in 3... 2....1....
I always wondered
what I would do if my brakes suddenly gave
out. If I pressed my foot down and felt that
sickeningly soft response as the brake pedal sunk to
Well, I found out this weekend.
While traveling downhill at a reasonable speed
towards a busy intersection the right front wheel-cylinder
my car blew a gasket. I then realized I was
bearing down much too fast on the all-too-conspicuous
rear end of an unsuspecting
vehicle sitting in the right-hand lane. I down-shifted,
turned the motor off and yanked hard on what I
Let me tell you about my car. It's a 1965
for which I exchanged the then-handsome sum of $450 for
back in 1975. It's been my only car in all that time,
a brief period in 1992 when the Mustang was side-swiped
by an SUV during a rush-hour rainstorm, whereupon it
subsequently spent a few weeks in intensive care at the
In all those years I have slept in
it twice, though I do not recommend this. I have made
twice although, again, I do not recommend this. It's
not only small and cramped but every piece of interior
hardware that can possibly make you horribly uncomfortable
should you try to do anything but drive in it, does.
Otherwise, pure driving bliss.
In 1989 I yanked the back seat out and lowered the top,
then drove to the local engine store. They
lowered a new engine into the
back and I drove it home and installed it
myself. It's been running like a champ ever since.
On January 1, 2000 I turned the odometer over to 300,000
miles. That was a special day.
all these years it's never left me by the side of the
highway as a result of a breakdown. Even under the most
circumstances it's always managed to limp home where
simple repairs were
the car and I
both defeated by something doomed to fail in a most spectacular
fashion. In Ford circles it's referred to as "the
The rest of you call it a single-cylinder master cylinder.
You see, in order to save a few bucks back in 1965 Ford
used these cheap bastards in the 6-cylinder cars. It
to the brakes on all four wheels. If one of the braking
systems of any of the wheels failed, they all failed,
as they all failed me on Saturday. In 1967 Ford upgraded
all Mustangs to dual-cylinder master
cylinders, meaning if the front brakes failed the rears
would still work, and vice-versa. I
plan on having mine upgraded once it's in the shop.
So what happened that day? Some good luck and some bad
It was a Saturday so the bank parking lot to my
deserted so I steered towards it, jumping the curb...
right into the concrete pedestal of a light pole that
was hidden by a spray of decorative bushes. The left
took the brunt of the impact straight on. Apart from
the brakes themselves failing that was the bad luck.
The good luck was that the concrete base, about 18" in
diameter, pushed completely out of the ground, bouncing
me to the right and slowing my momentum. The
left fender digging into my tire did the rest and I came
to a quick stop before doing any more damage. This all
happened in a few seconds.
the concrete base been more robustly constructed, and
had not moved at
struck it, the damage
to the car, and me, would have been much more substantial.
I have a feeling the base was designed that way. Good
thinking, says I.
Here's the aftermath:
If I hadn't hit that concrete base I might have sailed
into one of several buildings or possibly even have hurt
someone at a nearby car wash. You may or may not be pleased
to know that I walked away from this without a scratch.
That was the best luck of all.
(Pauses to take breath. Wonders if any detail left unexplored.
Re-examination says yes but no one cares. Moves on to
As I write this I'm uncertain of the fate of the Mustang.
On Monday morning the insurance company will inspect
it and deem it either worthy of repair or, I fear, they
may total it.
see. Either way, in lieu of flowers, the family is requesting
donations to the Ford Museum in the name of Mike's Mustang.