Particulate Matters: Do I Miss Mustang?
Some of you who are familiar with my past might think I answered that question without any hesitation by saying: “Let me count the ways!” or “I’ll always miss Mustang!” It’s important to note that in this case, “Mustang” refers not only to the vehicle, but also to the entire lifestyle and hobby that’s centered around Ford’s iconic sports car, similar to the diesel scene (hobby, lifestyle, engines, and pickup trucks) that I’ve been involved with for three years now.
My buddy Ryan Gelinas of ATS Diesel Performance quizzed me about that as we celebrated the end of an absolutely fantastic Diesel Power Challenge 2017. For those of you who are not up to speed with my history, I came to Diesel Power after a long career in gasoline-engine–based motorsports and high performance, specifically with late-model Ford Mustangs, as a builder, drag racer, and senior technical editor of one of our company’s now-defunct late-model Mustang titles.
Prior to joining this group, I had no idea Fox (’79-to-’93) and later ’Stangs are seriously disliked by hard-core diesel fans. Apparently, there’s a deep hatred by some folks, and learning that really took me by surprise. Honestly, I thought the bad blood only flowed between the Mustang owners and lovers of import/sport-compact rides, Chevrolet’s Camaro, and, of course, the Buick Grand National (which, even as a “Mustang guy,” I’ve long acknowledged is a badass hot rod).
Well, before answering Ryan’s question, I took a second to really think about it—a moment to review the facts. The first truth being that while I currently own four late-model ’Stangs (among them a supercharged, 750hp ’02 GT street car, and my blown, 1,000-plus-horsepower, 8-second ’86 LX race car), I haven’t done much with any of them since I joined this group. Seriously, I’m talking about not even going for a spin around the neighborhood. I’ve been so neglectful—and largely uninterested—that batteries in two cars discharged to the point where I had to replace them, and one lost a tire to dry rot. That’s pretty sad, huh?
Why did this happen? Well, while I won’t say I’m completely divorced from Mustang yet, I will admit that I’m much more immersed in all things diesel than I was three years ago. Traveling to events and shops, meeting enthusiasts, learning more about diesel engines and performance, and plotting the contents of Diesel Power certainly help this process. Believe it or not, I occasionally flirt with the idea of selling the Mustang stable and using the proceeds to buy a truck that will serve as a platform for a street-strip build: something that fits the mold of the pickups competing in the ATS Diesel Performance/Diesel Power 7.70 Index Class of the Outlaw Diesel Super Series (full interior, functioning accessories, good driveability, and such). As I write this, I think having a GM-bodied rig would be cool, but the jury is still out on whether to install a hot Duramax engine or a tried-and-true Cummins powerplant. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll forever dig running low-9- and high-8-second e.t.’s and nearly 160 mph in the quarter-mile in my Mustang coupe. But, I’m at a point in my life where I can do without all the work and expense that’s necessary to do it. A vehicle that doesn’t require too much of anything to simply have some fun is what I need.
That’s just one thought. The other idea is to rid myself of everything associated with the gas-performance side of my life (including my enclosed and open trailers, tools, and a shop full of Mustang and small-block Ford engine parts) and plunk the loot down on a previously owned Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC V-6–powered ride. With a ’95 Ford F-350 being my daily driver (and ironically, that’s only because diesel fuel is cheaper than the 93-octane gasoline the Mustangs require), I think tooling around in a diesel-powered ’12 or ’13 E350 sedan would be cool. It definitely will be more comfortable, get great fuel mileage, and have enough power to make me smile during commutes wherever. And, I bet that with good research, I can find information on how to hop up a late-model M-B oil-burner. That would be fun. But it’s important to understand this is all fantastically speculative right now.
Finally, I need to answer the question, “Do I miss Mustang?” I guess the truth is, sometimes I do… and other times I honestly just don’t. Where I once was a borderline savant with knowledge and ability about anything associated with ’79-to-’10 Ponies, I now see the brand-new S550 ’Stangs driving on the freeway and sadly accept the fact that I have no clue what makes them tick. However, on the other hand, my familiarity with all aspects of this diesel platform grows and gets stronger as each day passes. And, the really cool thing is, I’m OK with it. So, with that being said, draw your own conclusions.