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.

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New off-roader

Ford Bronco Production Officially Begins

The Ford Bronco is finally ready for primetime.

Ford

The time is finally here. After years of speculation and several months of pandemic-related delays, the Ford Bronco is starting to roll off the assembly line. The SUV marks the first new Bronco model in Ford's lineup in 15 years, not counting the Bronco Sport, and is one of the most hyped and sought-after vehicles to hit the market in quite some time. Ford's announcement that production has begun will be accompanied by a special YouTube presentation that Ford says will include interviews with the Bronco team and with reservation holders at the automaker's new Modification Center.


2021 Ford Bronco Ford added 2,700 jobs to support Bronco production.Ford


Bronco production has driven Ford to invest $750 million into its Michigan Assembly Plant, and the automaker says it has added 2,700 jobs to support the rollout. Ford's push to begin production can't come soon enough. Over 125,000 Bronco orders have been placed, and multiple delays have pushed the vehicle's arrival back, meaning there is considerable demand for the off-road legend.

Ford is ready to capitalize on the craze and will offer several ways to customize the new vehicle. At its 1.7 million square-foot Modification Center, The Blue Oval will factory-install several optional modifications that include equipment such as a front bumper safari bar, graphics packages, roof racks, and more. That's on top of more than 200 factory-backed accessories that can be installed at the dealer, either at or after the time of purchase.


2021 Ford Bronco Delays and production difficulties have pushed the Bronco back.Ford


If you are hoping to get behind the wheel of a new Bronco, it could be a while. Even buyers that have been in line for a while now might not see their new vehicle until late 2021 or 2022, and the vehicle's official rollout will almost certainly re-spike demand. Even so, many feel it's worth the wait, and Ford's vehicle configuration tool is live, so go check it out for yourself.

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Tesla claims that its Cybertruck will go into production this year.

Photo courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

In a presentation to investors this morning, Ford Motor Company revealed that it has received 70,000 reservations for its just-debuted F-150 Lightning electric truck. Its on-paper chief rival, the Tesla Cybertruck, has over one million according to data acquired by Finbold. Rivian, who is nearly ready to start production of its R1T all-electric truck, has over 30,000 reservations, according to reporting by InsideEVs.

Reservations are not orders or sales though they do serve as an indicator of the buying public's enthusiasm for a new model. More and more automakers are switching to online reservations to gauge buyer interest, determine proper product mix, and stay in touch with clients on a more personal level. Hyundai did this with the 2022 Tucson and Ford has successfully used it to launch the Mustang Mach-E.


2022 Ford F-150 Lightning The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning has an all-electric powertrain in its familiar body. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Tesla opened reservations for the Cybertruck immediately following its debut around the same time as the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show where the Mustang Mach-E also debuted. Last July, Finbold revealed that their data showed that there were around 650,000 reservations. In 2018 and 2019 Tesla produced 612,120 vehicles.

Finbold's fresh research indicates that as of May 25, 2021, estimated Cybertruck reservations had reached 1.08 million. That number is more than the 866,750 total vehicles delivered by Tesla in two years between 2019 and 2020.

Though construction at the future home of the Cybertruck, Tesla's Austin, Texas plant, is ongoing, Tesla no longer features the Cybertruck alongside its existing models. The truck's homepage is currently housed in a "see more" style hamburger menu as a singular link alongside the Roadster and Semi. The Cybertruck was originally slated to begin production later this year.

The F-150 Lightning is expected to reach consumers ahead of the Tesla Cybertruck despite the fact that the Cybertruck was unveiled years ahead of the F-Series model. Both have fully electric powertrains. Ford will also offer the electric truck in a fleet version.

Ford has given more specifics about the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning than Tesla has about the Cybertruck. It will look much like a traditional F-150 but have an electric powertrain that gives it a maximum of 563 horsepower and 773 pound-feet of torque. The truck is being built to be capable of towing though doing so will likely decrease the truck's 300-mile maximum range considerably.

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