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1995 Ford Mustang GT in Glacier National Park

Auld Lang Syne

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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The end of 2019 has made me a smidge nostalgic — not for 2019, but for the cars like my '95 Mustang GT.

The GT is still one of my favorite cars ever made.

She and I haven't seen action in 13 years, but that hasn't diminished my opinion.

Having a Speed Demon on one shoulder and no counterbalance on the other, might make you think that in order for the GT to be so prized, it must have been incredibly fast — it wasn't. I just adore the way she drives — it's near perfection as far as I'm concerned.

How slow was she? Stock '94-'95 Mustangs were nearly universally derided for their tepid performance from the moment they popped out of the factory and the GT was virtually bone stock. The exception being Mobil 1 synthetic lubricants in the powertrain, a K&N air filter in the factory air box, and Ford Motorsports wires and Crane coil in the ignition system with the timing bumped to optimize its performance on premium gasoline.

She didn't even run max performance tires, she had Michelin XGT Z4 all-seasons — but I absolutely loved those tires on that car. They made her drive like a dream.

One second...my Speed Demon wants to make sure I relay the point that it made me race the GT constantly. It was the reason I discovered using a car as a daily driver, race car, and touring car wasn't the greatest idea. They wear out pretty fast that way and cost a boat load to keep in the kind of shape necessary to do all three of them competitively and/or reliably.

Plus, the time commitment for that kind of upkeep is crazy — it seemed like I was always wrenching and it was exhausting keeping that pace while trying to live the rest of my life.

Although nearly stock, I still managed to pull a best time of 14.6 @ 93 out of her on the drag strip — for reference, Motor Trend managed a best published time of 15.1 @ 92 for a showroom-stocker.

Now she sits with just a little over 100,000 miles on her and the transmission removed — the clutch had worn out and third gear bit the dust. The engine is also tired and burning more than its fair share of oil — to the tune of a quart or two with a night at the drag strip.

Like I said, pulling triple duty was hard on her — she earned her 13-year rest.

On top of the engine and transmission woes, the clutches in the Traction-Lok differential became tired and the limited-slip function was sluggish. She's also picked up a few battle scars on her body and paint that need attention. Nothing terrible, but definitely annoying on her otherwise perfect body. She's also been sitting for so long that I need to remove a bit of mold from her interior — just like my '93 Mustang LX.

Oh, and I almost forgot, she's definitely in need of having her rotors turned and the alignment done properly. I think this is one of those cars that has to have its alignment adjusted by me personally in order to get it right. Nobody seemed to be able to hit it spot on the entire time she was on the road — which reminds me, she also has Ford Motorsport caster/camber plates. I had to install them because there wasn't enough adjustment available in the factory plates to get the suspension back into factory alignment specs.

Taking this look at the GT and reliving our adventures together in my mind has strengthened my connection to the importance of getting her back on the road — I would love to eat some pavement in her again before I kick the bucket. She isn't just a fond memory, she's a trusted friend and beloved companion that makes my life demonstrably better.

Here's to hoping that 2020 brings with it good health, new opportunities, and much success for everyone!

See you all next year!

Ryan

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