Opportunities like this don’t come knocking too often, thankfully…
[You’re reading part of the Mustang Challenge series, a loosely bound concept that was created to inspire others to get out and explore the country in their cars. In this Mustang Challenge, two Canadians are touring the USA for the first time, traveling for 26 days through 13 different US cities while traversing over 8,000 miles behind the wheel of a 2016 Mustang GT. This is one post in a series of many. To read the previous articles and to follow the series, jump to the bottom of this page.]
Preface: Most everything you read about this trip will be true, except some stuff–some events and outcomes are going to be exaggerated for the entertainment of the writer and hopefully the story, but we hope these moments are few and far between and also prove to be very easy to spot. So there, you’ve been properly warned. Welcome to the Mustang Challenge.
I’ve been called stupid before, plenty of times actually. And it’s usually justified(once I almost died trying to save a 99 cent glass bottle of Arizona Iced Tea from breaking, but that’s a story for another day), however, this time I know full-well how terrible the whole plan seems on paper–and probably once it’s played out in real life–but I’m going to do it anyway. After all, opportunities like this don’t come around every day.
Anyway, to the point–I’m giving my car to two strangers so they can travel 8,000 miles around the United States, exploring 13 different US cities over the course of 26 straight days on the road. They’re both funny-speaking Canadian strangers with whom I share a common love of the great sport of ice hockey, so “what could possibly go wrong?”
The Cross Country Stallion
That’s her, a Ruby Red 2016 Mustang GT base model with Ford’s Performance Pack and ~19,000 miles on the odometer, all logged since December 2015 at the hands of my less-than-skilled manipulation of the 5.0L’s MT82 transmission. In that time, I’ve managed to mangle the front bumper by hitting a $15 roll of foam at 75mph (thanks Obama), scratch the rear bumper backing into a terribly parked box truck and I’ve permanently altered the smell of the entire interior by storing in the trunk hockey equipment that only sees the inside of a washing machine once a year. I know, my bad.
The Two Jabronis Borrowing The Stallion
Now meet the two hosers in on this challenge and with whom you all will be reading along with as they take on the US for the first time in what else but America’s greatest Ponycar–the Ford Mustang.
The man’s got a plane; that’s gotta count for something, right? In all seriousness though, it takes a lot of guts and a lot of confidence to learn to fly, let alone purchase your own plane and navigate it over international borders on a whim. That’s the kinda gumption a person needs to pull off a trip as ambitious as this.
You see, Connor is the kinda guy who might have a laugh or two at your expense if you’re sticking forks in electrical outlets while in his presence, but oddly enough you’d also feel comfortable leaving your newborn with him for the day, so here we are. I know full-well that there isn’t a more qualified individual to spearhead a lofty goal like this, even if Connor himself doesn’t see his parallels to the great road trippers and people of valor like Lewis and Clark, Clark Grizwald and The Red Baron(ok, I threw in good ol’ Von Richthofen purely for effect, but you get the idea).
Now Connor’s coming down from the great Northern city of Montreal and scooping up my baby, then kidnapping it and burning through the US countryside in the car John Wayne would drive if he was born 50 years later. Only difference is nowadays you’re more likely to get shot at while traveling the countryside than you were as a character in one of his Western films.
His Co-pilot Alex, another steadfast Canadian with a will for adventure and a keen sense for digging up the particulars that make this life so worth living, is one of those guys you can trust with your life when trouble arrives. He’s also a guy you can count on to snoop out the fun, even when you’re at the pub staring down empty drinks and a waiter who disappears more than a Houdini enthusiast with no appreciation for a good tip.
Between Connor and Alex, there’s enough spirit and wrenching experience to pass Toretto’s smell test, but let’s not seal these two to a Fast and Furious fate just yet–they’ve got what it takes to dive head-first into a foreign country, driving a car foreign to them and come out nearly a month later as better human beings.
They’re about to be shown what America has to offer, in culture, spirit and automotive ingenuity. And I’m about to be shown how truly terrible being trapped in rush hour traffic on Interstate 76 from Philly to Malvern in a bonafide Jalop can be. At the time of this writing, I theoretically have full and complete insurance coverage on the Mustang, or at least, so I’m told. So join us for a Challenge that at times will seem more like the aftermath of a lost bet than that of a road trip.
PS: AM is kicking back cents per mile traveled to cover depreciation, fluid changes, new tires and to scrub the smell of Maple Syrup out of the upholstery. They’re also helping to promote this thing. MMD modded the car pre-trip for their booth at the AM car show as well. Outside of that, we’re just three guys making ill-advised decisions.