Talk about tenacity. Imagine driving a classic Mustang daily or thousands of miles annually to car shows, cruises, and even cross-country trips. Thanks to the incredible advances in terms of comfort, fuel economy, and reliability, we're less inclined these days to strap a classic Mustang to our backsides for anything more than a Sunday drive. Why? Because '65-'68 Mustangs are just not as comfortable as what most of us are accustomed to driving today. Those rock-hard bucket seats were exceeded in misery only by the posterior-numbing Camaro and Firebird buckets of the era, which were even harder. Road boom, driveline noise and vibration, and that miserable clunk of a coilover-upper arm front suspension are what ran a lot of us out of classic Mustangs as regular drivers. Now when we get behind the wheel, we are stunned that we ever drove one daily. Automobiles have come a long way in 40 years.
We tip our hats to those who never gave up their faith in classic rides. We're going to recognize a few of these dedicated folks here. Not all of them drive their Mustangs daily. But when it's time to cruise several hundred miles to a car show, they're ready-road atlas, cooler, and toolbox in trunk-to put interstate highway before the fascia.
One Million Miles
Every year for the past quarter century, Victor Anderson has driven 25,000 miles in his Wimbledon White '66 Mustang hardtop. He's on the road a lot, all of it in his classic Mustang. Still powered by its original 289 block and heads, Victor's Mustang has been driven approaching one million miles since new. Current odometer reading, if a vintage Mustang odometer actually went that high, is 913,000 miles. In fact, Victor wore out the original speedometer-his Mustang is now on its second.
Victor's father bought this car 40 years ago and drove it daily until 1985. Victor grabbed the reins and has continued his father's ritual. He has been driving this car daily for 25 years. "I'm 48, and this is only the second car I've ever owned," Victor tells us. "My first car was an American Motors Gremlin X that I drove 275,000 miles. But this Mustang is the car I learned to drive in. Now it continues to run me to work every day-60 miles roundtrip to San Francisco."
Victor tells us that the 289 four-barrel engine has been rebuilt every 250,000 miles for the past 30 years. The first rebuild was in 1980. He and his father did the second rebuild in 1993. The third rebuild, performed in 2003, has 130,000 miles under its belt. Victor assumes he'll need a new block for the next one. The original air conditioning compressor went 800,000 miles before Victor replaced it with a Sanden rotary-type for efficiency. Both the C4 Cruise-O-Matic and 2.79:1 peg leg axle are original to this car.
It may surprise you to know Victor's hardtop was parked daily on the street until 1992, which is when he first treated it to a warm garage. "Each and every morning, the garage door opens and the Mustang drives me 30 miles in San Francisco traffic, then 30 miles back home," Victor adds.
To make the car a better driver, Victor has performed subtle modifications designed to make his Mustang safer and more fun to drive. He has opted for the steel rear seat barrier from Tank Armor, SSBC front disc brakes, Gear Vendors overdrive, TMI Sport seats, Dual Red Line radials from Coker Tire, Pony Carburetors 4100 four-barrel, PerTronix Ignitor ignition, Edelbrock Variable Rate shocks, intermittent wipers, Dynamat and Acousti-Shield for a quiet ride, 289 Hi-Po exhaust manifolds, space saver spare tire, and dozens of other improvements.
Although some might find driving a classic Mustang daily challenging from a maintenance standpoint, Victor enjoys the challenge. Unleaded fuel and synthetic lubricants make longevity a slam-dunk these days, with engines, transmissions, and rear ends lasting longer as a result.