Long Form

Still Rolling: Something Old, Something Borrowed, Something Ford Blue

This 1971 Ford LTD 429 convertible provided an anxiety-inducing adventure for two Texas newlyweds.

Photo courtesy of Jesus Garcia

Anxiety played double Dutch with my spine when I approached the garage where the blue oval was kept. The owner, a man that bleeds Ford blue, had entrusted me with the keys to one of his full-size gems – a 1971 Ford LTD 429 convertible. My mission: use this classic car to help support a friend on a very special day.

A flip of the hard plastic light switch echoed in the garage as the overhead lights flickered into life. Four hundred watts illuminated a seafoam green beast parked in the corner. The Ford's chrome Magnum 500 wheels glistened under the light.

A garage littered with piles of hubcaps, taillights, fan belts, quarter panels and chrome grilles stood between me and the Ford convertible. Worn cardboard boxes tagged with "FoMoCo" in handwritten lettering towered over me as I carefully made my way through the narrow pathway across the garage. The Ford stood in its spot with less than two feet of clearance, surrounded by a cave of surplus.

I found the keys where the owner said they would be, hidden in an antique wooden sewing machine desk next to the car. I turned and reached out for the car's door. The door handle lifted and I cradled the steel to protect it from dings as I sank into the vinyl bench seat.

Its dashboard and carpets are ebony, but the interior of the car is pearl white with no cracks to show its age.

1971 Ford LTD 429 convertible keys The keys to the car meant that Garcia had access to plenty of power, but that didn't mean that the engine was reliable.Photo courtesy of Jesus Garcia

The champagne patina on the LTD's royal crest keychain hung loosely as I slipped the key into the ignition. I listened to the eight-liter heart turn over as I pumped the gas twice to heave the 429 to life.

I stabbed the throttle once more and the LTD simmered to lion's purr. Sitting up straight in the driver seat, I glanced at my watch. I had 30 minutes to reach the hotel downtown before the wedding ceremony started. Steel gear lever in hand, I shifted down listening to the bolt action click as it slid into gear that lurched the big convertible forward.

This was a joy ride with a mission of certain risk both physical and emotional as the wedding car for a lifelong friend. Passengers would be a bride and a groom, two musicians ready to play a lifelong duet with an appreciation for vintage Detroit steel. Anticipation rode shotgun.

Steadily the big car rolled its 4,440 pounds southbound down a boulevard in route to the hotel. The sun was painting the Laredo sky tangerine rose and the big block was firing on all cylinders with one-finger power steering making life easy.

The fear was real behind the wheel. This was more than just a classic car; this was someone's trust. I had been trusted to drive the behemoth with only a matter of fact, "disconnect the battery when you bring it back," send off. A terrifying honor.

I triple checked every intersection and all my mirrors like a Henry Hill in "Goodfellas". Paranoia raged as I looked out for distracted drivers who may not see the Ford whale shark.

The last of the day's golden sunlight shone through the breaks in the buildings of downtown Laredo as I piloted the Ford to the front of La Posada Hotel. Onlookers strolled by keeping their eyes fixed on the white ragtop car. The LTD, the same model car Clint Eastwood drove in "Dirty Harry" looked like it had driven through a time warp, straight out of 1971.

1971 Ford LTD 429 convertible Garcia parked the car front and center at La Posada Hotel and it awaited its guests.Photo courtesy of Jesus Garcia

I asked the kid standing at the lip of the porte-cochère, who looked too young to be the valet but was dressed for the part, if he could move the other cars out front so I could park the Ford at center stage. He begrudgingly obliged.

I kept the keys and strolled into the wedding. The outdoor ceremony overlooked a botanical spectrum of color and a live mariachi band quickly strummed up the traditional "Bridal Chorus".

A surreal mixture of emotions washed over me as I watched someone I had met in middle school, and who had stood by me through my trial and error-filled teens, stand at the alter ready to say, "I do," to the rest of their life. Vows complete, I hustled back to the LTD to make sure the car would be running by the time they were ready to take off.

My necktie felt like a noose while walking through the hotel lobby. Anxiety brought on the worry that the car would develop a sudden mood swing, as old cars are prone to do, and disappoint my friends.

1971 Ford LTD 429 convertible The Ford's engine cycled without spark. Not once. Not twice. Garcia tried not to panic.Photo courtesy of Jesus Garcia

I opened the driver's side door, slide onto the white vinyl, and turned the key. The engine cranked for five painstaking seconds before I retreated. "Don't flood it," I told myself on the second attempt. Again, the Ford cycled its engine without spark. I could feel hotel guests' eyes on me as I waited a few seconds before a third attempt.

I juiced the throttle before hitting the key again while praying to the gods of superstition that this would be the charm. The Ford protested before hitting the snooze and falling back to sleep.

Suppressed panic rattled up my spine like a tremor. My deep breath was followed by another before I reached for the key. My phone sat next to me like a time bomb waiting to go off with a notification that they are on their way.

