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Mustang Road Trip Day 2: Arrival to New York

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/16/2014 Scott Burgess

Every journey includes sacrifice. Someone has to give up something for the greater good of the group, which needs to continue. For us, the sacrifice was a car.

Of course, we weren't going to completely abandon the troublesome 1967 Mustang fastback as much as we were going to load her up into a trailer for the final leg of our run from Detroit to New York City to commemorate the Mustang's 50th Birthday.

Ford is pulling out all the stops to celebrate the original pony car, including assembling a 2015 Mustang on the Empire State Building.

After the initial long slog through Canada, the two-car caravan picked up the second leg of our adventure in Rochester, N.Y. The city greeted us Tuesday morning a with flurry of ice chips and sleet, which naturally, as we set out on our trip in extremely light, rear-wheel four-speed Mustangs, quickly turned to snow.

Things earlier that morning did not start out very well. Ford Motor Co.'s chief designer, Moray Callum got up early to see if he and the team mechanic could get his '67 Mustang running well. The day before, the car refused to charge its battery. We replaced it, and then replaced the replacement but still, the battery would not charge. Callum and the mechanic had the alternator bench tested, and it worked fine. Some other wire must have been the culprit, but it was too difficult to find. In old cars, any wire can be broken, misconnected or missing. So instead of diddling around any more with the car, they stuck a recharged battery under the hood and off we went. On road trips, sometimes the best answer is to go with what works.

1967 Ford Mustang Road Trip Day 2© Provided by MotorTrend 1967 Ford Mustang Road Trip Day 2 What came next was snow; lots and lots of snow.

The mid-April whiteout cut visibility to less than a half-mile and we were unable to see the beautiful jagged hills of Western New York. It also meant that our drivers would have to use their keen skills to keep these cars from sliding off the road at any given chance.

The drive wasn't as much treacherous as it was tedious. Chris Svensson, Ford's lead designer for The Americas, said that driving his '65 Mustang through high-speed traffic and bad weather required lots of concentration.

"You can't take your eyes off the road for even a minute, this is like one of those brain games or something," he said.

Indeed, the manual steering allows for some play in the wheel, maybe two inches in each direction. It's difficult to feel when the wheel and tire are in sync, touching the road, causing the Mustangs to weave slightly between the lines as they continued toward New York City. Icy roads do not help the matter.

A few miles after we turned at Syracuse, the heavy snow turned to rain. There's a reason most people with older cars only drive them on sunny days. That reason is 50-year-old rubber seals don't hold back the moisture like they used to. Doors and windows don't close as well they once did. Today's cars are as waterproof as a submarine compared to a herd of old Mustangs born in the '60s. Drips sneak in from the windows, vents and other unsuspecting places. The two-speed wipers tick like an out-of-time metronome, unable to keep a decent beat.

1967 Ford Mustang Road Trip Day 2© Provided by MotorTrend 1967 Ford Mustang Road Trip Day 2 But we kept driving. The rain poured and we drove. The wind howled but the engines howled louder and the cars shuddered from time to time as we drove, eating up the miles and only stopping for gas two more times before it happened.

The '67 Mustang, still suffering from its electrical woes, backfired with a loud pop as we cruised through the rain. Callum pulled into the gas station and mentioned that to the mechanic and how the car fell a bit off. Then they noticed the rainbow puddle of chemicals under the car. This was not good. Even now, we're not entirely sure what caused the fluid to leak out. But we did know that leaking fluid on a vehicle with a grounding issue is probably not a good thing.

So into the trailer went the car and into the cab of the F-450 went Callum and his passenger, another reporter.

Svensson and myself remained the last two people to travel nearly the entire journey by Mustang. (I had 50 miles cut short because I was in the '67 Mustang the day before, and we trailered it one chunk of the drive to prepare for Day 2.) So following the chase vehicle, we kept rolling.

At one point in New Jersey, the traffic began to swell but not slow down. Svensson kept at the wheel, sawing left, sawing right and keeping the Mustang between the lines. I did my best to look for traffic approaching from his blind side. Mustangs did come with mirrors on the passenger door.

Our journey ended in the shadow of Giants Stadium, where we loaded up the cars in the trailer and rode a Ford Flex into New York City. Svensson's car could have easily made the rest of the trek, but ultimately, the cars had to be trailered and taken to Flushing Meadows, home of the New York World's Fair in 1964. It was much easier to trailer them in New Jersey than in New York City, where the only place we could legally park was a Manhattan Ford dealership. We also had some concerns about how well the '65 Mustang's clutch was going fare in heavy traffic and the Lincoln Tunnel. These ponies were meant to run free, not sputter and stall in the thick traffic of rush hour.

But everyone made it relatively unscathed; though our ears may ring a little from the cars' engine noise and our back may be a little worse from wear from the unsupportive seats. One driver, who will remain unnamed, will take his red palms back to the people who painted his steering wheel and have a long talk.

Our trip never drove us into the past, as much as it allowed us to know what it was like in the past to drive. Those days were more dangerous than today and required a lot more concentration. While the lenses of nostalgia may make everything a little rosier and those two Mustangs are truly from a different breed, the next time I drive from Detroit to New York City, please let it be in a 2015 Ford Mustang.

1965 Ford Mustang Road Trip Day 2© Provided by MotorTrend 1965 Ford Mustang Road Trip Day 2

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