By on October 31, 2008

In addition to my day job, I’m also a jazz pianist. Recently, after playing an hour of cocktail music for a swank black-tie occasion, I spied an automotive anomaly while walking to my car. The familiar face of a 1968 Mustang broke up the row of elite (or elitist?) German and Japanese iron in the valet lot. “Ah,” I thought poetically, “an oasis of sincerity in a desert of automotive pretense.” But then I noticed the rectangular grill-mounted fog lamps and the lack of a pony emblem.  Drawing closer, I realized that I stood before the height of Sixties automotive fluff: a 1968 Mustang GT California Special.  The “sincerity” part of my previous thought immediately sprouted hooves and sauntered away.

Compared to the ’68 model, the 2009 Mustang California Special is more California, less special. The LBJ-era car, built exclusively for Southern California Ford dealers, consisted of a garden-variety GT with a graphics package, special interior trim and sequential turn signals. The new one loses the sequential turn signals and it’s built for everyone, including those yearning for an open car like the one I recently sampled (‘68’s were hardtop only).

Although the current-generation ‘Stang shares its good looks with the original, the California Special treatment adorning today’s example seems more like a dealer-installed profit-booster than the “Shelby-for-less” appearance package of yore. The cheap, fake plastic hood scoop and rear spoiler available on lesser GT’s compliment the cheap, fake plastic side scoops dedicated solely to the CS model– quite well, actually.  Except that they’re cheap, fake, and plastic. When the new Camaro starred in Transformers a few years back, Ford stylists must have visited the movie set, because they ganked a piece of wild, robot-looking “satin silver” plastic and used it for the fuel door on this Superflustang. Nonetheless, the unique front and rear air dams look decent, and the bright chrome exhaust tips are so righteous you’ll never notice the “California Special” badge between the taillights.

By contrast, the interior has no bright spots. Well, actually, it has several, but like the atrocious fuel door, they’re made of fake, satin-silvery plastic that looks like the chrome spray paint I used on model cars as a kid. From the steering wheel spokes to the automatic shifter to the door latch levers, I kept thinking paint might come off on my fingers. Overall, the interior doesn’t look bad, but functionally, it disappoints. For instance, the two-halved, econo-crap hand brake handle threatens to come off in your hand. And although the two-tone black and “dove” leather seats look like legitimate sporting buckets, they’re neither comfortable nor supportive.

The function-follows-form theme continues with the optional cloth convertible top. Sure, it looks a thousand times more upscale than the standard vinyl affair. But it’s not appreciably quieter when up. That ‘s a real shame, because the Shaker 1000 sound system doesn’t sound too bad (shaker, not stirred).

The real music in any Mustang should come from under the hood. In this, thankfully, the California Special succeeds. Initially, the new-for-’05 electronic throttle wasn’t the most responsive unit on the market. Now, it’s flawless; I felt like my right foot was connected to a perfectly-calibrated mechanical throttle linkage (how kinky is that?). The Stang’s 4.6-liter engine has never owned the low-end torque of Ford’s famous small-block V8, but this latest iteration brings on the fun stuff a lot sooner and smoother than any of its cammer predecessors. And although the California Special’s five-speed automatic trans isn’t the snappiest thing on the street, you’d have to leap back at least 35 years (to the crisp, old C6 three-speed) to find a Mustang automatic less slushy than this.

The same can (not?) be said of the California Special’s ride. Maybe it’s a compliment that a car can wear Z-rated performance rubber and not relentlessly proclaim the depth of every pothole to its driver. Still, you have to wonder what happened to the chassis that felt so modern and composed under the now-defunct Lincoln LS. Oh, wait…a live rear axle happened! God bless the beancounters. Or not.

Although the California’s numb steering feel is decently weighted (go figure), mid-corner road undulations undo the car’s poise enough to conjure-up the mirage of a hood ornament five feet ahead of you. Get too fast in a corner and dirty old Mr. Understeer slides into second base. But you probably won’t get too fast too often, because the brakes are less reassuring than a politician’s tax promises.

But who cares when you’re riding California-style? Be safe, adhere to the Mustang’s straight-line performance heritage, and you’ll probably have just as much fun by cruising around town, waxing adolescent-driven imports at stoplights, and – maybe – by showing up as the “different” one at your next black-tie event. Maybe even in a good way.

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62 Comments on “Review: 2009 Mustang GT California Special...”


  • avatar
    John R

    waxing adolescent-driven imports at stoplights,…

    O RLY??

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Not a bad car, in all, but the side graphics and hood scoop can leave anytime they like.

    Ford nailed it with the Bullitt: inconspicuous but capable. At least this isn’t as tacky as the GT500 and it’s ilk.

  • avatar
    Don Gammill

    John R:

    Good point, but I was thinking more along the lines of inexpensive, unmodified imports teenagers typically drive. As opposed to, say, built-to-the-hilt 12-second drag cars whose drivers cut a four-tenths better light than the bolt-on-modded Mustang in the next lane of the dragstrip. (Good video, though.)

    psarhjinian :

    The entire time I drove the CS, I was thinking that it is as much of a “fluff” version as the Bullitt is a “substance” version.

