OpenRoad Magazine – Fall/Winter 2023 / Volume 20 / Issue 3

Page 1



Presenting Sponsor









AAT co-founder Paul E. Miller, in memorium.







LeMay — America's Car Museum hosted Avants' second annual Wagonfest with over 300 longroofs in attendance.




The Trust's annual gala remains one of the most elegant nights in the Pacific Northwest.

Four vintage station wagons left Wyoming for Detroit in search of the forgotten family holiday.





A personal story of My First Car with an amazing link to history.





Peter Egan attempts to answer the question, "How much is too much?"



Pivoting strategies to meet the needs of tomorrow's automotive restoration workforce.



Bruce Wanta, AAT Master Collector Emeritus, talks about his motivations for collecting.

Robert M. Kennedy's new book takes us behind the scenes on the development and reveal of the Gen-7 Ford Mustang.

COVER: Two dinosaurs face the rising sun in South Dakota — Wall Drug's Brontosaurus, and Jake Whitman's 1955 Ford Country Squire as photographed on The Drive Home: Great American Family Vacation. Photo by Jake Whitman. THIS PAGE: The famous Nite Owl Drive-In in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, visited by the wagons of The Drive Home.


There’s not an app for this INSURANCE




877-922-1706 | Local agent | Policies underwritten by Essentia Insurance Company. Membership by Hagerty Drivers Club (HDC), a non-insurance subsidiary of The Hagerty Group, LLC. Only the HDC Program Guide contains a complete description of benefits. Purchase of insurance not required for membership in HDC. All third party makes, models, and vehicle names are property of their respective owners. Their use is meant to reflect the authenticity of the vehicle and do not imply sponsorship nor endorsement of Hagerty nor any of these products or services. Hagerty is a registered trademark of the Hagerty Group LLC, ©2020 The Hagerty Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Paul E. Miller, In Memoriam By David Madeira, CEO America’s Automotive Trust


write this column with mixed feelings of sadness, loss, and gratitude resulting from the untimely death of our dear friend and colleague, Paul Miller, who recently succumbed to a massive heart attack and passed from this life. Paul’s death is shocking and deeply saddening, for he played a crucial leadership role in the development of LeMay – America’s Car Museum and of the Trust. In 2002, Paul served as the Museum’s Board Chairman as it recruited me to become CEO to lead the effort to plan, acquire land, engage an architect and raise funds for the construction of the LeMay – America’s Car Museum. Both Paul and John Barline worked closely with me, and were instrumental in negotiating the land grant valued at $18 million from the city of Tacoma. As we prepared to break ground on the building project in 2010, I hired Paul, given his real estate experience, as Owner’s Representative to oversee construction efforts. I knew that I could trust his attention to detail and that he would watch finances carefully. Paul’s efforts were superb, keeping the project on time and under budget. It is not an overstatement to state that without Paul’s service as my trusted partner, ACM would not exist today. As we drew near to ACM’s opening, I again called upon Paul to serve as its first Chief Operating Officer, overseeing all museum finance and operations. He had grown passionate for ACM and approached the work with vigor and dedication. Once again, this enabled me to travel the country promoting our vision. On June 12, 2012, the facility opened to a crowd of 10,000 visitors and USA Today proclaimed LeMay – America’s Car Museum one of the eight most important cultural entities in the world to open that year. Over the last decade, through the creation of America’s Automotive Trust and the addition of the RPM Foundation to our organization, Paul served as the ACM’s Executive Director as well as the Trust’s VP for Finance, enabling me to serve as CEO and continue my largely external role. As I write and reflect on these past 20 years, I am struck by how closely we worked side-by-side, through all stages of the organization’s “life,” and what a steadfast partner he was to me. We were trusted colleagues, close friends, even “brothers”. Paul and I hiked together, enjoyed cigars together, and teased each other. We could also get irritated with each other, even angry, but always talked through differences of opinion finding answers for the betterment of the institution and maintaining a relationship of trust and respect. On the last afternoon that I spent with him, enjoying a Montecristo cigar and Balvenie Scotch talking about life and work, Paul was in good spirits. He and his wife Gloria had recently completed building their dream house on the water and he loved it. And they were headed to his beloved Cabo San Lucas for weeks of sun and relaxation. It was there, by the pool, that he succumbed to a massive heart attack and passed quickly. I am writing this from Cabo, where we were to spend time with them, but I am sad that he is not here. I am grateful that as we said good-bye, we hugged and our last words to each other were, “Love you, brother.” OPENROAD5 5 OPENROAD

America’s Automotive Trust



CHAIRMAN: Michael D. Towers, Ambassador Wines of Washington – Seattle, WA IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRMAN: B. Corry McFarland, Emeritus, Cedar Management Company – Fife, WA VICE CHAIR: Gary Gartner, NB Center for American Automotive Heritage – Briarcliff Manor, NY VICE CHAIR: David L. Madeira, Emeritus, America’s Automotive Trust – Tacoma, WA VICE CHAIR: William T. Weyerhaeuser, Emeritus, Director/ Chairman – Tacoma, WA SECRETARY: Sam E. Baker, Jr., Oles Morrison Rinker & Baker, LLP – Seattle, WA TREASURER: Trevor Cobb, Avantia, A Multi-Family Office – Seattle, WA

BOARD MEMBERS Rod Alberts, North American International Auto Show – Detroit, MI John D. Barline, Emeritus, Harlowe & Falk LLP – Tacoma, WA Dale Bloomquist, DDS, MS – Seattle, WA Stephen Boone, Emeritus, Retired Ford and Harley-Davidson Dealer – Olympia, WA Nicola Bulgari, Emeritus, BVLGARI S.p.A – New York, NY Frank Chang, Flying Fish Partners – Seattle, WA Doug Clark, Hagerty – Traverse City, MI Keith Flickinger, The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage – Allentown, PA Alan Granberg, Auto Enthusiast – Lakewood, WA Dr. Gerald Greenfield, Retired Dentist – Lake Tapps, WA McKeel Hagerty, Hagerty – Traverse City, Michigan Tom Hedges, Emeritus, Co-Owner Hedges Family Estate – Benton City, WA Michael Holmes, Holmes Electric – Kent, WA George Ingle, The Ingle Company – Spanaway, WA Doug LeMay, Emeritus, LeMay Investments, LLC. – Tacoma, WA Nancy LeMay, Emeritus, LeMay Investments, LLC. – Tacoma, WA James Gary May, Hopewell Land Partners – Windemere, FL

2023 was another action-filled year for America’s Automotive Trust and its entities. Including another successful Drive Home with a special appearance at the Detroit Auto Show, the opening of two worldclass exhibits at LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma – Porsche at 75 and Corvette Creativity – plus the return of Signature Events as well, pulling in large crowds to the Museum throughout the year. Meanwhile, The RPM Foundation presented their Restorer’s Award at the Hilton Head Concours and other major car events throughout the country, and the all-student X-Cup Team made a strong showing in the 2023 Great Race. Now that 2024 has arrived, there has never been a better time to be involved, as RPM Foundation continues to provide financial support, guidance, and apprenticeship opportunities to those looking for careers in the automotive restoration industry, and as America’s Car Museum gets ready to unveil one of their most immersive exhibits to date. All of which is made possible, and brought together by the support of America’s Automotive Trust.

OPENROAD PUBLICATION CREDITS Managing Editor & Head Writer William Hall William “Kid” Hall is an automotive journalist based in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, whose work has appeared in Hemmings Motor News, Classic Car Journal, RM Shift and Prancing Horse magazines, among others. His personal collection of cars skews classic Italian, with a few ‘70s era Muscle Cars and a growing collection of vintage motorcycles for good measure.

Contributors: Special thanks to lensmaster Karl J.

Art Direction & Graphic Design

Noakes for the images on Why We Collect, and to Glenn Stevens Jr. and Jake Whitman for their great perspectives on The Drive Home 6. Thanks to Vivian Hsu Photography for the great images of the AAT gala.

Jennifer Weitzman, jamgd: jamgd a design firm located in Madison, Wisconsin — having a long history working with the RPM Foundation — they now bring their talents to this publication.


