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Drive Your Cars Now

drive your cars now

Illustration by Derek BaconCar and Driver

From the April 2022 issue of Car and Driver.

The other day a friend texted me a photo of an odometer reading 100,000.0 miles. Big deal, you’re thinking—these days 100,000 miles is basically the break-in period. But this one was notable because the odometer belongs to a 2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, bought new in January 2018 and pressed into service as possibly the only long-haul commuter car in the Southeast with an 8250-rpm redline and a flat-plane crank. Its owner, Meares Heustess, ran a waste-collection business and used the GT350 to visit offices around South Carolina, with the occasional detour to Tail of the Dragon, racking up big miles on a car many owners deem too precious to actually drive. “I didn’t plan on driving it that much, but I just fell in love with it,” he tells me. “It’s the only car I’ve ever had that every day when I walk up to it, I think, ‘This is a stunning car.’ The cold start in the morning is a great way to start your day.” This guy is doing it right.

As for those of you with great cars wrapped in plastic in a climate-controlled storage facility, you deserve to be publicly shamed for your wretched mileage parsimony, your pointless automotive hoarding in the service of . . . what? Eternal perfection? Financial reward? You think a Buick GNX makes a nice conversation piece in your spotless garage? It probably does! But you should still drive it.

The time-warp car is a cliché on the auction circuit. So some chud bought an IROC Camaro new in 1985 and just stared at it till he died, and now it will sell for $50,000? Big deal. These lofty no-mileage sale prices almost never represent an actual financial win. But besides that, museum cars are just sad: Here’s a fun car that never had any fun. My IROC had 125,000 miles by the time I sold it, and that one lived the life a Camaro was meant to live—blue lights ever in the rearview mirror, the dulcet tones of Warrant rattling the back-window louvers, tires perpetually fried to the verge of racing-slick status. It is my belief that every time-capsule Camaro should be given to a 16-year-old who drives at least 15,000 miles per year. My proposal is pending with the Gates Foundation.

“But Ez, aren’t some cars just too rare and valuable to risk out there on public roads?” Shut it, Cameron’s dad from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I spent one college spring break with my friend Shezad’s aunt and uncle in Florida. The first time their garage door opened, my eyeballs fell out of my head. There were three Lamborghinis (Diablo, Countach, and LM002), a Ferrari Testarossa, a Bentley Turbo R. But the car that really obsessed me was the Ferrari F40. Shezad’s uncle, Dr. Nasir Khalidi, drove it on a 27-mile loop on the weeks he didn’t drive it to Sebring, eventually putting about 11,000 miles on it. Toward the end of the week, he gave me a ride in the F40. A 110-mph trip up an on-ramp helped erase the notion that any car could be too rarefied to thrash as its makers intended.

And while regular drives can reveal latent problems, not driving your cars can be just as bad. Dr. Khalidi died a few years ago, and the F40 is now in the hands of his son, Naveed—or more accurately, in the hands of the local dealer, where it is in pieces, getting a thorough tuneup. “They’re telling me I should have driven it more regularly,” Naveed says. Which is his plan, once it’s back in action. I’ve offered to help, because that’s the kind of guy I am.

Heustess’s GT350 has barely cooled down over the past four years, and it has only needed an evaporator, tires, and new batteries for the key fob. I ask if maybe he’s thought about counting those 100,000 trouble-free Shelby miles as a win, cashing in his chips, and getting something less high-strung. “Shit, it’s a Mustang,” he says. “I’m gonna drive it.”

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