Never Stop Driving #19: Mustang Stampede
“You should totally burn it down,” my 13-year-old son Sam said from the back seat of our Mustang. He wanted a big smoky burnout as we left the parking lot of Ford’s world headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. “Yeah, dumb,” I replied, “Not the place at all.” I wasn’t about to encourage street racing with Sam or his 19-year-old brother, who was riding shotgun. Sam laughed, knowing that would be my answer.
We were in one of over a thousand Mustangs that gathered for the unveiling of the seventh-generation Mustang. The event, which started outside Ford’s mid-century architectural masterpiece, a 12-story glass and steel box known as The Glass House, was called the “Stampede.” We had to register our 5.0 at the Glass House to get a ticket for the actual car reveal in Detroit later that evening.
I picked up Sam from school and we headed straight for Dearborn, where there was already a long registration line snaking among the cars in the parking lots in front of The Glass House. The diversity and enthusiasm of the crowd were striking and heartwarming. The woman in line ahead of us, who designs head gaskets for Ford, told us how to spot performance pack options on new Mustangs. The woman behind us said that she never even dreamed she would one day own a ’Stang. Everyone was thrilled to be part of a new Mustang debut, a comparatively rare event in the car’s 57-year history. Based on the size of the crowd and the loose organization, I sensed that even Ford didn’t fully anticipate the enthusiasm this novel event would generate.
It took a while for the assembled Mustangs to pull out of the lots for the short drive to Motown, and we stood next to a gorgeous sunflower field to watch the parade. We could hear the drivers gunning their engines as they left and we placed bets on how many would do the infamous Mustang cars and coffee burnout and crash (Reminder: Don’t be an idiot. Race at the track, please. It’s better for all of us). An early Mustang convertible riding high on big wheels pulled up. I asked the driver what was hanging from below his engine. He silently flipped a switch and said, “Exhaust dump,” as the once muffled sound turned raucous.
When we hit the road, without the “burning down” my son requested, there were two slightly dented Mustangs off to the side, but the vast majority of drivers behaved. Mustangs covered the streets of downtown Detroit like a locust bloom. Ford’s big event was in Hart Plaza, which overlooks the Detroit river and is sandwiched between GM’s headquarters and the convention hall where the newly revamped Detroit auto show had kicked off that day. We got a ticket for a free dinner from one of several food trucks.
I could see why Ford picked that venue, considering all the car action in Motown last week. The actual 2024 Mustang, however, was uncovered in a sunken amphitheater that had limited seating. Along with most of the owners, we had to watch the new car drive onto the stage via a Jumbotron screen. The new car looks like a nice evolution. The GT model will have 480 horsepower. That is, my friends, deliciously insane and further proof that we are in a golden age of horsepower. Our 1986 GT has just 215 ponies. There are also several new, factory-built racing models. There is plenty to be excited about and you can read it here.
Two days later, I returned to Motown for the inaugural Detroit Concours d’Elegance. Take what you think you know about Detroit and discard it. Motown is very much a vibrant city again. There are still lots of challenges and the newfound prosperity is not evenly divided among Detroit’s many neighborhoods, which spread across 139 square miles, but the city is in far better shape than I’ve ever seen it in the quarter-century since I moved to Michigan. Considering all the automotive history in the city, Motown is a perfect location to host a major car event, which was won by a 1937 Delahaye.
On Saturday night, I led a panel with three senior car-company execs—one each from GM, Ford, and Stellantis (Chrysler)—to discuss the future of driving in an EV and autonomous future. See, a lot of the people working on these projects for automakers are also dedicated gearheads. I wanted to know if they’re looking out for those of us who love to drive. You can watch the recording here, but based on the enthusiasm of these three influential execs, I think we are in very good hands. There will still be internal combustion engines for years to come and now we’ll see more EV powertrains that will add a different character to driven cars.
Our UK folks were at the Goodwood Revival this past weekend and you can watch the recorded livestream here. Also, Hagerty Drivers Club staff writer Aaron Robinson, who journeyed from SoCal, somehow was roped into fixing Mr. Bean’s rear brakes.
I will leave you with this: I consider myself an insanely lucky guy and am generally content. But I’m having a hard time not wishing for this Jaguar D-Type headed for auction.
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