Sat June 20th, 2009 Edition Drive Section: Haulin' Asphalt Reprinted
"I'll be the one driving the "91 five-point-O." Big surprise there.
Scott Halliday and I had agreed to meet at a neutral location -- the Tim Hortons in Long Pond -- and just as I identified myself as the big guy on the old bike, or some such, Scott's landmark was the vintage Pony.
I expected as much. After all, Halliday is the passion behind Allfordmustangs.com, the most massive online community dedicated to Ford's ubiquitous Mustang.
How massive? More than 75,000 members, with hundreds more joining daily.
How popular? A half-million visits a day, sometimes a whole lot more.
How enthusiastic is Scott Halliday about his project? Very.
An IT systems manager by trade, Halliday has been following his dream for years. A car guy from diapers, he chose contracts and locations based on his love of the hobby. Landing in California gave him access to the kinds of wheels -- and enthusiasts -- he needed.
Actually, it was, and is, those enthusiasts who drive Halliday's passion. Sitting at a coffee shop table on a sunny day, he will tell you as much, and then proceed to catch you up in his rolling joy. I took a pad and pen -- journalist, you know -- but notes were impossible.
He kind of reminds one of "Car Crazy" Barry Meguiar, without the creepy vibe. It's a steady stream of info. I'll try to distill a bit here for you.
Site rules: AllFordMustangs.com (AFM) is an all-inclusive site, a community as diverse as the most cosmo city on the planet, bound by the love of a single car, the Mustang. In a lot of cases, that is the only common ground the members have. Scott worked hard with the earliest members to draft up a code of conduct to make sure AFM was a safe place for any enthusiast — it is family safe; it is tolerant, even protective, of diverse views of life (too diplomatic?); it encourages everyone to join up and stay active, from the diehard grease monkey to the car-loving grandma.
Fox facts: Halliday has been working at this site for quite a few years, and he has made some good contacts and collected a lot of knowledge during that time. There are numerous articles on the site, tech stuff, car profiles, people profiles. He has written much of it, for the site as well as some magazines, and he has collected or commissioned pieces when he saw fit.
And don't let the alliteration fool you, the Fox body is just one facet of the all-encompassing site. They are all covered, from 1964 to last week -- next week, even.
Community: As much as Scott enjoys cars, all cars, it is for the car lovers he is doing this stuff. The more he talks about AFM, the more it becomes a discussion of the people who populate it. He calls them by their usernames, but for many he can put a real name in there, too.
He calls the profile pages of his members a mini Myspace, but there's nothing mini about it. Where other sites have an empty avatar and blank fields, AFM has real info, short bios of the members and stats about their cars and their activity on the site. Some of the pages I visited showed thousands of posts.
This is something Scott has worked hard to achieve. His volunteer moderators are trained to coach new members on how to make the most of their experience on the site, and they take an active roll in keeping all the forums current, active and interesting.
In hindsight, I guess I should have asked Scott for a ride in that pristine 5.0. Then again, I'm sure I'll get my chance† --
Scott recently returned to Newfoundland from the U.S. of A. His plan now is to take the AFM model and expand it. He already has a stable of sites to entice a wide variety of fans. Now he wants to wrap the whole thing into one massive package; AllAutoEnthusiasts.com (AAE). Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, he no longer has to chase the dream around the planet. He can do it from home.
Scott Halliday is proud of what he has done with AFM, and thinks it's pretty cool that the biggest Mustang fan site on the planet was started by a guy from Newfoundland.
And you know what? He's right.
Ken Simmons breathes exhaust and exhales clean, fresh air. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org