Tuesday, October 1, 2013

$15,000 Question: Ford Mustang

Back in junior high, my friends and I used to hang out at the local QuickTrip and play video games.  We'd save our lunch money or pool nickles and dimes and exchange them for quarters just to play Joust or Dragon's Quest.  Occasionally there was enough money left over for a pack of Now & Laters to split before walking home.  Usually there were one of two managers who worked afternoons at QT.  One was middle aged, sporting a wicked comb-over and generally grumpy towards us kids.  The other was in his early 20's, and to our 13 year old way of thinking, really cool.    

Part of what made him cool was he drove a Mustang, a maroon 1983 GT.

Few cars offer the combination of performance, heritage, and value of the Ford Mustang.  Now entering its 50th model year, the Mustang has been everywhere and owned by a larger cross section of people than just about any car in America.  It is an icon, one you can buy in just about any flavor for $15,000.

File:86 SVO engine bay.jpg

Mustangs come in many varieties--coupes or convertibles, 4 or 6 cylinder economy specials, V8 powered GTs, or performance versions like the Shelby and Mustang SVT Cobra.  There are even several tuner versions of the Mustang built by Saleen and Rousch, which include everything from body kits to fire breathing engines producing 700 horsepower or more.  Ford also built a Mustang SVO in the 1980's, which offered the same level of performance as the 5.0 V8 from a 2.3 liter turbocharged 4 cylinder engine.  The SVO was only made for 2-3 years, but paved the way for other specially tuned, factory Mustangs.

About the only misstep in the Mustang's history was the 1974-78 Mustang II.  Built on a Pinto chassis, the Mustang II was arguably the right car during the OPEC Oil Crisis and sold in record numbers.  But it's largely overlooked today by Mustang enthusiasts and panned by contemporary automobile publications.

My personal favorite Mustang is the Bullitt, a tribute car to the 1968 Steve McQueen movie of the same name.  To me, there's just something right about the understated car in Dark Highland Green paint with Torq Thrust wheels and a rumbling V8.

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