Paul E. Miller, Emeritus, LeMay America's Car Museum – Tacoma, WA

AAT CEO: David L. Madeira — America’s Automotive Trust — Tacoma, WA ACM Excecutive Director and VP of Finance Ex Officio: Gary Yamamoto — LeMay-America’s Car Museum — Tacoma, WA RPM Executive Director Ex Officio: Nick Ellis — Chicago, IL

T.G. Mittler, Auto Enthusiast – Santa Fe, NM

Please Address Correspondence to America’s Automotive Trust/OpenRoad 2702 East D Street Tacoma, WA 98421 Phone: 253.779.8490 Toll Free: 877.902.8490 Fax: 253.779.8499 Website:

Michael J. Phillips, Emeritus, Altaira Wealth Management – Clyde Hill, WA

Please note: Not all of the automobiles depicted in OpenRoad are on display or part of the ACM Collection. Some of the photographs were chosen in order to illustrate or enliven a featured story while others were selected purely for their artistic merit.

Continued on page 7


Subscription to OpenRoad magazine is a benefit of friends and supporters of America's Automotive Trust. America’s Automotive Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. A portion of your gift towards membership and sponsorship are tax deductible.


America’s Automotive Trust

By William Hall Managing Editor

Al Ruozzi, RB Car Collection – Allentown, PA

BOARD MEMBERS Continued from page 6


Paul Sabatini, Lincoln of Troy – Troy, MI

n an automotive auction catalog, the first few paragraphs of a lot description are what writers call boilerplate. This is the model history and specifications before getting into the storytelling of that particular car. In a way, it underestimates its audience. Does the buyer of the $50-million-dollar 1963 Ferrari GTO need to be told in the limited space of the catalog who designed it and when it began production? Hasn’t that all been written countless times before? Boilerplate is tedious to write, and often tedious to read.

Steve Saleen, Saleen Automotive – Corona, CA Manfred Scharmach, BMW Northwest, Northwest Mini, Seattle Mini, Northwest Pre-Owned Center – Fife, WA Jonathon Shaw, Hemmings – Bennington, VT Bruce Wanta, Spectrum Controls, Bellevue, WA Jason Wenig, The Creative Workshop – Dania Beach, FL James M. Will, Emeritus, Titus-Will Enterprises, Inc. – Tacoma, WA

What’s far more interesting is the life that automobile has led. The fascinating owners, the races or concours it participated in, the years spent hidden in a barn. The actress who sat in it for a magazine cover shoot in Piccadilly Circus in 1967, or the road trip from Geneva to Monaco for the Grand Prix in 1982 when the clutch went out. The original 1963 Iowa license plates with 2000 registration stickers which reveal the car was driven daily for nearly four decades. Isn’t that where the value lies…for everyone? Which is why OpenRoad avoids boilerplate-laden car features to instead focus on those dynamic human interactions with our vehicles – today, in the here-and-now. And why America’s Automotive Trust was founded upon and firmly believes that Cars Were Made to be Driven, because it’s through those adventures that we add richness to our lives with automobiles.

STEERING COMMITTEE Sandra Button, Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance –Carmel, CA Jiyan K. Cadiz, Ford, North American Enthusiast Vehicles – Detroit, MI Gill Campbell, Aero Marketing Group – Monterey, CA John Carlson, National Association of Automobile Clubs of Canada Corporation – Belcarra, BC, Canada Rick Dore, Rick Dore Kustoms – Carlsbad, CA

There’s no greater manifestation of those ideals than The Drive Home, AAT’s annual cross-country classic car pilgrimage to the Detroit-North American International Auto Show. What may appear to some as an modest tour across America (it’s not the Cannonball Run) is an incredibly thought provoking, communal and transformative experience, and this year AAT invited along two high-profile storytellers – Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto, an auto industry trade and advocacy group, and Jake Whitman, television producer for NBC’s Today Show. Both gentlemen were profoundly affected by the magic of The Drive Home, and share their insights and images in this issue.

Nicolle Girard, Hagerty – Traverse City, MI

OpenRoad also welcomes back columnist Peter Egan for his musings on what constitutes the perfect-sized vehicle. In a world where bigger is better, does that really apply to our cars and motorcycles, or can more be too much? Peter ponders it as only Peter can. Author Robert M. Kennedy offers a selection from his book, “Unbridled: The Passion, Performance & Politics Behind America’s Favorite Pony Car,” featuring the backstory and run-up to Ford’s Gen 7 Mustang reveal last year with AAT’s The Drive Home to the Mustang Stampede. AAT Master Collector Emeritus Bruce Wanta answers “Why We Collect” in an interview exclusive to OpenRoad.

Lindsey Harrell, Hilton Head Island Concours d’ Elegance & Motoring Festival – Hilton Head Island, SC

At its heart, OpenRoad is a car enthusiast magazine, so we strive for a photo of an automobile on every page of the publication. But equally important, every photo should have a person interacting with that vehicle. Our readership is not clipping out car centerfolds to hang on their bedroom wall (anymore!), but they do appreciate a thoughtful, sophisticated – and hopefully inspiring – look at the passion we share. We hope the reader recognizes this difference, and agrees that this is where the real value lies. For everyone.

Justin Collins Guest Services Manager Sarah Collins Executive Assistant to the CEO

Sandy Colt Controller Kelsey Cross Education Manager Noah Down Advancement Officer

Peter Hageman, Suite 200 Automobile Collection – Kirkland, WA William Hall, Auto Journalist – Elkhart Lake, WI

Andrew Hogan, Auto Enthusiast – Gig Harbor, WA Paul Ianuario, Retired Curator of the BMW Zentrum – Duncan, SC Rock Jenkins, State Farm – Tacoma, WA Al McEwan, Suite 200 Automobile Collection – Redmond, WA Glenn Mounger, Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance – Bainbridge Island, WA Pamela Chavez Rosen, External Advisor, Shell Oil Company – Houston, TX

ROADSIDEASSISTANCE Crystal Buxton Retail and ECommerce Manager

Alan Grant, LARGE Architecture – Los Angeles, CA

Ken D. Ross, Auto Enthusiast – Detroit, MI Gabriel Mosse Director of Institutional Advancement

Ann Sweeney Sales Manager

Pandora Paúl Curator

Amy Walsh Collectons and Office Coordinator

Chery Phillips Human Resources Manager

Jake Welk Marketing Manager

Contact AAT Administrative Office 253.779.8490 or

Blake Siebe, Northwest Auto Salon, Right Away Tire – Lynwood, WA Jeff Stumb, The Great Race – Chattanooga, TN Kristen Wells, Avants – Seattle, WA Drew Weyerhaeuser, Auto Enthusiast – San Francisco, CA Gina Zinn, State Farm – Tacoma, WA OPENROAD7 7 OPENROAD



Long live the longroof! This year's WagonFest PNW held with partner Avants was absolutely wagon-tastic! Over 300 wagons united on ACM's Haub Field this past September. Celebrating its 6th year and billed as the largest station wagon gathering in the universe, WagonFest brought out the best of the best in classic and modern styles. Make plans for WagonFest 2024 on Saturday, September14th at America's Car Museum.



The Sizing Up (of Just About Everything) By Peter Egan


few years ago, my wife Barb and I found ourselves at the annual Quail Lodge Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel Valley, California, and had the good fortune to be seated at a table with motorcycle legend Malcolm Smith during the Saturday night dinner.

