Locked down by COVID for two years, the Garden State Region Mustang Club brought out their ponies in droves like a herd on Saturday, scouring Morris County to a most fitting destination: a horse farm in Chester Township.
“We have 118 Ford Mustang owners here,” club vice president Bill Chernak said as he directed traffic in the Performance Ford dealership parking lot on Route 10 in East Hanover.
They gathered there on National Mustang Day to resume the club’s annual cruise to celebrate the anniversary of their favorite sports car, which was shown at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
“They had three parked at the entrance,” said Bill Kimak of Pequannock, who attended the World’s Fair as a child and now drives a 2007 GT California Special model. I ever seen in my life.”
His friend, Jim Kappen of Rockaway Township, proudly showed off his 1967 Fastback model painted in “Vintage Burgundy”.
“I grew up with them, but had to wait until I retired to get one,” Kappen said. “I did all the restoration myself, except for the painting. It was a labor of love.”
Performance Ford general manager Doug Raleigh said he was happy to host the club and provide free hot dogs and coffee to the group.
“They’re good customers with us, obviously, and they were looking for a place to hang out,” Raleigh said. “They really had a hell of a turnout. We hope they come back.”
Some blew their condoms or hoods on a cloudy but hot day. Others gleamed chrome appointments on their classic Mustangs, which ranged from original 1965 production year models to the newest turbocharged muscle cars that can top $100,000, according to Raleigh.
“It’s the #1 muscle car,” he said, with a price range “from a $30,000 low-cost car to a $100,000 car. It depends on what you want.”
An icon of the 1960s American sports car generation, especially coveted by the baby boomer generation, the Mustang is still a top seller, Raleigh said.
Not all 118 Mustang enthusiasts who came to the dealership joined the road trip that zigzagged along Morris County roads from Florham Park to Morris Township, Bernardsville, Mendham and finally Chester.
Chernak said 104 drove to Tranquility Farm, where they paraded past the riding stables and practice ring before parking side by side on a grass field.
“A guy blew a fan belt, so I stopped to help him,” said the driver of the last car to arrive.
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They spent much of the afternoon mingling, inspecting each other’s engines and celebrating their shared passion.
“The ride was wonderful, the scenery was beautiful,” said Jenny Plumey of Little Falls, who drove a shotgun in a 1965 Mustang driven by her husband, Manny.
The poppy convertible is called Lucy, named after Lucille Ball.
“She had red hair,” Jenny explained.
Manny, 66, said Lucy was “my dream car”.
“When I was growing up in Brooklyn, my neighbor had this car,” he said. “I used to help him clean it every weekend and say, ‘One day I’m going to own a car like this.’ It took me a while, but now I finally get it.”
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William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.