And to think, I could have bought a Mustang. Instead, I made a big Mus-take. Back in 1972, when I shopped for my first car, I felt compelled to purchase a recent model Opel sport coupe. Don't ask.
"Why didn't I buy a well-used 1965 or '66 Mustang Fastback, drive it for five years, then store it in a farm shed in southern Wisconsin?" That question, (feel free to change the location of the farm shed from Wisconsin to California, or Oklahoma, or whatever fits) had to be running through the minds of hundreds and hundreds of Baby Boomers prowling Lincoln Avenue on Saturday morning during the Mustang Roundup Show 'n' Shine. Steamboat's main drag, and most of the side streets, were packed with beautifully restored pony cars and muscle cars. The new Mustangs appeared to be almost as cool as the originals, and that's saying something. It didn't take me long to locate my dream Father's Day present Saturday. It was parked between Seventh and Eighth streets, and it radiated the essence of the '60s -- does the expression "born to be wild" ring a bell? The car was the color of a blue shark with deeper blue twin racing stripes stretching from its snout to its tail. And it was perfect.
Somehow, the car failed to appear in my driveway Sunday morning. Must have been a miscommunication. Or perhaps it was the asking price of $42,500, roughly 10 times the sticker price for a 1965 Mustang GT 350 "Shelby clone." There's a perfectly good reason why I didn't buy a 1964 1/2 Mustang in the year they came out. I was only 11 years old when the car was released in the fall and set off a shark-like feeding frenzy among buyers. Had I been a decade older, I could have purchased one of the original Mustangs for the base price of $2,320. It would have come with a 6-cylinder engine and a three-speed. It was a big step up to the GT350 with its bigger engine. The price for that street rod was a whopping $4,550, about $230 more than that year's Corvette.
Interestingly, the GT handling package was only a $150 option. It included more responsive steering, front disc brake, sporty gauges and fog lights. Today, you wouldn't get a single fog light for $150. Many of the car owners who displayed their Mustangs during the weekend were kind enough to leave notebooks out detailing their cars' histories. The list of prices for the various options on the original Mustang is worth a good laugh. The upgrade from the 170 cubic inch engine to a 289 cubic inch engine was $108, and a four speed transmission added $88 to the price. If you wanted the luxury of two-speed electric windshield wipers, it set you back $20.10. Wire wheel covers were a luxury at $45.20. Most of you don't even recall what an Opel is. For the unenlightened, Opel is German for "affordable little sports car pretender that burns engine oil." My Opels (Yep, I bought two of them) were fun to drive while they lasted. The first Opel was a black over red two-door that carried three of us on college ski trips to Utah and Montana. The second Opel, a bright orange sport sedan, used to take me to report on World Pro skiing races across Colorado. It was a very small symbol of status to show up for race week in Aspen in a Euro sedan.
Still, if I had it to do over again, I'd buy a well-used 1965 GT 350 instead.