CARS HOMES JOBS

As Ford's signature Mustang turns 50, the joys are timeless

Thursday, May 15, 2014
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Charlie McCormack of Ballston Spa with his 1970 Boss 302 Mustang.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Charlie McCormack of Ballston Spa with his 1970 Boss 302 Mustang.

At 14, Charlie McCormack III is already looking at his father’s trio of Ford Mustang automobiles.

But hands off those steering wheels — because Charlie McCormack Jr. plans to drive Henry Ford’s quick and nimble machines for another few decades.

“When I was growing up, my older brother had, like, five of them,” said McCormack, 54, who lives in Ballston Lake. “I always liked them, and when I was in high school I bought my first one, a ’68. We were a Ford family. My dad was a Ford guy. My brother was Ford Mustang guy.”

It’s a big year for all Mustang guys. The car that Ford introduced in 1964, a sporty, affordable alternative to the company’s Thunderbird, is marking its 50th anniversary.

Mustang Charlie owns a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang — red, black and fast. He also owns a 2007 Shelby Mustang GT500, named after famous auto designer Carroll Shelby. It’s red, white and faster than the Boss. He can also turn the key on a ’68 Mustang GT, deep blue.

The Boss will be heading to the Saratoga Automobile Museum in June, for a major Mustang convergence.

Mustangs on exhibit

2014 Spring Invitational and Auto Show

WHERE: Saratoga Spa State Park

WHEN: 10 a.m. Saturday

HOW MUCH: $10

MORE INFO: www.saratogaauto museum.org

Mustang at 50: An American Icon

WHERE: Saratoga Automobile Museum

WHEN: June 14-Nov. 2

HOW MUCH: Admission is adults, $8.50; students/seniors/active military, $6; children 6-16, $4; under 6, free.

MORE INFO: www.saratogaauto museum.org

And the museum is in the mood for Mustangs this year — the exhibition hall’s 2014 Spring Invitational and Auto Show will be held Saturday in Saratoga Spa State Park. European and American cars will be on display and, to commemorate the 50th anniversary, lots of Mustangs will be around. The car show is a rev-up to “Mustang at 50: An American Icon,” an exhibit that will open at the museum on June 14, and run through Nov. 2.

That’s where McCormack is heading. The exhibition will feature cars from each generation of the Mustang line, starting with early production cars and including muscle cars created by Carroll Shelby’s collaboration with Ford, and a 2014 TdF Mustang built by Holman Moody. Short videos will highlight various aspects of Mustang history.

Two racing Mustangs will be on display: the 1968 Shelby Mustang Team car that won the 1968 Riverside Trans-Am race; and the 1965 Shelby GT350 R-type Mustang driven by Walt Hane that won the SCCA National B-Production Championship in 1966. Special edition Mustangs in the show include a 1992 Mustang New York State Police car outfitted with the Ford police-service package.

This weekend’s car party begins Friday. Among the highlights will be an evening of car talk with Dennis Gage, host of “My Classic Car” on cable’s MAVTV. Gage will film a segment of the show during the auto show.

Small car, big motor

McCormack knows why Americans have always appreciated the car with the distinctive front grille, cool tail lights, long hood and short deck.

“It’s the looks and the performance,” he said. “It’s a small car with a large motor and it has a nice look to it.”


Craig Dunleavy of Galway stands next to his 1985 Ford Mustang GT (Jeff Wilkin photo).

McCormack, who owns machine shop CBM Fabrications in Ballston Lake, might put 1,000 miles a year on the Boss and maybe 2,500 on the Shelby. The Boss will rumble with attitude, but is meek in speed compared to the Shelby.

“There’s no comparison,” McCormack said. “[The Boss] sounds like you’re going fast, rumbling, but the Shelby has 550 horsepower. The Boss, I think, is around 290.”

McCormack likes showing off his cars. “I won first place at the Clifton Park Elks Club show three or four years ago,” he said. “I go to shows but I don’t wait them out. I leave because I don’t want to spend my whole day there. I’ll drive it there, park it and take off.

“This one, the Boss, I left it there because I had a baseball game with my son. My daughter was still there,” McCormack added. “When I came back, she said, ‘Dad, you won a trophy.’”

McCormack is glad another Mustang guy is coming up through his family ranks. He said Charlie III is may soon be looking for a 1967 Mustang. Dad has parts around his garage and a spare Mustang motor, so a used car renovation could become a father-and-son project.

Like McCormack, Galway’s Craig Dunleavy began admiring Mustangs as a kid. He was 10 or 12, he said, when he made the car a favorite. “I got my first one when I was 19,” he said.

