There aren't many places Blake Caley would like to be on a sunny afternoon other than next to his 1967 Mustang Shelby. The Old Fort Mustangers' Mustang & Ford Show at Ivy Tech on Saturday was definitely one of those days.
“This is the car that if you've ever watched the movie 'Gone in 60 Seconds,' Eleanor was the '67 Shelby”, Caley said of his red Mustang model. “(It's) a very iconic car that's kind of what started the craze.”
The 53-year old car lover was one of over 200 Mustang owners from all over the Midwest who camped out with their special cars in Ivy Tech's parking lot for the 35th annual car show.
While Caley's red Shelby was a thing of beauty, it became his through an unfortunate circumstance.
The Mustang was originally won by New Haven's Tony Cotterman after he had entered his name in the national 2016 Mustang Dreamcar Giveaway. Following a back surgery that left him paralyzed, Cotterman sold the car to Caley, who has a great appreciation for the model.
“He's just a very generous man,” Caley said of Cotterman. “This is an investment vehicle. They're not making any more '67 Shelbys.”
Despite the strong showing of Mustangs that ranged from 641/2 to 2017 models, Caley is worried about the future of the Mustang industry, calling car collectors and enthusiasts like himself a dying breed.
“Back in the day, these cars were unique. The motor companies really put a lot of thought and design (into them). They weren't mass produced. They had their own character,” said Caley, who spends his evenings restoring old muscle cars.
While today's models may never match the Mustangs from his generation, Caley sees hope in a younger crowd that can appreciate the classics, including Detroit native Marshall Fry, 24, who wasn't even around when many of the show's Mustang's were in their heyday.
“There's a variety of old classics from the '70s that people build and restore and still drive around (Detroit),” said Fry, who owns a 1994 Mustang. “They love it there, it's basically all they've got. They have a small house but the nicest car. That's how they live down there.”
While Fry enjoys attending car shows, he loves Mustangs for a different reason – racing.
“Detroit has areas down there where you can just race left and right. There's probably like a 100 cars a night that come out there and we just go until the cops come,” Fry said smiling.
Some in attendance on Saturday preferred a more subtle drive around the block with their Mustangs, like Fort Wayne's Dan Peters.
Peters doesn't like to show off. But having restored his 1970 Boss 302 Mustang from the ground up, he wants the right kind of people to appreciate what he's poured his blood, sweat and tears into for the past 12 years.
“These cars were not really meant to be around for 50 years like they are now. They're only designed to be around for 10 years I think,” said Peters, who takes his Mustang out a few times each week to keep it fresh.
“The biggest fun was looking for parts and making sure to talk to a lot of people who have these kinds of cars and enjoy these kinds of cars.”
This was the second Old Fort show for Peters. With other Mustang shows in the coming weeks at Sweetwater and in Roanoke, the 60-year old reassured that the area's love for the car is alive and well.