  • avatar
    John R

    Don,

    Gotcha. That’s what I was thinking. Just keepin’ ya honest.

  • avatar

    Did the tested car have the Interior Upgrade Package, which adds an aluminum trim plate to the IP? It helps.

    On the reliability front, the current generation Mustang has required few repairs so far:

    http://www.truedelta.com/latest_results.php

  • avatar
    GeeDashOff

    For 15/22 mileage I’d rather have an F150 (15/19).

    No, really, why is the gas mileage so horrible?
    It doesn’t weigh THAT much (~3300 lbs) considering the F150 weighs ~4700 lbs. Or is it just the big v8?

  • avatar
    Don Gammill

    Michael Karesh :

    Yeah, it did have the interior upgrade package, and compared to ‘Stangs I’ve seen without it, it does look better (but feels no less cheap when you touch the bright fakery).

    GeeDashOff :

    When I saw those mileage numbers, I thought it may have had the 3.55 or 3.73:1 rear axle ratio, but no, it had the taller 3.27:1 rear gear. It could just be that the automatic’s “performance” shift logic didn’t agree with the antiquated EPA testing procedures. Or maybe the ultra-responsive throttle caused heavier injector cycling throughout the test? Who knows?

  • avatar
    carguy622

    My brother has the California Special coupe. It’s his second, he wrapped the 1st around a guardrail while it was raining and the rear broke free.

    The interior is definitely chintzy, and the gauges, while cool looking, are hard to read quickly. The engine and styling are the car’s best attributes. The five speed manual is pretty good as well. Smooth through the gates, with a predictable clutch. The live rear axle definitely lets the handling down though. Take a bump in a curve and the rear end steps out. I did appreciate the cushy ride, but the seats felt like they belonged in the Town Car.

    All Ford needs to do for 2010 is button down the rear end, upgrade the interior a bit, and add a six speed manual to all the models.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    I really don’t get all the Mustang reviews that critique the finer points of the Mustang’s handling portfolio. I mean honestly, who cares? Certainly not Mustang owners; if they wanted a car that can go around corners, they’d get one. That’s really not what the ‘stang is about – it’s about a glorious, bellowing V8, big smokey burnouts, and the whole hairy chested male stereotype thing.

  • avatar

    Mrb00st:
    The year is 2008. There is no excuse for outdated technology in a car like this. Ford has and can put a real suspension in this car to make it handle, but they don’t. That’s why. And it’s a damn shame because yes, there’s more to life than a straight line.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    GeeDashOff :
    October 31st, 2008 at 9:43 am

    For 15/22 mileage I’d rather have an F150 (15/19).

    No, really, why is the gas mileage so horrible?
    It doesn’t weigh THAT much (~3300 lbs) considering the F150 weighs ~4700 lbs. Or is it just the big v8?

    Curb weight is a bit elusive… I can’t find it in Ford’s specs (shitty pdf) or anywhere on their unimpressive website. From an Internet search, it appears that the curb weight of the convertible GT model is around 3,614 lbs. The regular GT is around 3,483. It’s no Corvette, so they have to shore up that topless chassis to keep it from becoming jello.

    Mileage is 15/23 with the manual GT. A tall sixth gear would help that highway MPG.

    This particular model is tacky. And white doesn’t do it any favors to my eyes. I’ll just close ‘em and listen to that incomparable V8 exhaust note (that the Corvette should have had).

    And back to the topic of stability control from yesterday’s sedan comparo… If there was ever a vehicle that could benefit from it, this is it.

    Looks like a 2010 replacement is coming. Should be interesting. I’d like to see a race-ready, gutted, roll-caged specimen offered that is hell-bent on saving weight and providing a good platform for entry level racers.

  • avatar
    Qusus

    The live-axle may be outdated but there is an excuse for it; it’s cheap.

    Besides, it handles pretty well (yes even in turns) as long as the road is smooth. Unfortunately, real world curves are often not.

    Still, I think the car drives superbly, and not just in straights. (Well… mostly in straights.)

    Also, the 2010 isn’t a replacement. It’s just a refresh. No chance for a “race-ready, gutted, roll caged specimen,” if anything the 2010 will undoubtedly add weight to what is frankly a pretty lightweight car compared in today’s terms.

    And sorry, there’s just no chance that a platform this large could be a serious entry level racer imo. It’s great for aesthetics, proportion, and ride comfort but the size and length is just too prohibitive for real racing. (Of course, I hear Mustangs apparently post good track times with minimal modifications.)

  • avatar
    NickR

    I agree, of all the Mustang special editions, this is the one I dislike the most. Nothing functional about it, and what is decorative detracts, rather than complements the design. I always hated faux special editions like this.

