"In palmy days the Model T could take off faster than anything on the road."
-- From E.B. White's "Farewell, My Lovely!"
Today, E.B. White would be 114 years and some 200 days old. In celebration of this milestone, I dusted off a collection of his essays. When I'm in need of religion, I return to the altar of my favorite White pieces, "Once More to the Lake," "On a Florida Key," and "Afternoon of an American Boy."
Then something happens, and I discover an essay I had overlooked. "Farewell, My Lovely!" was White's torch song to the revolutionary, indomitable Model T Ford. "It was," White wrote in 1936, "the miracle God has wrought."
"The driver of the old Model T was a man enthroned."
"Springtime in the heydey of the Model T was a delirious season. Owning a car was still a major excitement."
"The days were golden, the nights were dim and strange."
Well, read the essay if for no other reason than to stop me from quoting Mr. White.
I am too young to have been enthroned on a Model T. I was enthroned on a green 1971 Corolla that got me where I wanted to go and then some. My Corolla never inspired delirium or an essay, but you should have seen my gold shag carpet and happening 8-track. I've been a Toyota man ever since. But I learned to drive on a 1966 Ford Mustang, and years later the urge to own a new Mustang has invaded my soul with the swarming determination of cicadas.
Last week I found myself tip-toeing onto a Ford dealership hoping not to be approached by humans selling cars. There, in a back row, a charcoal black Mustang with a V6 Pony Package winked at me. I don't know what a VC Pony Package entails except it was one cool car. The kind of car that looks so fast you could get a speeding ticket for standing by it. The kind of car that looks a midlife crisis right in the eyes and says, "This ain't no crisis. This is a rebirth!"
The kind of car that in its palmy days can go 0-60 in 3.5 seconds.
I read that stat in my glossy Mustang brochure. (Can one marry a brochure? Legally probably not, but maybe some kind of civil ceremony?) The brochure alone can make a sensible man give up his sensible Prius. Leave the bug humming on the side of the road.
Consider the Shelby GT500 Mustang.
"Its rumble. Unmistakable. This cobra's ready to strike."
Or the GT.
"Any way you spec it -- a visceral thrill ride."
Or the V6.
"With plenty of low-end grunt and twin independent variable camshaft timing."
Low-end grunt? Is that how you tell when your Mustang is cranky or really happy? Clearly, there's so much I don't know about the Mustang.
Yet, I want one. I want it to be very fast -- like a visceral, low-end grunting cobra. And I'll drive this cobra from my home to my job every day until that one strange day I pass that proper exit and keep going on some open, lonesome, thrilling road, just like in the brochure.
Farewell, my lovelies.