If you’re new to the wonders of off-road motorcycle racing, Smith has won eight Gold Medals in the International Six Day Trials and is a six-time Baja 1000 winner. He’s also a star of the classic Bruce Brown motorcycle documentary On Any Sunday. If you watch film footage of him racing across the wilds of Baja, you quickly realize he was simply born to ride, much the way Eric Clapton was born to play guitar. Another outlier in the gene pool, or possibly an alien from another planet, posing as an ordinary human. Luckily, Malcolm is not an eccentric or remote extraterrestrial, but a genuine nice guy, modest and funny. As we sipped our after-dinner drinks, he asked if I had any big motorcycle travel plans. I told him I was thinking about a trip to Alaska. I said I wanted to do some trail riding and backcountry exploration when I got there and asked what sort of bike he would recommend for such a trip. Malcolm owns a large motorcycle dealership in Riverside, California, and handles many brands. He thought about it for a minute and then said, “Well, I certainly wouldn’t take any bike larger than a 250 or 350 cc. People go up there with these huge five-hundred-pound adventure touring bikes now, mainly because they’re comfortable on the highway, but I can’t imagine why anyone would even think of going seriously off-road with a motorcycle that weighs more than 250 pounds. Why would you do that to yourself?” Ah, the sobering voice of reason and experience. In the past six years I’d lost two entire summers recuperating from off-road crashes on heavy dual-sport motorcycles, and my slow-knitting ribs still ached just thinking about it. Like most riders who started riding in the Sixties, I grew up on agile, lightweight bikes of modest displacement and then moved into progressively heavier territory, a few pounds at a time, or a few hundred pounds at a time. This escalation reached a breaking point a few years ago for some of us, and we’ve recently found ourselves on the hunt for motorcycles that are lower, lighter and simpler. And usually more fun. But the trend with both cars and motorcycles has normally been in the bigger-is-better direction. It’s what I think of as “Thunderbird Syndrome.” The original T-Bird came along in 1955 as a small, almost-sportscar, and three years later gained rear seats and then veered off in its own path of grandeur as a pure boulevard cruiser. Even the new ’64-1/2 Mustangs started out trim and lithe, but grew by 1971 into the still-sporty but progressively larger “fat Mustangs” of the Boss and Mach-1 era. This sort of mission creep seems endemic to the world of transportation. Pickup trucks, in my lifetime, have gone from utilitarian farm implements to almost comically large and hulking objects that seem designed more to loom over lesser vehicles than to fill any practical need. If you’ve ever owned a Lotus Seven or a Miata, you may have noticed that your rearview mirror allows you to view the entire undercarriage of the modern ¾-ton pickup. I always like to inspect the lower ball joints for wear. OPENROAD11 11 OPENROAD

As with motorcycles, this trend seems to have reached its natural limit. I now have three acquaintances who are on a waiting list to buy the new and wildly popular Ford Maverick pickup because it’s lighter, lower, cheaper, easier to park and gets better fuel mileage than the truck they now own. It also looks good. Sports cars? Their growth has been constrained somewhat by the immutable laws of physics, but they still come in a wide range of weights and sizes. And I have somehow managed to acquire two sports cars at opposite ends of this spectrum, like bookends of the class. One is a longish 2001 Jaguar XK8 and the other is an almost-too-short 1991 Special Edition British Racing Green Mazda Miata. (The Jag is also British racing green; I can’t help myself.) The XK8 is really a grand touring car more than a pure sports car, and it’s our first choice for long trips. It’s ultra-comfortable, fast and handles beautifully, but if I want to go out for a day of fun on our twisting back roads here in the Wisconsin hill country, I automatically take the Miata. It’s like a contest between a well-engineered pace car and a Formula Ford. Both might work well on the track, but have entirely different purposes. Is there an ideal size for a sports car? Bill Hall, the Editor of this journal asked me that very question (hence this rambling column), so I took some time to search my car-cluttered memory. If I contemplate the various sports cars I’ve owned, raced or road-tested during my years at Road & Track, my notion of the ideal size for a road-going sports car would probably be something on the order of an MGB, Lotus Elan or Alfa Spider. The size, shape and mass of these cars suggests to me that practicality and agility may have won out over vanity when they were on the drawing-board. They really don’t need to be any bigger or


flashier, though some of these older classics could certainly use a little more power and taller gearing for modern highway use. Carroll Shelby may have entertained the same thought when he dropped a Ford 260 into an AC Bristol chassis. But among the cars I’ve personally owned, I would have to say that the best balance between size, horsepower, comfort and handling came in the form of a used 2001 Porsche Boxster-S I had for several years. (An alarming admission, I admit, for a British car fanatic.) It was serene and comfortable while crossing the Great Plains, fast and fine handling in the Colorado Rockies and perfectly capable of doing a track day at Road America. It had superb luggage space and plenty of leg room for 6’1” driver, yet was not

one inch longer, wider or taller than it had to be. A great car. (Check your IMS bearings, though. A new engine could cost more than the used car itself.) At present, however, my XK8 and first-generation Miata remain – noted – at opposite ends of my ideal standard of scale. The Miata, especially, could use more leg room. About three inches more, in my case. So I may end up eventually trading it in on a slightly more commodious third generation version of the car, known as the “NC.” A friend of mine has one, a 2010 model, and it fits me perfectly. I suspect that if Malcolm Smith could see me trying to cram my lanky frame into the driver’s seat of my current Miata, he might think, “Why would you do that to yourself?”

The Wheels & Heels gala continues to be one of the Pacific Northwest's most elegant evenings. A vital fundraiser, the event offers plenty of opportunities to "raise the paddle" to support the mission of America's Automotive Trust, including this year's chance to drive home in a classic Austin-Healey roadster or new Ford Bronco.







Great American Family Vacation

by William Hall. Photos by the author and Jake Whitman


n an age of cheap airfare, in-seat infotainment and Über rides, it’s easy to forget how the average middle-class American family vacationed a half-century ago. It’s more than the backseat brawls, car spotting games or the rear-facing view of the world going by through the back window of the family station wagon. It’s really a treasure trove of unique memories and perceptions that can only be experienced together in the wilds of the American open road.

requisite Stuckey’s pecan log rolls alongside a Route 66 sign, crudely folded road maps and maybe a root beer mug from an A&W Drive-In. But those are just artifacts, devoid the context of the adventure. So, you might consider The Drive Home: Great American Family Vacation to be less of a road trip and more of a rolling museum exhibit, designed to conjure the spontaneous storytelling of automotive touring from a bygone era.

Imagine how challenging it would be for an automotive museum to capture that essence in a static display. Sure, there would be the

Setting off from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with four vintage station wagons – a 1955 Ford Fairlane Country Squire, a 1957 Chevrolet


Nomad, a 1984 Chevrolet Caprice Estate and a 1989 Ford LTD Country Squire – the trip traced a path of iconic national parks and roadside attractions familiar to anyone over the age of 40. Staying true to the past, the route prioritized two-lane highways over interstates, and locally-owned diners and restaurants over fast-food chains. Covering over 2,000 miles in eight days, the group visited Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful, Devil’s Tower, Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Wall Drug and the Mitchell Corn Palace before caravanning into Minnesota, Wisconsin

and Michigan, arriving for the opening of the Detroit-North American International Auto Show. Amidst a culture of scripted “reality” entertainment, the true spontaneity of The Drive Home was followed by enthusiasts from around the world, who read along with daily dispatches at Hemmings. com, through social media posts and in-person activations. This type of dynamic media event – where car enthusiasts far and wide are welcomed to participate with their own vehicles – is part of the new interactive model of auto shows that NAIAS is pioneering.



As often happens with spontaneity, the narrative can take a turn. A

of their rides. Many of their cars were older – either by choice or

slight transmission leak on the 1955 Country Squire discovered at

budget – but it was a reminder that this car-crazy age is really prime

the Old Faithful Service Station introduced us to Cailey Borello, the

time for nurturing interest in the collector car restoration trades.