    I am still hoping that Ford will one day produce a Boss 5.4 version of this that sells at relatively modest premium over the GT.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Does anyone other than me find it bad that your (Ford’s) interior is so horribly bad, that you have to offer an “Interior upgrade Package”?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The year is 2008. There is no excuse for outdated technology in a car like this. Ford has and can put a real suspension in this car to make it handle, but they don’t. That’s why. And it’s a damn shame because yes, there’s more to life than a straight line.

    I’m not a Mustang apologist–I’d never, ever buy the car–but I’d like to make a few points:
    * A solid axle car can handle quite well. What it can’t do is ride well at the same time. You lose a modicum of body control, that you notice only when hitting a bump under power.
    * The Mustang is very cheap for the power it puts out. I’d imagine Ford is making quite a bit more money on this car than GM or Chrysler make on their respective pony cars
    * For a four-seat car with this kind of performance, it’s quite light. Again, the Camaro and Challenger will likely weigh a lot more.

    For what most owners ask it to do (ad-hoc drag-racing, light track use), it’s a good choice. If you want the Ultimate Cornering Machine, you’ll need to give on power, price and/or reliability.

    Where the Mustang falls down, comparatively, is in it’s powertrain. Ford’s engines just aren’t as strong as it’s competitors. If GM survives long enough to punt the Camaro out the door, this is going to be painfully obvious. Ford’s only hope is to keep the price and the mass down, and that live axle helps both.

  • avatar
    Don Gammill

    psarhjinian :

    I can’t agree with you more about the role that value (performance per dollar) plays here.

    Think of the icon the original Mustang was and is. Now, remember that Ford built that original Mustang on the Falcon platform – the company’s cheapest entry level sedan. Could you imagine if the current Mustang sat atop the Focus chassis?

    The point is that the car has evolved to the extent that it’s now being compared to an entirely different class of vehicles – and unfortunately, it finds itself outclassed by almost all of them.

    My problem isn’t that I want the Mustang to actually compete on the level of vehicles like the 3-Series or 350Z, but rather that Ford could have brought it a lot closer to that level with a relatively minimal investment (i.e. better interior and IRS).

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    “the crisp old three-speed C6″

    The C6 had the dubious distinction of being the most inefficient slushbox ever built – up to 60hp was lost between its input shaft and output shaft.

  • avatar
    NickR

    The C6 had the dubious distinction of being the most inefficient slushbox ever built – up to 60hp was lost between its input shaft and output shaft.

    Which was the most efficient? Please say 727 Torqueflite and not the TH350.

  • avatar
    Don Gammill

    Paul Niedermeyer:

    Right you are, Paul, but I was making the comparison relative to other Mustang automatics.

    Power hog that it is, a bone-stock C6 in a big-block late-’60′s or early-’70′s Pony will provide firmer, more positive-feeling shifts than any of the crappy AOD-derrived automatics Ford stuffed in the car during the twenty odd years of the Fox-platform Mustang. Not to mention the advantage the C6 has in reliability.

    Interestingly, the Mustang’s current 5R55 line of auotmatics do not have dip sticks. Ford recommends that the dealer perform fluid checks via a method that involves removing a tube from the side of the trans and inserting your finger, or some nonsense like that. At least one aftermarket trans pan includes a dip stick kit, but get ready to shell out over four bills for it.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    The live-axle may be outdated but there is an excuse for it; it’s cheap…

    While this is certainly true, there are two more reasons for the live axle. One, it is anvil reliable. It can take a lot of abuse, and it can be upgraded to handle even more power. Two, a large amount of the Mustang faithful prefer the live axle because of the advantage it provides in drag racing.

    Still, I really would like to see a proper independent suspension for all around improvement in ride and handling. Make a live axle available as a “drag pak” option.

    Regarding the transmission issue, I can’t vouch for efficiency, but the Torqueflite 727 was a legend in reliability. Even the “lesser” A904 was a really good unit. Even more could be said for the 3 speed FWD transmissions-these usually outlasted the car (save the snide “that should be easy in a POS car comments, please). The 604? Well, that would be the waterloo of modern transmissions…

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I share the non-love for the California Special, it doesn’t look especially different, and there aren’t a ton of upgrades to justify the price. The Bullitt (which btw comes in cheaper than the CS) is a better buy anyday.

    I have never considered the Mustang interior (of the current generation) to be bad however. Yes, there are some cheap parts (the auto shift handle and the parking brake as noted have obvious mold lines, which I do find unacceptable), but the seats have always been the perfect blend of support and comfort for me (I will admit I am larger than your average man), the aluminish dash is straightforward and nice looking, and the gauges are a good compromise between style and functionality. Really, all Ford has to do is fix some mold lines, replace or recoat areas currently covered in hard plastic with soft touch or leather, and hide some obvious transitions from plastic to carpet, and the interior would be top notch.

  • avatar
    James2

    Can some engineer (or accountant) in the audience please explain exactly why a live axle is cheaper than an independent rear suspension. Is it a matter of number of pieces in the puzzle?

