The UK has been gripped by Mustang Fever for a little while now. So much so that, well, it’s almost become a little bit boring. When I’m wandering down a cobbled street and I hear the thunderous reverbulations of a stateside V8, I get all anticipative. Whassat? Roadrunner? GTO? Cobra?
Nope. It’s always some guy in a 2008 Mustang with the loudest exhaust he could fit. Specialists all over the UK have been busily marketing imported Mustangs to Enthusiasts Of Loud Cars for several years. The plentiful nature of such beasts the other side of the pond no doubt translates to Serious Profits. Thing is, until very recently that was the ONLY way you could get a Mustang in the UK. Well, Ford have been showing right hand drive Mustangs for at least a year, there was one here on their display in 2014. Yet I’m still not 100% sure you can actually march into your local Fordmonger and buy one.
And a bigger question than that: Why haven’t I driven one?
A trip to the Ford UK website confirms it:
“The new Ford Mustang is performance and refinement personified. And it’s finally coming to Europe for the first time. That date is drawing close and whether your dream Mustang is a Fastback or Convertible, a 2.3-litre EcoBoost or 5.0-litre V8, now is the time”
Aaargh. I’m really not sure I’ve ever felt so anticipative of a new car launch. And the crazy thing is that, to our American readers any news about this car is probably as interesting as discussing a slightly different way of packaging milk. Here it’s different. MUSTANG. In UK. That’s significant.
Next question is: Will it be GOOD MUSTANG in UK? Every fibre of my body wants it to be awesome. Not just as a car in singularity, but also in the context of British roads. It’s a strange thing; an absolutely first class vehicle can be developed painstakingly and be declared a massive success in the rest of the world, yet as soon as it’s shown a British road it just doesn’t know how to deal with it. Our highways are flowing with expensive cars, their drivers wearing constant grimmaces as every tiny ripple in the road surface is amplified and transmitted directly into their jaw. I don’t know how it happens, it just does. Even the most billiard-table smooth section of road here seems to have invisible mountain ranges on its surface.
So yes. I want to drive one. I really, really do. And I want it to be good. And I want it to sell, too. In a reasonable volume. I want it to be a big success story for Ford, finally. Why? Because I love it. I really, really like how they’ve designed it. Somehow it comes over as leapfrogging all the other mustangs from 1970 to the current day as a statement of what the Mark II Mustang should have been. Every previous generation has either been a pale imitation of the original, an outright disaster or a retro throwback (please note these are merely my opinions and are probably wrong). With this Mustang I think the details are just about perfect. And if the details are good, the basics must be OK, surely.
If you’d rather have something a bit more historic, and if funds allow (Price on application… peasants need not apply) you best head in the direction of Bill Shepherd Mustang. He has built up one of the UK’s most prominent Mustang specialists, and his operation isn’t the kind that cuts corners.
They always have a choice of beautifully preserved or restored Mustangs in stock, of all ages (except, strangely, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Mustang II in their stock list…. ). Or perhaps the car in these images is more your cup of tea?
It’s a ’68 in, of course, but quite a lot of it isn’t. Including the 5.0 Coyote V8, which spins its 420hp out via a 5 speed Tremec manual ‘box. It holds its power down via a multilink independent suspension setup, and scrubs speed off using Wilwood discs. It all looks splendid in Highland Green.
So, if the New Mustang doesn’t bloody well hurry up and arrive I might need to buy this. Or the P51 in the background, either will do. It’s perhaps a shame that Ford of Europe haven’t acted a little more instinctively in feeding this demand for ponycars. They could have been selling Mustangs for years, albeit in left-hand-drive.
I guess their thought process was that, if they were going to do it at all, they wanted to do it properly. Steering wheel on the right and optimised for the UK. The only thing that remains is to find out whether they succeeded. Is it right? Every ninth of my thoughts is about hauling myself into the driving seat and starting it for the first time.
(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2015)
Goodwood FoS 2015: Mustang. Feeling A Little Horse
I’d guess that if a Mustang falls apart on British roads, it won’t be due to poor ride quality, it’ll be due to poor handling.
The roads that Ford’s engineers drive on every day are third-world grade, and straight-as-an-arrow – that’s a recipe for a comfortable car that can’t handle. (I’m not saying that the Mustang can’t handle, but if there’s a weakness, that’s where it may well be.)
A close friend who is restoring a pagoda-roof SL with his father recently happened upon a Cobra convertible of a similar vintage to mine. They were considering getting it to enjoy while the SL is in pieces. I will offer you the same advice I offered him:
They handle poorly, the ergonomics are terrible, the build quality is laughable, and it is some of the most fun you can ever have in a car. Go for it.
Postscript: I’m sure the new ones are much better.
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