Way back in my college days I had a 1987 Ford Mustang LX. Sporting the 5.0L V8 and 215 HP, it was actually pretty fast back then. I remember having a blast driving the car and the power was perfect for merging into tight fast moving traffic from a standstill, something you encounter quite often on the busy streets in Silicon Valley.
After graduating from College in 1999, I traded in the ’87 Mustang and bought a used 1997 Ford Explorer Sport 4×4 from the dealer per-certified lot. I can’t remember why I chose a 4×4 in California, but I did. The vehicle was great and had very few issues in the 9 years I had it, even after driving cross-country three times. However, just last month at the 143,000 mile mark the transfer case went out. I rolled the dice and dropped $1200 to have it rebuilt thinking I could squeeze another couple years out of the car since nothing else was wrong with it. After all, I liked not having a monthly payment. But to my dismay, one month after getting the car repaired, the transfer case went out yet again.
The mechanic said the repairs were under warranty so I didn’t have to pay for it a second time, but my confidence in the Explorer waned. After fixing it a second time, I wasn’t going to take anymore chances and decided it was time to buy a new car.
Thinking back to that ’87 Mustang I had in college, I wanted something fast again that wasn’t expensive. So just last week, I bought the 2008 Ford Mustang GT Premium. I added the Comfort and the Interior Sport packages and got the car for just 0.04% under dealer invoice thanks to my employer’s no-haggle partnership with Ford Motor Company.
In my opinion, there is no point in buying a “muscle” car such as the Mustang and getting the smaller engine, so the 6-cylinder version was out of the question. Even though the 6-cylinder is just as powerful as my 1987 LX 8-cylinder, I wanted more. You’ve got to get the 4.6L V8 to take full advantage of this car and that’s what I got.
The power/torque band on this car is great. It really starts to pull hard when you hit the 3500 to 4000 rpm range. It goes from 0-60 mph in 5 seconds, but oddly doesn’t feel it because of the sport bucket seats. The handling is what you wold expect from a $24,000 car (not that great). However, I really like the feel of the steering and the car straightens out smooth and under good control when coming out of a tight turn, but anything is better than a Ford Explorer. The traction control works very well. I tested it on an icy patch and the car was reluctant to spin out of control under normal driving conditions. Granted, had I really tried to spin the car, I probably could have? If I want to spin the car, I can push a button on the dashboard to turn off the traction control. The car is also surprisingly quiet for an 8-cylinder. When you get on the gas, it gets a bit noisy, but I love the low rumble of the engine. Perhaps I’m biased having come from an Explorer that handled nothing like this car, but this car is really fun to drive. True, there are other cars out there that are way better than the Mustang, like the Subaru WRX, but you will spend about $15K more for that car. Trust me, I looked and test drove one. They are way fun, but they start at about $35K new, unlike my Mustang GT which I got for $24K out the door.
Some have called me crazy for getting the Mustang GT because I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado where it snows (albeit just a little) and gas prices are soon to be at $4 a gallon. I’ll address issue number one first. Colorado Springs averages about 13″ of precipitation a year. We see maybe three good winter storms in which ice is on the road for a total of 10 days out of 365. This amounts to 2.7% icy road days; hardly a reason to buy a 4×4 in this part of Colorado. Conversely, those who have the double cab, extended long bed, duelie with the 6.4L turbo diesel engines that average about 13 mpg drive on non-icy roads 97.3% of the year. Which sounds crazier? And if the weather is really bad and I have to get somewhere, then I’ll drive the AWD Honda CRV. Second, yes gas prices are going up, no doubt. However, I work at an Air Force base east of the city so my commute is on country/county roads with virtually no stops. The 8-cylinder engine motors along with hardly a strain so my gas mileage is actually way better than my Explorer. I averaged about 16 mpg in the Explorer and 24 mpg in the Mustang GT. I’m actually saving gas compared to my old car. Yes, I could have bought a Honda Civic or a Ford Fusion, but what’s the fun in that?
The only thing I dislike about owning a Mustang, and I remember this from my college days, is that a good chunk of the little sticker-plastered, water-melon launching, lowered rice-burners driven by a member of the “Fast and the Furious” fan club has to prove their worthiness. If I happen to be next to one of these people, they have this unbearable urge to beat me to the crosswalk across the intersection or zoom in front of me. I’ll say it now … I don’t race and I didn’t buy this car to race. But if I put as much money into my car as they put into theirs … ah, nevermind.
Anyhow, I love the car and have no complaints as of yet.