On April 17, 1964, the Ford Mustang was unveiled to the public, and it instantly became an iconic American automobile and launched the era of the Pony Car. All the hype and hoopla wasn’t lost on an 11 year old kid in Chicago, who, with a bunch of his friends, rode their bicycles to the nearest Ford dealership to see one in person.
|1. The base 4.0L V6 engine in the new Mustang makes 210hp and 240 ft-lbs of torque.
2. 17” wheels are now standard equipment.
3. The 2010 Mustang starts at just $20,995 with the convertible model starting at $25,995.
Forty-five years later, almost to the day of the original launch, I found myself driving a 2010 Mustang V6 Convertible (minus the hot chick) on the rural two lane roads surrounding the Road America Race Track, and on some of the very same Wisconsin roads where they used to run the actual races beginning in 1953, which just so happens to be the year of my birth.
The 2010 model harkens back to the styling cues of the second generation Mustangs circa 1968 and it made me feel like a kid again. They don’t make ‘em like they used to, and thank goodness for that, as this 2010 Mustang is light years – not 45 years – better then the originals.
The rear wheel drive V6 Mustang is powered by Ford’s venerable 4.0-liter motor that is related to the Ranger pick-up truck motor, and puts out 210 horsepower and 240 ft-lbs of torque, and gets 16 city and 24 miles per gallon on the highway. OK, not great numbers, especially in comparison to the GT’s 4.6-liter V8 that puts out 315 hp and 325 ft-lbs of torque, and gets almost the same mileage at 17/23 mpg. The larger engine in the GT will, however, put a hurt on your wallet to the tune of about $7,000. And if your tire smokin’ days are behind you, the V6 will still offer plenty of sporting performance that would put the original to shame. And the current chassis would allow this new Mustang to run rings around the 1964 model.
The Mustang has been a sales hit since the retro look was reintroduced a few years ago, and for 2010 the car has received a complete make-over, yet still retains the styling that has made it so popular with drivers of all ages. It’s evolutionary, not revolutionary, and the new Mustang is still a head turner. There is a new hood featuring a power bulge; a sharper front fascia that features integrated headlight and turn signals, and a revised grill highlighting a more stylized galloping pony insignia.
In the rear, sequential taillights remind one of the late ‘60s models, but brighter LED lights are fitted. The new painted aluminum 17-inch wheels are striking. HID headlamps are now standard. Overall, the 2010 model looks a little leaner and meaner than last year’s car.
The interior wasn’t forgotten either. It still retains the retro styling, but now there is brushed aluminum accenting the soft-touch one-piece dash, and lots of chrome brightwork surrounding the gauges. The center stack has been redone with a more user-friendly layout and better feel for the buttons and switches, while the center console, with good storage, has also been remodeled. The three-spoke leather and brushed aluminum steering wheel has redundant controls for music, phone, and cruise controls. The heated leather seats have been re-contoured and are more comfortable and more supportive, which means you’ll want to spend even more time behind the wheel. And the rear seat room is surprisingly roomy for two adults, as long as the front seats are not pushed all the way back.
Even with the convertible top stowed, there is plenty of trunk room for 2 golf bags, or plenty of luggage for long touring trips. That’s one major benefit of having a soft top instead of a hardtop retractable roof that so many of the newer convertibles are going to. And that convertible top is made with quality fabric, has a nicely insulated headliner, and when folded the front edge of the top acts like a built in boot, for a clean look while the top is down.
The Mustang Convertible has a long list of standard features, including: air conditioning, power widows, locks, mirrors, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD with auxiliary input jack, cruise control, ABS brakes, Electronic Stability Control and more. My test car had the $595 Comfort Group, which includes the heated seats, 6-way power passenger seat, and Electrochromatic rear view mirror with compass. The 5-speed automatic transmission added $995 to the price, but I was disappointed that it didn’t have a manumatic feature, for those times when you feel like rowing through the gearbox yourself. It does, however, have an electronic overdrive button.
To keep the costs down, Ford has kept the old-school solid axel rear suspension, but they have made a lot of improvements to the package. Recalibrating the springs, shocks and anti-roll bars, and adding the larger wheels and tires have done wonders for the handling qualities. Quicker steering response with better feel puts the driver in a more controlled environment.
The car has some body lean under hard cornering, but it isn’t excessive, and overall it feels quite competent. There is some chassis flex with the top down, that one feels going over large potholes and railroad crossings, but no worse than I felt while driving the $203,000 Aston Martin DB9 on the same roads that day. And no annoying squeaks or rattles to mar the driving experience, which were present on the 1988 Mustang GT I once owned.
This Mustang feels solid and well built. On straight flat roads, the ride quality is supple and extremely smooth. The ABS brakes are effective and have good pedal feel. Acceleration is brisk, if not overpowering, but you are still aware that you’re driving a sporty car that is capable of putting miles of smiles on your face when encountering a challenging road.
The convertible starts at around $26,000, and the base GT Convertible begins at around $33,000. The GT offers more than just higher performance, but it’s a big jump in price. The car I drove with the Premium Package began at $28,995, and with the automatic transmission, Rapid Spec Package, Comfort Group, Premium Trim, and delivery charges, the bottom line came out to $32,825. Sadly, there are not too many convertibles similarly equipped that sell for much less. And I’d imagine in today’s market, one can buy the car for around $28,000, which isn’t a lot of money for what you get. It is certainly a more entertaining car than a Chrysler Sebring convertible or a Pontiac G6.
The new Mustang appeals to a wide variety of drivers from baby boomers looking to recapture the memories of their youth, to teenagers who are drawn to the car for the same reasons their parents were to the originals. It’s just a well-built, stylish, fun to drive American Pony Car. I’d put one in my garage in a heartbeat.
Stylish retro look inside and out
Average engine performance