Welcome to the first installation of a 5-part series about environmentally-friendly cars, entitled Green Machines. For the next post in this series, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!
On April 1, 1964, the now-defunct Plymouth car brand launched the Barracuda. The Plymouth Barracuda was a sporty, two-door compact car, with a hardtop and fastback styling, designed to excite motorists who like to ignore speed limit signs.
Not to be outdone, 16 days later the Ford Motor Company began offering the 1965 Ford Mustang. Now why do new cars come out way before the start of the new year? This has always seemed like false advertising, to me. Magazines do the same thing, as you can buy next month’s issue of most any magazine, this month. What a bunch of bull.
Anyway, 1964 was the first year that Ford sold Mustangs, and it became their most successful vehicle launch since the 1928 Model A (which replaced the Model T in, you guessed it, 1927). Why did A come after T? Why didn’t they call it the Model U, instead? Beats me.
Plymouth only sold about 23,000 Barracudas the first year. Meanwhile, Ford unloaded 400,000 Mustangs its first year, and surpassed a million by its second year. Competitors were left scrambling for something to match it. And so in 1967, Chevrolet created its Camaro, and Pontiac ignited the market with its Firebird. Dodge finally accepted the challenge in 1970 with the launch of its Challenger.
But back in 1964, Plymouth and Ford started a compact sports car rage. And my dad was one of the ragers, because that year he plunked down about 2,500 clams for a brand new, red, 1965 Ford Mustang. These days a ’65 Mustang in mint condition could cost well over $50,000.
But my dad was only a Mustang man for a few years. He was paying child support for five kids, and reality has a way of making family men grow up. He finally had to sell it, probably by court order.
Last month my sister and I visited my brother, Rowan Waters Gnu, in Colorado. A few minutes after I had pulled up in his driveway, while the greetings were underway, I noticed an unfamiliar white car in his garage. I made mention of it, and Rowan proudly revealed that he had just taken delivery on a brand new Mustang.
Like father, like son.
It was a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, to be exact. The Mach-E is a sporty SUV. It’s all-electric, with a range of over 200 miles (300 if you want to pay about five grand extra), and loaded with enough fancy electronics to make a grown man squeal with joy.
My brother confessed to spending about $51,000 on this beauty of a beast. But unlike my dad 57 years ago, Rowan could afford it. I was very happy for him. There was a time when he and his wife were dirt poor, working hardscrabble jobs while trying to raise four kids. He lost a house once, after being fired. Later, he had to abandon a promising, but physically demanding career after injuring his shoulders in a car accident.
Then he bought a business which he made very successful, to the point where it now seems he’ll be financially comfortable for the rest of his life. Yes, he’s a made man. A made, Mustang man.
Over the week of our visit we got to ride in his Mustang several times, and my brother even let me drive it once. I was very impressed. This car has some spunky get-up and go. By punching it at stoplights, I made it across wide intersections before other cars had hardly started forward. That was a lot of fun.
The Mach-E is an all-wheel drive vehicle with no transmission. It simply has two electric motors, one for the front wheels and one for the back. That’s an advantage to all-electric vehicles. The mechanics are very simple. No gearbox is necessary. And the Mach-E is air-cooled, so there’s no radiator or coolant. And it comes with free, lifetime oil changes. That’s because there’s no oil to change.
I must admit that even though I was happy for my brother, I also started to feel envious. I wanted one too. So I made a vow that when I got home from my vacation I was going to research electric vehicles and look into buying something similar, myself.
I’ve now completed enough research to share the results on my blog. This is the first of a 5-part series on electric and hybrid vehicles. But please bear with me. I’m no car expert, and so I might make a few technical mistakes in my posts. If you’re a grease monkey with all kinds of expertise, please don’t throw a wrench at me if you catch an error. I’ve had enough broken teeth. Just leave a comment, and I’ll humbly thank you for the correction.
And now let’s climb inside this Mach-E, fasten our seatbelts, and take a quick tour of the wide, wonderful world of environmentally-friendly, green automobiles. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in a few days for the next post.
Categories: Series (Science): Green Machines