‘The American Icon’

“I would say it’s the American icon muscle car kind of thing,” said Dunleavy, 48, one of the family owners of the Auto Haus in Burnt Hills. His red 1985 Mustang GT, with just 60,000 original miles, will also be part of the “Mustang at 50” show at the museum.

“That car, when it came out, was not like a sports car,” Dunleavy added. “It wasn’t meant to be a muscle car, it was more like an everyday sort of car.”

Dunleavy, who also has a 1965 Mustang coupe in his collection, said when his brothers’ cars are counted, the family collections stands at nine or 10 Mustangs.

The “M” car, he said, has never been out of production.

“There were a couple years that perhaps they’d like to say it should have discontinued, that was 1974 through 1978, the Mustang II,” Dunleavy said.

There have been changes from cars that first rolled off production lines in ’64. “The body’s a lot bigger now than it was,” Dunleavy said. “Obviously, there are safety things like disc brakes and air bags and new technology.”

He compared the 2014 models to the 1960s “Fastback” Mustangs. “They sort of have retained some of their originality, which is kind of nice,” he said.

Prospective Mustang maniacs don’t really have to look hard to find a ride from the car’s production era. “There’s a plethora of them out there,” Dunleavy said. “They’re easy to collect, easy to find and buy. In ’65, there were a lot of these cars over the first couple years, even through the production today.”

Whenever Dunleavy is on the road with one of his Mustangs, people notice. “You get a lot of thumbs up,” he said. “You pull into a Stewart’s or something, especially in my older one, and it’s like, ‘My dad had one,’ or ‘My sister had one.’ It’s just a car that people can relate to.”

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at wilkin@dailygazette.com.

MUSTANG TRIVIA

The Ford Mustang’s longtime emblem has been a chrome horse in full sprint.

So inspiration for the iconic cars came from the American West.

Ford executive Lee Iacocca was involved in the design of the car during the early 1960s, and has said in interviews the company asked their people at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency for a list of possible automobile names.

Cars with animal names were popular at the time, Iacocca said — Chevrolet’s Impala and British auto maker Jaguar were on showroom floors. The Thompson list contained several names, Iacocca said, and Ford execs chose “Mustang” for their new car. “Cougar” was also considered, Iacocca said, but Ford passed. The “Cougar” would later show up in Ford’s Mercury division.

During the past 50 years, the car has been seen on movie screens, race tracks and letters.

facts and figures

Here are some facts and figures about the sporty set of wheels, from Ford Motors and Mustang enthusiast clubs:

-- Some Mustang fans say the name originally was suggested as a nod to the P-51 Mustang, a fighter plane that escorted Allied bombers during World War II.

-- Ford presented its new auto to millions of TV viewers on Thursday, April 16, 1964 — the company bought prime time slots on the three major networks.

-- The car received more hype the day the car went on sale, April 17, as full-page advertisements appeared in 2,600 newspapers — including the Schenectady Gazette. “The unexpected . . . here today!” read the ad headline.

-- The Mustang was also seen by people in attendance at the April opening of the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows.

-- News magazines Time and Newsweek ran cover stories on the car during its introduction week.

-- The first Mustang’s base price was $2,368. Models sold in ’64 included deep bucket seats, sports steering wheel, floor-mounted three-speed shift and cigarette lighter.

-- Dealers took 22,000 orders on the first sale day. In Garland, Texas, the winner among 15 bidders for the same Mustang insisted on sleeping in the car overnight until his check cleared the next day.

-- Ford sold more than 400,000 Mustangs within its first year of production.

-- Mustangs have appeared in more than 300 movies. The first was the 1964 James Bond blockbuster “Goldfinger,” in which would-be assassin Tilly Masterson (Tania Mallet) drives a white 1964 Mustang with a red interior — and is later run off the road by Bond’s Aston Martin DB5.

-- The Mustang’s most famous movie appearance may be the 1968 police drama “Bullitt,” in which Steve McQueen’s detective drives a ’68 Mustang GT 390 and chases — for more than nine cinematic minutes — a Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco.

-- In 2001, Ford introduced a special edition Mustang Bullitt GT; In 2008, the company produced the Mustang Bullitt model for the 40th anniversary of the film.

-- Wilson Pickett’s 1966 hit “Mustang Sally” features a girl who just wants to “ride around” in the famous car.

-- The Ford Mustang SSP was a lightweight police car based on the Mustang, produced between 1982 and 1993. The car was designed to be faster than full-sized police cruisers.

-- The Mustang received its own U.S. postage stamp in 1999.

-- In the 2007 movie “The Bucket List,” terminally ill Carter Chambers — Morgan Freeman — puts driving a Shelby Mustang on his list of projects to do before death.

-- The 2014 Mustangs — 10 models are available — are priced between $22,510 and $60,110.

 
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