  • avatar
    rudiger

    The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of Mustang buyers (those who buy the V6 secretary specials) won’t know or care about the advantages of IRS over a live rear axle. To them, the Mustang is sporty (at least in appearance) and inexpensive, and those have been the Mustang’s main claims to fame since the model’s introduction some 45 years ago.

    Ford learned this through experience when they tried to introduce IRS on the old Thunderbird (the one before the retro two-seater) and quickly found out that the expense wasn’t worth it to the intended market demographic.

    As an aside, does anyone know what live axle components (if any) the Mustang shares with other vehicles (such as the Ranger or Crown Victoria)? The cost savings of sharing major components would almost certainly be a significant contributing factor in Ford wanting to retain a live axle in the Mustang.

    The bottom line is that Ford has plenty of justification and legitimate rationale for retaining the archaic live axle setup in the Mustang.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of Mustang buyers (those who buy the V6 secretary specials) won’t know or care about the advantages of IRS over a live rear axle.…

    Would you say the same for the “secretary” buyer of the Accord Coupe? You know the one who might have bought a Mustang but (for valid reasons or not) purchased her Accord instead? Perhaps then Honda should have saved some money on the base Accord by installing a rear beam axle instead. Of course, thats not the Honda way, or wait…didn’t Honda delete the rear discs and put drum brakes on the rear of volume selling Civics to save some pennies?…Soichiro Honda should be turning in his grave…

    As an aside, if find it funny that important improvements in design like the items above get the beancounter knife, yet worthless crap like electric parking brakes or keys that aren’t keys become must haves…

    Last item, going back to the IRS for the Mustang. It was supposed to have IRS instead of a live axle for the original introduction. Ford killed it to save a few pennies, but it was completely designed. In HOT ROD Magazine (a “dirty hands” publication), they ran a story about a guy who got their hands on the original design documents and built the original IRS that was intended for the Mustang. As best as I can recall, this story ran about 6 or so years ago. He installed it in a ’60′s car and went for some test drives. There were plenty of photos of both the design document and the completed product he built. They brought an unmodified car for some back to back comparisons. The difference was like night and day. Another opportunity squandered. Ford could have been known as the maker of cars that handled better than all their competitors. All lost in the short sighted eye of the accountant. The more things change the more they stay the same…

  • avatar
    Qusus

    I think you guys are underestimating the cost of an IRS… it’s not “pinching pennies.” I don’t believe Ford’s 5k to the price of every car argument, but there’s no doubt the cost is substantial.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Wasn’t there a Mustang back in the late 90s/early 2000s that had IRS? The Cobra? I also remember that it was very expensive for a Mustang.

  • avatar
    Don Gammill

    The North American-market Ford rear-wheel-drive cars that came from the factory with IRS were:

    1985-1989 Merkur XR4Ti

    1988-1989 Merkur Scorpio

    1989-1998 MN-12 cars (T-Bird/Cougar/Mark VIII)

    1999-2004 Mustang Cobra

    2000-2006 Lincoln LS

    2002-2005 Thunderbird

    (Not to mention two non-car Fords: the current Expedition and Explorer)

    Am I missing any here?

    The Mustang’s current S197 platform is basically a modified version of the Lincoln LS/2002 T-Bird/Jaguar S-Type DEW98 platform, which was born with IRS – the Mustang is the only version with a SRA setup.

    Yes, all of the vehicles on the above list were probably less profitable because Ford spent (invested) the extra money on an independant rear suspension, but to many of the people who owned them, the expenditure was very much worth it, and a better consumer perception of Ford’s ride and handling characteristics was the highly possible result.

  • avatar
    Qusus

    Hey Don,

    I was under the impression that the S197 is not that closely related to the Lincoln/Thunderbird/S-Type platform. While this was the initial plan, Ford scrapped it because they thought it would be too costly and only the floorpan made it over. Am I wrong?

  • avatar
    Don Gammill

    Okay, I should have probably said that it was a “heavily-modified” version of the DEW98 platform, but my source for that was a Ford engineer I spoke with back in 2005 who actually used the term “DEW98-S197″ when referring to the chassis and didn’t make too big a deal about the differences.

  • avatar
    Qusus

    Interesting. Thanks for the info Don.

  • avatar
    rodster205

    You bash the silver fuel door so much but then your (stock) photos don’t show one. My friend’s 2007 CS doesn’t have this either. I think yours had a dealer-add on fuel door, the photos here prove it isn’t part of the package.

  • avatar
    rodster205

    golden2husky, you don’t know what you are talking about in regards to Hondas. Civics did not have rear disks until the 90′s, and then only on the SI’s, and later added them to the loaded EX’s. And still only the EX Accords (and a few oddball LXs) have rear disks. I have owned numerous Civics from ’82 model up, and none of them ever had rear disks. I believe Mr. Honda was alive and well (and in control) at the time.