24-year-old mechanic-on-duty and graduate of automotive tech from Waubonsee Community College, who plied her mechanical skills for the opportunity to live and work amongst the beauty of Yellowstone

Entering South Dakota, the team met with local State Farm insurance agent Steve Englebrecht, who drove his 1940 Ford pickup truck out

Park in Wyoming. Here we were, presented with the exact type of

to meet us at a burger joint he recommended. Throughout the years

young person that AAT and the RPM Foundation celebrate. It was

of The Drive Home, State Farm and its agents have been enthusiastic

illuminating to hear that her interest in mechanics was not sparked

supporters of the event and well-connected guides and intel sources.

by a friend or relative in the trade, but by pop culture – specifically,

During lunch we watched a stream of classic motorcycles roar by as

the robotic aliens who assume the shape of cars in the sci-fi movie

part of that week’s Antique Motorcycle Club of America’s national

franchise Transformers. [Editor: Looking at the 2024 Mustang Darkhorse’s

road rally, clearly enjoying the great roads and topography of the

emblem on Page 33, very similar to the Transformers logo, makes me think

Black Hills. Steve reported that the famous Sturgis motorcycle rally

the automakers have already made this connection.]

is now dwarfed by UTV tourism, those four-seater off-road vehicles

Headed east out of Cody on Highway 14 climbing the Big Horn mountains, the serendipity continued. With all our wagons feeling

considered street legal in many rural areas. An interesting shift in motorsport trends.

the strain, the 1984 Chevy Estate overheated with a shrill whistle of steam through its coolant recovery bottle. For the next four hours we alternately rested/limped the car over the pass, where the grade and ambient temperature changed to allow for smoother sailing, until the old Chevy’s heat soak caught up and forced us to pull over. Fortunately, our trouble truck driven by Tom Stepp was just ahead of us, and doubled-back to pick up the Chevy with hopes for a fresh restart at Devil’s Tower the next day. But all that fuss made us late to meet with veteran television journalist Harry Smith, who was joining The Drive Home for a piece produced for NBC. The delay caused him to shelterin-place at the Ponderosa Bar in the nearby hamlet of Hulett, Wyoming, which everybody knows is how good journalism begins anyway. That night at the Ponderosa, Harry and his producer Jake Whitman, (who owns the 1955 Country Squire) happened upon Sundance High School teacher Brian Kennah, who was lamenting the lack of funding and curriculum for those students who show aptitude in auto mechanics. Brian invited us to visit his school and meet the kids the

Outside of Deadwood, Harry and Jake left us and we picked up a new

next day, and with it Harry found his narrative.

driver for the ’55 Country Squire, Glenn Stevens Jr., the Executive

But not before a quick morning interview with AAT CEO David Madeira at the foot of Devil’s Tower. David had scrambled through the night to piece together a new flight and spousal permission to extend his stay to film the interview, which we all deemed necessary to spread

Director of MICHauto, a Michigan-based automotive, mobility and technology cluster organization. Part of MICHauto’s mandate is automotive industry talent recruitment and retention, an interest which intersects with AAT and RPM’s own mission. Glenn is a fiercely

the message of the Trust. True to form he nailed it, and was back on

proud Michigander, steeped in the automotive legacy of his home state,

a plane to Tacoma and the awaiting AAT gala that next night. For my

and had immediate buy-in with The Drive Home’s theme of celebrating

part, driving around Devil’s Tower in an old station wagon fulfilled a

America’s automotive heritage by returning these Michigan-made

fantasy I didn’t realize I’d harbored – to channel Richard Dreyfuss's

wagons to Detroit.

character Roy Neary in the sci-fi classic that put the monument on the map, 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Now there were just four vintage cars with four drivers – no trouble truck or support vehicles – heading east across the Great Plains, which

At Sundance High, word had spread that a celebrity journalist was

simultaneously heightened both the isolation and the camaraderie of

coming to visit, and the entire student body came out to meet the

the drivers. Earlier cooling problems with the Chevy were solved with

wagons, about 150 students strong. The young car guys filtered

a new radiator cap, leaving us to hours of meditation behind the wheel,

forward through the crowd, and before long were showing off pictures

taking in the perceptions of the open road. OPENROAD 21


No state in the union has mastered the art of roadside attractions quite

Crossing Lake Michigan in even good weather can be arduous, but

like South Dakota. From the iconic Wall Drug signs still advertising 5¢

the high-speed Lake Express was a relaxing passage which averts

cups of coffee to the kernelled exterior of the Mitchell Corn Palace, the

the perpetually-congested Chicagoland roads. As the automotive

businesses of the Mount Rushmore State retain an economic dependency

industry widens to include the macro-term “mobility,” solutions like

on the family road trip. Like the many iconic images along Route 66, the

this successful car ferry route certainly qualify, all of which is not news

I-90 corridor aims to keep travelers entertained from the Badlands east to

to those living in the Pacific Northwest where such things are common.

the Minnesota state line. Nowhere else did our vintage cars feel at home than among the fiberglass roadside dinosaurs of South Dakota.

Meeting us at the rain-soaked port in Muskegon, Michigan, was Larry Webster, Senior Vice-President of Content at Hagerty and the previous owner of Jake Whitman’s 1955 Country Squire. Larry was eager to take another drive in his old wagon, which had once been owned by his uncle and then his father. Larry spent a good amount of his childhood with this car, and in turn created memories with his own children, so the reunion was special. As he wrote in a piece for Hagerty, it was also complicated. The Squire brought a mixed-bag of unresolved memories of his father, and this short jaunt helped to put those in the rearview mirror. Our wagons headed south toward Hickory Corners and The Gilmore Car Museum, an affiliate partner of AAT. During the last couple of Drive Home events, The Gilmore has acted as our staging stop before the last push into Detroit, always recharging our batteries with encouragement

In St. James, Minnesota, we pulled over for fuel at Lakeside Service, an independent gas station owned by Max “John” Hoffman. John still offers full service from his vintage 1970’s-era gas pumps, and needed no instruction in finding the hidden filler cap behind the ’57 Nomad’s rear bumper. Stepping into John’s station was a trip through the past, right down to the handwritten receipts and taxidermied fish on the

generated by the museum’s enthusiastic membership base. This time, Executive Director Michael Spezia gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the facility, including the shop space of the Gilmore Garage Works, where local at-risk students learn automotive skills. The effort is supported by the RPM Foundation, and is just another example of collaboration between the Gilmore Car Museum and America’s Automotive Trust.

wall. Something about the way John was living life on his own terms impressed all of us, and it was appropriate that we took time for a visit and chat, much the way we all did in slower times. Overshadowing our arrival in Detroit was a looming UAW strike against the Big Three automakers, though the respected NAIAS auto show was told by the union that it would not be picketed. Nonetheless, Glenn was wrestling with the potential impact of a shutdown and staying connected to his staff at MICHauto from the road. Listening to Glenn explaining the complexity of the issues in the dynamic automotive manufacturing industry, I have to believe that he was given a measure of solace and a sense of continuity by seeing the country from behind the wheel of that old ’55 Squire. The takeaway being that, like the cars themselves, the industry would endure.

The last leg of The Drive Home is always electric. There is something indescribable about spending eight days on the road immersed in car culture, interacting with automotive enthusiasts and returning to the

In Milwaukee, we made the pilgrimage to the Harley-Davidson

epicenter of it all – Detroit – during its preeminent week of the NAIAS

motorcycle museum. The H-D facility is a benchmark example of

opening. It’s the biggest homecoming party you dare imagine, full of

how a museum should ideally operate; with a welcoming public space

goodwill from strangers and propelled by the support of car people

on the river, a well-regarded restaurant on campus, and a universal

from across the country. The previous week’s perceptions, realizations

appeal which puts it near the top of attractions when your Aunt Edna

and friendships come to the fore, as framed through the windshields

comes to visit the Cream City. Rounding out a short night with some

of these classic cars, in a rich experience unlike anything in the world

hamburgers and custard at the iconic Leon’s Drive-In on the city’s

of automotive events. And though our classic cars usually seat only

southside, we prepared for a 4:00 am hotel wakeup call (which never

six, we try to take as many of you as we can along through our words

came) to queue up for the Lake Express ferry boat which would take us

and pictures. Because the car community is family, and life is one great

to Michigan in time for the sunrise.

family road trip. OPENROAD 23


When you are asked if you want to join a group of people you don’t really know and help drive a caravan of classic wagons on a trek across 1,700 miles of the mountains, plains, and Great Lakes states there is a bit of trepidation but also an excitement in the potential of such a special road trip. Then, you do it and it is simply one of the best experiences of your life. It truly was. I grew up in Michigan, in the far north on Lake Superior. I watched the trains and iron ore boats haul cargoes to the steel mills. The history of the copper, lumber, and early footprints of Henry Ford’s supply chain in the Upper Peninsula of the state were all around. I have worked in and around the automotive industry my entire career. In Michigan, it is all around us and it is in our DNA. At the end of the day in our industry we know it is all about the people and the products. The partnership, through good times and bad, between labor and the companies is what has produced iconic, classic, and memorable cars and trucks that have helped Detroit put the world on wheels. So when I took the wheel of a 1955 Ford Country Squire wagon, and drove it to Mount Rushmore, across the Badlands of South Dakota and into the farmlands of Minnesota and Wisconsin it was more than just a unique and special experience. The experience put me in touch with the open road, with the special places, geography, and people of our great country. I witnessed the camaraderie and teamwork of my fellow drivers and new friends that it takes to drive vehicles like ours on a journey like that. As I drove, often with only the wind and sound of vehicles passing, I felt the history of our industry, of our country and of all the people who came before us that have helped shape the vehicles we drive and the country we live in. Arriving back in Michigan, as we drove into the state that I love and into the heart of an industry that is present in virtually every community, I didn’t want to give up the wheel of that 1955 piece of history. But I knew that what would stay with me were the incredible things I saw, the time I had to think on the open road and the memories of good times with new friends and people we met along the way. -Glenn Stevens Jr.


