Psychology studies suggest people choose their cars’ colors based on specific personality traits and how the driver wants to be seen by the world.
Black cars put off an intimidating vibe, like a pair of mirrored sunglasses on a state trooper. Red cars say, “I’m fast, give me a ticket!” People who drive green cars tend to like the outdoors and are concerned about the environment. Chocolate addiction probably explains why brown keeps showing up as a popular color. White cars… well, science has never discovered why anyone buys a white car on purpose – “too tired to pick a color” is the most likely theory so far.
Nothing looks more like a smile on wheels, though, than a bright yellow car. Yellow is the color of sunshine, spring and new life (think egg yolk), yet until recent years it was considered just a little too flashy to be associated with good, decent folks. The color has a “look at me” quality that appeals to outgoing personalities and turns off people who like to keep to themselves – it’s the automotive equivalent of a Hawaiian print shirt.
When Steve Shrader of Charlotte, N.C., bought a 1999 Chrome Yellow GT coupe as a used car in 2000, he quickly learned his color choice carried with it certain consequences. On the positive side, the information security analyst for financial giant Wachovia discovered that yellow brings out the friendly side of people he meets in parking lots, gas stations and his neighborhood. Misguided insects, on the other hand, are also quite fond of yellow and often mistake his GT for an enormous daisy. This swarming activity attracts hungry birds who find the 260-horsepower Ford a convenient all-you-can-peck buffet and rest stop.
Proud of his new ride and eager to share stories and tech information with other Mustangers, Shrader created a Web site called www.ponyisland.com. As visitors discovered his virtual pages, Shrader noticed many were fellow yellows asking to post information about their cars and photos on his site. Swift guy that he is, Shrader saw this as an opportunity to share his particular enthusiasm with – he initially thought – dozens of other people through the Internet so in February of 2001 he re-launched as www.yellowmustangregistry.com.
Three months later, Shrader and his wife Jennifer were amazed to realize the registry had grown to 175 entries. Within two years, like the unwary couple who adopt a St. Bernard puppy only to have it quickly overrun their house, the Shraders were devoting massive amounts of time and attention to a Web site that contained more than 2,100 registered owners (as of this writing) from 15 different countries.
The Yellow Mustang Registry, or YMR as it’s known to participants, is as active as most clubs. Its first regional meet was an informal affair on the coattails of a larger Mustang show in Orlando in February 2002 where 10 yellows showed up for a photo shoot and get-together. In May the Shraders rather anxiously put on their first stand-alone show for registry members at Earl Tindol Ford in Gastonia – 23 cars, including one owned by a couple from Buda, Texas, assembled. A week later, 32 Zinc and Chrome Yellow Mustangs participated in a 15-mile cruise around Carlisle, Pa., an event that landed the club a photo and caption on the local newspaper’s front page. Twenty-one registered cars were on display at a Ford dealership in Tulsa, Okla., for a one-day show in August of 2002.
As the number of registered owners grew, so did participation in shows. The February 2003 Orlando show attracted 60 cars, and even the storm-threatened Earl Tindol Ford show in April managed to bring in 38 diehard entries. (Perhaps the $3,000 in door prizes – including products from Steeda, Pro 5.0, Meguiar’s and Custom Performance – kept their attention.)
Obviously the Shraders don’t manage the show schedule by themselves. Dave Wagner, in Pennsylvania, coordinates northeast events; Chris Rhodes of Florida works the Orlando shows; and Ron Curran and Justin Graber make things happen in the midwest. YMR has even recruited Matt Holl, a member of Ford’s Team Mustang, who is handling the registry’s special participation in the Aug. 15-17 Woodward Dream Cruise in Dearborn.
In between shows, members spend many hours a week chatting in the YMR forum which, until recently had been housed on the www.stangnet.com server but is now on dedicated equipment thanks to 2001 Zinc Yellow Cobra owner Mark Kallio of Livermore, Calif. Subjects tend to be either of a technical nature (“Has anybody else tried this new part/product?”) or for purposes of socializing (“What color would you have picked if yellow had not been a choice?”). Shrader moderates the forum, and is usually one of the first responders to a member’s question.
In order to recoup some of the financial investment the Shraders have made in YMR, the site offers a variety of merchandise such as diecast cars, Steeda performance parts (Shrader Performance is a recognized dealer), T-shirts, decals, license plate frames, books and even a yellow No. 1 pool ball shift knob. After a member inquiry on the YMR forum, Shrader decided to build his own carpeted rear seat delete kit to drop weight and increase his luggage capacity. He liked the platform’s functionality so much he decided to produce them for sale through the YMR Web site.
The Shraders don’t mind the time and money they’ve put into YMR, because the payoff has been an expanded circle of friends and the opportunity to provide other enthusiasts with a place to meet online.
It has also brought with it the possibility for Steve to do something he’s always dreamed of: turn his hobby into a job.
“The idea is still pretty vague right now,” Shrader admits, “but adding the rear seat delete kit to the other products I offer online has really taken off. It made me realize there are still plenty of good ideas for Mustang accessories out there. If things keep growing the way they have, I may consider taking Shrader Performance to the next level as a business.”