The Marine View Driver: Cruising With the Ford Mustang

In which the author experiences his first bona fide car chase.

by Mike Smith

I bought this car used from the Ford dealership on 1st Ave. in Burien in 1975.

And yes, this is how we partied in those days. Everyone brought their Mustang up to the property and had a hoot while we practiced kicking up mud at Meriweather in her latest fashions.

And yes, this is how we partied in those days. Everyone brought their Mustang up to the property and had a hoot while we practiced kicking up mud at Meriweather in her latest fashions.

It was a good car. Not a single dent, nary a scratch on either the exterior or interior. It would probably be worth about $15,000 today.

After a few months of driving this car I discovered the wheel lugs would work loose in normal driving. I’m not sure why this was so. My theory was that the left front wheel hub was actually a right front wheel hub. Here was my untrained non-engineer theory: That’s weird!

Most bolts tighten in a clockwise direction. For some reason one of my hubs tightened in a counterclockwise direction. If you have read about my ’52 Chevy you’ll know I didn’t take a lot of care to learn. I just theorized and kept a wrench in the trunk. All I know for sure is that I had to check it occasionally. I may have actually been in some danger but did not know it. What’s more, it could have been a warranty issue that Ford would have fixed. But stand back; the Marine View Driver has no fear. He’s stupid, but he has no fear.

hardtopadThe car had a 302 engine and was pretty fast. Acceleration was quick and the brakes seemed to work well. But, like suspensions on most cars in those days, it was a mushy or boaty ride.

Of course what was almost seemingly beyond my grasp is that all car suspensions are designed for a specific range of speeds… most of which are well below what should likely be called my normal operating velocity (NOV). So my high speed experiences—my NOV—resembled an aggressive ride in a motor boat: fast and almost uncontrollable. You know, boaty!

And so the chase: One day while driving down Pacific Hwy S or 99 (as we called it then) with a couple of friends in the car I hear someone yelling at me from what sounded like a very high vantage point. I looked over to my left only to see a bunch of lug nuts attached to a huge 4×4 truck. When I looked up some hothead was leaning out of the passenger side of this truck earthmover and yelling that they were going to run us off the road and/or beat us up or some such youthful banter. Despite my close proximity to his lug nuts I couldn’t quite make out everything he was saying. I think his lugging was inspired by a bit of over the legal limit consumption.

This seemed totally out of the blue so I kind of chuckled and cleverly responded. “Oh, yeah?”

Snappy comebacks have always been my specialty.

Normally this would be a scary moment, but for the nearly providential luck my friends were soon to be the recipients of. You see, what no one knew but me is that I used to dream of being a secret agent. I wasn’t a secret agent, but I dreamt I was one, often. These dreams were very satisfying for a young 17-year-old in need of a purpose.

It occurred to me that now would be a great time to be a good secret agent. More to the point, it is at this place in the road that I became that secret agent. Some would say I was a James Bond wannabe. Others might say a delusional young man. But the good thing about being a secret agent is that no one is supposed to know. So my cover was never blown. I think I’ve already demonstrated my clever repartee. Let’s just say, the disembodied face from the 4×4 in the sky did not know to whom he was talking…

Neither did the spy.

After a bit of quick thinking and a look down the road at my future, including a prayer that my wheel hub would not work loose, my plan began to take shape. Fast car, an open road, brilliant agent who is used to tight spots; I applied my entire somnolent spy training and did the obvious thing.

I ran.

I ran red lights and stop signs. Slow and yield signs were simply things I used to my advantage. I smartly in a panic refused to obey any rules that would slow the average driver down. I gunned my engine and made for the most distant place I could go in the shortest amount of time: Straight ahead. I weaved in and out of traffic, made myself a difficult target in case they were Russian spies (this was the ’70s) carrying AK47s. Oh, my imagination was making this a very exciting day indeed! Eventually I made for the left turn lane at Pacific Hwy S. (now International Blvd.) and Kent-Des Moines Road.

As the light changed there were several cars between me and my nemeses. Keeping an eye on them I waited for them to commit to the turn then I darted into the gas station at the corner of Kent/Des Moines Road and Pacific Hwy, over the curb, just missing a tree, used a bit of the parking lot of the old Block House Restaurant, crossed four lanes of opposing traffic and sped on down the highway. Ha! Let that be a lesson to you. You can’t catch a guy who breaks the rules of the road in his Mustang!

That is, unless you are driving an eight-foot-tall Ford 4×4 and have a disregard equal to a secret agent for the actual laws of driving…’

They caught up with us!

That was a bit of bad luck. I had not really expected that. They seemed like law-abiding types.

They chased us for a few miles till I made the freeway where the Mustang’s straight-line capabilities finally became palpable.

Once I had some distance between us and the Four-wheelers, I asked my friends if they knew those guys.

“No” said one, “but I flipped them off to see what they would do.”

I guess he got his answer.

It might be interesting for readers to hear that this was the same friend who broke into my ’52 Chevy and set the horn off in the middle of the night.

Who says boys never grow up?

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