DEARBORN, Mich. – By all accounts, 2019 was a big year for Ford fans, and nobody knows that better than regular readers of the exclusive content found each week in the Enthusiasts section of Ford Performance.com. It’s there where we post hundreds of unique stories and photo galleries throughout the year as we comb the Ford enthusiast world for weekly perspective on the special cars, people, shows and events that make up our Blue Oval car culture. But before we start filling out our Editorial Calendar for 2020, we thought this would be the perfect time to look back over the past year and choose what we consider to be the “Top 10” most significant Ford enthusiast stories that we’ve posted for you in the Enthusiasts Newsroom of FordPerformance.com. Before you peek at our selections, it’d be a good idea for you to go back through our Newsroom as well as the Quick Look and Fan Spotlight sections of our site to see what you might have missed. Since picking just 10 finalists for this list is a near-impossible task after posting so many exclusive stories over the past 12 months, we’ve added a “Top 5” list of “Honorable Mentions” as a way to keep us from second-guessing ourselves. So check out our Top 10 list below, in countdown fashion, to see if some of your personal favorites made the cut. Just click on the links to refresh your memory on the kinds of insider Ford content that you can’t find anywhere else on the web. Then plan on coming back every week for more memorable stuff during 2020.
JAN 9, 2020 | Compiled By Ford Performance Staff
Top 10 Ford Performance.Com Enthusiast Stories During 2019
A flying Ford Pinto? Yes, we promise. A flying Galpinized Ford Pinto? Sure, why not?
In 1973, aeronautical engineer and inventor Henry Smolinski had the idea of beginning with a rear single-engined Cessna Skymaster, removing the main front cockpit section, and replacing it with a car. This way, one could fly to their destination, separate the airplane section, park or otherwise store the latter at the airport, and then drive the car without a stop at a rental car counter. No more commuter traffic on the 405! Quite an idea – and one which actually got off the ground, literally and figuratively.
If you had flipped through the pages of the Carlisle Ford Nationals event guide while attending the show this past June, you may have noticed a young man named Patch Hurty was listed as one of the celebrities who would be touring the fairgrounds that weekend. No, Patch is not a TV or even a YouTube automotive personality – he’s just 7 years old. But he’s certainly someone to which most enthusiasts can relate, and one that Ford Motor Company has been glad to know.
In honor of National Mustang Day, we’ve decided to open up our mail vault to reveal information we’ve been hanging onto for several years now that suggests Mustang was first produced way back in 1948. Of course any Ford pony car purist worth their salt knows that April 17, 1964, is the official introduction date for the Ford Mustang, but when we got word about a car called Mustang that dates back to just after World War II, we paid attention!
Any motorsports fan worth their salt can tell you that “Dan the Man” left big fingerprints on the Ford GT’s modern, and historic, legacy. In fact, with just about everything he touched, the late and decidedly great Dan Gurney enjoyed a glorious history powered by Ford.
Some of us can remember 1969. It has now been 50 years since the inauguration of Richard M. Nixon, since the first moon landing, since Woodstock, since the final episode of the original Star Trek and the beginning of the end of the Beatles. And on April 17 of that epochal year, the Ford Motor Company launched a sporty, youth-oriented compact called Maverick.
As a kid in the early ’70s, Les Baer Sr. lusted after a Mustang Boss 429, and that passion never faded. He began collecting Boss 429s about 25 years ago and now he’s on a quest to own one of every color of the legendary muscle machine built only in 1969 and 1970.
My name is Trisha Goodridge. I recently started my fourth year of Ovarian Cancer Survivorship, as I was diagnosed with Stage 3C Ovarian Cancer on December 4, 2015. So far, I have survived five surgeries, over 50 (and counting) rounds of various chemotherapy agents, and some vicious side effects. I was born in 1964 and raised in Ypsilanti, Michigan, not far from The Motor City. Motown was well into its stride at that time. My dad was a big car fanatic, and I learned at a very tender age the importance of taking care of a vehicle.
It was during the summer of 2017 when I found myself on a new journey. After building my 1965 Mustang and driving it all over the country, including a 13,000-mile trip from South Carolina to Alaska and back -- putting half-a-million miles on the car in about seven years -- I had basically done everything I could do with it. But I was still coming up with ideas for new adventures. That’s when I read about a road that was almost finished and that would allow you to drive all the way to the Arctic Ocean and Tuktoyaktuk in the North West Territories of Canada. Previously you could only get there by airplane or snowmobile. I had to go!
Nearly a full day had gone by before national news outlets got word that automotive legend Lee Iacocca had passed away at 7:30 a.m. on July 2, 2019, in suburban Los Angeles. But news of his death had spread like wildfire in the Mustang enthusiast community almost instantly from top to bottom, and for good reason: While the many accomplishments in Lee Iacocca’s career range from being the rock-star CEO who saved Chrysler, to the author of a bestselling autobiography to the presidential appointee who led the restoration of the Statue of Liberty -- Iacocca’s greatest feat for Ford fans was spearheading one of the world’s most iconic cars, the Mustang.
Since its official beginnings as a production automobile, Ford’s Mustang has evolved considerably, yet with several constants underpinning its pony car nature. Those being a four-place car with two doors, its gasoline-fueled engine mounted in the front, and rear-wheel drive. Of course, there have been coupes, and convertibles, and 2+2s, Sportsroofs, and Shelby’s, Bosses, GTs, and even Indy Pace Cars.
Top 5 Honorable Mentions:
The best thing about reading our Ford Fan Spotlight every week is finding out about all the great Blue Oval rides that come out of the garages of Ford enthusiasts who know how to turn a wrench. So when Ryan LaBombard of Killingworth, Connecticut, wrote us to talk about his resto-modded 1987 Merkur XR4Ti powered by a 2.0L EcoBoost crate engine, we couldn’t wait to hear more about it.
So what do you get when you invite hundreds of Fox Body-era Mustangers to an extended weekend of fun and frolic in the middle of October to celebrate Ford’s third-generation Pony Cars? You get “Foxtoberfest” – a three-day, all-Fox Body Mustang fall festival held at Intimidators Stadium in Kannapolis, North Carolina, just outside of Charlotte.
When you can tell that spring is in the air, that means one thing -- set the ponies free! After months of enduring winter weather, spring is the time for many of us to finally let our Mustangs out to stretch their legs. And we’ve soon discovered that there are few better ways to do just that each spring than to head to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, for “Ponies in the Smokies.”
--- IMOA MARKS 80 YEARS OF MERCURY WITH CONVENTION IN DAYTON, OHIO
While Ford’s storied Mercury brand has been gone from the marketplace for a while, it’s certainly is not forgotten. In fact, part of the mission behind the International Mercury Owners Association (IMOA) is to make sure that never happens. One of the ways the club keeps Mercury vehicles front-and-center in the collector car world each year is to hold an annual convention in various locations around the country – and this year’s gathering was extra special.
--- MUSTANG’S 55TH TAKES AUSSIES FROM ‘DOWN UNDER’ TO L.A. TO CHARLOTTE
Would Mustang’s 55th birthday be important enough to you to fly across the world and participate in a couple of big events on either side of the USA? It would if you are known as “Mr. Mustang.” Well, technically that’s the name of the Australian company managed by concours Mustang restorer Paul Shervington and his founder father, Vince. We caught up with these two colorful members of the Mustang Owners Club of Western Australia during the Mustang 55 Years event in Charlotte, N.C., this past April, where they promised to send along the story of their big Mustang 55th adventure tour in America.