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Mustang owners’ devotion hasn’t wanted after 50 years

They crank up their Ford Mustangs, among them, a 1965 Fastback and a 2012 Boss.

You can hear that growl. This is a real American car. No whiny sounds like in the European makes.

“A lot of Mustangs have that nice rumble. I roll down my windows so I can hear the engine,” said Linda Hallberg.

She’s 64, a retired postmaster. Her husband, Gary Hallberg, 67, worked in planning for a manufacturer. They own four Mustangs.

They loved the cars when they were young and in their 20s; they love them now.

Among their collection was a 1998 GT that they’ve now sold.

Gary made sure that when Linda first drove it, the CD player blasted Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” when she turned the key. They so love Mustangs that they had the trunk of a red Mustang convertible made into a couch for their Renton, Wash., home.

April 17, 1964, is a day etched for the keepers of the Mustang flame. That’s when their beloved brand debuted at the New York World’s Fair.

Over 50 years, more than 9 million of the vehicles have sold, according to Ford.

The Seattle area lays claim to having the oldest Mustang club in the country, along with one in Tucson, Ariz. It was among 500 Mustang clubs formed within the first three years of its existence, according to Ford.

It was Gary’s brother, Sandy Hallberg, 73, of Issaquah, Wash., now a retired metal plater, who founded the club that became the Pacific Cascade Mustang Club.

That was in the first week of January 1965, said Sandy Hallberg.

These days, the club has 111 people on its email list.

You can look at photos of past get-togethers, and see the membership getting older, although it does have a few younger members.

Back in the late ’60s and ’70s, the guys had bushy hair, and the women wore the short skirts of the era.

“It started out as guys and girlfriends, then people got married, having kids, then they started getting divorced, and in the last few years, they started dying,” Gary Hallberg said.

Being part of the older crowd of Mustang drivers doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate the engine power it can provide.

Gary and Linda talk about picking up their 2012 Boss 302, with its 444 of horsepower, in Mabank, Texas, where the hard-to-get car was available at a dealership.

Of course, they ordered it in red, and, of course, they got it with the special “Trac-Key” that, when inserted, changes more than 600 engine parameters to turn it into “a pure Ford Racing competition calibration.”

The couple remembers how Linda was barely driving 2 miles per hour above the 80 mph speed limit when a State Patrol car “followed me quite a while.”

Hmmm. A red Boss racing car. You bet it’s a cop attractant.

She got a warning.

The Hallbergs do admit to taking a different Mustang to 130 mph in Montana, back in 1998.

“It was legal to do back then, not now,” Gary makes sure to explain. Yes, he says, driving that fast is fun.

Still, there is just so much oomph older Mustang drivers can take.

On this afternoon, the Hallbergs are visiting their friends, and Mustang lovers, Bruce and Margaret Petersen in West Seattle. He is 67, a retired digital-copier repairman. She is 65, a retired special-events programmer.

The Petersens also own four Mustangs.

The older-model Mustangs do have their drawbacks for the older owners, though.

Bruce Petersen says that a couple of hours in those original seats is as much as his back can take these days.

“Back in the 1960s, you could drive around in them all day long,” he said. “Now we’ve gotten old.”

Things change when they get into a newer Mustang with its lumbar support.

The years erase. That look, that feel of power.

“They are works of art,” Petersen said. “Works of pure art.”