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Following in Her Mother’s Treadmarks

On a dusty Friday evening, Lucia was driving a girlfriend home in an old beater Mustang. Her friend wanted to know more about cars, and Lucia was mid-lecture when another Mustang — a nicer, newer model — rolled to a stop beside them. The classic stoplight once over gave her pause. Something was off with this dude’s car. She rolled down her window, leaned over, and asked: 

“What year is your car?”


“Those are ‘84 tail lights, you know.”

“I know.”

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Pony Love

The man in the ‘79 was Lidio Iacobelli and he fell in love with Lucia at first highly-detailed sight. In the Detroit suburb of Chesterfield, MI, Lidio and Lucia would go on to marry, start their own auto shop, and own many Mustangs together — including the very special 1988 Fox body in “Tropical Yellow,” famously featured in the monochrome BFGoodrich Tires “color” ads from the nineties. 

They named the shop Alternative Auto Performance, but folks in the area simply know it as “Lidio’s”. Famous for his memorable name and matching personality, Lidio and Alternative Auto Performance have been a mainstay of the Chesterfield automotive community for over three decades. Lidio opened the shop with Lucy in 1990 and shortly after, they started a family. 

Lucy and Lidio had two daughters, JoAnna and Nicci, but becoming parents didn’t keep them from driving the coolest cars on the block. In 1988, Lucy purchased a new notchback Fox body Mustang in Tropical Yellow. The vehicle would go on to become quite famous, but first and foremost, it was the family ride — responsible for school pickups, weekend errands, and trips to get ice cream. The only rule was you couldn’t bring your cone into the car. It would wreck the interior!

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Muscle, Mustangs, and Marriage 

A few years after she purchased the Fox body Mustang, Lucy read an article in Muscle Mustang that centered on an old familiar joke: that getting married and having kids was the grim reaper for the hobby of car collecting, condemning enthusiasts everywhere to a life of boredom. Fired up, Lucy decided to write the author a response, informing him that she was a mother of two, that she and her husband both drove Mustangs, and that things don’t always work out the way that dusty old joke says they do. 

Impressed, he flew out to Michigan to write his next article on her. It was the first of many appearances that Lucy’s Mustang would appear in a car magazine. But this first article was all about her kids, her marriage, and its shared love of American muscle. 

In spite of her passion within her marriage, a strong love of cars wasn’t something that Lucy pushed on her daughters. In fact, JoAnna recalls how she was encouraged to pursue other hobbies. But when you’re raised by and around a celebrated auto shop and its community, car fever can be hard to swerve. Actual ponies never did it for her. And JoAnna grew up to be just as into cars as her mom was. 

When she turned 18, after years of pestering, Lucy let her take that yellow Mustang to the track for a day. She was forever hooked, and immediately began saving up to buy her own. That’s when the learning and passion really took off. She began attending car meet ups with friends, and soon enough — right in the middle of a Mustang owner group photo — JoAnna met her future husband, Bryan.  

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Family-Ride Turned Community-Icon

Part of why it took years of asking for them to let her take that car out is because in 1996, it became a little bit famous. Through the car community grapevine, Lidio found out that BFGoodrich Tires was looking for colorful Mustangs to be a part of an upcoming brand campaign. He submitted Lucy’s yellow Mustang, and his orange Mustang. The yellow notchback Fox body got the company excited because it was something a little different, and arrangements were made for Lidio to bring it to an airport near their home to shoot some photos. When he learned of the presence of a stunt driver — hired to drive for the photo — Lidio said ‘absolutely not!’ If anyone was gonna be photographed driving this car, it was gonna be him. So, he put on the stunt man’s helmet, and hopped in the driver’s seat. 

The resulting image became an icon. The ad ran in many magazines, and posters became popular as well. Lidio proudly hung one in his garage, and later, when the reality show Street Outlaws premiered on Discovery network in 2013, a poster of the yellow Fox body ad frequently appeared in a garage on set. Today, reproductions of this beloved poster sell for hundreds of dollars on eBay. And JoAnna, now a car culture content creator, frequently gets tagged in posts that feature the poster hung up in garages around the world. ​​​​​​​

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These days, the Lacobelli's yellow Mustang is mostly a show car. It lacks some of the safety features required for confident days at the track, and the family doesn’t want to cut up the interior to change that. After all the attention it's received, this car is simply too special as it is. 

“It's such a legend at this point. People get so excited to see it. It’s been on so many magazine covers, as well as starred in the BFGoodrich Tires ad. Plus, it’s still a one-owner, one-family car, which adds another layer of rarity.” – JoAnna Iacobelli 

In celebration of the ad’s popularity, BFGoodrich Tires and Hot Wheels released a toy version of the car. And keeping up the family tradition of being the exact opposite of a spouse who ‘kills her husband’s hobby,’ JoAnna keeps her poster and matching Hot Wheels hanging safely in her dining room. Her entirely car-themed dining room. 

“A few years ago, my husband bought me an original poster, and my first thought was, wow, this is so valuable and it’s in really really good shape; I don't want it to get cold or weathered. I want it in the house. The obvious choice was our car-themed dining room.

I definitely get some laughs about the car room. But what can I say? We're proud of our cars. We met because of cars. Why wouldn't we make space in our lives to honor what we enjoy?” 

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Making Space 

A whole generation later, and that musty old joke about cars and marriage endures. And whenever she hears it, JoAnna gets as fired up as her mother did while reading Muscle Mustang thirty years ago. Citing herself and her marriage as prime examples, Joanna fights against the stereotype.

“I was sitting next to a big car influencer the other day, and a fan walked up to him and gushed about all the big builds and cool things that he had done. The fan went on to say ‘my ball and chain would just never let that happen for me.’ I couldn’t help myself. I jokingly replied ‘well, maybe it's time to break that chain.’ 

That earned me some looks. 

I continued, ‘I know so many women who weren’t into cars when they first got married, but found a way in with some encouragement. If, after all this time, you're with someone who doesn't support what you love, then you’re probably with the wrong someone.”

Mother knows best:

That life’s too short to love anyone who keeps your passions small.

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