    By the way, Civic & Accords didn’t (and don’t) need rear disks either. On a normal street Honda with economy tires and no ABS you can easily lock the rears with drums if you try. The drums provide more than adequate braking force for the rear on a Honda.

  • avatar
    Don Gammill

    rodster205 :

    I never said that the (100% bash-worthy) silver fuel door cover came with the CS package…but I suppose I didn’t make the distinction that it was optional, either.

    Regardless, the offensive piece of crap was an honest-to-goodness factory option (listed on the sticker) on the CS convertible I had.

    This could be one of those “factory options” that is shipped with the car (in the trunk) and then installed during the PDI process at the dealership. I’m pretty sure it’s also sold as a dealer-installed accessory that can be retro-fitted to any Mustang should the buyer suffer such an aggregious lapse in judgement as to want one.

    Nonetheless, it’s horrible, regardless of which variety of Mustang it happens to infect. It warranted mentioning, however, because its superfluous nature dovetailed perfectly with everything else about the California Special package; it just took the theme of superficiality a little further.

  • avatar
    netrun

    @nullomondo and anyone else who thinks the Mustang “upgraded” interior is all that:

    Have you sat/drove in one of these Mustangs after it had 10-15k miles on it? All that chincy aluminum paint wears really poorly. So the “brightwork” around the gear shift shows marks quickly. The gear shift looks car-rental abused from any rings on the driver’s hand or occasional contact. The door handle also looks like garbage quickly. Not to mention the black, hard plastic door panels show every accidental shoe mark.

    A used Mustang interior is not pretty and I would think hurts the resale of the car substantially.

  • avatar
    davey49

    netrun- I doubt the wear is any worse than any other car in that price range

  • avatar
    CliffG

    How many things can you sell to the same market segment? While this one strikes me as being the wife’s car, still, it sits in a driveway with an F-250 and the Harley is in the garage. But, that demographic isn’t getting younger, or richer for that matter, and the kids may not be into the same stuff. Meanwhile, the grandparents are buying Hyundais (the last Buick being such a POS, they aren’t doing that again), and the kids? Who knows, but the Mustang Fill-In-The-Black probably isn’t it. This is a dead market. Oh, you clear coat that silver on your models and it doesn’t come off.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Rodster205:

    I guess I did a poor job of making my point, that being Ford is not alone in these accounting over engineering decisions. Ford, in my opinion, deserves some heat for sticking with solid axles. I chose to pick on Honda to point out that others make the same cost driven compromises. I will concede that I am hardly a walking library of Honda’s past configurations, but most cars didn’t have rear discs before the early 90′s. By the early 90′s, many cars had them, and some were pretty pedestrian, like the 92 Sable that I used as a station car. (As an aside, Ford cheaped out and eliminated them on later Taurii) I don’t understand your statement that “Accords and Civics don’t need” disc brakes and you give the ability to lock the Honda’s drum brakes up as a justification of your assertion. Isn’t the prime reason for discs over drums the ability to resist fade after repeated heavy braking, not locking up the wheels? And if Hondas don’t “need” discs, how come the Honda enthusiast boards are loaded with “how-to” postings on drum to disc conversions? Lastly, DISC, not disk! Such a mistake would be forgivable if this was not an auto enthusiast site.

  • avatar
    old tom cat

    guys, I am 60 years old and really yearning for the old days when I had a 66 GT, of course without the throaty mufflers. I need that sound again and am wanting to buy the GT. Is that Cal Special really so bad—I mean for only $1895, that’s not much more when I am spending 30 grand on the rest of the car. Am I just an old fool for buying this?

    • 0 avatar
      joroti

      I’m 50 and felt the same way and bought one and love it and get compliments on it all the time. But, I’m not elbow to elbow with sports-car-trivia-know-it-alls. I am going to talk to my husband about replacing the non-functional scoop with a functional scoop, and IRS eventually, I also might upgrade the chrome in the interior eventually. The reviews on the mustang according to other forums has been awsome, so don’t be discouraged by this forum.

  • avatar
    Don Gammill

    old tom cat :

    You’re certainly not an “old fool” for wanting a car like the Mustang C/S; however a carefully-optioned regular GT Convertible would probably represent a much better value. The loaded car I tested stickered at $40,530…the money you’d save by passing up on the C/S package and several of the other options this vehicle came with would more than pay for a good aftermarket cat-back exhaust system.

    • 0 avatar
      bomis4

      Got mine for 25,000 out the door as seen in your pictures above,with 149 miles on it in june of 2010!Best car I ever owned and one of the best deals I ever got!Found out they only made 938 of the convertables,this car just keeps getting better the more I read,,thanks for all the info!I bought it cause of its throw back looks ond 2nd gear and knocking back more than 15k off the sticker helped.

  • avatar
    old tom cat

    Hi Don,

    What is a “cat-back” exhaust system? When I was in my youthful days, we installed what was then called “glass packs”. Don’t these 2009′s come with that throaty muffler system already installed? I followed a fellow around town for 15 minutes last week, just listening to him going through the gearbox so I could hear the mufflers. I was hoping that mine would come with the same sound.

