Say what you will about public transport and worsening traffic. When it comes to open road, there are still few places in the world where you can drink your fill the way you can in the good old USA.
Sure, the Autobahn’s delimited zones are the stuff of car-guy legend, but the truth is, they only occur on very finite sections of German blacktop. If what you seek is freedom, the American West is hard to beat, and what better steed to conquer it on than America’s favorite rip-snorting steroidal Mustang, the Shelby GT350?
GT Stands for Gran Tourismo
Reddit user and Shelby GT350 owner eight_sixed_86 doesn’t waste a word of his post, “1 week, 9 states, 4400 miles,” talking about burnouts. Instead, he reminds us of what the GT in the Shelby’s nomenclature stands for: Gran Tourismo, or grand touring.
The term “pony car” doesn’t really place a car in any specific category when it comes to performance, but “Gran Tourismo” does. We often label the Mustang as a sports car, but what the Mustang really lives for is devouring highway miles.
Car critics have heaped praise on the GT350 since its launch. This car fully exploits the new platform’s independent rear suspension and mates it to a flat-plane V8 appropriately named Voodoo. But You don’t have to take it to a track to enjoy it, and Mr. 86 proves that with his epic travelogue.
Hitting the Road
Mr. 86’s journey begins in the last part of California that understands the meaning of “open road” — Northern California. Based on his mention of Suisun Valley, it sounds like our hero started his journey somewhere in the Napa Valley area.
Judging by his username and the shout-out he gives two “tastefully modded” BRZs, it seems our narrator has owned one of the Toyobaru twins in the past, presumably one that got “eighty-sixed.” While he doesn’t mention any specific places on the way out of NorCal, he does sneak in a jab at the Subie driver who thinks his car is an Ecoboost.
We get our first glimpse of the Shelby on the side of the road in Oregon, its deep green paint looking nearly black against the amber vastness of the background. Somehow, the car manages to remain spotless throughout all its photo opps.
Mountain Roads of the West
Traveling by highway up America’s West Coast provides some incredible views, and the further north you go, the easier it is to peel off the main thoroughfare and get lost. Oregon’s unfortunate fixation with speeding laws seems to affect Mr. 86, as they would anyone piloting a 526-horsepower freak-of-nature.
Surviving more pressure from patrolmen on his way north into Washington, the driver takes his trip eastward. Highway 90 East takes the trip away from the coast and into Idaho. Coeur d’Alene is certainly up there on the list of naturally beautiful cities, and our hero approves of the state’s long sweepers and scenic views.
Montana and a Bathroom Stall
Entering the heartland, our narrator shares a tender moment in which he comes to understand the nature of “keep right except to pass,” also known as how not to drive like an asshole. Just when we were beginning to think things are calm…
We then get a novella about an epic bathroom visit in which Mr. 86 demonstrates the full complement of his commendable authorial talent, and a recount of his drive through Glacier National Park, closely followed by an old woman in a Fiat.
Apparently the Fiat driver was very keen on keeping a close distance to the Shelby, as the caption of his sixth photo tells us the car is, in fact, parked right behind the Mustang.
Wyoming and Colorado
Leaving Montana and heading into more plains country, the Mustang gets a taste of Midwest thunderstorms. It must have visited a carwash before its next set of pictures, because look, Ma, no water spots!
Colorado is home to Pikes Peak, site of the second-oldest motor sports race in America. Mr. 86 and his trusty steed visit the mountain road, where they encounter a brace of lifted trucks clogging up the highway. A race-bred V8 can sometimes alleviate these types of problems, though, as Mr. 86 demonstrates by pulling a “Matt Farah” and opening it up on a few straightaways. Here’s looking at you, Smoking Tire fans.
Our driver spends some time recounting high points from a few quaint Colorado towns, including what is allegedly the greatest coffee shop in the land. He then reminds us not to lose faith in Mustang kind by jumping a Toyota Corolla stuck on the side of the road and following the family to their destination. Kudos, guy. You’re still not allowed to pass on the right.
Utah and Nevada
The first line of Mr. 86’s Utah entry sums it up: “I dunno, it’s Utah.” For the uninformed out there, you’re not allowed to spread ashes on the road in Utah — so don’t try. The high point of the state is unquestionably when our narrator spots a woman’s amazing “Not today, Satan” T-shirt. There’s also a pretty cool episode in which he chats up the owner of a ’65 T-bird.
Nevada caps things off, and it’s really more about the Shelby Museum than the state. It seems the man who would sell his name to any automaker with the cash is also good at merchandising leather jackets and possibly even kitchen appliances. Imagine that. Mr. 86 does get to park in the “winner’s circle,” though, and there’s no shortage of cool Shelby cars on hand, some of which are for sale.
SoCal gets an honorary mention, but let’s face it, as road tripping goes, LA can be a challenge. Back home in San Francisco, it’s time to reunite with the girlfriend and catch up on Game of Thrones.
The road warrior recounts his “trip statistics,” sharing everything from fuel economy to number of truck stop hookers observed. The Mustang, it seems, performed admirably, with nary a flat or breakdown. But then that’s kind of expected for what appears to be a brand-new car.
The 4,400 miles man and car covered in this epic journey easily outstrip the 2,800 miles it takes to go coast to coast. Believe it or not, you can still embark on a great American road trip. There’s a lot of blacktop out there. Thank you, Mr. 86, for reminding us not to take it for granted.