New York City is home to 8 million (ish) people and most likely some extra terrestrial life as well. It is both incredibly diverse and occasionally predictable but a visit to the city at the center of our universe never seems to disappoint. It's easy to get jaded on the New York experience but just when you think you've had enough, it pulls you right back in by throwing you a curveball. For me, it was an opportunity to get behind the wheel of an American icon for the first time in perhaps the most unlikely of places and completely by chance.
This past summer I came across the oddly titled blog "Puppyknuckles", how I got there I do not recall but I found myself completely ensconced once I read the first post. The author was a guy named Dave Burnett, profile said he was a hobbyist photographer and drummer living in Brooklyn. Dave was on his way to California with his father via Route 66 and their ride was his black on black 2012 Mustang GT sporting a few light modifications. In addition to the eye catching staggered 19" Forgestar CF5 wheels, the 5.0 has SVT Brembo brakes, lowering springs, brake ducts and a vented fiberglass hood. Perhaps most importantly it has a 6 spd manual transmission mated to a 412hp V8, allowing you to aurally pleasure yourself at any time via the Boss 302 side pipe exhaust Dave added. If that exhaust were a singer it'd be Rihanna because it's got such an impressive range and has a lasting impact having been heard live. But I'm getting ahead of myself, let's backup.
Once I'd gotten current on Dave's posts I got in touch with him via Twitter to suggest we meet up when he reached the end of '66 in Santa Monica, CA which is just a few miles from where I live. Dave got back to me but unfortunately he had already come and gone. His posts had been backdated so he was already on his way up to the Pacific Northwest with his girlfriend in search of new driving roads and good food. He told me to get in touch if I was ever in Brooklyn, he'd be happy to meet up and let me check out the Mustang. Little did he know that I was already planning a trip to New York in late October and with that offer on the table, I was certainly going to make it happen.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn is probably the last place anyone would expect to see a couple of automotive enthusiasts meeting up, especially to sing the praises of a 2012 Mustang GT. But that's exactly what happened on a very chilly Friday afternoon in early November. I'd met Dave the night before at a bar just to make sure he wasn't one of those aforementioned extra terrestrials living among us. As I'd come to expect from his writing he was just another guy who much like myself, is crazy about cars and car culture. If you read his "Mustang USA" series (and you should) in its entirety you'll understand why he's a Mustang guy and why he wanted to do a lap around the country in one. As for me, I was just happy to check the damn thing out but even happier when he offered up the driver's seat.
Now I'd driven a Mustang before courtesy of Enterprise but it was powered by the anemic V6 and it was a convertible. That experience left a lot to be desired but it did get me acquainted with the overall vibe of the car. Even the lowly rental 'Stang put a smile on my face so you can imagine my excitement when Dave offered me the chance to pilot his tastefully modified steed.
As you might imagine the streets of Greenpoint aren't exactly the greatest, many of them sport small craters that would swallow a cinquecento. The rest are crowded with box trucks and cyclists, with the latter being quite startled with a simple blip of the throttle. That might not be the main reason Dave added the exhaust but I like to think it was a factor.
All told I spent a little over an hour with Dave and only about half that time behind the wheel but it felt like much more. Whereas time often goes by way too fast when driving a car for the first time, I got so wrapped up in soaking in every aspect of the experience that it seemed to pass rather slowly. We were racing to get photos and GoPro footage before the sun ducked behind the Manhattan skyline but despite that rushed feeling I felt a connection to the car. Maybe it was the surprisingly direct engagement of the clutch or the thoroughly enjoyable click of the gearbox. Maybe it was the simplicity of the interior which while admittedly dated, makes the case for a less is more way of thinking. With no infotainment system to distract me all my attention went to the way the car felt, especially when accelerating in a spirited manor.
I would love more time in Dave's 5.0 and I'm sure that I'll get it, hopefully in a situation where I can really let it breathe. Pony cars are bred for the open road and Brooklyn feels like a paddock preventing them from catching their stride. Except for a little stretch of road down by the wharf, at a certain time of day. If you luck out and hit it just right, you can turn the animal loose. The angry, guttural howl of the beast reverberates off century old bricks, across the water to Manhattan, only to fall on deaf ears and be drowned out by the white noise of daily life in a city. Meanwhile just a subway stop away, a Mustang runs in Brooklyn, unapologetically old school and wonderfully outdated.
Andrew Maness writes about cars because he has one and also has a computer. He's been known to drunkenly Tweet as @thisnicelife and upload photos to @theroadlessdriven. He also has a YouTube Channel and thinks talking about himself in the 3rd person is really weird but knows it's necessary if he wants to be taken seriously as an automotive journalist.