R P M F O U N D AT I O N By Nick Ellis RPM Foundation Executive Director

Betty Parrish did a working interview with LaVine Restorations of Nappanee, Indiana. The interview led to Betty being offered an internship for next summer between her Junior and Senior year of high school, and then an apprenticeship after she graduates. Betty is from Athens, TN.


From Grants to Advocacy:

RPM Foundation's Evolution in Bridging the Skilled Trades Gap


n the world of vintage vehicles, where the passion for automotive history is preserved, and every car tells a unique story, there lies a crucial challenge – the scarcity of skilled craftspeople to maintain, restore, and preserve these automotive treasures. As America's educational system continues to lean heavily towards college-prep curricula, the hands-on trades have taken a back seat, leading to a troubling imbalance in the supply of skilled laborers needed to keep these rolling works of art on the road. This is where the RPM Foundation comes into the picture: bridging the skilled trades gap in the vehicle restoration and preservation industry. The RPM Foundation, short for "Restoration, Preservation, and Mentorship," initially embarked on its journey as a grants-focused organization over 15 years ago. It provided essential funding to programs that created pathways for young enthusiasts to enter the world of vehicle restoration and preservation. These grants, aimed at inspiring and empowering the next generation, were instrumental in supporting educational initiatives, scholarships, and preserving the knowledge of master craftsmen.

While grants remain an essential tool, RPM is expanding its initiatives to create a more comprehensive and direct impact on the industry's workforce challenges.

A game-changing milestone in RPM's evolution is the creation of the RPM Apprenticeship Program. This initiative addresses the pressing need for skilled labor within the industry. The program, developed with the guidance of experienced restoration shop owners, partners with restoration shops willing to serve as host shops for apprentices. Recruiting apprentices from various sources, including post-secondary restoration programs, automotive technology and collision repair programs, and even military veterans transitioning from active duty, RPM is ensuring that the industry receives a fresh influx of talent. The apprentices will learn in the shop environment, gaining hands-on experience that aligns with the RPM curriculum.

However, RPM Industry Research recently revealed a sobering statistic: nearly 62% of the estimated 3,000 vehicle restoration shops in the US report the need for at least one new skilled labor employee. With an industry need conservatively forecasted at 1,800 and less than 100 seats in post-secondary training programs with specific curriculum designed for vehicle restoration and preservation, competition for such talent was fierce.

Candidates entering from post-secondary programs can complete their apprenticeship in as little as six months to a year. On the other hand, students transitioning directly from secondary automotive technology programs are expected to complete the program in three years. By catering to a wide range of aspiring craftspeople, the RPM Foundation is ensuring that the industry's future will be rich in skilled workers. As the automotive restoration industry evolves, RPM is ensuring that the hands-on trades, crafts, and skills necessary to maintain our beloved classics remain vibrant and accessible. Through apprenticeships, advocacy, and the preservation of essential skills, RPM's mission to enrich the industry is well underway, working toward a bright and sustainable future for the vehicle restoration and preservation community.

Recognizing that grants alone couldn't bridge this significant skilled trades gap, the RPM Foundation is pivoting to serve as a skilled trades advocate through outreach and workforce development programs. OPENROAD 27



JAMES WILL Titus-Will Enterprises, Inc.

My First Car


he earliest car I was exposed to as a kid was a 1933 Ford 5-window Coupe. It was a trade-in at our Ford dealership, and my father thought it would be a fun father/son project car. It was in the back garage of our home and we would work on it when time permitted. I think I was around 12 or 13 years old at the time. One of the first things we did was replace the original flathead V-8 engine with a remanufactured one from Tam Engineering Corporation. Tam was a sister company to our dealership, and was franchised by Ford Motor Company to supply remanufactured components (engines, brake shoes, generators, alternators, power pumps, carburetors, etc.) to Ford dealers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. So, we had a ready supply of replacement parts for the ‘33 whenever needed. We replaced the starter, generator, carburetor and the brakes all with genuine Ford remanufactured parts. I never really did drive that car much, however, as my father wanted me in a larger, safer vehicle for driving to-and-from school. Thus, my first car was a not-very-impressive white 1961 Ford Country Sedan station wagon. The good news is, I still have the ’33, which is in the showroom of our original dealership building in downtown Tacoma. My favorite car, however, is our 1923 Lincoln Touring Car. This vehicle is a soft top, dual-cowl with two jump seats. It can seat six passengers. It has always been owned by our Ford dealership and has never been licensed. Originally it was used to transport salesmen to the Ford assembly plant in Seattle so that they could move inventory to our store. It was also often used for celebratory events in Tacoma. It was the first car over all three of the city’s Narrows Bridges (the first Narrows Bridge, “Galloping Gertie,” famously collapsed in a gale.) It has been in numerous parades and carried many dignitaries visiting Tacoma, including famous movie star Lana Turner and President Franklin Roosevelt. In 1999, it underwent a 3-year restoration by retired Boeing engineer Dick Williams, and has been on display at America’s Car Museum since its opening.



This never-before published photograph of a 2024 Mustang Darkhorse prototype, a German TUV-spec car, is likely the first time a Gen-7 Mustang was ever seen on public roads without camouflage. It was taken the night after the 2022 Detroit Auto Show reveal, and is pictured with AAT’s The Drive Home cars in Hastings, Michigan, prior to a public display at The 30 OPENROAD

Gilmore Car Museum. Photo by William Hall


UNBRIDLED: The Passion, Performance & Politics Behind America's Favorite Pony Car By Robert Kennedy. Photos by William Hall. (Editor: Robert Kennedy’s fascinating new book traces the evolution of Ford’s Mustang, culminating in last year’s The Drive Home to the Mustang Stampede. Through a candid interview with the new Mustang’s Chief Engineer Edwin Krenz in the book’s final chapter, the author backfills the behind-the-scenes drama and development leading to the Gen-7 Mustang reveal along with the role America’s Automotive Trust played in it.)

Prior to Mr. Krenz’s ascension to the helm of Team Mustang, the seventh-generation pony car was being envisioned as a very different breed. As part of a lengthy and exclusive interview for this book, Krenz recalled: “The CD6 (Explorer/Aviator) platform was being designed when we were going through platform consolidation, when we had a very ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) and hybridcentric view of the world. At that point in time, we were really trying to commonize or reduce platforms as an overall investment efficiency strategy. So, CD6 was really being looked at across luxury vehicles, SUVs, low-rider, high-riders – a tremendous amount of bandwidth when you think about it. In terms of what it would need to do: 4x4, 4x2, sports car, luxury cars, different suspension types, weight management, and ride heights. That’s a lot to ask of a platform. And the feeling was that the platform, to do so many things, wasn’t doing any of them really well. So, CD6 became optimized for the Explorer.”


B O O K S H E L F (co n tin ue d) Krenz continued: “We looked long and hard at, ‘Should it be a fully electric coupe and convertible with a familiar silhouette, ride height, and footprint?’ Ford does not currently have a platform, a ‘skateboard’ in electrified terms, that meets that intent. We have a Mach-E-type of skateboard. We have a truck-type skateboard and we have a commercial vehicle-type skateboard. But don’t currently – or at least when we started this program – we did not have a low-riding skateboard because, outside of the Mustang, we don’t necessarily make any low-riding vehicles anymore.”

hit. “We had to learn how to design a vehicle that’s normally done in a studio with clay and people milling these things with 15-20 people standing around them and looking at them from every angle. We couldn’t do any of that stuff! We very quickly had to learn how to design and engineer a vehicle remotely. I was new to the team, and the team was continuing to evolve and change. You almost didn’t even know some of the people on your team! So, it created a very interesting dynamic and challenge around how we typically engineer and design a car.” Said Krenz.