One more turn of the key now with more pressure on the throttle. A spark is lit and the 429 finally began to cough. I feathered the throttle like a fisherman reeling in the catch of the day. The 429 turns itself over in a huff and puffed a cloud of blue smoke out the tail end.

A random person walked by staring at the big beauty, "Is that a Cadillac?"

I shouted the answer as I feathered the throttle to keep the car awake and it eventually began to idle without effort. It wouldn't be long until the bride and groom burst through the hotel doors.

Suddenly, the crowd parted and the newlyweds walked out into the sunset to greet the Ford. The pushrod V8 seemed to burble in tempo with their beating hearts as they hopped in the car, thanking me perfusely for driving them in style.

It was time to go before the Texas heat took hold.

1971 Ford LTD 429 convertible The LTD is a car of its era, kept historic and analog, complete with an 8-track player.Photo courtesy of Jesus Garcia

Photographers captured the moment as the LTD crept out of the space and cruised the town's plaza on its way down the highway. The ambient temperature cooled and the bride's white veil blew in the wind, floating behind the car as we headed down the center lane of Interstate 35.

The car was something old and borrowed, dressed in blue, transporting two ready to begin a new life together. Passing cars waved and honked as the Ford floated over the interstate with a white veil dancing in the wind. The weight of responsibility parked on my chest reminding me to give this couple the smoothest ride possible.

I dropped off the bride and groom at the reception hall and hopped back in the car with a sense of "mission accomplished" as Los Bravos set the mood for the nighttime cruise back to home base. I still wasn't able to savor the ride.

The 320 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque pushing 18 feet of steel, rubber, and vinyl down the road gave me more confidence than a drink at a bar ever could. The double headlamped beast is now a socially inappropriate statement, no matter how Instagram worthy, and that's part of the attraction.

I rolled the car back into its cave. Lifting up the hood, I disconnected the battery, and let out a sign of genuine relief as I closed the flap. The keys were placed back in the antique wooden sewing machine desk.

I went outside to where my old Silverado sat patiently, waiting to take me back to the reception. The trip was over, but the night was just beginning.

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is here.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

After years of development, test mules, and spy shots, Ford has finally pulled the wraps off its long-awaited Mach E all-electric crossover. Set to go on sale in late 2020 and early 2021, the Mach-E made its debut in Los Angeles just days before the 2019 L.A. Auto Show. Here's a quick look at everything you need to know.

There will be five variants (and lots of numbers).

Select: Available in early 2021, this base model will start at $43,895 (all prices exclude $1,100 destination and any state or federal tax incentives). The Select will come with rear-wheel-drive and 230 miles of range, while the AWD will have 210 miles of range. Both versions will have 255 horsepower; RWD will have 306 pound-feet of torque and AWD will have 417 pound-feet of torque. It's worth noting that this is the only Mach E variant that will not allow for 150kW DC fast-charging so beware if fast-charging is your jam.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E The rear of the Mustang Mach-E has some of the design hallmarks of the Mustang coupe.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Premium: This second-tier version will be available in late 2020 and will start at $50,600. It will come in standard range or extended range as well as RWD or AWD. Standard range will have 230 miles of range in RWD guise; 210 miles in AWD. Extended range will have 300 miles of range in RWD, 270 miles in AWD. Standard-range models will have 255 horsepower, extended-range RWD will have 282 horsepower and extended-range AWD will have 332 horsepower.

California Route 1: This trim level is essentially the Premium Extended Range RWD plus some added options, so its number line up: 300 miles of range and 282 pound-feet of torque. It will start at $52,400 when it goes on sale in early 2021.

First Edition: This limited-edition model starts at $59,900 and will be available in late 2020 (order soon). It features similar specs as the Premium Extended Range AWD: 270 miles of range and 332 horsepower. It also adds a variety of interior and exterior trim upgrades and limited availability to the mix.

GT: It's the big daddy of the Mustang coupe lineup (excluding Shelby versions) so it's the big daddy here. For $60,500 buyers get AWD, 235 miles of range and a healthy 459 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque, good for 0-60 runs in the mid-three-second range. This version adds the requisite 20-inch forged wheels, Brembo brakes, an adaptive Magnaride suspension, and exterior trim upgrades.

Gobs of tech will be standard.

This includes a 15.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system (ala Tesla) that will run Ford's Next-Generation Sync operating system and will feature over-the-air updates (also ala Tesla). Drivers will have the option of using their smartphone as a key; the Mach E will detect phones paired via its bluetooth system and unlock and adjust settings to that driver's preference.

The Mach E Premium and GT models also come pre-hardwired with a driver-monitoring system, which Ford will activate at a later date to provide a hands-free driving system. The system uses an infrared camera mounted on top of the steering column to watch the driver's attentiveness.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E The interior is sparse in design but full of high-tech features.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Three drive modes are included.

Here's another Tesla-inspired feature: three drive modes that alter the nature of the Mach E's performance. 'Whisper,' 'Engage' and 'Unbridled' will each allow increasingly aggressive performance and handling features. Not unlike Tesla's well-documented Ludicrous mode. Fun fact: the 'Unbridled' mode in the Mach E was originally to be called 'Stampede' and one of the test-mules we rode in on a media briefing in LA last week still had this setting name. Within each drive mode, numerous elements of the Mach E will be configurable, including regen levels for one-foot driving, if drivers so choose.

