1305 5 0 Bench Racer May 2013 Ford Fuel
Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
May 1, 2013

I'm a small-goverment, do-what-you-want-as-long-as-you-don't-hurt-others kinda guy. Personal responsibility and doing your own thing are ideas that I support. I'm also self-aware enough that these concepts can likely be traced back to my only-child upbringing. I'm a lot more efficient when left to my own devices.

I'm obviously kind of an odd duck. To most of you this won't come as much of surprise.

This stuff carries over to my cars. I love my cars, but I love them for my enjoyment. I like to use them to the way I want to, when I want to, and where I want to. I'm also not really about showing them off or drawing attention to them. I know it's not the way most folks are with their cars, and that's cool. Whatever works for you.

My feelings do create an odd juxtaposition for the work I do here. The only reason I can write about my stuff here or mention it on social media is because you guys aren't sitting right in front of me. If we were chatting, I'd be a lot happier asking you about your cars than talking about mine.

What's even stranger is that other people are completely comfortable discussing what I should and shouldn't do with my cars. They discuss or comment on when and where I should drive them, and how I should do so—often whether I'm around or not. This is odd, but I've grown to expect it. In the era of the Internet, people are completely comfortable giving their opinions on other people's lives.

This concept hit home with me while I was surfing that Internet. I saw a graphic coupled with the headline that essentially said the day of the gas-guzzler was over. I didn't click through to get more involved, as I got the gist. It did get my mental wheels spinning though. It's innately a good thing to have more fuel-efficient cars. However, does it change the public perspective on less-efficient cars?

These are the days when products or habits that were once socially acceptable can transition into a place where their fans are viewed with derision. Depending on the case, one can argue whether or not this treatment is deserved. However, unless it's something you are into, it's typically not a concern to most people.

So this made me wonder about how more fuel-efficient cars might change the perception of the cars we love so much. Certainly today's Mustangs combine more performance and fuel economy than any preceding Mustangs. To us that's quite impressive, and it doesn't make us think less of fuel-swilling '70s big-block Mustangs. But will 40-plus-mpg, 1.0-liter engines change the public perspective of 21-mpg, 5.0-liter V-8s?

Moreover, if they do change the general public's view of performance cars, will they become less socially acceptable to own and drive? Will it make more people introverted about their love for gas-burning eight-cylinders? Will your neighbors start to judge you and think that you shouldn't own them or you should drive them less?

I've made the case before that if the preponderance of vehicles are highly efficient, it leaves plenty of room for our niche of less-efficient, often occasional-use vehicles. In the end it's really none of their business, but sometimes that kind of peer pressure can wear on people. I certainly hope that people will always look back with a nostalgic fondness for the days of rumbling V-8s when burning gas was a more care-free experience. Since the automobile is entwined with our country's history, it seems likely there's a chance.

Let's all hope that there never comes a time when people feel like it's OK to tell us how to drive our cars...