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.

A Houston repair shop had 15 vintage Corvettes worth as much as $1 million damaged in a Houston area explosion.

Photo by Getty Images

The owner of a Houston, Texas area vehicle restoration shop is saying that as many as 15 vintage Corvettes may have been lost when the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing facility exploded on Friday.

Gordon Andrus, the owner of Houston Corvette Service, told CNN that his business occupies four buildings across the street from Watson Grinding and Manufacturing at 4537 Steffani Lane in Houston

The shop is a self-described "full-service restoration and preservation workshop". The company's website shows a variety of projects that the company has worked on from a 1957 Corvette Fuel Roadster to a 1972 LS5 454 Red Chevelle.

Andrus says that two of the four buildings that house Houston Corvette Service have been destroyed. "The rest of street had very minor damage, but my two buildings are flattened," he told CNN.

He estimates the loss could be as much as $1 million worth of vehicles that were in progress at the time of the explosion.

In addition to the vehicles he was servicing for clients, a few of his own vehicles are trapped in the rubble. "Every car is insured, and we're in the business of repairing and restoring cars," he said. "We will make it right one way or another."

He has already notified all the owners whose vehicles were involved in the event.

An investigation into what caused the explosion is ongoing and could take months according to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

Ford trucks reigned supreme over the last decade.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

For decades, Kelley Blue Book has been studying auto sales trends and reporting on those findings. To mark the close of the decade, 2010-2020, KBB looked back at the numbers for the last 10 years and found some surprising things.

The single best sales month was December 2016.

Nico Rosberg 2016 F1 Champtionship

Photo by Getty Images

There was a lot going on in 2016, not the least exciting of which was Nico Rosberg wining the F1 Championship. Automakers sold more vehicles in 2016 than they did at any other point during the decade. The December 2016 sales capped off a record year. Here's the top five months over the decade by volume:

  • December 2016: 1,683,408
  • March 2018: 1,648,222
  • May 2015: 1,634,833
  • December 2015: 1,634,329
  • August 2019: 1,632,287

Subaru might have had the best decade of everyone.

2020 Subaru Outback

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

Sure, Ford sold a lot of trucks and Nissan saw tremendous early-decade growth in its SUV lineup, but Subaru is the real winner. In 2010, Subaru sold 263,000 vehicles in the U.S. By the end of the decade, in 2019, they sold 700,000. They probably would have sold more but they scaled back production to launch two new vehicles at the end of the decade.

Most forecasts were wrong about December 2019, but that doesn't mean it was a great month.

2020 Ram 1500

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Analysts forecasted weak sales for the last month of 2019 but the market surprised them delivering a strong result. However, December 2019 was only the 26th best-selling month of the decade according to KBB, which measured 1,506,401 units sold. See the best-selling trucks of 2019 here.

Volvo's best month was the last month of the decade.

2019 Volvo XC60

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car Corporation

Volvo left the decade with the best month it has had in 10 years. The company sold 12,360 units. However, Volvo had higher sales in the months prior to the Great Recession.

Ford delivered the highest monthly sales total of all automakers in the last 10 years.

2019 Ford Focus

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

While some may bemoan the Blue Oval's current state of automotive affairs, they had a really great month five and a half years ago. In May 2014, Ford sold 244,501 vehicles, roughly 15.5% of the entire industry's sales for the month. In that single month, Ford sold more vehicles than Smart did in the entire decade. See the best-selling new cars of 2019 here.

Buyers are spending more on their cars than ever before.

2020 Toyota Highlander

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

According to KBB, "At the end of 2011, the average transaction price (ATP) for a new vehicle in the U.S. was near $30,000. In February 2015, ATP for the month was above $33,000 for the first time ($33,056). It broke through $35,000 in June of 2017, and passed $37,000 later that year, in December when transaction prices commonly peak due to the high volume of luxury vehicle sales. Transaction prices were above $38,000 through the final three months of 2019. The Kelley Blue Book ATP in December 2019 was $38,767 – the highest point in the past decade."

See the best-selling new SUVs of 2019 here.

Tesla came to play.

2019 Tesla Model3

Photo courtesy of Tesla

In 2010 and 2011, Tesla wasn't really on anyone's radar and now it's a household name. KBB estimates that Tesla sold 12 vehicles in June 2012. They reached 10,000 in sales per month in March 2018 and hit peak monthly sales in December 2018 when 32,600 vehicles were sold.

High-performance cars were costliest in January 2019.

2020 Ferrari Roma

Photo courtesy of Ferrari N.V.

Everyone seems to drive a Toyota RAV4 or a Honda Civic. For the select few wealthy enough to enjoy the fruits of the Acura NSX, Ford GT, and anything with a horse logo on it, this decade was kind for options but expensive. KBB says that in January 2019, the ATP for the segment peaked for the decade at $121,739.

With the Trump Tax Cuts came more fleet sales.

2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

According to KBB, "Six of the Top 10 best months for fleet sales in the past decade occurred after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. In May 2019, an estimated 425,000 vehicles were sold to fleet buyers, a record 27 percent of total U.S. sales. Fleet, it's worth noting, generally accounts for 20% of sales in a given month."

There was never a time in the last 10 years that the Ford F-Series was not the best-selling vehicle in the U.S.

2020 Ford Super Duty

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ten straight years of month-to-month dominance. Muhammed Ali wasn't even that good. Ford has sold 7,578,608 F-Series pickups in the last decade - one every 41 seconds. The best month for the F-Series was December 2017 where, in a single month, the company sold 89,385 F-Series trucks.