Continuing to elaborate on that thought, he added: “Lowriding vehicles come with some challenges. Depending on the battery pack height, and if you want to maintain the ride height’s proximity to the ground, it can create some challenges for your seat positioning. We also weren’t really comfortable that the battery technology had gotten us to where we wanted to be when we started this program – so that it could truly be a performance vehicle. We just didn’t want to go down a path where it had compromised performance because we’d have a relatively small battery due to the package of the vehicle. So, our decision there was as simple as ‘the technology wasn’t ready.’ We talked to some potential partners, but it just wasn’t something we were ready to do.”

“The supply chain was a problem for us.” He recalled. “You know about chip shortages for ongoing production, but supply chain health even as it relates to building prototype vehicles was a challenge. And we also had team members move and retire throughout. Tom Barnes left us. My program manager was Brad

“We also looked at the hybrids,” he said. “And that’s something we will have to continue to investigate through the lifecycle of the Mustang, depending on how long this Mustang wants to be in production, based (in part) on customer demand. Ultimately, as the general public does begin to migrate more strongly to electrification, is there still going to be a demand for an ICE sports car? Also, regulations. CAFE compliance, export market CO2 requirements, tailpipe emissions – all those things become factors. All these things go into the equation around ‘How do we continue to build ICE products? And for how long?’” “But it was decided,” he concluded, “that if Mustang wasn’t broke – don’t fix it. Let’s take the existing platform and upgrade it. Some people interpreted a ‘carryover platform,’ which maybe from a nomenclature standpoint it’s still called the D5 platform, but effectively everything in the chassis was touched, retooled, and redesigned. There’s very little direct reuse of chassis bits. There is some strategic reuse of some underbody pinnings, some floor sheet metal parts. We really didn’t change the track width or the wheelbase. The intent was to try and reuse as much of the stuff that people couldn’t see as we could, to allow us to have money to spend on what we wanted to change. What we wanted to change was upgrade the 5.0-liter. We wanted to go ‘next-level’ with the interior and introduce technology into the architecture – digital content, feature content. That’s where we wanted to use the available funding for the program.” Of course, just as the team agreed upon their strategy – COVID 32 OPENROAD

Hewitt. He left us. Our design chief left us. So we continued to bring on new team members.” As we continued to discuss the various challenges (apart from always-present budgetary constraints), Krenz moved on to environmental law. Expounding, he said: “Then we got to compliance, the CO2 strategy for Europe, China, and the United States. The way we used to run a program is; we would figure out how much total CO2 our product (times its volume) would create. Megatons is the way we would measure that. And every Mustang we build is a problem to the U.S. regulatory requirement for megatons per vehicle. So, something has to offset it. Everything you make that creates more CO2 needs something that makes less CO2. And the way we run our finances, we had to account for whatever it was that we had to make, outside of the Mustang program, to allow us to exist! This made it very difficult to make the program profitable.” “We don’t buy credits.” He clarified. “That’s one of the bigger differences between us and one of our competitors. They’ll just buy CO2 credits all day long. All the way up to Bill Ford, we have a sustainability pledge that says we’re going to be self-sufficient; we’re going to self-contain it, and we’re going to meet whatever it is – the Paris Accord, or whatever regulatory requirements, on our own. So, figuring out what to do with a naturally-aspirated V8 is a lot of fun,” he joked. To that point, he provided additional context, stating: “Rapidly changing market dynamics. Even though we decided this is going to be ICE powertrains, even as we went through the life of the program and we had new leadership throughout – we constantly had to ask the same question. ‘Why are we investing this much money in an ICE product?’ We were very rapidly transitioning and making external commitments around our BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) volumes over time. We’re stating right now, publicly, that we’ll make 2 million battery electric vehicles per year by 2026. And that’s just absorbing all of the available capital in the business to make that happen.”

“And here’s Mustang,” he confessed, “sort of low volume, and maybe not even strategically important to the business. It’s a passion project for the Bill Fords of the world, but it’s not a strategic priority for running the business. And defending it throughout – we were creating hype videos when we went up to the board of directors, just to get them excited about, and help them remember why Mustang’s important to our customers, to Ford Motor Company. Just on paper, on the business side of this, you can sort of take this program – or leave it. So we had to do it based on the passion, based on the customer, based on the importance of Mustang.” And they did. Determined to evolve the basic package that was the outgoing S550 (already the best Mustang ever built) into an even better vehicle, so that it might remain relevant in such an unprecedented market place, the team made a particularly daring decision. In a move that ran contrary to everything expected when engineering a modern automobile – they decided to embrace imperfection from an NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness) standpoint. Krenz explained: “One area of the current Mustang (S550) that we thought could have been improved was its steering precision and handling. We’d certainly come a long way from the days where you could go in a straight line only. And we’ve really biased what we’ve done on more track-focused vehicles when we get into the Ford Performance variants. But we thought the right thing to do for the product was tighten up the steering. So, we sped it up with a gear ratio change. But there’s also a joint in the steering column that we call the rag joint, and it’s there to isolate the steering wheel from the rack. We decided to take out all that isolation. What that gave us was a very direct connection from steering wheel all the way down to the tires – and it’s instantly recognizable around the responsiveness from a steering perspective. But the trade-off is that, in theory, you can end up with a little bit more steering wheel shake or some noise being transmitted.” This was a bold move indeed. To interject my own personal opinion as a former Porsche-tech and as a lifelong Mustang fan; I personally find a charm in the sounds, smells, and yes – vibrations that emanate from classic sports cars. Whether my customers’ Porsches and Ferraris, my wife’s ’67 Camaro, or any one of the 10 Mustangs I’ve had the privilege of owning; the presence of these “imperfections” endows a vehicle with character – perhaps the least common virtue among automobiles today. So, I personally applaud Team Mustang’s collective courage to continue rebelling against the status quo, and make such a daring choice, all in the name of preserving Mustang’s untamed personality. “We felt pretty strongly that this vehicle, one of its tenets is ‘fun to drive.’ And really, that ‘connected’ feeling is something that we valued over some minor NVH degradation.” Krenz concluded. Regarding its exterior styling, Krenz credited Exterior Design Manager Chris Walter, acknowledging that: “We do have

a ‘form following function’ sort of rule on products like this. This was the slipperiest Mustang we’ve ever done.” This statement was confirmed as, for example, wind tunnel tests have pegged the new EcoBoost coupe’s coefficient of drag as being ten counts lower than its S550 predecessor.

Aiding its aerodynamic efficiency, the GT’s hood vent is (of course) functional. And Krenz clarified that (somewhat surprisingly), “Our spoilers and wings, we neutralized to some degree the angle of attack, because the vehicle was naturally rear downforce biased. We wanted to keep our balance of pressure as centered as possible, and that meant we were neutralizing some of the spoilers.” And he continued: “Effective front end/grille openings all had to be managed around cooling, aerodynamics, and our twin throttle body/dual airbox V8.” It is that V8 that, like so many before it, is destined to be one of the most crucial and defining components of the S650 Mustang. Perhaps now more than ever, considering the likelihood that these will in fact be the last of their petrol-powered breed, Team Mustang needed to really hit the proverbial nail on its head. While the EcoBoost was also re-engineered, sharing virtually nothing (aside from its 2.3-liter displacement) with its predecessor; it is the hallowed 5.0L that steals headlines, wins comparison tests (not that there will be a 2024+ fuel-fed Camaro or Challenger to compare it against), and drives the dreams of the next generation of automotive enthusiasts. Also worth noting of Interior Design Manager Ricardo Garcia’s completely redesigned interior, are an all-new flat-bottomed steering wheel, five interior color choices: Black Onyx, Space Gray, Emberglo, Carmine Red, and Deep Indigo; plus wireless phone charging, a mirror-mounted USB port (for those inclined to record their track sessions), optional accent-colored seatbelts, and for OPENROAD 33

B O O K S H E L F (co n tin ue d) the first time ever – two different parking brake options. Of this unusual and unexpected choice, Krenz smiled and recalled: “It’s kind of a really cool story. We had intended, from the beginning of the program, to do an electronic park brake. And on the majority of our vehicles, an electronic park brake comes with a pretty innocuous little push button. We thought it’d be kind of ingenious to put in a mechanical lever that is sort of familiar to our customers, even though it was effectively just a massive push button.”

