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My Personal Side

By Craig Hastings
Where in the world has time gone? It seems to me just a few short months ago I began to tell all of you about oldest son Payton becoming eligible for the Driver’s Education Class at the Tuscola High School. Soon after I took you along on my journey with Payton and the permit process, first car, 150 hours of seat time with one parent or the other etc, etc., etc. Well, over the Christmas break youngest son Lukas stayed with me, and one late night our conversation took us to cars. Not very often has my youngest spoken to me about cars–unlike his older brother Lukas–hasn’t expressed much interest. Until tonight…

Tonight Lukas said to me, “You know dad, I will be taking Driver’s Ed. this semester.” What!? No way I’m thinking. How can this be? I just finished this process with Payton. A process that reminded me how old I was getting every time I slid into the passenger seat, and he walked with the keys and head held high to the driver’s seat. How can this be that I will soon lose my last to the fascination of the automobile and the freedom that comes with access all your own to the allure of the wide open highways?

It was time to pass the unneeded business truck on to someone else anyway so off I went to Ford of Tuscola to meet with John and Jenni. Knowing my weaknesses, they were quick to oblige my request to drive their race red Mustang GT, a car John already knew I had a weakness for ever since it arrived several months ago. I took it home for the night, fell in love with it, and took it back? Yep. It was every bit everything I expected and more. This car is year three of the newest makeover of the ever-evolving Ford Mustang. So what’s the problem right? It’s not a car I was willing to turn over to Lukas in 16 months to be his “learner” car. The “GT” fender call outs are an understatement of the cars abilities. It is the car I want but not one for my all too soon to be sixteen-year-old, new driver.

There had to be a compromise out there, and here was the next best possibility. I know these cars pretty well and therefore knew what I really should be considering to buy, but it’s late in the model year and just anything a buyer might want, especially color, might not be close enough in a perimeter search of other Ford dealerships that it was possible. I was after V6 car without all the niceties such as leather, premium everything, big V8 performance packages, etc. Any cars left and available with the V6 motor were either a wrong color or wrong equipment group. Do you know about the whole dealer trading process? I.e., one Ford dealership trading one of their cars for one at another Ford dealership? It’s not as simple as you might think.

Sure, sometimes it’s an easy this for that, but when the market place (you and me) are buying up one or two popular particular models, you can understand why a neighboring same brand dealership would want to hang onto those models in their own inventory to sell themselves. You and I might think since we want red and our local guy has blue he could call the guy with red and swap his blue one for the red right? Nope. I’ve watched and been privy to these deals with several of the local car dealers of yore for many years myself. Sometimes it’s as if you’re sitting in a poker game.

For instance, it’s the dead of winter now in Illinois, and no one wants rear wheel drive Mustangs in their inventories. Well, at least not as much as they would want front wheel drive most anything else. And stupid me is looking for a Mustang. The discounts and incentives are great on a Mustang, because it is the dead of winter in Illinois, and I’m on the hunt for a bargain. After a few days of search and rejection, we found a car that might work. But, it was in Indiana, and it had just snowed here and there. Trading color for color, model to model, was not going to be the way it would go down. My Ford would lose one they wanted to keep and an Indiana Ford would sell one I’m sure they were desperate to be rid of.

Unfortunately there were cars closer but for various reasons, some dealerships are not as cooperative as others; that is unless they want from you, so the search widened for us, and that’s how we ended up in Indiana. And that’s OK, been there before and been a lot farther away on other occasions. The only thing that matters is that we end up with something suitable for us, at a price suitable for us, and we’re satisfied with the process.

In my case the only real casualties on my preferred list were the V6 motor and the rear gear ratio. I ended up settling for an inline four cylinder motor and a slightly steeper rear gear ratio. It’s about as basic a car of the model Ford builds, but I’m confident Lukas won’t care one bit that it’s down two plugs. Funny how it has worked out that the cars my boys drive are not really the cars I would pick for myself! I’m horrible; I know it! I’m getting even though. You see in 1973 when I ordered my first Roadrunner from East Tower Dodge here in Tuscola I wanted a 440 cubic inch motor, and my dad only allowed me the 340 motor. Even though, had it been my dad, he would have opted for the 440! Oh well, some day they’ll tease and taunt me about this, and hopefully we’ll all laugh about it. I’m confident when that day comes I’ll be hiding something I can argue is faster than anything they’ll ever own. And, I’m sure I’ll be wrong without admitting to it.

Thank you John and Jenni and everyone at Ford of Tuscola for putting in the time it took to pull this off. And…maybe, just maybe, should that red GT hang around a while longer…well, you never know!

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