Bucket lists are popular these days thanks to the everlasting popularity of the 2007 movie Bucket List, in which actor Morgan Freeman famously said that he wanted to drive a Shelby Mustang before he, well, kicked the bucket. As Mustangers, there are things we all want to do before we reach that ripe old age when arthritis prevents us from crawling under Mustangs or snaking into race cars through a tight rollcage. If you haven't put together your own Mustang bucket list, I've got some ideas for you below. Some I've checked off; a few many times. Others are on my personal to-do list.
Drive California's Route 1 along the Pacific coastline. This one is at the top of my bucket list. I've been on parts of the Pacific Coast Highway, mainly through traffic-clogged Los Angeles, but I've seen photos of the beautiful scenery along the winding coastal highway from San Diego to northern California and I want to experience it myself in a Mustang GT or Shelby convertible.
Attend the Mid America Ford and Shelby Nationals. Every Mustang owner should visit Tulsa at least once and take in the full four-day extravaganza of open-track, drag racing, cruise night, car show, swap meet, hotel lobby camaraderie, banquet, and even Jason Childress from Gateway Classic Mustang singing karaoke in the bar. Ford and Shelby American always send representatives, so it's a great chance to hang out with the people who make Mustangs happen.
Ride with Gary Patterson. You can check off two bucket list items in one trip if you attend the above Mid America event and sign up for a ride-along with Shelby American's "VP of Fun" at the Hallett Motor Racing Circuit. An all-around great guy, Gary knows how to drive a Shelby around a racetrack and shows you a good time doing it. Advice: Not right after lunch.
Rebuild an old Ford engine, even if you have to ask a buddy to help. There are few thrills greater than hearing an engine run for the first time knowing that you bolted it together yourself.
Drive a '13 Shelby GT 500. Either beg an owner to let you behind the wheel or convince your Ford salesman that you can afford the payments so he'll let you take a test spin. It's almost oxymoronic to have so much supercharged acceleration in such a tame, comfortable package.
Sign up for the Boss Track Attack. OK, so you've got to purchase a new Boss 302 for an invite to the Boss driving school at Miller Motorsports Park, but that's a pretty good addition to your bucket list, too. If your wife nixes that idea, then at least participate in the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School, where you'll learn how to hone your open-track driving skills in a Ford Racing–prepped Mustang GT. I recommend the upgrade to the FR500C for the full-on race car experience.
Spend a weekend in Dearborn, preferably in the summer when there's less chance of snow and freezing weather. If you love Mustangs and Fords, then Dearborn is Mecca with its Ford engineering buildings, proving grounds, and the "Glass House," aka the Henry Ford II World Center. I recommend a visit to the Henry Ford Museum while you're there. Schedule the trip for August so you can also take in the Woodward Dream Cruise or Mustang Memories car show.
Ride in a Mustang race car. Same as riding with Gary Patterson only with the visceral experience of open exhaust, high octane fuel vapors, and trying to hold your head upright while wearing a heavy helmet under high g-load conditions.
For owners of vintage models, drive your Mustang back to the town where it was originally purchased for a photo in front of the selling dealership. This one is on my bucket list, except the old Ford dealer building is now a school bus shop.
Spend Saturday at the Ford Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and go into sensory overload with rows upon rows of Mustangs on the show field, not to mention special displays (this year it's Mustang special editions) and plenty of swap meet vendors. Advice: Try a Philly cheesesteak under the grandstands.