Bear with me for a second. I know an ’88 Mustang GT 5.0 drop-top has not weathered the last 22 years well in terms of cultural identity. The good news is, I don’t care. This is the car that introduced me to the concept that cars could be awesome. Not just to look at, or hear, but that they could move so fast you felt it in your chest. I still remember coming downstairs one Saturday morning, and my parents told me to go look in the garage. Being six years old, I didn’t know that much about cars, but I knew awesome when I saw it: it was red, two-doored, convertible and the bottom was wrapped in air dams. Then there was the sound. Like it or not, nothing sounds like a 5.0L Mustang. The combination of that funky intake manifold, EFI and the factory exhaust gave it a voice by which I still judge all V8s. True to fashion, there’s a bit of Ford power steering pump whine thrown in to the chorus. In addition to the “pefect C” exhaust note, The Mustang was my performance benchmark as a budding hoon. It was always “Dad, is that faster than your Mustang?”. For years, the answer was rarely yes. There wasn’t too much on the road in the early 90s that could beat a mid-6s 0-60 time, particularly for the price. That car provided my first exposure to a burnout, power oversteer, and running light-to-light (with a Chevy, of course). It provided my first dose of ohshitweregonnadie fishtailing when a family friend who was keeping an eye on me for a weekend took it out for a “cruise”. (Did Simon ever tell you about that one, Dad?) Time and performance engineering advances took their toll on the Mustang’s luster. In a way, I’m glad I never got to drive it. By the time Dad parted with it in ’96, the air dams that seemed so cool in ’88 were chipped and dinged. One fog light was busted. Eight years in the sun were not kind to an interior assembled to late-80s Ford standards. Even on its way out, it provided some entertainment: the night after my dad sold it, the cops showed up in our driveway, happy to alert us that they’d recovered our car. Huh? Turns out the dude that bought it handn’t changed over the registration yet, and had managed to get pulled over downtown. Oops. Still, whenever I hear a 5.0 go by, I’m taken back to driving home from a soccer game with the top down, barely able to see over the dash, taking in the sun and listening to that motor sing.