manage to be “Unexpected” after six decades of history? And can it possibly be “the right car at the right time” again? S7AMPEDE & EXPECTATIONS The internet had been buzzing with rumors about the new Mustang ever since the days when the CD6 platform was still under consideration. Confusion had rained like hellfire when Team Edison released its teaser ad for the Mach-E in September 2018. Speculation grew to a fever pitch when a LinkedIn profile leaked information pertaining to possible 2.3L and 5.0L hybrid/ AWD powertrain patent applications in October 2021. And Team Mustang, fully aware of the hysteria, had actually pranked the paparazzi by sending out a heavily camouflaged “test mule” that was (in reality) a decoy – a completely unmodified S550! Uninformed hysteria officially transitioned to carefully planned hype on September 6, 2022, when Ford partnered with America’s Automotive Trust to reboot The Drive Home. The event, which had been paused the past two years (due to the pandemic), was strategically revived as an all-Mustang road trip. The herd, which would include numbered cars representing each of the brand’s seven generations, was scheduled to arrive in Detroit, eight days later, to celebrate the reveal of the new

“Over time,” he said, “once we realized the capability that we had with an electronic park brake, and what we could do with a little bit of software, the engineering team came to me and said ‘We want to rebrand this thing as a drift brake.’ And my immediate reaction was ‘That’s a great idea – and there’s no way anybody’s going to let us do that!’” He laughed, “But they didn’t give up. They came back to me again and said, ‘We have approvals!’ And I was like, ‘You’re kidding me! No shit?’ And then we partnered up with Vaughn Gittin Jr. He and Chelsea were in Dearborn several times, drifting vehicles and helping us develop calibrations and controls. It was very much a joint effort. I’ll give credit to Chris Wernette as our feature owner. He really was passionate about it, brought some team members, software engineers, and powertrain calibration

seventh-generation Mustang, just ahead of the North American International Auto Show (which had, of course, also been on a pandemic-forced hiatus). Although the herd would grow along its 3,400-mile road trip as it passed through Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana; it began with a cruise-in at LeMay-America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington. From there a ’71 Mach 1, ’76 Cobra II, ‘93 GT convertible, ’04 Mach 1, ’07 and ’18 Saleens, and a heavily camouflaged ’24 Dark Horse all began their journey – officially branded as “The Drive Home to the Mustang S7AMPEDE.” Oh yes, the Dark Horse… Even as the seven numbered cars rolled into Ford World

engineers together – and they were going above and beyond.”

Headquarters to rendezvous with thousands of other Mustangs

And so it was that for only the seventh time in 59 years,

for an eleven-mile parade to Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit for

a brand-new Mustang was ready to be unveiled to the public.

the big reveal, absolutely no one outside of Team Mustang and

Through all the turmoil of social distancing, remote working,

FoMoCo’s most trusted ranks had any clue that a new alpha-horse

and supply chain interruptions resulting from the pandemic; and

was about to be unveiled. And so, as Ford Performance Enthusiast

despite all the internal turnover, and such an inhospitable legal and

Communications Manager John M. Clor, Team Mustang, and

political atmosphere within its rapidly changing marketplace – Ed

Ford’s PR department all scrambled to deal with an unfortunate

and his team are proud of the work they’ve done. Now the question,

leak (someone managed to acquire a press kit that morning and

once again, is whether or not a somewhat polarized population of

released images of the new car hours ahead of the event), MC

aging baby boomers and forward-looking millennials will come

Jarod DeAnda entertained the growing crowd by interviewing

together and embrace this new foal. Can Krenz’ S650 Mustang still

owners of each generation of Mustang up on the big stage.


to me about. Outputting 500 horsepower and 418 pound-feet of torque, the Dark Horse stands tall and proud as the most powerful naturally-aspirated version of Ford’s factory-original 5.0-liter V8 to ever be placed between the fenders of a street-legal Mustang. But, of course, the Dark Horse is more than just its engine. Exclusive paint, logos, optional graphics, and an anodized blue titanium shift knob. MagneRide suspension with stiffer springs, larger stabilizer bars, strut tower and K braces, and bigger Brembo brakes. Trosen differential, Pirelli Trofeo tires, Carbon Revolution wheels, side skirts, Gurney flaps, splitters… the list goes on. One can’t help but feel the Dark Horse is the type of animal that would normally come from Mustang’s tuners and specialty manufacturers. It’s almost as if SVT came AAT played a major role in the storytelling of the Gen-7 Mustang reveal. For a car whose business case could’ve gone either way, the passion of owners and pride of the automaker tipped the scales.

out of retirement – having indulged in copious amounts of performance-enhancing substances while away! Following the S7AMPEDE, media and fan opinions spilled

Promptly at 8:OO PM (EST), the S7AMPEDE went global via a livestream broadcast on Ford’s YouTube and Facebook channels. “Sure, you’re going to see the all-new Mustang tonight,” DeAnda said, “but you have no idea how far we’re going to take it.” He was right. After a brief promo video and a few interviews, DeAnda turned the microphone over to fifth-generation FoMoCo employee Maria Cunningham, of Mustang’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant, to officially introduce the new steed to a fanbase already chomping on their own bit to see it. In stark contrast to Dodge’s “Last Call” campaign, the theater’s screens and speakers erupted, claiming a “Wake Up Call,” encouraging attendees and viewers to “Get up, Feel the Freedom and Open-Air Exhilaration.” With that, a Carbonized Grey EcoBoost, a Vapor Blue GT coupe, and a Rapid Red GT convertible were driven onto the stage by Mustang Digital Interface Supervisor Ruth Vann,

over the brim. Car and Driver’s Caleb Miller went for a brief ride through New York City in the Dark Horse and concluded: “The Dark Horse was barely breaking a sweat, its performance potential easily exceeding the confines of our environment.” Coming off his own ride along, Motor Trend’s Frank Markus assessed the Dark Horse as “digital but still visceral.” Road & Track’s Chris Perkins called it “a tribute to internal combustion.” Even Consumer Reports softened its opinion, warming up to this latest horse, six decades after it had advised its readers “to ignore completely” Carroll Shelby’s high-performance version of Lee Iacocca’s original. CR’s Jeff S. Bartlett wrote: “The current car (S550) saw a significant improvement in handling, ride, power, sophistication, and technology over the fifth-gen ‘Stang. This new car builds on that, and frankly, it starts from a much stronger position than the current generation.” And so, the S650 Mustang appears poised to prove itself to be

Enthusiast Products Strategy Manager Alicia Agius, and Mustang

the best Mustang ever produced. Perhaps it will also prove to be

Exterior Design Manager Chris Walter, respectively. These colors

the last built with a gas engine. Perhaps it will eventually be the

would be joined by Yellow Splash, Grabber and Atlas Blue, Race

first to feature a hybrid powertrain and all-wheel-drive. Perhaps

Red, Iconic Silver, Oxford White, Dark Matter Grey, and Shadow

it won’t. Only time will tell. But until then, I’m looking forward

Black by the time the 2024 Mustang’s full color palate would be

to sliding behind the wheel of an EcoBoost, a GT, my first Dark

revealed. But 14 minutes later, following a personal introduction

Horse – and any other variant that trots out of Ford’s stable!

by Chief Engineer Edwin Krenz, the Dark Horse galloped onto the stage cloaked in its exclusive Blue Ember metallic paint. “Sinister, purebred force of nature, supernatural, every knob turned to eleven…” The buzz words, hype, and descriptive adjectives were flying left and right across the Dark Horse’s hood, between the hosts. Melodramatic? Sure. Justified? Yep. This was the home of the “…twin throttle body/dual airbox V8” that Krenz would soon speak

For more UNBRIDLED: The Passion, Performance & Politics Behind America's Favorite Pony Car, go to For a new 2024 Mustang, see our friends at Titus-Will Ford in Tacoma, Washington, and mention America’s Automotive Trust and that you saw it in OpenRoad. OPENROAD 35


BRUCE WANTA AAT Master Collector Emeritus

Why We Collect Photos by Karl J. Noakes.

