Ford suggested it was time to replace the Mustang
several years ago, it didn't take long for the
reaction to set in. "No way!" was the
response from outraged Stang lovers who populate
annual Mustang classic events and have thrived
for four decades in Mustang clubs. Ford listened.
Smart move. According to the company, the vehicle
now accounts for nearly one of two sports cars
sold in the U.S. and is the top selling convertible.
Few vehicles have remained as instantly identifiable
as Mustang among average drivers as well as enthusiasts.
Today, the rear-drive pony car that has moved
through several design iterations with such badging
as Shelby, SVT Cobra R and the short-lived, downsized
two-seater Mustang II, has returned to a more
classic domination of the segment it alone never
abandoned. A total redesign a year ago remained
true to the '60s original concept. The legendary
long hood, short rear deck, side "C"
scoops, three element taillamps and galloping
pony insignia remained intact, and won lots of
Wows! and awards from enthusiasts and admirers
alike. Adjectives have abounded from, "sassy"
to "dominating" to "Bold,"
the theme of Ford's new company TV spot with a
husky voiced Kelly Clarkson crooning in the background
as it teases American Idol wannabees.
For 2006, Mustang adds a GT-inspired six-cyl "Pony
Package" and available 18-inch wheels for
the GT, the largest ever available for a V-6.
Vista Blue and Tungsten Grey clearcoat metallics
are added as new exterior colors. And a new dark
aluminum interior trim is a model year latecomer.
Buyers can accommodate individual styles by color
customizing instrument panel lighting at a touch
to achieve 125 different color backgrounds.
Standard power comes from a 4.0-liter, 210-HP
V-6 with five-speed manual transmission, or optional
five-speed automatic. Three-hundred horses stampede
out of the 4.6-liter aluminum V-8. Safety equipment
and standard amenities are enhanced in the '06
model, base priced just below $20 K for the high-volume
V-6 coupe. Anti-theft is among many options.
Unlike the full-seated Dodge Charger, Mustang's
rear seat is more accoutrement than a long-distance
place to ride, assuming one can pretzel ones way
inside. But that's expected. It's doubtful purist
Mustang fans would allow it to be any other way.