When a girl drives a supercar such as the Roush Mustang, it is not about how it looks, or how fast it is, nor pretty much about any of the petrolhead talk the guys get in to, it is all about how it makes her feel.
Being automotive photographers, my partner Sarel and I were loaned the Mustang for a few days, in order to shoot it on location, or as we like call it: “to make ‘car porn’”. As a girl photographing cars, I have to know just enough about this 6th generation Ford Mustang to make the right sounds and noises around the guys….so, I know it is a very powerful Roush supercharged 5.0-litre V8 and that the 500kW output and 800 N.m torque makes it an all American muscle car. I know it is fast enough to take my breath away and to make the monotonous Freestate roads I drove on more fun than I ever remembered them being. I know it sports very cool racing stripes, which the guys called “go-faster stripes” but, incidentally, I know too that it was Mustang who first sported racing stripes on a road car back in 1965. I also know that automotive journalists writing about supercars use adjectives such as “adrenaline-pumping”, “pulse-racing”, “sublime”, “thrilling” “engaging” “innovative” and “edgy” but as I am neither writing about the Mustang’s performance, nor about anything involving engineering or mechanics, I get to ignore those and focus on the sensory, albeit girly, experience of driving and photographing this car.
It is not unheard of for car manufactures such as Lamborghini, Bugatti or Mercedes-Benz to team up with fashion designers nor of fashion designers finding their muse in car designs, bringing super cars right into girl territory.
Of all the super cars I have driven, from a cat-walk-curvy Maserati, to blistering fast screen-siren-lipstick-red Ferrari, from the sporty-boho-elegant Porsche to the classy-cultured-haut-couture Aston, none has made me feel so much a woman, as did the Mustang. “Why on earth?” you might ask. Well, it is common knowledge that every girl loves an adventure and getting in behind the wheel of the Mustang is an adventure in every sense of the word in a tom-boyish kind of way. The no-fuss lack of finesse in the trim, the brushed metal on the dashboard and the masculine dials, even the Mustang badge on the car, filled my mind’s eye with images of rough and rugged cowboy-types ready to whisk me away on an adventure involving open spaces and wild horses. This car is bad-ass and every girly fiber in me loved it!
When I realized that the copper who pulled me over somewhere en route to Bloemfontein, did so just to hear the decidedly magnificent sound the not-so -inconspicuous yellow Mustang made on a pull-off, my usually elegant good-girl driving style was momentarily replaced with a pull-off of such awe inspiring unladylike proportions that even Sarel was impressed. Definitively one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. My mother would be horrified…
My creative gypsy soul has incurable road tripping wanderlust and driving the Mustang made me wish the road would never end. It might be a supercar, but it is a surprisingly easy, comfortable ride. Even more surprising is the relatively good fuel economy despite the fact that all those untamed horses under the bonnet inspired less economic behavior from the girl behind the wheel. I wanted to let my hair down and drive with the windows down.
Every pitstop along the way was a crowd-pulling adventure in it’s own right. I had to smile at the newly found diligence of petrol pump attendants. Everyone wanted the opportunity to admire the mustang while filling her up and poor Sarel was drawn into conversations usually starting with “how fast is it?” and then the inevitable ” can I take a selfie?”. The biggest kick for me was a little more self indulgent… I loved the split second shocked-horror on the faces of the Freestate farmer when he realised that I was driving this unruly car, and his wife holding on extra tight to her man’s hand…just in case. In all honesty, I might have just once or twice turned the knob thingy next to the gearshift to Sport-mode before the grand exit for a little extra noise and show! This girl was on fire and regretting not owning a pair of cowboy boots.
Photographing a beautiful car makes me happy. I can get lost in the subtle play of light on curves and lines, the boldness of a badge on an aggressive grill, or the magical reflections in a headlight. The Mustang is a beauty, but in a butch kind of way. My favourite is the line over the back wheel arch seen in the driver’s side mirror. It is the perfect mix between masculine, strong, angular and bad girl sexy curves. The fact that this Mustang had been modeled after the classic Mustang Fastback means that even the smallest detail or subtle line is easily recognizable as a signature Mustang look. I was head over heals after the second or third click.
Finding the right location and light for a photoshoot of a specific car is often a challenge for automotive photographers. The Mustang however, was equally photogenic next to a country road, in a soot-blackened coal shed or on a suburban driveway and our custom made soft lighting made highlighting every curve and line in true fashion model style a breeze. It is impossible to make a bad image of this car.
After three days of adrenaline-pumping, pulse-racing, sublime and thrilling driving in this engaging and edgy car, we were all photo’d out and I settled into the passenger seat for a comfortable meander home. Reflecting on whether I want one? Yes, please – although I would drive it on the open road, far away from city lights, where at just about every intersection, everything with two wheels or more, invites you to a drag-race. But then who can blame them?
“Ambition is a dream, with a V8 engine”
– Elvis Presley