OpenRoad spoke with Bruce Wanta, a Seattle-based car collector and newly-appointed board member of America’s Automotive Trust, on his thoughts and motivations on collecting. OR: What is it to be a collector? Your collection doesn’t seem to follow any established themes ( say, ‘Let’s collect just Buicks, or 1957 cars, or 1978 Corvette Pace Cars’ ) but I see that there are items very personal to you, and maybe that is the basis of your collection?

Galileo’s Dialogo, written in 1632, tried to promote the radical idea that the planets orbited the sun, and attempted to skirt controversy by couching the discussion in a fictional dialogue between Aristotle, Copernicus, and Ptolemy. The ruse was unsuccessful, and in 1633 Galileo was convicted of heresy. Galileo was imprisoned, and the Dialogo was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books, from which it was not removed until 1835.

BW: Well, god knows I’m pretty eclectic. By degree I’m a mechanical engineer, so I have a curiosity in lots of things mechanical, so that probably drives some of it. But in a broader sense, I enjoy things that I’m going to call ‘rare and interesting.’ Whether it’s (early) books, historical documents, or even flags from the Apollo moon landings, to me that is an extraordinary connection back to something that happened in the past. The mind of the collector wants to own and touch a piece of history, whatever that is. And for me there are two parts to that: the owning and joy of having the collection now, and the recognition that I am simply the current caretaker, and that down the road there will be someone else who owns that item. I have a first edition of Galileo’s Dialogo from 1632. The book is almost four hundred years old and I can’t imagine how many people have held that book, read it and touched it over the years. It’s just very cool to see. I have about sixty outboard motors scattered around my collection. I just think of them as garage candy. For me, it’s just seeing the fascinating engineering and mechanical bits. One of them is an Indian outboard from the 1930s. The aluminum castings are just astounding on it, they are incredibly detailed and polished, and you look at it and think, 'My god, someone made this ninety years ago!' It's pretty incredible. I grew up in the bicycle business. We moved from Wisconsin to Seattle when I was ten years old, and my dad bought a bike shop in the area. I also had an uncle who owned a bike shop in Racine, Wisconsin, so that’s how my dad got into the business. At age ten, I was setting up bikes, selling bikes, repairing bikes. I think I was around twelve years old when Schwinn’s Crate Series bikes came out. My brother and I got the first two Orange Crates in the city, we set them up that night and rode them to school in the morning, thinking we were pretty hot stuff. So eventually I had to track down one in every color. It’s a fun splash of color in the collection. My first car out of high school, bought by my parents as a graduation present, was a yellow ’73 Mustang Fastback with a four-speed. I’ve always loved Mustangs. In 2007 I purchased a GT-500 Mustang, which I sent to Shelby to become a “Super Snake”. A couple of years later I told my wife that I've always wanted to collect cars. Her response was “Why don’t you?” After that, I was off and running. OPENROAD37 37 OPENROAD



There are a couple of things that are really fun about my collection, from an observational perspective. We host some charity events here at the garage where people don’t necessarily know one another. When they come in and start walking around and see either my Schwinn Crate bikes, or one of the Honda CT70s or an outboard motor, they will immediately pipe up and say something like, 'My dad had that outboard, it was such a pain to start.' There is always a story. As I watch people walk into this collection, eyes open-wide because there is so much to see, in no time there will be two or three people standing in front of that Mustang, telling stories about Mustangs they rode in or whatever. Even if they don’t know each other, they’ve got this instant connection to something in common. They just start talking to each other, and it’s fun for me to watch. It happens all the time. The stories just start to come out. When I was fourteen or fifteen years old, the issue of Road & Track magazine came out with the Maserati Bora on the cover. I looked at that car and said, ‘That’s the most beautiful car I’ve ever seen.’ A short time later I made a list of twelve cars that I wanted to collect, and the Bora was number one on the list. I wrote it down on a piece of paper, and my mom found it. We were a normal upper middle-class family, and she had no notion of the idea that people might collect cars. Fast forward to about five years ago when we had a party at the garage, and she said to me, 'I guess you got that list you always wanted!' Why are we collectors? Each of us has a different answer. For me, it is just plain fun. I don’t collect cars for the sake of collecting, I collect them to drive them. I love to drive them. When someone asks me the question, ‘Which one is your favorite?’ at the end of the day it’s whichever one I’m driving. You can see the diversity of the collection, and I take on the persona of each car. If I’m driving that 1937 Type 57 Bugatti, I’m that stately guy back in the day, and I drive it the way it was meant to be driven. But if I jump into my 2022 Liquid Carbon Ford GT, even just cruising down the street you feel like you are in a race car, the way you are sitting in that thing and the way it sounds. If I’m driving a hotrod, I’ve got my elbow resting on the door sill and the other arm draped over the center of the steering wheel, cruising like a true hot-rodder. For me, I experience each of those cars the way they would have been experienced back in the day. It’s fun to be out in them; it’s fun seeing people’s expressions. I do a fair amount of show (and concours) events. I don’t think of it as showing them, I think of it as sharing them. I am the guy who will stand all day at the car show with that Ford GT and watch 150 kids get in and out of it, taking pictures in it. They are just meant to be shared and have fun with, from my perspective. 40 OPENROAD

“The 1987 Lola is a Cosworth-powered Indy Car raced by my friend Dominic Dobson. One day he called me up and said, ‘I need you to buy a car. My rookie Indy car is coming up for sale, and I don’t have room for it. But if you buy it, I can come by your garage and visit it.’ So I did.”


There are many cars that I think people overprotect. I have a philosophy that if someone built it, someone can fix it. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s just rewarding to open up to kids that this could be a fun and interesting thing to do. I collected books before I collected cars. They were just fun to read in their original state, to think that someone bought this at a bookseller and took it home and read it. It’s that whole thing of touching something that was there, to have a chance to enjoy it, hold onto it and use it. That’s what drives me.

Bruce's childhood dream car was the Maserati Bora, shown in blue in the upper right, surrounded by some of the other fantastic cars and bikes in his collection.

“When I was a kid the age of twelve, I had my first motorcycle, a Honda CT90. The very next year they came out with the SL series, and I tried to convince my dad that I needed one of those. But I never got one of the SL’s. They were just gorgeous motorcycles, so later on I acquired one of every size, each in a different color.”

“The Bronze Cobra is a real Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Continuation car, but when Kirkham did the aluminum bodies, someone got the notion to build one out of bronze, and one out of copper. It is dang fun to drive, and it sure turns some heads. The key is to not handle it. If you do, in two days there will be brown spots where your fingers touched it. About every three to four months it gets a full hand-polish with metal cleaner.”

Galileo’s Dialogo and this replica of NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover form fascinating bookends for Bruce’s collection of space exploration memorabilia.


This 1886 Benz Motorwagen built by John Bentley Engineering is a faithful replica of what is considered the world’s first automobile.


Together, We Drive Forward. America’s Automotive Trust was founded in 2016 with the vision of bringing together like-minded organizations through collaboration and shared resources to perpetuate car culture. Today, we are proud to work with LeMay – America’s Car Museum, RPM Foundation, Club Auto and our affiliate institutions of The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage and the Gilmore Car Museum to foster a strong community where all enthusiasts can thrive – from the classroom, to careers, to the open road – and to secure our automotive heritage.


Americas Au tomotive Tr u s t. or g 44 OPENROAD

Preferred Providers

Providers 7 Seas Brewing

FogRose Atelier

Pacific Portfolio Consulting LLC

Adam's DJ Service

Group 2 Automotive

Porsche Bellingham

Alaska Airlines, Inc.

Heritage Bank

Porsche Tacoma


Heritage Distillery

Prometheus Fuels

BMW Northwest, Inc./Northwest MINI


Summit Racing Equipment

Columbia Bank

Karl Noakes Photography

TriArc Electric Supply, LTD

El Gaucho

Nurge Media

Thank you to all our current sponsors!


Administrative: 2702 East D Street, Tacoma, Washington 98421 Phone: 253.779.8490 Toll Free: 877.902.8490 Fax: 253.779.8499 Website:

Se c u ri n g A m e ri c a’s Au t o m o t i ve He ri t a g e


Driving Forward – Join Us!

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.