Rob Kinnan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
October 18, 2017
Photos By: Emily Waters

I’ve said this before, but the automotive aftermarket industry and Mustang world in particular, is on the precipice of a serious problem. As we hardcore loyalists to the Ford Blue Oval, and especially, the success story that is the Mustang get older, we look to the newest generation to take our place. They need to not only keep the car bug going viral but to grow it to a greater epidemic. But the younger set, which have been labeled Millenials, and are roughly 10 to 25 years old, seem far more interested in videogames, social-media, taking selfies, and playing with computers, than in cars, tools, or mechanical things. And that does not bode well for the multi-billion-dollar industry that we enjoy.

The OEs are going to build increasingly more hybrid and plug-in electric cars, as they begin to pull away from internal combustion engines (ICE) like our prized Hi-Po 289s, Boss 429s, or 5.0L Coyote engines. General Motors has already announced they’re phasing out ICEs in the coming years, and Henry Ford, III, told me in person that Ford is investing heavily in autonomous and electric, hybrid, fuel cell vehicles.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as we can all see transportation moving in that direction, eventually. The old adage is true that no matter what kind of vehicle we have, they will be modified to be faster or different than the other guy’s ride. That may require a laptop, instead of a wrench and screwdriver, and a computer-science degree, as opposed to a trade-school education, but so be it. As long as the passion for individualization is there, people will modify whatever cars they have.

My worry concerns that passion. I know several people who didn’t even bother to get their driver’s license until they were in their 20s. With the popularity of Uber and other ride-sharing services available now, many younger people have no use for a car of their own, which my 52-year-old brain can’t wrap itself around. The longest three days of my life were those between my 16th birthday and the one day of the week when the tiny town in South Texas where I lived held driver’s license tests. It was pure agony. I fear for our future if we don't get more younger people involved in Mustangs or cars in general. There will be nobody to carry on the passion, and that would be sad and catastrophic to the automotive aftermarket.

This is why I was so delighted when I meet someone like Frankie Waters. Frankie began working on her 1967 Mustang fastback when she was about 12, and as you’ll see in this issue, is still working hard on the car to get it ready for her 16th birthday two years from now. Frankie initially came to our attention as the first winner of our Tony D. Branda Generation M contest (www.mustang-360.com/videos/frankie-waters-generation-m-contest-winner-25755/25755) meant to highlight younger people that are into cars. Her name came up again during the 2017 Hot Rod Power Tour, when contributor Courtney Barber and I were having dinner and she mentioned Frankie and her car. Frankie was writing the Frankie’s Garage blog on Courtney’s TeamMustangGirls.com website and seemed like The Real Deal, a bubbly teenager who was honestly into working on her car.

Some brainstorming, and several beers later, and we came up with the idea for the story in this issue (and the video on Mustang-360.com). Upon meeting Frankie and her parents Tyler and Emily that first day of the video shoot and working on the car with them over the next few days, I was pleasantly surprised that she’s exactly what I’m hoping we’ll see more of. Young kids that are all but obsessed with cars and Mustangs like me and many of my friends were at her age (though, Frankie is also very much into archery). And she’s not a poser. The girl put on the gear and helmet and MIG-welded on her car, too! I could barely create booger joints with a stick-welder at 14! And c’mon, her first car and high-school ride will be a 460-powered Mustang fastback?! Too cool man!

If you’re reading this, and you know of a similar young person that is into Mustangs or working on cars, motorcycles, lawn mowers, or anything mechanical, please email me at Mustang.Monthly@EnthusiastNetwork.com. We all need to promote these younger people getting into cars, and we need to do it now.