Journal

My Automotive Adventures: When I first laid eyes on my Green Ford Mustang

by | Sep 16, 2014 | Editorial

So, as I was saying previously, in my delightful search for a new car, I set my priorities. I had to have a green car. In those days that was not an ambiguous concept – it referred to a color, not an ecological ideology.
There were no hybrids, no electrical cars on the horizon. And in my case the color was very specific – it had to be a blue-green teal, my eye-color. Why, you may ask, did I insist on this?

Everyone knows the eyes are the windows to the soul. I’ve learned just about everything I know about color from my very dear friends Marjorie Bird and Deborah Gordon. Marjorie, an interior designer and organizer, teaches that order is the first law of beauty and that color is the essence of a person. Deborah, a Chabad rabbi’s wife and the founder of Flying Colors in Encino, California (link), is a color designer and color healer. She teaches that the eye color is, indeed, the soul color. It is the color in which we feel most centered, most ourselves. It is our middle C. It’s always been my favorite color to wear, so, naturally, it was the color I wanted to be surrounded by in the many, many hours per week that I, as a typical Angelino, would be spending in my car.

Now, the early 90’s was a time when car dealers had apparently just begun to realize that women not only drive a lot of cars, but also make a lot of car-buying decisions and sometimes even buy them on their own. Without a man. Imagine that! So they figured they ought to treat potential female buyers seriously and respectfully. I am sorry, fellow females, but I may have set the cause back a bit.

You see, I researched a lot of cars before I bought my lovely Mustang. In those days you didn’t do that with your fingers on a keyboard. You did it with your feet, by walking into a dealership. So I would walk in, by myself, and four eager salespeople, usually men in those days, would converge on me, competing for my business. What kind of car did I want? What was I in the market for? I would stand there confidently and say, “I’m looking for a green car.”

“Yes, but – but what sort? A sedan, a mini-van, a –“

“What sort do you have that comes in green?”

I would pull out the swatch of the exact color I wanted. “This green.”

By this time one or two sales people would have melted away. The remaining ones would say plaintively, “But don’t you want to see what features –“

“No, I want a green car. It’s silly to waste everyone’s time discussing features or configurations of cars that don’t come in green.”

By now there would be only one man left standing, usually to admit, very apologetically, that no, in their entire fleet there was not a single car to match my swatch of green, the color of my eyes.

So I would leave, I think the salespeople were relieved. They thought I was a crazy lady. I’m sure it’s no accident that when I finally bought a car, my salesperson was a woman. She thought my color priority made perfect sense.

So how, exactly, did I get to Ford? It was partly a process of elimination. As I was just coming off the trauma of the mini-van, Chrysler was out of the question. The utter callousness of GM was still reverberating. It happened that BMW made a beautiful, perfect green, but it was too high-end for me. Besides, my in-laws were Holocaust survivors. My mother-in-law had been a slave in a Nazi labor camp. It was visceral. I couldn’t buy German. Jaguar made their classic racing green, but it was also high-end, and notoriously unreliable in the bargain.

My husband lobbied for the Japanese. He loved – still loves – Japanese cars. He waxes poetic over their high quality, attention to detail, value for money, excellent service! So I tried Japanese. I truly did. But they had talking ladies in the dashboard – long before anyone had ever heard of Siri – and who needed that? Besides, I found the controls completely counter-intuitive. And then there was the matter of size. At the risk of being accused of profiling, is it possible the Japanese carmakers think all Americans are tall? I am not, yet every car I test drove seemed geared to someone much taller than my 60” high. I couldn’t see properly. I couldn’t comfortably reach the steering wheel. I would have needed training blocks on the pedals. And the whiplash guards hit my head, not my neck, in just such a way as to start a migraine right there on the test drive. So, the rising empire of Japanese cars was not for me.

And then there was Ford. At just about that time, Ford had gotten he bright idea, apparently lifted from the Japanese, that quality control mattered. Built-in obsolescence wasn’t going to cut it anymore. And, lo and behold, they had a beautiful deep metallic teal blue-green, which they called deep jewel green. And there it was – a green Mustang 5.0 convertible right on the showroom floor.

A Mustang? Me? Mother of four, beleaguered owner of a decrepit mini-van? Did I dare?

In all fairness it did come in green in the hatchback model. But I felt the visibility was cut to some degree. And besides, coming off the trauma of Madame Guillotine-of-the-mini-van, I didn’t want any more lift gates. And I didn’t like not having a hidden trunk.

And let’s not forget power. The 5.0 had more than I would ever need. I wasn’t about to go drag racing. I would never have the opportunity to do 80 mph on the 405 Freeway. But I could go back to making left turns. Oh, the sheer joy of it!

