If You Can't Find 'Em, Grind 'Em - 2011 Ford Mustang 5.0 Long-Term Road Test

2011 Ford Mustang Long-Term Road Test

2011 Ford Mustang 5.0: If You Can't Find 'Em, Grind 'Em

February 21, 2012

Mustang_kid manual.jpg

In honor of Commander-in-Chiefs past and present, I decided to indulge in a little patriotic morning sentiment. The kid and I hopped in the Mustang, stopped at the bank for some presidential paper, then brought home a healthy breakfast from the Golden Arches. The only thing missing was a televised replay of 1980's Miracle on Ice.

The kid loves the Mustang. For that, I'm grateful. She remembers her first ride in it many months ago and was ready for another spin in the cool, black car. But now she's a little older and a lot more observant. Hence the question from the backseat: "Papa, why are you moving your hand and feet like that?"

I've got a quick checklist of openers for some of the trickier conversations in our future, but explaining a manual transmission is not among them.

I settled on "it's how you make the car go faster."

But Mama doesn't do that in her car, she countered.

Nope. Mama drives a 2005 Civic EX automatic. And no, she agreed, Mama's car isn't very fast. Not like this one.

Poor kid's getting cultural cognitive dissonance on the regular. One minute she's thumbing through iPhone and digi-cam menus, and suggesting Google search phrases, already a pro with today's tech. Meanwhile, I rant like a fool waving Petroleum Era relics like stick shifts and vinyl records.

I'm guessing that when the kid reaches driving age in the next decade, no major automaker will offer a manual transmission with a driver-operated clutch. Like the in-dash CD player, the manual will be a foggy memory shared with her friends, of times they observed their parents working the three-pedal contraption. Maybe they'll know someone in school with a 2001 M3.

In my small way, I'm trying to burn some impressions from the Dead Dino Era in her impressionable brain. Encourage her to shoot in black-and-white. Play vinyl around the house. Sit her in manual trans cars when they come around. Between this and the rotation of samurai TV dramas she and her mother fall into, she'll be a real old-school techno mutant.

This will backfire on me, of course. She will date boys who play in Guns 'N Roses cover bands, distill their own whiskey and drive six-speed manual Mustangs from the late 2000's. But I should be good: "Give me those keys, son. Let me show you how to do it without that awful screech."

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor, @ 21,187 miles.

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