She holds it in gear until you wince and wish she would shift, but she doesn't. The Boss was designed with revvin' in mind, and Michelle clings to the abstract without mercy as she holds the pedal to the floor until the valvetrain clatter forces a shift. We know it when we see a throttle jockey who likes to rev by the faint veil of blue smoke that follows the car around, and all the signs were there. Thirty-five years earlier, Michelle might have been the Danica Patrick of Trans-Am.
We met her in a small office straight from a prison movie with bars on the cloudy windows and stark bleach-white cinder block. A pile of street-rod parts was on the floor. "Is it your dad's or your boyfriend's?" She hates questions like that, so we didn't ask. Instead, it was the first thing she volunteered to us. Michelle takes pride in being the one who breaks stuff and tinkers and owns the thing, so she has the right to kick those guys to the curb.
We walked outside and Michelle pointed around the alley at her '32 pickup shell that is getting a flathead. "Have you seen the pistons on a flathead? They are cool. We just took it apart the other day. They are sooo cool." She remembers being around 9 or 10 years old when she first spied a real Trans-Am Mustang. "My dad said, 'You better start saving your money because those cars are expensive.'" Short of the Boss 302 she really wanted, she managed to find a Wimbledon White Mach 1, but that wasn't enough, so she sold it to her dad and went after a Boss.
Michelle went from a 10-year-old clutching a copy of a vintage Trans-Am picture book to negotiating the sale of a real 302 car from a guy she met at a Carl's Jr. cruise night. "He had a Ford Fairlane, and I had a '72 Ford Econoline, so we started to talk. Don't get the wrong idea, the van was my dad's." The car was in a zillion pieces in a garage, and in her words, after some majorly annoying wrangling, the car was hers.
"I was so excited when I got the car home,I can't even explain it." -Michelle Holstien
With a U-Haul trailer hooked to the van, Michelle went to scoop up all the parts; the engine and transmission went to Yorba Linda, California, to be rebuilt, and the body parts went to Ranger Performance, a shop owned by her boyfriend that happens to be where the car is stored now. There, they assembled the body and suspension, reupholstered the interior, and repainted all the interior pieces. Sadly, the stock steering wheel was missing, so Michelle replaced it with the MOMO.
Once the car had acceptable paint and a rebuilt 302, Michelle was bent on the thrash, and you could find the car screaming around the track at the Monterey Historic races or at 7,000 rpm with electro-cutout exhaust on the Buttonwillow Raceway. Laps at Fontana, the Hot Rod Power Tour(tm), and daily street whipping were ended when someone backed into the car and wasted the original paint. At that point, Michelle decided maybe it wasn't such a good idea to be rallying an actual Boss 302 Mustang, so she decided to restore the car with better paint and an interior redo. Nice as it is now, you can still catch it over-revving on the street-not a pampered life by any means. She still has a pretty big cam in there.