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Mustang Owners Gather to Gloat With AM-Clinton

April 18, 1994

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) _ President Clinton’s 1967 convertible Mustang may be the First Car, but it’s not the best.

Just ask Norm Strickland.

Showing off the spoilers, disc brakes, lug nuts and spotless V-8 engine of his gleaming red 1989 customized coupe, the South Carolina man had no doubt his Mustang beats out the president’s.

And he tried to explain the appeal of one of the most popular cars ever.

″They’re just fun to drive,″ he said Sunday at the first national convention of the Mustang Club of America. ″There’s no other experience like it. It’s just power.″

Mustang lovers say the rakish car handles like no other.

″If you want a muscle car - power, response, handling - this is as pure as it gets,″ said Bob Deale, a member of the board of directors of the Mustang Club, which boasts some 30,000 members.

Around him, a sea of perfect cars sparkled in the sun - classic Mustangs, new Mustangs, custom Mustangs, red, white, blue Mustangs - packed into the infield at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of the Mustang.

Yellow and red striped marquees dotted the pavement where club members polished, paced, admired and compared notes on the more than 3,000 cars at the show.

The Mustang appeals to the patriot as well as the speed demon. ″It looks like an American car,″ Deale said. ″It sounds like an American car.″

And Americans bought the car.

Ford Motor Co. made 1 million Mustangs in the first two years after its 1964 debut, and sold them all. It’s been in production 30 years now.

David Allen hates driving anything else.

″In 1965, I graduated from high school. I got a Mustang for a graduation present and I’ve loved them ever since,″ Allen said, polishing his glittering white 1989 coupe.

He and his wife Cindy wore matching white Mustang jackets with their names embroidered on the breast. They drove in from Huntsville, Ala., for the show.

The president arrived later Sunday to admire what he once called his most prized possession - his restored Mustang convertible.

But the First Driver’s car isn’t customized.

That’s why Strickland likes his own car better, he said, lingering over one particular feature - the five-lug wheels. Regular Mustangs only have four.

″Five is more strength for holding the wheels on the car,″ Strickland said. ″It’s race proven.″

Clinton can relate to that.

″All of us have our car-crazy moments,″ he admitted last year.

At the speedway, he dubbed his silvery-blue-green Mustang ‘hornet green’ to cheers from the crowd. The Hornets, Charlotte’s professional basketball team, wear teal jerseys.

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