A Slower Horse

The 2000 V6 Mustang is very much a product of its time. It’s the car that got me into cars, even though I had no clue that it was the slow engine. Driving it now and getting the reality check from us bringing it home 19 years ago doesn’t make me like it less, but makes me like it differently, and made me think about how I’ve changed.

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I was invited by two old friends of mine to spend the night up in Bobcaygeon, Ontario. It’s a two hour drive from Toronto, and my mother said I could drive her car since she hates driving manual in the city and she trusts me with it. The car was a gift from my dad to my mum. He bought the V6 because it was better on gas, cheaper, and about $800 a year less to insure than the V8. He’s still a smidge salty he didn’t get it in the divorce.

The car has under 70,000 kilometres on it. It’s a little worse for wear, with plenty of scratches, dents, chips, you name it. But I think it’s not a bad looking car (although a former friend of mine always called it the doorstop Mustang). It’s the New Edge design, an evolution of the 4th generation design that came out in 1994. Definitely not the blob that first came out.

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Visibility, even with the top up, is great. I always knew where the car was in traffic or when parking. And it let me enjoy the scenic countryside I took up to cottage country, instead of sitting on the 401.

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The car is a five speed with no reverse lockout, which I thought would be a little concerning coming from a six speed. But the engine (which revs up to an amazing 5400 RPM or so), only spins at about 1500 RPM on the highway. It’s a little concerning going through rolling hills at 90 km/h, because the car actually starts slowing down in fifth when going up hills, even with my foot to the floor. It was a whole lot slower than I thought it would be. Passing requires a lot of planning, the shifts are long and the shifter is vague, but hey, after a 400 kilometre drive, it still had over half a tank left, so the powertrain isn’t all bad.

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The drive took me through plenty of small towns that lazier writers would call as “quaint” and “sleepy”. All the roads up were two lanes, and there weren’t too many other people travelling by. The car, with an outdated audio system and a tape deck-to-3.5 mm-to-USB-C for when the radio started losing signal and its cloth seats, was incredibly comfortable. Two hours on the road was not at all taxing and I could’ve spent another few hours on the road. The car was composed, taking turns without slowing down, and never being upset on uneven roads.

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The car solidified that, over time, things change. I’m not the boy who left Toronto years ago for Ottawa and eventually Saskatchewan. And my relationship with others has changed, too. Seeing friends, we talked about work, some old stories, and where some of our old friends had ended up. We were realistic about how there was good and bad with our adventures, such has the tragic adventure of Classy Gentleman Night, the time the house nearly burned down, some of our roommates. Instead of going to bed at 4 am drunk, we went to bed at 10.30 and got a decent rest because they had work in the morning. We had water with dinner and went out for Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream as a treat because, even though they live down the street from it, they only go when they have guests. They showed me the house they were planning on buying. We’ve grown.

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In the same way, my relationship with the Mustang has changed. Growing up, the car felt fast, a rocket ship compared to the van. It scared me when my mum or dad or step-dad got on the throttle. But it’s actually a real dog, definitely not what I thought it was, and that’s not a bad thing. After a long drive and finding out what the car actually is like to drive, I still love it. Doing 90 km/h on the backroads, I never felt in a rush to go faster. The car still felt quick enough, not really leaving me wanting more power. It was a cruiser, not a stoplight racer. With the windows or the top down, it was pleasant just to be out and about. And once I got home, I felt a new appreciation for it.

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I don’t know what the point of this review is. Maybe as a way to come to terms with the fact that things change, and that the things I once did and they ways I once felt are gone forever. Maybe as a way to look at the past and go “you know, things really weren’t the way I thought they were”. Who knows, I don’t. All I know is that, as long as my mum has her way, the Mustang will be around, and maybe next time I’ll find a new way to appreciate it.

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