Series (Science): Green Machines

Green Machines, Part 1: Mustang Men

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!

Mustang Men

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’s brand new, Mustang Mach-E

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.

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54 replies »

  1. That is a real nice looking car! Yay on getting to drive it. Thats great that your brother was able to make a successful business for him and his family. We keep thinking about what business we could start. LOL!

    My son has been talking about wanting to buy an electric car. Looking forward to seeing what you say about them. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it’s pretty sporty looking. I liked driving it, but felt very relieved I didn’t wreck it. I’d hate to wreck my brother’s brand new car.

      After my brother’s shoulder injury, he went to work for one of my sister’s, as a tax preparer. He eventually bought her business after she retired, and now it is doing very well.

      It’s always tricky starting a new business. Many new businesses fail. I think one reason is because the owners have no idea how many hours you have to put into a business to make it succeed, and the switch from a 40-hour week to an 80-hour week can be a difficult adjustment.

      I’ve learned that electric cars have only limited practical use, so I hope your son is cautious with his purchase.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I want an electric car too, I just still kind of feel like we’re in the pioneer phase. I figure if I buy an expensive electric car, in 2 or 3 year there will be a new kind of battery or production ability or whatever that will allow them to make much better cars than my obsolete expensive old one. There really isn’t that worry with mature gasoline cars as next year’s car isn’t going to be much better than this year’s car.

    So, I salute the pioneers for clearing a trail. I will follow along in a year or two.

    Liked by 2 people

      • This car is actually my 3rd Prius (and first plug-in hybrid) so yeah, you could say I am happy with these cars! πŸ˜‰ I do love the Toyota brand. Never had a problem with one yet…I started off with a Matrix, and then switched to the Prius. They are very well-made cars. My next vehicle will be a Rav 4 plug-in hybrid, if I can ever get my hands on one!

        Deb

        Liked by 1 person

        • Maybe great minds think alike. I’m leaning toward a Rav 4 hybrid, also. It’s called the RAV4 Prime, and I think a 2022 model will soon be available. But if I decide to buy one, it will be a 2023 model. I’m just hoping there will be an abundant supply and I won’t have to order months ahead of time.

          Like

    • Great post, and very informative about gas mileage and range. According to my research, the RAV4 Prime has even more range than your Prius Prime. I think it can go about 40 miles between charges. Which is, I dunno, about a thousand kilometers, if my math is right.

      Like

  3. As a teen, I had dreams of maybe getting a used Lamborghini Silhouette from my parents when I got my drivers’ license. Alas, my first car was the family’s old Pinto station wagon, which I nicknamed “Cosmic Debris”. Good for the beach though, since I could get a couple of surf boards on top. No aspirations for an electric conveyance. At least the hydrocarbon-fueled mountain goat doesn’t complain when it’s cold, blow the main on the little 150-Amp panel, or leave me stranded during a power outage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Parents can be such geniuses when they seem so stupid. I remember the Ford Pintos. Ford seemed to sell a lot of them, for awhile, but then they kind of went down in popularity.

      I think when living in a remote location, electric is not the best way to go. They’re best suited for city driving.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess the regular Pintos were considered fire traps. Ours was station wagon (with a manual transmission)… supposedly slightly safer. Regardless, I bought a motorcycle when I turned 18.

        Teslas are surprisingly popular here… sort of like owning an iPhone, I think. Range wise, maybe good for two laps of the lake… maybe three? Might be able to make it over a pass to Sacramento… not that I’d want to park one there.

        Originally, the battery racks in the Model-S could be hot-swapped in a robotic station. They built one along the I-5 at Harris Ranch… 5-minute replacement with already recharged batteries. But it seems like the idea was abandoned, and the move is now toward incorporating the batteries as a permanent structural element in the cars… essentially rendering them disposable, like everything else nowadays.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Now that you mention it, I recall there was a problem with the way the gas tank was mounted under the Pinto. When rear-ended, the gas tank was sometimes pushed into the differential, sparking an explosion.

          A Tesla could probably make it to Sacramento from Tahoe, as they have a range of about 300 – 400 miles. Plus, going downhill, regenerative braking will recharge the batteries somewhat. Not sure it could make it back, but probably could.

          Electric vehicles batteries can be quick charged in just 15 minutes, up to 80% capacity, so that might be one reason for abandoning the hot-swapping idea. Not enough time savings to be worth it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Interesting. I only know one person with a Tesla well enough to have heard an honest opinion… a real-estate broker in Reno. He certainly likes his, and said that he’d buy another one. I’m not sure which model it is, but he mentioned that it’s a very spacious and clean ride for clients. I think he also had some type of faster charging system installed in his home, but I don’t know the details. No doubt about it, it’s the future — especially as the infrastructure becomes more established. And for people who have to drive longer distances, I suspect hybrids will fill the gap as US gasoline prices inevitably start to compare with the rest of the world.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Electric vehicles are great for short-distance driving, but you’re right about hybrids. They’re good for longer distances. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of both types of vehicles in the future.

              Liked by 1 person

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