Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
December 16, 2013

Not Just a Car

Just read your Sept. '13 editorial—sorry to hear about PVT. The story about how you resurrect and rebuild it will be a good one! So you wanted to hear how I handled crashing a car I loved. Well the short answer is, I love my mother more than the car.

My father was a car guy. To put it in context, my work at an automotive company puts me in the company of the 1-percenters (like biker gangs) of car guys. He was easily in the 1 percent of the 1-percenters, having raced ARCA in the '50s and amassing a decent collector-car fleet. One of those cars was a '69 Mach 1. He bought it out of SoCal in 1980 from the original owner—literally a little old lady. So 100-200 miles a year were added to the 42,000 original miles over the next 20 years.

The car was a great example of a survivor with all original sheetmetal and powertrain, but enough replacements and patina that eliminated the anxiety of driving it. After being diagnosed with cancer in 2001, my father sold his car collection to support my mother's retirement. The '69 Mach 1 was the only vehicle he held onto.

My mother is the car's owner and I have become the caretaker. In the spring of 2011, the Mach 1 got new wheels and tires (just too hard to find decent 14-inch tires for the original wheels) to replace the dry-rotted Goodyear Eagle IIs. It was just a test drive, being the first drive out of storage and on the new wheels/tires. The car was driving great, and after a few miles down the country two-lane, I went to turn right. Hearing a horn, I looked in my mirror to see an SUV barreling at me like a torpedo. A last second yank on the steering wheel turned a passenger-side T-bone wreck into a hard glancing blow into the passenger-side door and fender.

My mother ran to the other vehicle, which had mowed down a stop sign and ended up in a corn field, to find out that everyone was alright in the other vehicle. After getting the Mustang off the edge of the side road, I met my mother at the edge of the corn field. She began crying uncontrollably, and I held her and tried to comfort her by repeating, "It's just a car." But that was an outright lie. It was not just a car.

My brain bounced between replaying the wreck to figure out why I did not avoid the accident and relishing the fact that no one was hurt. Then one of the SUV passengers came over and said "Don't cry. It's just a car." I could tell my mother wanted to slap her in the face. I wanted to punch her in the mouth. It's a good thing she was a girl.

The shock overcame me at first, then I realized helping my mother was more important than the car. A new door, fender, trim, and wheel/tire got the Mach 1 back on the road. The first drive was on the same road and made the intended turn—to make sure we knew it was just an accident.

Glad you are not hurt—and PVT is not "just a car."

Keith Daugherty
Via email

Thanks for putting my little pirouette into perspective, Keith. I realize it's not "just" a car, but as you learned, people are much more important that metal. I'm glad your story had a happy ending too.