And then there were the added perks. It came with a then-novel inflatable lumbar support, which was wonderful for my back (and still works to this day.) In addition, because it was a convertible and lacked a metal side post, the front seat belt came out from the floor, not from above and behind my left shoulder. This spared me the constant lower back-wrenching twisting maneuver other cars required to fasten the seat belt. What a relief! For that alone I would buy another convertible.

I test drove it – with my female salesperson, who understood perfectly my visual delight in the car. I had never driven a sports car – why would I?  I can barely follow baseball. But I loved the way it hugged the road, the tight steering, the utter responsiveness of the car.

My poor husband was tearing his hair out. “It’s a tin can. It won’t last two years. Don’t do this! It’s a waste of money!”

Oh, dear Reader, I delight in telling you I paid not the slightest heed. It was, after all, a reasonably priced car. And it wasn’t that we didn’t have the money at the time. He would have been happy to pay that and a bit more for a Japanese car. Something he deemed worthy. But I was just coming off seven years (yes, seven) of the Mini-Van-from-Hell, and before that the Demon-Diesel. I was not to be deterred.

But my derring-do went further. You see, the beautiful deep jewel green car came with gray velour seats and gray carpeting. Now, I have nothing against gray – for the right person. But it’s not on my color palette. I do not wear gray. There is not so much as a grey accessory in my house. Why would I want to spend endless hours on the freeway surrounded by a color with which I have no connection?

Of course I wouldn’t. So fresh off the showroom floor, I took the car for a makeover. I installed green leather seats, front and back. I had every bit of gray paneling that could be changed transformed to green. I had deep green carpeting installed wall-to-wall, front and back. I now truly had my green car.

My husband nearly had what used to be termed “the apoplexy.” He tore out what little hair he had left. “What the h— are you doing? You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear! You’re throwing good money after bad! What difference does the carpet color make? The Americans don’t know how to make cars!”

Well, dear Reader, apparently Ford did. Ask me how many Japanese cars my dear husband has had in the twenty-three years I’ve been driving my “tin can”? My car, by the way, still has the original green seats, green carpeting and the gleaming metallic green exterior.

It has driven countless car pool runs, stuffed piles of clothes and innumerable art and school supplies in its little trunk; has made pilgrimages to every mall in the City of Angels, not to mention doctors, Disneyland and summer day camp. The clever guys from my favorite junk shops have managed to secure many treasures in its small green environs – lamps from the 20’s, the 40’s desk on which I now write, night tables, a coffee table, a small book cabinet and a 50’s swivel desk chair.

And then eventually came the special blessing of needing car seats and boosters for grandchildren in the back seat. Two at a time fit perfectly and we have had lovely adventures – including our Friday outings to the bookstore and trips to the top of the mall parking lot to paint the sunset with the top down on a balmy summer night.

My lovely Mustang really didn’t start needing any repairs until it was about 15 years old, and since car years are not the same as human years, that’s really pretty good. It now needs some major repairs about every 18-24 months. My mechanic and I figure it amortizes out to less than $100 per month. Since I have no loan payments, this is a pretty good deal. He says he can keep it going as long I want and promises to tell me if it ever becomes unsafe.

Besides, what would I buy? I still can’t bring myself to buy German, even though, admittedly, car provenance is becoming harder to determine these days. The Japanese cars are still uncomfortable for me at my height. And besides that, every time I’m forced by circumstances to drive my husband’s highly rated Japanese car, I feel like I’m in a boat navigating choppy seas. I just don’t get it. Chrysler has two strikes with me. GM was out after one. And Ford Mustang hasn’t come out with a color I like in a while.

That said, my older grandchildren are getting tired of squeezing into the backseat of my little two-door car. They want me to buy an SUV like their moms. Sorry. Not going to happen.

My oldest granddaughter is lobbying hard for me to buy a Mini Cooper.

“It’s cute,” she tells me. “Little enough to fit in your garage.”

“True,” I tell her. “But it was bought by BMW. It’s German.”

“No,” she counters, “It’s British.”

Maybe.

“There’s a four-door version,” she says.

That there is.

“It comes in your green.”

That it does, a beautiful perfect teal blue-green. Her uncle on her father’s side has one and loves it. My mechanic doesn’t. He thinks it’s unreliable and says I should wait till Mustang comes out with a color I like. Interestingly, Consumer Reports rates the Mini Cooper at once high on customer satisfaction and low on reliability. Go figure.

She is undaunted. She wants to drive me to the Mini dealer herself so I can test drive it. Yes, you read that right. My oldest grandchild is 16. She has her driver’s license.

How on earth did that happen?

And what of my dear husband? What does he say about the prospect of my shopping for another car – after more than 23 years – by color? Of very likely changing the seat and carpet colors before I’ve driven the car three feet? Of holding out for exactly whatever bells and whistles – no more, no less – that my little heart desires? What does the darling man have to say about all of this?

