Ford Mustangs, Cocoa Beach, and Other Dreams

Ford Mustangs, Cocoa Beach, and Other Dreams

Let me begin this week by stating that I am not at all a true car buff – there is no confusing me with a legitimate gearhead. I am nowhere near equipped to converse fluently in the language of horsepower, gear ratios, fuel injection, or “pedal to the metal.” I just know what I like.

And what I like are Ford Mustangs from 1964 to 1969. As a kid growing up near Cocoa Beach during those years, those cars screamed out to me surfing, girls, beaches, and all the good things I could look forward to when I hit my teen years on the Space Coast. When we moved to inland upstate South Carolina in 1969, those dreams turned to mere memories of what my teen years should have been, and my life was shattered for the first time. It’s no wonder then that I prefer 1960s vintage automobiles, and the Ford Mustang symbolized all that was good about life back then.

In the 2005 model year, the Ford Motor Company put out a Mustang that took me right back to the 1960s. Similar to what Fender did with their Vintage Reissues of 1950s and 1960s Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars (another column in itself), Ford put out a car that was designed to capture a Boomer’s heart and take him right back to those days on Cocoa Beach. The classic lines… the wide grille… the round headlights… even the foglights on the GT Deluxe… I was ready to take my surfboard to the beach.

The main reason I haven’t bought one of these machines is that I have never had the disposable income to warrant the purchase of a vehicle without a single practical purpose. Pickup trucks and cargo vans have helped me haul around guitars and amps, but they’re not much fun for surfing at the beach. Besides, I’m not the same kid I was in the mid-1960s… although I’d give almost everything to go back to that time (IF I could take all my hard-earned knowledge with me).

It seems that Ford’s efforts with the Mustang (and the older T-Bird) weren’t lost on GM and Dodge. The new Camaros and Challengers really take one back to those amazing times for the American automobile. There were a lot of great cars produced in the 1950s as well, not to mention the 40s and the 30s… and everyone probably has their favorite old car going back to a fondly remembered time.

Whatever the item, whether it be an old car, a manual typewriter, 33-1/3 RPM vinyl albums, a Walkman cassette player, a manual Singer sewing machine, a rotary dial phone – they all remind us of simpler times, and certainly times when we were younger and had a whole lot of future ahead. Perhaps they also remind us of things we might have done differently, of decisions we might have changed given the benefit of hindsight. Regrets are horrible things, stuff that should be left undisturbed in the dumpsters of our former lives… unless we are prepared to do something about them.

64-year-old Diana Nyad finally realized her dream of swimming across the Florida Straits from Havana to Key West without the drafting benefits of a shark cage. After trying several times previously, her first attempt in 1978, her perseverance and determination led to her ultimate success. The most badass athlete on Planet Earth is a 64-year-old woman – but her heart and soul are even stronger than her physical self. If there were ever an example of why one should never give up on his or her dreams, Diana Nyad delivered it personally on the shores of Key West this past week.

While upstate South Carolina was a pathetic replacement for the 1970s Cocoa Beach teen years I was robbed of, the Palmetto State does offer one pertinent piece of wisdom. The South Carolina state motto is “Dum Spiro, Spero.” Translated from Latin, it means “While I Breathe, I Hope.” While I may never learn how to surf, I still have some dreams I’m chasing. I hope Diana Nyad’s accomplishment will inspire all of us to chase our dreams and rise above the lie.

 

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