One of my Mustang friends, roushracer mentioned a secret Ford-sponsored Mustang meet at Top Notch, an Austin hamburger joint, to preview the 2010 Mustang. So I hopped onto CentralTexasStangs.com (CTS) to investigate whether or not people were talking about the event and what they were saying.
As it turned out, the event was scheduled for Monday, December 22, 2008, a day when I had already planned to be in San Antonio, visiting my family. When the day came, my wife and I packed up our car for a day trip to Austin. My brother Mikey caught wind of our plans and joined us. The only wrench in our plan was the temperature – a cool 35 degrees – and the fact that we had less than three hours in which to drive from San Antonio to our apartment in Austin, change cars from my wife’s Toyota Camry to my Grand Marquis (we couldn’t really show up to a Mustang event in a Camry, even if it could have walked half the cars there).
When we arrived at our apartment, my very intelligent wife went inside to stay warm while I went out to the garage to check the fluids in my Grand Marquis. Everything looked all right except for the coolant, which was down by about a cup. After adding some water, I decided I wanted to wash the car. However, all my towels were dirty, since I’d recently done a three-step wax job on my Honda S2000. Time was running out, so I reluctantly got in the car and stopped at a gas station to get a drive-thru car wash.
In the custom car scene, this is a huge faux pas, given that these drive-thrus can often damage your car. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any alternatives, so my brother and I were left to wait and worry and hope that everything would be intact and reasonably clean while the laser washer finished its work. To our surprise, it did not just a decent job, but a great one, not to mention it saved us the ordeal of washing the car ourselves in the frigid weather.
The car wash was only a few blocks down the street from the meet. As we arrived, about ten minutes early, we saw that many Mustangs were already there. Pulling into the parking lot, I gave my MGM a little rev and watched as the people gathered looked around for a muscle car and then realized the sound had come from my sleeper.
When we got out of the car, I handed my brother my Nikon D50. “I want this full by the time we leave,” I told him. My responsibility would be to take video.
Walking around the meet, I saw many familiar faces from the Mustang scene. I looked at all the makes and models of the Mustangs, and as I made my way, the temperature dropped and it got colder and colder. A fellow CTS member told me that he’d somehow found out the 2010 Mustangs were on their way and would be arriving soon. While I had been wandering around the meet, RoushRacer also called to say that he was en route with his car. I had managed to find a great parking spot, right up front, so when RoushRacer arrived, I offered to move my car so that he could have my spot and show off his car. He took me up on the offer right away.
The 2010 Mustangs began to arrive shortly thereafter. First to show up was a baby blue Mustang GT. I noticed that not only did the crowd gather around it, but almost everyone got out their digital cameras and/or cell phones and started taking pictures. Even my brother took out his phone to take a photo to send to his girlfriend before shooting with the Nikon.
The car’s driver held a microfiber towel and feverishly cleaned off the car every time somebody even came close to touching it. He was very blue collar and didn’t wear any official Ford clothing. He seemed to enjoy how everyone’s attention was drawn to the Mustang. He fielded questions and tried to answer them to the best of his knowledge. If he didn’t know the answer to a question, the enthusiasts gathered around the car often chimed in, since many of them already knew about its various features and specifications. Occasionally someone gave out incorrect information, which added to the lore of the Mustang.
The driver mentioned that two other Mustangs were on their way, and about twenty minutes after he showed up, a red Mustang GT convertible and a white Mustang V6 arrived. The crowd flocked to the new cars to take more pictures; the convertible was especially popular, but cameras and cell phones were snapping away around all three cars.
Shortly after my brother and I arrived at this meet, we were approached by a photographer who asked us to sign a waiver form. I declined respectfully, and he seemed shocked. I found out why later. It turned out that day Ford was shooting pictures for the new Mustang brochure. I discovered this one day in the spring when I received a phone call from RoushRacer, who told me that my brother and I were in the brochure! I was stunned. That brochure has become a significant artifact from my participation in car culture.