I’ll start this with a confession. And if you listen to the Untitled Car Show (and you damn well should!)—specifically the first time the RFD crew was on—you would have heard this confession. This bourbon-related confession. One of my first cars growing up was a 1993 2.3L 4-cylinder hatchback LX Mustang with just over 100 HP. Oh, and it was an automatic. There, I said it.
Moving on to why I gathered you all here today, it was the perfect first car. Well, technically it was my second car. My first car was a 1988 Nissan Pulsar NX, the one with the crazy diagonal taillights and the available wagon’esque hatchback add-on. Mine mercifully did not have that appendage; I know it’s popular, but it’s also ugly. Anyway, that car was my first, and you always remember your first. But 125 HP in a revvy DOHC Nissan engine was too much for me; and in my first car I experienced my first accident. It was a rollover too, pretty hairy. No injuries, other than my pride and the car. It was “fixed” a few months later—no frame damage = not totaled—but was never the same. I was able to swap it for something newer. Something…slower.
Enter the Mustang, my first, but not my last. My parents were cool with it, the engine likely had less power than my Mom’s Dodge Caravan. I naturally wanted the sweet 5.0 sitting next to it on the lot. That wasn’t in the cards, and that’s a good thing. You see, those with great power…use it. Thought I was going to get all Uncle Ben didn’t you (the one from Spider Man, not the rice shill)? It’s easy to get into trouble when you’re 16 and excited to have the freedom to go wherever you want. In fact, this bright red Mustang saw the red-n-blue lights of many a Maryland State Trooper over its life. But in the end, that only resulted in a few tickets, a lot of warnings, and even more learning on my part.
105 HP isn’t a lot. #newsflash
Which is perfect when you’re driving your first RWD car, and I still managed to get it sideways on occasion. Sometimes on purpose, many times, not. But with such a low powered car, it didn’t matter. I didn’t race anyone, no point. Being an impetuous high schooler, I naturally yearned for more power, thumbing through Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords looking at crate engines and the like. But on $4.25 an hour, I was lucky to pay the (post major accident) insurance. Thankfully gas was under $1.00/gallon. I’m older than you, probably, STFU.
I rode out high school in the bright red Mustang, 1994 was a rough year though. That was the debut of the heavily anticipated new Mustang. And it was quite the looker compared to the boxy fox body. Or so I thought at the time, now I have a thing for the generation that bore my first Mustang. By the way, none of these pictures are of my actual car, but close approximations.
I moved on to college and the Mustang was still just what I needed. Paying my own way for gas, insurance, beer, etc. meant that the 22 city / 29 highway MPG was pretty useful, even with cheap gas. I toyed with various replacements, test drove a new-at-the-time Eagle Talon, and some others before finally deciding on my car’s main rival, the Camaro. I picked up a new 1996 Chevy Camaro and the Mustang went to the used car lot to hopefully be some other kid’s perfect first car.
If you’re assuming that I was the proud owner of a Z28, you’d be wrong. My black beauty had a 3.8 L V6 with 200 HP. And I loved it.