  • avatar
    Don Gammill

    A “cat back” system is the generic term for any of a number of exhaust systems currently available in the automotive aftermarket for late model vehicles. They attach just past the catalytic converters so as not to disrupt the function of the engine’s emissions system. Generally, a cat back system consists of the exhaust pipe(s), muffler(s), and in some cases, cross-over (“X” or “H”) pipes to improve performance and sound.

    Most, if not all, cat back systems include baffled “turbo” mufflers of some type. These mufflers are different from the media-filled mufflers that come stock on most new vehicles and have for years. Instead of stuffing media (such as the fiberglass in your “glass packs”) into the muffler housing to disrupt and absorb some of the sound waves, modern “turbo” style performance mufflers (so named because they were originally developed for turbocharged engines) use a specially-designed maze of baffles within the housing to cancel out many of the sound waves the engine produces – they’re usually louder than their media-filled counterparts, but they decrease backpressure and therefore allow the engine to breathe better and make more horsepower.

    The C/S doesn’t come with any special exhaust system (though I think the Bullitt does, and I know the Shelbys do), but all Mustang GT’s have a slightly aggressive exhaust note. Ford has an “axle back” exhaust system for ’05-current Mustangs available through dealer parts departments and other Ford performance parts retailers (for about $500) that would probably give you everything you’re looking for. But shop around and you may find similar systems from other major exhaust system manufacturers for even less.

    The best advice I could give you would be to visit some of the larger online Mustang owners forums and see which exhaust systems are the most popular.

  • avatar
    old tom cat

    thanks Don,

    That about sums up everything I need to know about getting some exhaust sound.

    I appreciate your time.

    Tom

  • avatar
    old tom cat

    Hi Don,
    Just thought I’d let you know that I ordered a C/S this past Tuesday. Just like the pictures above-same white color, same interior color scheme. Same exterior options, etc.

    I thought I better do this while Ford is still in business. My friends at work think that I am nuts and have gone crazy. There is no justification, other than the fact that I had Mustangs years ago and once you’ve had the fever, it never goes away………. By the way, my wife is totally supportive–she is happy that it is a car rather than another woman ( and it is cheaper too!).

    I am getting the Ford dealer to install their axle-back exhaust system as it sounds a little more deeper than stock GT.

    Thanks for your help. Tom cat

  • avatar
    Don Gammill

    Congratulations, Tom. I hope you enjoy your new Mustang and that it turns out to be a safe, dependable vehicle. And I’m glad you got a white one. The one I drove was red, and the CS graphics just didn’t stand out enough.

    Just tell me one thing: Did you opt for the silver plastic fuel door cover?

  • avatar
    old tom cat

    Thanks, Don. I know that I am going to enjoy it. I am getting antsy now. The dealer told me to expect 6 weeks until delivery and it has just been one lonnnnnnnnnng week already.

    No I did not get the “chrome” fuel door cover. It stood out “too much” and really did look cheesy. My wife also did not like it; she called it “nasty” and that kinda made me feel skeptical too. To be honest, I have not seen one live on a car, but from the pictures, it just looked out of place and interrupted the smooth lines of the car.

    I usually choose white whenever I buy a new car, as that color generally makes whatever the make of car is stand out as being larger than the other colors do. My favorite color though is red, but in this case you are correct, the C/S decal striping does not stand out very well against a darker color. The white with black trim decals and top is just simply outstanding, as you can see from the pictures above. Plus, it seems that red Mustangs are everywhere these days. I have yet to see another white C/S car in the Raleigh NC area, so for a while, I will be the only one around.

    By the way, when we rented a Mustang convertible a couple of years ago, it took forever to fill the fuel tank because the auto nozzle kept cutting off whenever I tried to increase the flow rate. I actually had to slow the flow down to a trickle. The gas station attendant said this was typical for “those cars” and I wondered if we had a defective filler line to the tank?

  • avatar
    Don Gammill

    From everything I’ve read on online message boards, the gas fill issue was a common problem for ’05 and ’06 models. However, the 2007 Shelby GT-H Mustang convertible my wife and I rented in Maui earlier this year had the same problem. I’m sure there’s a Ford Technical Service Bulletin out about it, though, so check with a service advisor or the service manager at your local dealership.

  • avatar
    nl1357

    Not to be disrespectful, but whoever wrote this lousy review on this particular car is an idiot. I personally own a 2007 GT/CS (white convertible). It rides extremely well, drives extremely well, handles extremely well, etc etc. I will note that mine did come with the interior upgrade, comfort group, limited slip axle, basically every usable upgrade you could add. I also had my dealer add Ford’s performance upgrade which gave it a more “throatier” sound without being overbearing like the x-pipe, and a cold air intake. This gave it a little more than 350 hp total, and was well worth the cost, especially since at that time this particular performance upgrade came with Ford’s standard 3 year warranty that came with the car. I will NEVER get rid of this car!

