convertible, if we’re being honest) and I’d like to give her the opportunity to live that dream for a while, even if it’s just a loan.