*text and images provided by Ford Performance and the Bedel Family
LASTING FORD LEGACY LIVES IN LIST OF BEDAL FAMILY’S BLUE OVAL RIDES
When Ford Performance sets up a Meet & Greet tent at your club’s car show, we often hear some great Ford owner family stories from attendees who stop by to visit. But some that we receive come from Mustang Club of America members who read our Ford Performance Corner column in the club’s monthly Mustang Times Magazine and send us a note via ClubHub@Ford.com. And that’s exactly how we learned of the Ford vehicle family legacy that has for many years followed the family of Mark Bedel of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. You’ll simply have to read Mark’s account below to believe it:
“Hello, Ford Performance! After responding to an editorial in the Mustang Times recently, I was asked if I would put down in words what being a Ford enthusiast means to me personally and to our family by extension. (I believe the family has owned a total of 29 Fords from my great grandfather’s Model T on down to my current 2017 Mustang being the newest.)
“Historically, I’d have to say that it started with my paternal great grandfather purchasing a Model T four door, followed then by my grandfather’s purchase of a Model A. My first Ford awareness came with my father’s purchase of a 1965 Mustang Coupe in light metallic blue with a 289 V-8 engine coupled to a C-4 three-speed automatic transmission. His brother, my uncle, had purchased a 1964½ Mustang Coupe with a 260 V-8 also with a C-4 automatic before my father’s purchase. I don’t recall my uncle’s Mustang at this point, as I was only 7 years old at the time.
“I do, however, remember my uncle’s 1969 Mach 1 with I believe a 351 V-8 engine and an automatic. I still think that particular model’s styling is my favorite of the original platform Mustangs. My uncle had purchased other Ford products both before and after this, including sedans and even a van after his retirement from Heinz as an engineer. My father dutifully assembled a list of all the Ford vehicles our immediate family had purchased up to today, which I have sent you as a separate list. I’m sure that your readers would be bored to tears reading it, but since my father took time to recall as well as organize it, I feel obligated to include it.
“My father’s next purchase as our family added a third child, was 1968 Mercury Montego station wagon with a 351 and an automatic, again in light metallic blue for which the ’65 Mustang became a reluctant trade-in. I remember that car having reasonably quick acceleration for a station wagon! My dad clearly missed the ’65. He had removed the galloping horse from the corral in the grille opening. I do recall him explaining his reasoning for this, as he preferred the association with the P-51 Mustang rather than with the Wild Stallion … but to each his own. As such though, this modification would provide an almost foolproof way to identify the car later on.
“One day he found the car parked at local shopping center parking lot as someone must have quickly purchased it after our trade-in. When traveling around the area I always got the feeling he had an eye out for his old Mustang. I remember him buying me a large, red ’65 or ’66 Mustang model which I think may have been possibly 1/12 scale? I was so excited — I now had my own Mustang! I secretly think it was also his way of having a Mustang around even if it wasn’t the real thing.
“This may have been the earliest first point of indoctrination into the Ford Mustang family for me. Even though we purchased and enjoyed other Ford products along the way, the Mustang always held a special meaning in our family. Shortly after my marriage to my lovely wife in 1982, we purchased our first Mustang, a 1985 Mustang GT five-speed. The detailed story of how we almost didn’t get our longed-for baby appears in the November 2018 Mustang Times, for those who care to read about it. But after six long months of waiting and concerns about the car even being built, we finally received word that it was scheduled for build! A week or so later it was delivered to our local dealer.
“I was beside myself with excitement and joy! Now, I truly understood the excitement my father and his brother must have felt when they purchased their first Mustangs. Shortly thereafter, my father purchased a 1985 GT with an automatic and my brother purchased a 1987 5.0 LX the following year.
“My wife and I still have our first, and it was joined by our second in October of 2017, by a 2017 Race Red GT Premium with the Performance Package, which we purchased from a dealer in Ohio after a local search of the Pittsburgh and surrounding market came up empty. I must confess that this purchase originated with prompting from my wife, Betsy, who after attending several local Greater Pittsburgh Mustang Club events, remarked that she really liked the way the new ones sounded. This was a slightly opened door that I couldn’t resist fully opening!
“The year before, we had purchased a slightly used 2016 Focus ST2 as a replacement for an aging 2007 Mazdaspeed 3 as my daily driver. The little Focus was a very fun car to drive in its own right.
“Of course, it is easy to track the Ford Mustang through any family tree — as iconic a vehicle as it has become. It was so different at its inception than anything else. It truly was a unique vehicle when it debuted in a landscape of more pedestrian transportation options. It still is today. But there were many other examples outside the sports/performance categories – such as the 1988 Mercury Sable LX Station Wagon that I purchased, and a year later my father purchasing a 1989 Ford Taurus Wagon. I purchased mine as we had a growing family; he purchased his because he wanted the utility it offered.
“I can recall us having many comparative conversations about these cars. How unique and well thought-out their features and creature comforts were, and how the styling actually outclassed the Audi Wagons of the day for which Ford had clearly taken aim. They handled reasonably well and the 3.8-liter V-6’s seemed to have adequate power. Again, there was little on the road that resembled these class-breaking cars. Everything else was still in the GM box styling, from which Chrysler was apparently still taking its styling cues.
“Like any brand, Ford over the years has had its share of less-than-stellar performers. Some maybe arriving a bit too early in the market, while others maybe a bit too late. Reading market trends and predicting consumer behavior has, and will always be, a tricky business. Some seem to have a natural talent for this; Lee Iacocca certainly, along with Henry Ford himself, and I’m sure many others within the Ford organization.
“But I think what breeds a certain level of brand loyalty, or at least brand-model loyalty, are the threads that reach back through the decades and become part of what binds a family together with common shared experiences. No one has to tell my father, my uncle, my brother, my son, my daughter, my wife or me what this means. We just know.
“I’ll finish by providing a final little additional story line. My wife and I hadn’t told anyone that we were heading to Ohio to purchase our new 2017 Mustang GT, and to be honest, we weren’t sure if we would be keeping the 1985 GT upon purchasing the new one. But after our children found out, even though they were excited by the purchase, they were equally insistent on knowing what our intentions were for the 1985 Mustang. As we waffled, they then said, “We’ll buy it from you! — You can’t sell it; it’s been in the family longer than we have!” My son has promised to take ownership sometime in the near future. Currently, we are a two-Mustang household and couldn’t be happier about it. Now, what more has to be said?
“I realize that my transportation tastes run in the minority these days and the margins on trucks and SUVs light up the balance sheets for the automakers, so I guess I’ll covet my 2016 Focus ST2 as my daily and my 2017 Mustang GT Premium / PP as my really fun car.
“By the way, I had a friend who is adept at Photoshop put together a cool family Mustang collection compendium which I’ve also attached for your enjoyment. In it, the caption Mark & Betsy would be me and my lovely wife; Denis & Jean are my father and mother; Walter was my uncle (he passed away recently); and Brian is my brother; Melissa is his wife. The only ones that are still under current family ownership are the one’s my brother and I own. Thanks for listening.”
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