It's My F***Ing Car

I’m about to do a very bad thing and I’m going to cop a lot of flak for doing it. I’m not doing it accidentally, nor am I doing it in a state of blissful ignorance concerning the response from the world at large. And when I say response, I mean of the ‘baying crowd waving pitchforks at my door’ variety. I know that to some, it’s a very, very bad thing and there will be those who hate me for doing it. But I’m going to do it anyway. I think. Allow me to explain…

Amongst the hoard of rusting tat lurking in barns around my rural home is a 1968 Mustang that I have owned for ten years. It’s a 390GT, the same model and year, then, as the Bullitt Mustang pedalled around San Francisco to great effect by Steve McQueen as he evaded a pursuing Dodge Charger and famously avoided fleets of strangely identical VW Beetles parked at the side of the road. A couple of years back it became clear that it was time for the ‘Stang’ (I only call it that because my colleagues turn puce and become unhappy when I do so) needed a bit of a refresh. A respray was in order.

The Bullitt car did not have Shelby stripes. But I like the stripes. They are the beauty spot, the seam up the stocking

Richard Hammond

It had, at some point, been painted a metallic blue and I didn’t especially like it. It was an original Mustang colour, ‘Acapulco Blue’ but not original to this particular car and, to my eyes anyway, a bit insipid. Many options were considered. I found the original build sheet and discovered that the car had left the factory in 1968 in Highland Green – the same colour as the Bullitt car. So far from being a flaky, Bullitt ‘tribute’ car, mine was the same model, year and colour as the real deal. Decision made. Highland Green it was. Paint duly applied, car returned in Highland Green. Excellent. But it’s a bit dull. I mean yes, it’s original and it’s a proper Bullitt car – apart from the incorrect but original fog light grill - and all that, but it’s just, well, dull. Which leads me to the bad thing I am considering:

I want to put Shelby stripes on it. You still there? Not thrown phone/tablet down in disgust? Good. Bear with me.

The original blue Shelby stripes were the only personalisation option open to buyers of the 1965 GT350 Shelby Mustangs. As the cars could only be had in Wimbledon White, most buyers ticked the box and went for the stripes, despite warnings that such gaudy decorations might attract unwelcome interest from the police. But my car is not a 1965 Shelby Mustang, it is a 1968 390GT in Highland Green, just like the Bullitt car. And the Bullitt car did not have Shelby stripes. But I like the stripes, love them in fact. They are the beauty spot, the seam up the stocking; they set the thing off and scream sexy, powerful fun. Well, they do to me, anyway and it’s MY CAR. My first car was a 1976 Toyota Corolla liftback and that was never offered with Shelby stripes. But the ones I applied to mine using electrical insulation tape were magnificent and made me, at seventeen years old, the envy of North Yorkshire – WARNING: some teenage recollections are subject to warping when viewed through the prism of time and from the standpoint of middle age.

The stripes I applied to my Toyota Corolla using electrical insulation tape were magnificent and made me, at seventeen years old, the envy of North Yorkshire

Richard Hammond

So, to stripe or not to stripe? So far, my investigations into this possibility have not drawn positive responses. Insults have been wide-ranging and fervent, as have enquiries into my mental state. The next question then is, rather like once you’ve decided to murder someone you have to narrow it down to how you’re going to do it, what colour stripes? The originals were white, but that’s too gaudy to my eyes.

Maybe a dull silver, or even a pale, metallic green? I have pondered this question for a while now and would welcome your input. As long as it’s not written on a brick and delivered through my window.

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Comments (470)
  • The ambiance of that dash is gorgeous. I could imagine roaring this car down a dirt road in the middle of the night had I been alive back in the day.

    3 months ago
  • I can say the same for my Mustang which is a 1968. Although its got some other things going on in it. It came with a monster of a 428 that had been punched out to 467. Too front heavy and I changed it out to a ford racing 302 engine. Heidts dual wishbone suspension with disk breaks, and a T5 manual with a Hurst shifter. Paint job came with it when i got it.

    1 year ago
    1 Bump

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