Dr. Valerie Scola, “Mustang Dentist,” is a classic-car devotee in auto-crazy Southern California.

Dr. Scola’s Favorite Drive
“It’s a treat to drive the Mustang anywhere, but I enjoy driving it on the Ortega Highway, which starts in L.A., cuts through the mountains and overlooks the Inland Empire. It’s a gorgeous, winding drive.”

WHICH IS THE best Ford Mustang? Ask that question around classic-car fans and you’ll be arguing for hours. For Murrieta, California, dentist Dr. Valerie Scola, the choice is easy: the first-generation 1965 Fastback she drives to work every day.

“I became interested in classic cars thanks to my husband, Austin,” says Dr. Scola. “It was a passion for him long before we met. When we first started dating, he used to quiz me about cars. I learned pretty quickly.”

OPEN WIDE: Showing off the Mustang at a car show in California. And hey, we recognize that top photograph on the placard. Meta!

OPEN WIDE: Showing off the Mustang at a car show
in California. And hey, we recognize that top photograph on the placard. Meta!

Fittingly, the 38-year-old — a member of the Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 class of 2015 — seldom runs in low gear. She was already a mother of two when she entered Indiana University School of Dentistry in 2007. While she was there, she and Austin welcomed two more kids — and, Dr. Scola proudly notes, she still graduated on time.

Her Fastback, vibrant red inside and out, still has its original 4.7-liter V8 engine, and she’s certain its iconic status helped her get up to speed with the patients she inherited when she bought an existing practice, now called Scola Family Dentistry, in January 2014. “My predecessor was rather young when she retired,” she says. “It came as a shock to most patients, so I really had to earn their trust. I think my interest in classic cars humanized me.”

Dr. Scola initially worked in magazine publishing in the Bay Area. She had grown up the daughter of a dentist in Elkhart, Indiana, and ultimately decided to pursue his line of work. “My dad is definitely an inspiration,” she says. “I try to pattern myself after him.”

In part, that means engaging in year-round community outreach; Dr. Scola provides back-to-school oral-health screenings for young children, sponsors area sports teams and raises money for Michelle’s Place, a local breast-cancer support center.

The woman known around town as “the Mustang Dentist” also participates in a handful of auto shows each year. “My car brings back wonderful memories for many of my patients,” she says. “The Mustang is a great part of Americana. It harkens back to tradition, family values and the honesty and integrity that the cars stood for.”