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JUN 5, 2024 | Dan Brochstein


mustangs parked in the lot

BIRCH RUN, Mich. – It’s said that Spring comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. But on Saturday, May 18th, in Birch Run, Michigan, it felt like it was Summer that came in like a lion. The hot sunshine and balmy 83-degree temperatures only felt hotter after being reflected off the parking-lot show field for the annual Great Lakes Stampede All Ford & Mustang Car Show, hosted by the Mustang Club of Mid-Michigan. Because this popular rain-or-shine event is held on the expansive mall property of the Birch Run Premium Outlets, there was ample show parking for the enthusiast owners as well as for all of the enthusiastic showgoers.

black mustang in lot with hood up

As with most club shows, there was an interesting mix of old and new Mustangs in attendance here, though on this particular weekend exhibitor cars skewed more toward the modern than the classic. Yes, there were some great examples of early Mustangs, thankfully. We found pristine and driver-condition ‘66 through ‘77 Mustangs that included more than a few well-loved ‘68 coupes and a very tidy ‘70 convertible among the nearly 200 cars on display.

I was drawn to the purity of a dark red drop-top, rolling on BFGoodrich outlined white-letter Radial T/As wrapped on glimmering Magnum 500 wheels. In a day of spoilers, hood scoops and louvers, there was something about this Mustang that just felt right.

blue ford truck with hood open

view of mustangs in parking lot

And it wasn’t just me.

Gary Bloomquist of Pinkney, Michigan, and his wife, Katie, stood off to the side of that convertible. I overheard Bloomquist making the case to his wife for making the owner of that ‘70 an offer on his car.

“Hon, we could drive that every day of the summer and not feel guilty,” Bloomquist said to begin his elevator pitch to his spouse. “We could park it and not worry too much about it.”

Katie cocked her head to the side as she considered her husband’s idea. I smiled at the couple and reminded them there was no “For Sale” sign on that sweet 1970 convertible.

She just rolled her eyes and said, “That won’t stop Gary from trying.”

When I moved on, the spousal negotiations were continuing.

green mustang with hood up

yellow mustang in lot

As is the case with many Mustang clubs these days, the S550 contingent was present at the show in sizable numbers. It seemed like a third of the cars in attendance were from this platform, followed by S197’s. Even a few S650s made an appearance here. Even though the more modern Mustangs were dominant, it wasn’t only an exhibition of newly minted GT500’s, Mach 1’s and GT350’s. A good number of EcoBoost Mustangs and base GTs enjoyed the sun-baked spotlight as well.

Bobby Gale of Mt. Morris, Michigan, brought his 2019 EcoBoost Mustang to the event, but he wasn’t a show entrant. Or even a Mustang Club of Mid-Michigan member, for that matter. He was at the Birch Run Premium Outlets to buy some jeans and shirts, but then he saw the parking lot chock-full of Mustangs so he came over.

teal black and red mustangs in parking lot

white mustang with hood up

I caught up with him as he studied a red 2020 EcoBoost convertible that was on display. I asked him if this was his car, and he smiled and shook his head. He pointed to his blue EcoBoost coupe parked over at the edge of the lot.

“I didn’t even know there was a Mustang club around here,” Gale explained, “Then I saw the sea of cars -- and drove over to see what this was about.”

Gale told me his EcoBoost is his first Mustang, which he bought the very week he became an empty nester. With only 22,000 miles on the odometer, it’s his summer driver, and he claims that it hasn’t seen rain.

“My five- minute look-see became an hour-long visit,” Gale said as he checked his watch. “I’ve talked to several owners here, and I’m pleasantly surprised how cool everyone is. And when I point to my Mustang, it’s pretty unanimous that I should really join the club; I’m told my bone-stock EcoBoost would be completely at home in this club.

“That sure makes for a very compelling reason to join,” he noted.

And with that, I saw Gale walking over to the club membership table.

heritage mustang gt in parking lot

red convertible mustang

red ford truck with hood up in parking lot

grey mustang with blue stripes

white mustang with hood up

black musatng with hood up

red mustangs parked in lot with hood up