Auto Service World
Feature   January 1, 2005   by Andrew Ross, Editor and Publisher

Back in the Saddle

I am a car guy. Many of my friends are car guys. Even the female ones. Now and then a car is introduced that embodies so many possibilities that we just have to sit up and take notice.

The 2005 Mustang is like that, which is why it is featured throughout this issue of Jobber News. Now, obviously we are not in the business of reviewing cars, so we haven’t done that. What we have done is use it as a touchpoint for a number of markets.

In looking at emerging trends that the refinish business needs to be aware of, for example, it is impossible not to notice the fact that the Mustang’s colour palette echoes the trend toward wider varieties of subtle shades. This is a challenge for the future.

The one shade that I don’t see in the option list is the very one that comes to mind when I think of the original “Mustang Fastback” that the new car harks back to. No, not the Bullitt green, though Steve McQueen would have been proud to drive it. The “School Bus Yellow” 1970 Mustang of Trans-Am fame is how I remember them most, though I’m not sure how au courant that colour would be considered today.

I do know that the sound they made is still in fashion: raw, throaty, powerful. Replicating that is one of the segments that is most promising for the exhaust market, also covered in this issue. And that want for performance will no doubt keep many applications of performance suspension and driveline parts at the top of the popularity lists for the foreseeable future, also discussed in the preceding pages.

The new Mustang embodies an important part of a North American reality: performance and affordability. While it is not alone in these aspects, it is tough to argue that front-wheel drive performance, or rally-inspired all-wheel-drive performance, comes close to the muscular image that horsepower and rear-wheel-drive can lend to cars, up and down the entire price range.

The new GTO is a bit more upscale than the ‘stang. The Chrysler 300C and Magnum wagon seem geared to the slightly older set, but they’re muscular just the same. And what is the Ford Lightning if not a rear-wheel-drive muscle truck?

All of them do, however, share in that heritage that has helped to feed much of the aftermarket for the past half century, maybe longer.

It’s not just about parts; it’s about the people in the aftermarket, too.

Vehicles such as these build excitement, get into the hearts and minds of our youth, and make them want to learn more about cars–and some end up in our industry.

So while the aftermarket must still struggle with the fact that there is an influx of Asian cars on our roads–the most exciting ones being rear-wheel-drive cars–it is heartening to see that the sensibilities that gave us the initial Mustang back in 1964 are still very much at play within the automakers here and overseas.

The public at large loves cars that excite the soul and the eye, even if they have bad manners–maybe because of it.

I’m not blind to the good points of technologies that reduce the environmental impact of the car either. We all need to live, but we all need to live.

I shudder to think of what might happen if every car on the road was excruciatingly sensible. Hybrid vehicles may be more popular in the near future, but nobody is peeling out from a stoplight in their Prius to hang out at the burger stand and never will.

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