The commuting experience isn't a lot different whether you're running a V6 or a Cobra. Barring the worst winter months, this Mach I saw me through three years of commuting.
You really have to love your Mustang to drive it every day. I’m not talking about enjoying the performance, handling or panache of driving a Mustang, for those are there any time you choose to close the door and turn the key. What I’m talking about are the ongoing daily challenges of commuting in a pony car, regardless of age, engine size, transmission or modifications.
We all know that V6-powered Mustangs make up the largest part of the fleet and were it not for those Mustangs being bought up by folks with little aspiration to be weekend warriors, the Mustang might have suffered the same on-again, off-again fate which has troubled the Camaro.
Now, that doesn’t mean that V8 Mustangs aren’t on the road from Monday to Friday by any means and those who choose to drive their GTs every day should receive a medal for their persistence and sacrifice in doing so - just like every daily V6 driver should.
The experience, however, can be far from sweetness and glory. I have spent a number of years making a 60 to 90 minute commute (each way) in city traffic, in both V6 and V8 Mustangs, and there is little long term difference between the two situations. If that surprises you, consider this: What happens around you in commuting traffic does not change according to the number of cylinders under your hood.
In fact, most everyone around you couldn’t tell the difference between a GT500 and a Trabant - nor do they care much either. For the most part, people that do annoying things in traffic would do exactly the same thing whether you were there in a brand new Shelby or a beat up minivan. It’s not personal; it’s just stupidity, inattention and incompetence.
If you drive your Mustang every day, and I don’t care what year, engine, color or condition it is in, then you are a hero of mine
However, there are three types of hazards that you must know of, or have already experienced, that need to be recognized as clear and present dangers to the ongoing enjoyment of your ride.
The City Racer - Some days, it seems like everybody with ‘sport wheels’ on their minivan, SUV or family sedan, needs to show you that their vehicle is better than yours. I have had a soccer mom with an occupied baby seat in her minivan blow the doors off my 2003 Mach I in an undeclared stoplight contest. So be it. It’s not a competition I needed to bolster my ego anyway.
Another time, some guy in a new Cadillac SUV thought he could do the same thing one day and got bitch-slapped for his effort. It didn’t matter. He kept on going well past the speed limit, after I had backed off when the point had been made. Well, at least I thought it had been made.
Unfortunately, there is an endless procession of such self-absorbed idiots and taking them on only feeds their illegitimate fantasies. So, even if you win, you lose. The best approach is to ignore them, but if one does get under your skin, rev the engine, get ’em all steamed up and just take off normally when the light goes green. Then, laugh your ass off at them.
Most everyone around you couldn't tell the difference between a GT500 and a Trabant - nor do they care much either.
The Sniper - This is a tight subset of the City Racer, most often identified by many stickers on the car, as well as writing in a language that the owner can neither read nor speak. Both more clever and less secure at the same time, this street combatant knows that regardless of what engine your Mustang has, he can’t beat you in a straight up match.
So, to support his fragile ego and bring home another “kill” story, he’ll hang back for an appropriate time to pass you at speed, usually crowding your lane at the same time, then take an immediate right turn to avoid any further confrontation. There isn’t a lot you can do about such scumbags, other than to laugh at their frustration with life.
The Game Player - Likely the most dangerous of all automotive lowlifes, this cretin dislikes you simply because of the car you drive and he will take every opportunity to distract or inconvenience you on the road. There are many games they can play, from crowding your lane to making drastic lane changes behind you - a kind of peek-a-boo in your rear view mirror - and more.
This is the most dangerous type of idiot simply because they don’t know when to give up . Ignoring them only spurs them to greater efforts to distract your attention and acknowledge their presence. You are not likely to do well by taking them on at their own game, either.
There is no self-evident best strategy for this kind of buffoon, but patiently ignoring them may work if they end up running outside of their “territory.” Pulling over and letting them move on to the next victim may also work. Just remember, it is far more important to get these loose cannons out of your lifesphere than it is to extract some kind of victory by playing their game better.
Wouldn't it be nice if all commutes looked like this? For some lucky people, they do. Then, there's the rest of us.
Are these road hazards unique to Mustang drivers? Probably not. Anyone with a nice car is likely to run across this kind of harassment. It is a sad commentary, but some days it is hard to enjoy driving a nice ride, because there are idiots that simply don’t want you to. Added to the regular driving hazards of people on their cell phones or texting War and Peace to their friends, or lighting a smoke and drinking coffee at the same time, or not signaling or putting on makeup or… well, you get the idea.
If you drive your Mustang every day, and I don’t care what year, engine, color or condition it is in, then you are a hero of mine. You, my friend, are a rock star in the Mustang world.