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Omaha Magazine

A Special Kind of Car

Apr 13, 2020 03:39PM ● By Ryan Borchers

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Barb Hoffman loves Ford Mustangs. “I don’t feel like I’m driving a car like everybody else drives,” she said. 

When her son was growing up, Hoffman drove a traditional SUV, specifically a Ford Explorer. After he graduated from high school, Hoffman decided she wanted a sports car, so her husband, Keith, suggested they look at a Mustang. She wasn’t sure at first she wanted a car that fancy, but once she test-drove a 1999 Ford Mustang Rio Red Cobra convertible, she realized what it means to “start your engine.”

“The sound was what really attracted me, that rumble,” she said.

In the mid-2000s, she took her Cobra to the Last Fling Until Spring car show in West Point, Nebraska. It was the first auto show she had participated in, but she earned a second-place trophy.

“And then I realized,” she said, “Gosh, this is a very special car.”

 

What Hoffman did not realize is that the 1999 Cobra SVT was only produced until August of that year. It was the first Mustang to have independent rear suspension, and it had a 320-horsepower version of the four-cam, alloy-block, 4.6-liter V-8 engine. The rear bumper reads “Mustang,” whereas the next versions made read “Cobra.” Ford produced 8,095 Mustangs that year before stopping production; only 1,251 of those were Rio Red convertibles. 

She likes to go fast. Hoffman, who works as the manager of Service Specialists for SilverStone Group, now owns the Cobra and a 2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost. She and Keith switched out the seats on the EcoBoost, and later Keith and some friends added a stripe package. 

She’s even taken the EcoBoost drag-racing at the Sturgis Mustang Rally in Sturgis, S.D. The car has a combination of turbocharging and direct fuel injection that improves fuel economy without sacrificing engine power. 

“It’s just an adrenaline thing for me, I think,” she said. Winning isn’t what’s important. A former runner of half-marathons, she likes to compete against herself, trying to improve her time. “I just push it to the floor and go, and I love that."

She loves it so much, she uses the metallic gray, sporty EcoBoost as her daily driver, again making her feel as though she’s behind the wheel of a one-of-a kind car. 

 

“My EcoBoost now, there’s not another car exactly like it out there,” she said. “When you look in a parking lot, it’s gray, white, black. A lot of the cars to me look a lot alike. But I think the Mustang stands out from the other cars.”

Hoffman has been involved with the Mustang Car Club of Omaha since 2011. It’s a way for her to connect with other Mustang owners, but more importantly, it’s been a way for her and her husband to make friends. She helps plan activities for the group and Keith serves as president. Among other events, the group holds cruises in which the drivers caravan to an agreed-upon location, and it sponsors a car show in September. 

They also support charitable events, including one that holds meaning for Hoffman and her husband.

“They support Project Pink’d because my husband and I brought it to the group as a potential charity,” Hoffman said. “I was in the club when I got diagnosed [with breast cancer], but at that time we were new members. As we made friends and got more involved, I couldn’t believe the support they gave me. They are always willing to help volunteer and in turn Pink’d has helped at our annual car show.”

The Mustang Club of Omaha is involved with the Wounded Warrior Project and they fund a scholarship for a Metropolitan Community College student. 

Melody Hutsell serves as the activities coordinator. She’s been a fan of Mustangs for 45 years.

“If I had all the money in the world, I would buy all the Mustangs I could,” Hutsell said. “I would have a Jay Leno collection.”

The club members have become an important part of Hoffman’s life.

“The people I’ve met from being a member of the club…they feel like family,” Hoffman said.

One dedicated group of female members, which includes Hoffman, have what Hutsell described as their own “sub-club.”

Hoffman said there’s a spirit of camaraderie among the women and that they’ll spend time together outside of the club, getting together for events like wine nights.

“There’s friendships because we have the car[s], but I’m friends with them on another level, too,” Hoffman said.

Visit the Mustang Car Club of Omaha’s website at omahamustangs.org for more information about the group and events.

This article was printed in the April/May 2020 issue of B2B Magazine.