I was watching a documentary on the Beatles recently and it made me realize that I’ve been hearing their music for my entire life. It’s quite possible one of their songs may even have played on the car radio as my parents drove home from the hospital after I was born, given that it was New York City during the late ’60s; in that time and place, the sounds of the Fab Four were somewhat ubiquitous.
In a sort of similar way, I’ve been seeing Ford Mustangs my whole life — something else that was introduced to America in 1964 and an integral part of the landscape by the decade’s close. By the time I was old enough to be conscious of popular music and cars, both the Beatles and the Mustang felt like very familiar elements of the background of everyday life, even though by then the group had split and Ford’s original pony had morphed into the Mustang II —the early works were still everywhere you’d turn.
And just as the Beatles inspired the formation of many other bands, some that went on to be hugely popular in their own right, the Mustang triggered imitators from Ford’s competitors that became icons themselves. You can debate over whether we’d have had The Who without the Beatles, but there’s little doubt that without the Mustang, there’d have been no Camaro.
I’m certainly glad things played out the way they did, and that the resulting impact was lasting. I saw The Who live in 1989 and I’ve owned a ’69 Camaro since a few years prior to that. The Camaro was not my first car —that was a Chevelle —but once I’d experienced the first-generation F-body, I was hooked. It just seemed like the perfect size for a car —big enough to comfortably house a V-8 engine, hold at least four people, and with a trunk that was sized to be useful.