Jerry Heasley
January 1, 2004

Concours Driven sounds pretty official as a Mustang Club of America class. In addition to shows, this classification puts authentic-looking cars on the road for all to enjoy.

Charles Burke Baker's '65 Mustang is a classic example. Rangoon Red with Palomino buckets is pretty flashy for your basic hardtop powered by the standard straight-six and having just one option and one accessory. But this is what made the Mustang such a popular car. The base price netted things like a three-spoke steering wheel, bucket seats, full wheel covers, a floor shift, and that great-looking body, whether a six or a V-8.

Charles couldn't suppress a laugh when he said, "My car's so basic, it didn't even come with backup lights." But he did take a Gold in the Mustang Club Of America's Concours Driven class at the Grand Nationals in Augusta, Georgia, this past Labor Day weekend.

By basic, he meant the standard six-cylinder. How ironic it was. The six actually defined the original Mustang. In a manner of speaking, the V-8 was the afterthought. The original Mustang certainly was not designed to be a musclecar-the Ford big-block was actually too wide to fit between the shock towers. And, yet, among the early Mustangs at the MCA Nationals, it was tough to find a six-cylinder car.

Baker's entry stood out. Rangoon Red with a Palomino interior helped. This one is, simply, a coupe. As far as options, Charles could think of none. The wheel covers are standard, as are the bucket seats and three-spoke steering wheel, all very sporty and reminding us that no Mustang is actually a plain-Jane. On closer inspection, the C4 automatic is an option over the standard three-speed manual. The AM radio, likewise, is an accessory.

The really big deal is the authentic look fostered by the Concours Driven MCA class. Charles recalled a show in Burlington, North Carolina. As always, he drove his Mustang from Radford, Virginia. When he arrived, the car was so pristine, one might mistake his entry for Concours Trailered.

"Those people encouraged me to enter the Concours Driven class. So I entered it. I had to get an Autolite battery and small things like that. And it was worth the effort because I got the Gold Award."

Other small things included a reproduction Rotunda oil filter and a set of factory hose clamps. Only the radial tires give away the driver status.

"I love to drive my car," Charles explained with an intensity that had nothing to do with show-car wins.

Charles Burke Baker is one of the elite group of cognoscenti who have discovered the fun of driving the carefree, sprightly, original Mustang six. He sees no need for a V-8.

"My other two Mustangs were six-cylinders and I just like them. I never was for speed, even when I was a young kid. I just like a six-cylinder. It has all the speed I need."

Charles drives his Mustang to the shows. In the winter, when the show season is over, he drives his six on nice days.

"It's a good preventative maintenance thing, you might say. Keeps all the gaskets and seals from drying up. Yeah, I love to drive my car. I get a lot of thumbs-up and smiles and waves. It makes you feel good when you get that kind of reaction."