Blue Oval Fever

I’m a Ford guy. I can’t explain why except to say that from the time I was a young kid I have always felt more partial to the Blue Oval brand than others. It could be because my dad owned more Fords than other brands. I was one of 6 kids, so we always had large vehicles. I remember going to church in an early 70’s blue Econoline with a three-on-the-tree shifter. I never got to drive that one, but I remember logging a lot of miles in it. It was replaced by a 1982 brown Econoline powered by a 289 V-8 with a variable venturi carburetor… not one of Ford’s better ideas. This one I did get to drive. When I was in junior high, I convinced my dad to let me move the van from the street to the driveway to put it away for the evening. This became a ritual for me. My dad took me to get my learner’s permit in that van and I went on my first real date in it. It was not what I would call a cool van either, at least not in the sense that vans were cool at some point in Americana. (Whoa, did I just admit that I was a “van guy”?!?) I also learned the importance of engine oil with that van. Did you know that the engine stops running after a while if it doesn’t have oil?

It could be because my grandfather drove a beat-up green 70’s F-100 Ranger (full-size truck, but that was the badging then), and we went everywhere in that truck as well, most notably to the dairy farm to pick up fertilizer (read manure) for my grandparent’s expansive yard. To a young kid, that was an exciting trip. I rebuilt the engine in that truck for an engine class in college. I also inherited it for a while after my grandfather passed away, and had every intention of completely restoring it, but you know how those projects go and the beat-up green hulk didn’t fit my wife’s idea of a good look for the front of our house. It’s still in the family, now parked in front of my cousin’s house.

It could be because the first vehicle that I ever bought with my own money was a 1983 Ranger. I bought it from a friend who was a manager of a local pest company. When I got it both front fenders had been banged up and the brakes were shot. I did a lot to that truck, my favorite being the installation of a turbo 2.3L from a T-Bird Turbo Coupe of the same year.

It could be because my first job in the automotive world was with a company that built Ford 4-cylinder racing engines. I started by sweeping the floors, and learned everything there was to know about the Ford Pinto engines, both the 2.0L and the 2.3L. By the time I left, I was building the engines and running them on the dyno. We could get 300 horsepower out of a normally aspirated 2.3, bored and stroked to around three liters. I got to experience all forms of racing from off-road to circle track to boats. I still tinker with those engines on occasion.

There have been many Fords in my life including three Mustangs, three Explorers, three Rangers, one Escort, a Tempo, the two vans I mentioned earlier, and the F-150 that I drive now. But that doesn’t mean that I have avoided GMs altogether. The first car that I ever owned as my own was a 76 Nova 4-door (cream exterior with plaid interior) which was given to me by my aunt. I drove my other grandfather’s 72 2-door, Nova, a lot (another three-on-the-tree), my dad had an S-10 for a while that was kind of fun, and the high school boat of all times was the 76 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon… remember the rear-facing seat?

I say all this, and I am going to leave today driving my friend’s 2004 LLY GMC Duramax pickup truck, in my opinion, one of the best diesel packages available. In my job, I have the distinct benefit of driving numerous brands and types of vehicles. There are many impressive vehicles under the GM, Dodge, and, dare I say, import banners that I deal with on a regular basis. So am I still a Ford guy? Deep down, I guess I am, but I can’t explain why.