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November 30, 2006

What My Car Means To Me

Mustang By Michelle Wingard
My personal vehicle is more than just machinery; it is a way of life. Nearly every positive experience I've had in my life can be traced back to my passion for cars. While I consider myself an aficionado when it comes to high-performance vehicles, the Ford Mustang is everything I am looking for
in a car.

I purchased my first Mustang, a dark green 1995 GT coupe, brand new. My intent was to use the car as a daily driver as well as a strip car to feed my drag racing addiction. I read as many car magazines as I could get my hands on, and tried to do little tweaks here and there as money would permit. I frequented car shows with my Mustang, and at that time, I encountered my first positive experience at one of these shows. I met the man who would later become my husband.

Weddingmustang I was instantly drawn to his Mustang (also a 1995), but wanted to learn more
about the man behind the wheel as I absorbed the eye candy (both he AND the
car). We made small talk, and following that car show, we lost contact for a short time. Months later, while driving my Mustang, I encountered him on the street in his yellow Mustang. I pulled up next to him, revved a few times,
and we ended up stopping in a parking lot. We exchanged phone numbers, and we have been together ever since. In fact, when we got married the following year, my Mustang was our "getaway car."

While I'd love to think that I learned most of what I know from my research of publications, that's simply untrue. I was proficient enough to "talk the talk" when I met my husband, but I simply didn't have a clue when it came down to actually working on a vehicle. I was eager to learn, and even more eager to offer up my own personal car as a test horse. I loved the idea that making changes, both small and large, would yield an increase in feel and performance. With seemingly endless patience, my husband became my educator. He started off by showing me the basics, such as how to change out spark plug wires, and do simple maintenance, like oil changes. Soon, we were working on the addition of bolt-on modifications, like exhaust headers and under-drive pulleys.

Mustangshow Before I knew it, he had shown me how to completely disassemble the engine,
and reassemble it again. This past spring, I tackled the biggest hurdle ever when I built my own short block under his supervision. I realize just how much hands-on experience means, and I'll be forever grateful for all of the techniques he has shown me.

While the above material would make a great story, it doesn't end there.  In our ten years, we have had a total of seven Mustangs, and three still remain in our stable. We are still very active in the car show circuit, as well as the drag racing hobby. Our daughters were also given a good start in the right direction. When each of them left the hospital after birth, their very first car ride was in - you guessed it - a Mustang!

The two of us continue to educate our children on the basics of automobiles, as we feel it is never too early to learn information they can carry with them throughout their lives.

My Mustang has been with me for almost eleven years. Within that time, I met the man of my dreams, learned an amazing amount of information on both modification and repair, gave birth to my daughters, and been labeled a "car freak" more times than I can count. Coming from a family who had zero affection for vehicles, I never thought I would get this far in my desire to learn more about cars. I'll be forever grateful for this $20,490 purchase, as the gifts it has yielded are absolutely priceless.


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