    • 0 avatar
      bomis4

      Thats awesome to hear.I bought the 09 in June of 10 with 149 mile on it,I love this GT/CS.It”s the 300 horse power they won’t honor the warranty if I upgrade Ford told me,so im glad to hear yours jumped to 350 horse can’t wait for that on mine!I also will not ever get rid of this car.The person who wrote this review is wrong!Thanks for your input.

  • avatar
    nl1357

    Oh yes, and I have NEVER had any gas fill issue as reported here. Basically, I’ve never had ONE single problem with this car, and based on my experience, if you can find one (I live in Oklahoma and my dealer had to go to Missouri to find mine), get the convertible with the bun warmers (heated seats) and the performance upgrades, its like riding a motorcycle!! QUITE FUN!!

  • avatar
    nl1357

    Lastly, I don’t know where you got one fully loaded that stickered for 40k, but fully loaded with all the upgrades, etc., mine was 33k and well worth the money!!!!

  • avatar
    old tom cat

    Dear nl1357 and Don:

    I just took possession of my brand new 2009 GT/CS–exactly like the pictures shown here: white with black top and the black/dove gray interior–hood scoop and all. I was incredibly lucky to get one of the last ones made–the dealer told me that Ford has now ceased production of the ’09 and is retooling for the 2010.

    This is one SWEET ride…………….the power is so much more awesome than my HP289 ever was.

    I have a couple of comments:
    1. I don’t find the seats uncomfortable at all and in fact they sit really good to me, especially after all of the adjustments with the lumbar support. I have an Escape, so anything is comfortable after riding in that covered wagon. The interior passenger side is sparse, but it looks better than GM’s cars ever did.
    2. nl1357, please give me details on what that Ford performance package is that you mentioned. I have the Ford Racing Performance mufflers getting installed this weekend (ordered them from Ninosport). The CS package was supposed to include a larger air intake (I don’t know what the stock on looks like, so I must assume that Ford did add it on). Is there something else included in this dealer-installed package besides the mufflers? What do I ask for when I talk to my dealer? If it gives an additional 50HP, then I would like to do this. By the way, how much did it cost?

    Lastly, don’t be too hard on the reviewer—he was just stating his opinion. Personally, I am so overjoyed at getting this limited edition jewel that I can’t yet see any flaws.

    Let me know as soon as you can–if possible before Saturday.

    Thanks,
    Tomcat

    • 0 avatar
      bomis4

      Please let me know about the upgrade package for the 50 extra horse,I also got the same on as shown in this review.I bought mine with 149 miles on it in June of 2010 so they said if I upgraded for more horses the 3-36,000 miles would be void.Mine GT/CS is the 2009 by the way.If you could ,let me know what you had done and how much it cost,Thank-you.And by the way in 2009 they made 1705 GT/CS coupes and only 938 GT/CS convertibles,Im so happy with this car and under a 1,000 production run makes it better;)

  • avatar
    old tom cat

    Guys, got those new Ford Racing Performance mufflers put on Monday am. MAN is this thing now one fast SOB. It is incredible how much freer the engine can now belch out the exhaust….. I am a little bit old to be messing around with this much power, but I will admit it is a great feeling to have this in my hands.

    By the way, I filled up the tank this past Saturday and there is no fuel filler problem. The gas goes in totally unrestricted. Whatever that was in 2006 has now been solved.

    See you guys in the wind………

  • avatar
    stang22

    Who ever wrote this review needs to get a life and this is not a bad car, 5 star crash rating. I own a 2008 black c/s GT and I love it and im keeping it forever. Theres not really any cars that can beat it for around the price that it is.I love beating these imports and other cars, they all ways think they are faster yea in my rear mirror.0-60 in 5.1 sec and I have all the options you can get.I also put flowmasters axlebacks on much louder and sequential tail lights a must have from americanmuscle.com and when I have my lights and fog lights on everybody seems to flash there high beams at me so I flash them back do you guys get to.

  • avatar
    old tom cat

    Hey Don,

    Thought you might be interested in what’s been going on lately. I ordered a pair of the “45th Year Anniversary” chrome emblems that come on the stock (non-CS) 2009 Mustangs. I could not pass on the idea of making this car even more special. Now I just need to find the right place to mount them. On the standard cars, they are located where the black C/S stripes go, so I’ll have to find someplace else.

    Man, again, I just cannot get over the torque and power curve in 2nd and 3rd since I put those Ford Performance Racing mufflers on!!

    Old tom cat

  • avatar
    Phineas

    Old tom cat, nl1357, stanng22,

    I appreciate that you guys are critical thinkers. Henry Ford is an American hero. Regret that his offspring are disappointing and dropped the ball. Who would spend a moment worrying about an IRS vs. solid rear axle on a Mustang; it has a posi-track rear end and traction control. US roads are excellent and most sane folks drive carefully near the speed-limit. A solid-axle is just fine under these conditions. If you must have IRS, then get serious, insist for the real thing only, and buy a porsche, not a copy cat look alike wanna be rice box.