I’ll tell you dear Reader: NOT…ONE…WORD…

Wise man.

Stay tuned.

There were no hybrids, no electrical cars on the horizon. And in my case the color was very specific – it had to be a blue-green teal, my eye-color. Why, you may ask, did I insist on this?

Everyone knows the eyes are the windows to the soul. I’ve learned just about everything I know about color from my very dear friends Marjorie Bird and Deborah Gordon. Marjorie, an interior designer and organizer, teaches that order is the first law of beauty and that color is the essence of a person. Deborah, a Chabad rabbi’s wife and the founder of Flying Colors in Encino, California (link), is a color designer and color healer. She teaches that the eye color is, indeed, the soul color. It is the color in which we feel most centered, most ourselves. It is our middle C. It’s always been my favorite color to wear, so, naturally, it was the color I wanted to be surrounded by in the many, many hours per week that I, as a typical Angelino, would be spending in my car.

Now, the early 90’s was a time when car dealers had apparently just begun to realize that women not only drive a lot of cars, but also make a lot of car-buying decisions and sometimes even buy them on their own. Without a man. Imagine that! So they figured they ought to treat potential female buyers seriously and respectfully. I am sorry, fellow females, but I may have set the cause back a bit.

You see, I researched a lot of cars before I bought my lovely Mustang. In those days you didn’t do that with your fingers on a keyboard. You did it with your feet, by walking into a dealership. So I would walk in, by myself, and four eager salespeople, usually men in those days, would converge on me, competing for my business. What kind of car did I want? What was I in the market for? I would stand there confidently and say, “I’m looking for a green car.”

“Yes, but – but what sort? A sedan, a mini-van, a –“

“What sort do you have that comes in green?”

I would pull out the swatch of the exact color I wanted. “This green.”

By this time one or two sales people would have melted away. The remaining ones would say plaintively, “But don’t you want to see what features –“

“No, I want a green car. It’s silly to waste everyone’s time discussing features or configurations of cars that don’t come in green.”

By now there would be only one man left standing, usually to admit, very apologetically, that no, in their entire fleet there was not a single car to match my swatch of green, the color of my eyes.

So I would leave, I think the salespeople were relieved. They thought I was a crazy lady. I’m sure it’s no accident that when I finally bought a car, my salesperson was a woman. She thought my color priority made perfect sense.

So how, exactly, did I get to Ford? It was partly a process of elimination. As I was just coming off the trauma of the mini-van, Chrysler was out of the question. The utter callousness of GM was still reverberating. It happened that BMW made a beautiful, perfect green, but it was too high-end for me. Besides, my in-laws were Holocaust survivors. My mother-in-law had been a slave in a Nazi labor camp. It was visceral. I couldn’t buy German. Jaguar made their classic racing green, but it was also high-end, and notoriously unreliable in the bargain.

My husband lobbied for the Japanese. He loved – still loves – Japanese cars. He waxes poetic over their high quality, attention to detail, value for money, excellent service! So I tried Japanese. I truly did. But they had talking ladies in the dashboard – long before anyone had ever heard of Siri – and who needed that? Besides, I found the controls completely counter-intuitive. And then there was the matter of size. At the risk of being accused of profiling, is it possible the Japanese carmakers think all Americans are tall? I am not, yet every car I test drove seemed geared to someone much taller than my 60” high. I couldn’t see properly. I couldn’t comfortably reach the steering wheel. I would have needed training blocks on the pedals. And the whiplash guards hit my head, not my neck, in just such a way as to start a migraine right there on the test drive. So, the rising empire of Japanese cars was not for me.

And then there was Ford. At just about that time, Ford had gotten he bright idea, apparently lifted from the Japanese, that quality control mattered. Built-in obsolescence wasn’t going to cut it anymore. And, lo and behold, they had a beautiful deep metallic teal blue-green, which they called deep jewel green. And there it was – a green Mustang 5.0 convertible right on the showroom floor.

A Mustang? Me? Mother of four, beleaguered owner of a decrepit mini-van? Did I dare?

In all fairness it did come in green in the hatchback model. But I felt the visibility was cut to some degree. And besides, coming off the trauma of Madame Guillotine-of-the-mini-van, I didn’t want any more lift gates. And I didn’t like not having a hidden trunk.

And let’s not forget power. The 5.0 had more than I would ever need. I wasn’t about to go drag racing. I would never have the opportunity to do 80 mph on the 405 Freeway. But I could go back to making left turns. Oh, the sheer joy of it!

And then there were the added perks. It came with a then-novel inflatable lumbar support, which was wonderful for my back (and still works to this day.) In addition, because it was a convertible and lacked a metal side post, the front seat belt came out from the floor, not from above and behind my left shoulder. This spared me the constant lower back-wrenching twisting maneuver other cars required to fasten the seat belt. What a relief! For that alone I would buy another convertible.

