No hatred for Mustangs

By Jeffrey Fazio
DriveTime Columnist

I don't hate Ford Mustangs. At least I don't anymore.

When I was in my 20s and just entering the realm of performance automobiles, Mustangs were my arch rivals. I hated them. This is not surprising as many car subcultures hold the Mustang as the car to beat. It almost seems that the Mustang is the one car that everyone, except Mustang owners, can agree to despise.

The Camaro and Firebird crowds hate them. They are despised by groups of avid Honda, Toyota and Mazda owners. From what I understand, the drivers of Porches and BMWs have even been known to take a moment out of their day to look down their noses at the infamous pony-car. I wouldn't be surprised if the notorious steed that rests in Ford's stable is even disliked by the devoted owners of Cadillacs, SUVs and mopeds.

Scorning the Ford pony is more or less expected. It's certainly encouraged and quite often celebrated.

Beating a Mustang is a source of pride. Was it an under-powered base model? No worries. You still took out a Mustang and thats all that really matters.

Recently, while doing research on the different kinds of racing venues available to me and my car, it occurred to me why the Mustang is so loathed: It's a great performance car.

There, I said it. I still don't want one, but there' s simply no denying the incredibly diverse and successful racing history of the Ford Mustang. It is nearly impossible to find a form of automobile racing that the Mustang has not conquered. Not only has the Mustang competed in a huge variety of motorsports, but more importantly, it has been successful in these venues. No wonder it is so reviled. It's been beating up the competition for over 40 years.

Mustangs have been successfully drag raced, road raced and autocrossed. The mighty stallion has been rallied, hill climbed and even ice raced. Jet cars have been made from them. Even land speed races have seen the occasional Mustang entered. The reach of this influential automobile is extremely far.

The irony is that the hatred shown the Mustang is most likely its biggest compliment. When I was younger, it simply never occurred to me that it was "important" to beat Mustangs because they are worth beating.

Now that I am maturing as a driver and experiencing a variety of different racing opportunities, I am comfortable with the fact that I no longer hate Mustangs. I also don't hate Corvettes anymore. Although there are some Mustang and Corvette i owners that I really don't like, but that is a whole other story.

There is just too much negative energy between car cultures. A lot of time and emotion are wasted hating. It does no good. It advances no one and it proves nothing.

You will most likely never change the other person's view on your car or theirs. Even if your 2.0-liter beats their 5.0-liter or your front-wheel drive beats their rear-wheel drive, there will always be someone faster on the other side.

Rivalries are plentiful: domestics versus imports, Chevy versus Ford, Toyota versus Honda, rotary versus piston, Mustang versus everybody. Where does it end?

How about those wonderful stickers of the cartoon character Calvin peeing on the different brand emblems? Poor Calvin comes off looking like he hates every car since a sticker of his likeness exists with him emptying his bladder onto the badge of every car manufacturer known to man. It's really bad when our cartoons share in the hate.

If everyone would just put down the hate and step away from the vehicle, they might actually start learning a few tricks from "the other side." I know I have learned a thing or two from the V-8 crowd this year.

Anyway, cars are cars. They have distinct characteristics and people prefer different things. That is good. Would you really want everyone to have the same car as you? It would be extremely annoying if we all had identical vehicles. I am grateful that there are so many different cars to choose from.

I am especially thankful for all of those Mustang loyalists out there.
Without them, I would have to find someone else to beat up on.