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Horsepower on display at Sturgis Mustang Rally
September 8, 2010

STURGIS -- It isn’t a horse show, although plenty of ponies were seen.

The Fourth Annual Sturgis Mustang Rally took over Main Street on Saturday to cap off Sturgis’s “summer of rallies.”

The Mustangs were lined up on Main Street hoods up, showing a variety of horsepower. The 5.0-liter engines of the late 1980s were mixed in with original 289 engines and souped-up fifth-generation Mustangs with 4.6-liter engines.

The rally started at Jacobsen Ford with a few Mustangs to a count of 480 that had registered for the show and shine by 2 p.m. Saturday. Additional Mustangs could be seen driving around town or parked off Main Street.

More cars had a chance to show what they have under the hood during sanctioned street races Saturday night.

Most of Saturday was devoted to showing off.

“It’s tough,” said Larry Rolfstad, one of the judges for the show and shine. “There are some nice cars out here.”

Rolfstad was judging first-generation Mustangs. The early Mustang style ran from the iconic 1964-½ to 1973. Second generation Mustangs ran until 1983, including the Mach 1 model. The third era of Mustangs saw smaller cars that lacked the traditional pony emblem but did see the introduction of the 5.0 engine. In 1994, a fourth-generation Mustang was introduced that sought to re-create the classic design of the first generation.

Since 2005, the fifth-generation Mustang has been on the streets, including the 2011 Mustang that has a 305 horsepower V-6 and, according to Ford, will get 31 miles per the gallon on the highway.

“My wife bought this car two years ago,” Stan Goodwin of Casper, Wyo., said of his 1966 coupe.

It is his first Mustang after owning a variety of muscle cars and hot rods.

“The car had 51,000 miles on it,” Goodwin said. “I like the Mustang because you can really finish it. This had been repainted and really cleaned up.”

Working on the cars is almost as much fun as getting behind the wheel.

“It’s a fun car to drive, and this is a fun event,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin, who was attending his second Mustang rally, said coming to the event can be expensive.

“This car has cost me dearly,” he said. “Last year, I ended up with a Shelby GT500.”

But Mustangs weren’t built just to look pretty. Out at the Sturgis Dragway on Saturday evening, the muscle cars lined up, ready to prove their mettle.

Rod Strumbel of Rockford, Minn., brought his 2004 Cobra to Sturgis. “Hellfyr,” as he calls it, is a road-course car.

“But (drag racing) is fun,” Strumbel said.

During practice runs, Strumbel was hitting 8.3 seconds on the quarter-mile while in second gear. He said he could get it down to 7.8 or 7.9 seconds.

“I’m trying to decide if I want to or not,” he said.

Many of the Mustangs have been built into drag cars, so Strumbel didn’t expect to come out on top.

“A lot of them will have a consistency edge,” he said.

Going home with a classic Mustang was an option for visitors. Some of the cars displayed were for sale, and an auction was held at Mr. Al’s.

The auction included a true survivor: a 1965 Mustang 289 with a V-8 and automatic transmission. It also had part of the rear bumper in the trunk and a cracked windshield. But, like Goodwin said, the Mustang is a fun car to bring back to life.

Even within the five generations of Mustangs, a large variety exists.

Goodwin has his ’66 coupe and the Shelby. There are Cobras, Roushes and Saleens. All are Mustangs, but each has its quirks. And while some owners prefer a certain year or certain after-market package, the consensus Saturday was that Mustangs are an American icon that will never go away.

Last Modified: 09-8-2010-08:48:25
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