John F

Cross Country in a 46 year old Mustang

Desert, no problem. Mountain passes no problem. 80 mph speed limit across Texas, maybe a little challenge. Oh and check your fan belt.

I started this years "car season" by joining "Mustangs Across America" a drive from Corona California to the Mustang 50th anniversary celebration at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This was an all Mustang celebration open to any year car and 250 - 350 joined the fun. Most were "modern" Mustangs totally comfortable on todays highways. Others were modified classics mostly V8's. But very few, 4 by my count, were "as Ford made them" in line 6 cylinder cars.

My car is a 1968 Fastback, Six cyl manual. No power steering, no power brakes, and certainly no a/c, not even a fold down back seat. Except for its marvelous color, Tahoe Turquoise, and two tone interior this car is a plain as you could get. The car was restored to show car trailer queen status back in the 80's. It tied for first place in the trailered division back in the day. Today it's a beautiful Mustang, but not a show winner, my cars get driven.

Now to be perfectly honest it's not just as Ford made it. I upgraded to radial tires within 1 hour of owning it, it had electronic ignition, and the best mod of all, a 5 speed overdrive. Had electronic ignition I say. Now keep in mind my cars get driven and this Mustang is no exception. I live in Long island NY and have driven this car to events in Pennsylvania, Bear Mountain and it has even been to Detroit for the Woodward Dream Cruise. So it's a proven, reliable well cared for car.

I prepared for the trip by carrying tools, a spare alternator, spare fuel pump and had the old points I removed when I installed the electronic ignition. I also had a good supply of microfiber cloths, waterless car wash, window cleaner and tire dressing.

I shipped the car to California where it arrived with a few new marks and dents courtesy of the enclosed carrier. Drove to the host hotel and got ready for the opening drive the next day. After attending the driver meeting, on my return to the hotel 1 mile away, the car started bucking and would not run above idle. Problems at the very start of the trip! It turns out the electronic ignition failed. So I slapped in the old points and condenser I removed 3 years ago and it ran great. But right away the fan belt starts squealing, really bad. I thought alternator bearing, but after removing the belt the alternator spun fine. Then I noticed the water pump had a little wobble, maybe that was it. So I went to the nearest auto parts store, bought a spare set of points and waited for a water pump to arrive. My plan was to go to a nearby shop I know and swap out the pump. Now arriving at my friends shop, he opened the hood and said "your fan belt looks bad". Sure enough, a new belt solved the issue. But we wasted most of the first day and were a day behind the herd. You know what it's like as soon as something goes wrong on an old car you start to question everything. But we started across the country on used ignition points and that water pump with a little wobble and caught up to the pack the next day after logging over 600 miles.

The car ran fine, the 5 speed overdrive really helped at highway speeds. I actually had no problem keeping the speed limit in Texas but not much more. It sure was fun watching those modern Shelby's and GT's passing me by. They could run as fast as they wanted, me, I was going as fast as I could. Amazingly it was very stable at speed, the original seats were comfortable, and the drum brakes did a good job. I averaged about 27 mpg and did even better on the slower parts of the ride. We added 1/2 quart of oil after about 3000 miles.

We arrived at Charlotte on Wednesday after 7 days on the road. The Mustangs Across America group was the friendliest group there. We had real spirit! It was fantastic for the Mustang enthusiast. Thousands of cars. Just walking the lot of the hotel was a Mustang show. On Thursday we attended the show at the speedway. Mustangs as far as you could see. The Mustang Club of America did a great job! And I'm very proud of my car, a plain jane 6 got allot of attention thanks to it's fantastic color and good condition.

On Friday we parked in the infield of the track for the show and cars were not allowed to leave before 4pm. After parking the car I went to move it and it would not turn over. What a disaster as we were planning to participate that evening in a cruise to Kannapolis NC as part of a Guinness world record attempt. I didn't know what to do and thought I would be spending the evening addressing the dead battery issue. However my friend and fellow car nut suggested we visit the O'Reilly auto parts booth at the show and ask if they could send us a battery. Sure enough they gave us the number of a store 2 miles away and they delivered a battery and voltage regulator right to the track. No extra charge and they even gave me a discount on the parts! Thanks O'Reilly!

We exited the track right on time, joined the cruise to Kannapolis of 850 -1000 cars and started for home in NY later that night.

For the rest of the trip the Mustang was flawless, used points, wobbly water pump and all. Don't forget to check that fan belt.

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