I test drove it – with my female salesperson, who understood perfectly my visual delight in the car. I had never driven a sports car – why would I?  I can barely follow baseball. But I loved the way it hugged the road, the tight steering, the utter responsiveness of the car.

My poor husband was tearing his hair out. “It’s a tin can. It won’t last two years. Don’t do this! It’s a waste of money!”

Oh, dear Reader, I delight in telling you I paid not the slightest heed. It was, after all, a reasonably priced car. And it wasn’t that we didn’t have the money at the time. He would have been happy to pay that and a bit more for a Japanese car. Something he deemed worthy. But I was just coming off seven years (yes, seven) of the Mini-Van-from-Hell, and before that the Demon-Diesel. I was not to be deterred.

But my derring-do went further. You see, the beautiful deep jewel green car came with gray velour seats and gray carpeting. Now, I have nothing against gray – for the right person. But it’s not on my color palette. I do not wear gray. There is not so much as a grey accessory in my house. Why would I want to spend endless hours on the freeway surrounded by a color with which I have no connection?

Of course I wouldn’t. So fresh off the showroom floor, I took the car for a makeover. I installed green leather seats, front and back. I had every bit of gray paneling that could be changed transformed to green. I had deep green carpeting installed wall-to-wall, front and back. I now truly had my green car.

My husband nearly had what used to be termed “the apoplexy.” He tore out what little hair he had left. “What the h— are you doing? You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear! You’re throwing good money after bad! What difference does the carpet color make? The Americans don’t know how to make cars!”

Well, dear Reader, apparently Ford did. Ask me how many Japanese cars my dear husband has had in the twenty-three years I’ve been driving my “tin can”? My car, by the way, still has the original green seats, green carpeting and the gleaming metallic green exterior.

It has driven countless car pool runs, stuffed piles of clothes and innumerable art and school supplies in its little trunk; has made pilgrimages to every mall in the City of Angels, not to mention doctors, Disneyland and summer day camp. The clever guys from my favorite junk shops have managed to secure many treasures in its small green environs – lamps from the 20’s, the 40’s desk on which I now write, night tables, a coffee table, a small book cabinet and a 50’s swivel desk chair.

And then eventually came the special blessing of needing car seats and boosters for grandchildren in the back seat. Two at a time fit perfectly and we have had lovely adventures – including our Friday outings to the bookstore and trips to the top of the mall parking lot to paint the sunset with the top down on a balmy summer night.

My lovely Mustang really didn’t start needing any repairs until it was about 15 years old, and since car years are not the same as human years, that’s really pretty good. It now needs some major repairs about every 18-24 months. My mechanic and I figure it amortizes out to less than $100 per month. Since I have no loan payments, this is a pretty good deal. He says he can keep it going as long I want and promises to tell me if it ever becomes unsafe.

Besides, what would I buy? I still can’t bring myself to buy German, even though, admittedly, car provenance is becoming harder to determine these days. The Japanese cars are still uncomfortable for me at my height. And besides that, every time I’m forced by circumstances to drive my husband’s highly rated Japanese car, I feel like I’m in a boat navigating choppy seas. I just don’t get it. Chrysler has two strikes with me. GM was out after one. And Ford Mustang hasn’t come out with a color I like in a while.

That said, my older grandchildren are getting tired of squeezing into the backseat of my little two-door car. They want me to buy an SUV like their moms. Sorry. Not going to happen.

My oldest granddaughter is lobbying hard for me to buy a Mini Cooper.

“It’s cute,” she tells me. “Little enough to fit in your garage.”

“True,” I tell her. “But it was bought by BMW. It’s German.”

“No,” she counters, “It’s British.”

Maybe.

“There’s a four-door version,” she says.

That there is.

“It comes in your green.”

That it does, a beautiful perfect teal blue-green. Her uncle on her father’s side has one and loves it. My mechanic doesn’t. He thinks it’s unreliable and says I should wait till Mustang comes out with a color I like. Interestingly, Consumer Reports rates the Mini Cooper at once high on customer satisfaction and low on reliability. Go figure.

She is undaunted. She wants to drive me to the Mini dealer herself so I can test drive it. Yes, you read that right. My oldest grandchild is 16. She has her driver’s license.

How on earth did that happen?

And what of my dear husband? What does he say about the prospect of my shopping for another car – after more than 23 years – by color? Of very likely changing the seat and carpet colors before I’ve driven the car three feet? Of holding out for exactly whatever bells and whistles – no more, no less – that my little heart desires? What does the darling man have to say about all of this?

I’ll tell you dear Reader: NOT…ONE…WORD…

Wise man.

Stay tuned.

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