We were mildly interested to see that TopSpeed.com published their list of the Top Five most influential hot rods of all times. It’s cool and all, and folks will be able to engage in a healthy debate, so, cool. But, then we started digging through the list, and we have to agree – they got a least one of them right.
You see, back in the mid-80s, when Detroit was just recovering from oil starvation and a nasty recession, cars started to be fun again. And, our Cars Illustrated team of Tony DeFeo and Neil Van Oppre were right in the thick of it. Most of the great cars of the ’80s (Turbo Buick, TPI Corvette/Camaro, 5.0 Mustang) got their start in the pages of Cars Illustrated with Tony and Neil behind the wheel.
In fact, you can buy a reprint of the very start of the 5.0 Mustang’s march to dominance in our store. Here’s the link:
The Mustang was so hot in 1987, that Tony and Neil teamed up with then-editor of Super Stock & Drag Illustrated, the late Steve Collison. Between the three of them, they launched this car into the supercar stratosphere. Tony’s stocker ran 13.40s with a tire change and max tuning. Neil’s bolt-on car showed the way to the 12-second zone. And, Steve went part by part into a 12-second IHRA stock class racer. It was a good time, and the three of them lead the way for an entire generation of hot rodders.
That lead image, the one used by TopSpeed.com, actually came from Cars Illustrated Special Edition Vol. 2, No. 2 … better known as Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords. Yes, the Cars Illustrated team did such a good job of getting folks into the 5.0 Mustang that is spurred on an entire speed parts industry and a magazine to cover it all.
We are just pumped up that Tony and Neil are back at Cars Illustrated doing what they do best – report on quick cars with their own special style. Congratulations to both of them for this well-deserved recognition.
If you want to check out the original article on Top Speed, follow the link, give it a read, and leave them a comment about how the Cars Illustrated project Mustang should’ve been #1 …