No road trip really becomes official until you have a few hours of driving under your belt. So while Tuesday night’s cruise-in kickoff at the LeMay-America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, was the official start of America’s Automotive Trust and the North American International Auto Show’s The Drive Home to The Mustang Stampede, it wasn’t until our 8 a.m. fire-drill start from Yakima that our trip began in earnest.
A contingent of Yakima-area Mustang owners had driven over the pass to the Tacoma launch party to escort us back to their home town. One of them was Captain Jeff Pfaff of the Yakima Fire Department in his white 2012 Boss 302. Captain Jeff left word with his colleagues at the Yakima Police Department, who put our hotel parking lot on their overnight patrol, allowing for a measure of comfort in our short sleep. Jeff is also a co-founder of Cars, Chrome and Coffee in Yakima, an inclusive event with emphasis on turning out young car enthusiasts. As we are finding out, passionate and helpful Mustang guys are all across this country.
Joining us on the trip is one representative of each of the six generations of Ford Mustangs, along with the yet-unreleased Gen 7 car, wearing a thick armor of skunk works camouflage vinyl and prosthetics. Designed with a fair amount of science involved, the wrap was tested at Ford’s wind tunnel at 150 mph. The mimicked porthole opera windows, a nod to the iconic 1955 Thunderbird, were just the S650 production team having some fun.
The interior of the car is cloaked as well, and none of us are allowed inside. We get it. Keeping secrets has been a problem on the Gen 7 rollout, Ford’s biggest and most anticipated in years. First, pictures of the gauge cluster and interior were caught by Dearborn paparazzi, and images of the front end hit the internet. Then, the reveal at the Detroit Auto Show as leaked. “We’ve fired five people over this,” said S650 Launch Leader Marty Mosakowski. “Three (breaches) were accidental. Some engineers had to pull over in a Kroger parking lot to gather analytics, and raised up the cloak on the dash, and pics were snapped by industry spies. Two other in-house guys purposely took photos of the front end, and were caught on camera at our facility. Two hundred and fifty engineers attended a mandatory ‘stand down’ meeting, where camouflage policy was discussed and disciplinary actions reinforced. Secrecy has been a top priority on this project.