Yes, there's a Frunk.

Would it be an EV without one? But Ford says theirs is better since it has a drain plug at the bottom; apparently owners of other EVs told Ford researchers that they often found themselves wanting this.

Room for everyone.

The Mach E seats five adults comfortably, with plenty of legroom and headroom for the six-footers out there (we know since we've sat inside). This, despite the sloping, coupe-like profile of the crossover. Most models also come with a fixed panoramic glass roof that does wonders for opening up the cabin.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

There are no coincidences in the automotive world, so it was no surprise that I found myself riding shotgun in a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle prototype in front of SpaceX and Tesla's offices in Los Angeles. Ford's all-electric crossover is their most ambitious electric vehicle project to date. With styling, range, and debut location, they proved that they are targeting Tesla and their customers.

The Mustang Mach-E is, according to Ford, 100-percent Mustang. For those who are used to seeing the Mustang as a sports coupe with rear-wheel drive, an electric crossover with available all-wheel drive bearing the Mustang name might be eyebrow raising.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E The Mustang Mach-E has many exterior design attributes usually reserved for the Mustang coupe.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

That skepticism is one of the many reasons why, during a secret reveal ahead of the global debut, Ford shuttled me around Hawthorne, California in one of the Mustang Mach-E prototypes. The company was out to prove to me that they built a vehicle worthy of the Mustang name.

The model Ford put me in was the Mustang Mach-E Premium all-wheel drive, extended range model. That EV runs to 60 mph from a standstill in a hair over 5 seconds. Because electric motors make torque immediately, the car pushes the driver and passengers relentlessly back in their seat as they make that run. The torque makes the car feel faster than it is.

For folks who want to go faster, the Mustang Mach-E GT Performance trim should do that same run in around 3 seconds. When the GT Performance goes on sale in early 2021 (late 2020 for the other models), the quickest accelerating Mustang you'll be able to buy will likely be electric.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E interior seats cabin The cabin of the new model is spacious.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

On a route around Hawthorne, I was able to experience the car's on-road manners. Even though it was an early prototype, the cabin was quiet. That's in part due to the lack of a motor but also because of the car's three performance modes for the Mach-E – Whisper, Engaged and Unbridled. In Unbridled mode, which is what I experienced, the car allows computer-generated internal combustion engine-like sounds to flow into the cabin when accelerating hard.

Unlike the Jaguar I-Pace's piped-in growl, the Mach-E's sounds natural for a performance car. It doesn't exactly sound like a gasoline-powered car, but it adds a soundtrack to the spirited drive that this author doesn't find obtrusive. In Whisper mode, the car is relatively silent.

Cornering, at least from the passenger seat, felt relatively flat. The low center of gravity of the battery pack helps a ton. Right now, there is no adjustable suspension system, like MagneRide, that is available on other Mustang models.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E infotainment screen steering wheel dashboard Ford has simplified the interior of the car in a very Tesla-esque fashion.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Mustang Mach-E takes many interior cues from Tesla design though many elements are unmistakably from the Ford team. There is a large, center-mounted screen that handles most of the controls of the infotainment system and vehicle functionality. Interestingly, while the center screen handles most of it, there still is an instrument cluster to provide vitals – something Tesla has done away with.

Display vehicles had gobs of space inside, including numerous of storage cubbies for nearly everything. Fit and finish were solid for vehicles this far along in the process and it felt more Tesla Model 3 inside than Mustang.

The new infotainment system supports routing based on how long you'll sit at a charger and which chargers you need to stop at – basically what a Tesla does. Another first for Ford is support for both wireless Apple Car Play and wireless Android Auto.

Additionally, the Mustang Mach-E has truly hands-off Level 2 semi-autonomous driving. It'll be an over-the-air update after launch for customers, but there are cameras in the car that watch the driver to make sure they are paying attention. If they are, and the roads are digitally mapped, the Mach-E will handle most of the driving duties for the driver. The system is very similar to how Cadillac's Super Cruise technology works and is not hands-off.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E rear seat back sunroof moonroof panoramic vegan leather The rear seats of the Mustang Mach-E offer more legroom than what you'll find in the Jaguar I-Pace.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

It's difficult to determine how good a car is going to be based on a ten-minute ride in the passenger seat. However, it is obvious even after that little time that Ford checked all the right boxes during the development of their new EV. This is likely the first viable mainstream competitor to Tesla, and Tesla should consider themselves put on notice.

In short, the Mustang Mach-E should have performance similar to the Jaguar I-Pace or Tesla Model 3, but with more rear seat headroom than the I-Pace, and better reliability. It looks far more attractive than the Nissan Leaf or anything the Korean automakers are doing, and since it'll be available in all 50 states, you'll be able to purchase and repair it in a town near you, just like what you could do with an F-150.