The first car I ever loved was a red ‘79 Mustang that my dad brought home in the spring of ‘82. Of course, ’79 was to cars what disco was to music, and leisure suits were to fashion. Our Mustang wasn’t particularly fast or well styled, but for a 16-year-old high school sophomore, it felt like the greatest car in the world.
Cruising to the beach in my red ‘stang with the windows down and the stereo blasting…laying a patch of rubber on Walker Drive…driving my buddies to the Friday night football game…every time I got in that car felt like the adventure of a lifetime. There’s even proof it helped my love life…one girl said “cool red car” was in her top three reasons for going out with me. Heck, it was probably first.
The Mustang was magic as far as I was concerned. I felt like it was part of me…a defining symbol of my youth, one tangible asset on the cool side of the ledger. And, I’ve had a soft spot for all things Mustang ever since.
My story is hardly unique. Just look at some of the member profiles on CarDomain. Cars are etched into the fabric of our lives in a way that often transcends logic…there is a genuine passion that can’t be measured in miles per gallon or government crash protection ratings. It’s a passion that comes from deep within.
That passion was missing from the recent discussions of Federal loans for the auto industry. As I watched the Detroit 3 CEOs taken to task on C-Span, something occurred to me. Those politicians might have been talking about the car industry, but they definitely weren’t talking about cars. I don’t want to debate the pros and cons of government loans here, but I do want to throw out a couple questions…can anyone imagine a world with no Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes or Challengers? And, would a government-influenced car industry make anything that makes anyone’s pulse race? It makes me shudder.
People love cars. But, not because they are sensible machines to get from point A to point B…they love horsepower and bright colors, big shiny wheels, leather seats, and kick-ass sound systems. Cars that are cool.
I’ll be at the North American International Auto Show in Motown in a few weeks. I think the car companies will say and do things that are politically correct. They’ll talk about technology for the future, they’ll talk about improved gas mileage and affordability. But, when the cameras are off, the journalists notebooks are put away, what vehicles will draw the biggest crowds? Put it this way…I don’t think you’ll see a bunch of kids in varsity jackets hovering around a Prius. They’ll be looking at the Vettes, the Mustangs, the Challengers and the Camaros…dreaming of what it’s like to get behind the wheel. And it’s that passion for cars that helps keep the domestic car industry alive and kicking.