    Recently found a true gem- new (dealer demo) white CS black cloth convertible loaded including GPS, Sirus Sat radio and HID lights. The patriarch owner of a Ford dealership in Michigan had it stashed in his Florida get-away house garage. He and his wife are in their 70′s and love it. Now it is our baby to enjoy.

    My wife is flying down today to drive it back to our Texas ranch. She, my daughter, and her friend will stop-over at Disney and then see the parents nearby along their way towards home. The CS- It is truly a great collector car. Don’t sell yours soon! Shred the title! Its fun to add performance improvements and attend Mustang gatherings. Ever heard of a Honda cars gathering?

    Shortly, I’ll have a dealer coordinate the other accessories added that you guys discussed. Plus I’ll try to enhance the interior with aftermarket Hurst shifter and console accoutrements for a more professional look & feel. Sequential LED tai lights are a must. The 2010 design is slipping away from the Mustang mark, especially the rear end and strange tail lights. Its scary to see.

    The CS is not available in 2010 and this 2009 run may be the last. Recall the idiots in WDC mandated 1.6 gal flush toilets to save water. Now everyone flushes more often for appropriate results, thus using more water in the process.

    No doubt these WDC bozos (even if they can’t grab our guns) will soon mandate in a few years from now that all cars shall have an engine no larger than 2-cyl. getting 100-mpg. Then they’ll force the OEMs to make battery cars solely later on. Since the gov owns the OEMs now, their mismanagement of the USA will further infect the OEMs previous mis-management.

    In Singapore, cars beyond 5-yrs age must be disposed. In Canada, old cars parked around houses pending future restoration, must be hauled off or hidden with their guns. The commies want the masses on trains and buses, not in cars.

    The Camaro’s project manager is an affirmative action recipient, who never played with one in his earlier days. The car is tacky with the head & tail lights’ tops cropped off by the body. The gauges on the console is not ergonomic and will fill with spilled sticky soft drinks. Its heritage is lost forever.

    The Challenger and Charger don’t have battery and oil gauges, but are available with 4-doors. Good looking 2-door model but a muscle car without at least 6 factory gauges is a bust.

    We also have an F250, two Ford cabin tractors, Jeep CJ7 and 2 BMWs. We previously owned 3 Mustangs and 1 camero, so we know good cars from crap. We have a full-size landcruiser at our house in Africa. Its strong but too heavy for the bush.

    Got the LC stuck once near river and required to hire a Cat D8 to pull it out. Too heavy-wheels sin deep fast! Its embarrassing being in a Japanese vehicle so I sit in the back while our driver deals with the roads and crazy drivers.

    That UK guy named Jeremy on his Tv show drove a Mustang and had some stiff-upper lip, snooty comments, although he liked driving it as he had said so, but he seemed envious that the UK has nothing to compare. It was then I realized Jeremy is in the closet. This was not a man who belonged in nor appreciates a muscle car. His opinions are to be dismissed. Tata (India) now owns jag and rover, which makes Mahindra tractors, those 3-wheeler taxis & other pieces of various junk, such as the Nano.

    Thus for jeremy I place my recommendation on the type of car he secretly dreams for – the special “Pink Mustang” (the breast cancer special model.) I can no longer watch his show as his voice and face make me ill -due to my aversion to blubber, blabber, and boobs.

    Real cowboys don’t drive up in Japanese pickups to a rodeo, BBQ, or FHA gathering. Expect to be run-off and laughed-at. These rice burners cars and trucks from japan, korea, china, and other parts of asia are always of quite freaky designs. I was once behind a lexus with a license plate stating “WWII disabled veteran purple heart (pacific navy).” Munchousens Syndrome?

    When you see a Peterbuilt, MAC, Kenworth, 18-wheeler in Africa and Asia, which are there for performing the big heavy-duty works, compared to European & asian trucks, you’ll understand and respect that indeed American-built vehicles are best.

    If the American car OEMs continue to follow the foreign import designs as a means of competition to survive, say bye. In my humble opinion they need to continue building American muscle Mustangs, F250s, Camaros, Challengers, Chargers, Jeeps and Lincoln Continentals as the US market niche.

    Some day we will no longer be flooded with cheap imports that fill our dumps. Our factories and good jobs will be returned. JerUSAlem and its Israelites will be freed here from usury and globalist monopolies. The LORD has promised it to be so.

    Later,
    Phineas

  • avatar
    bomis4

    I own this 09 GT/CS,same one as shown,and I love this car!Take off the TCS and it will Smoke from here to kingdom come,the car is so lite the rear end wants to dance on ya bad (way fun) I pop that 2nd gear it wants to start skipping rope.1st 40,2nd72 and 3rd 120 easy and still have 4th and 5th too go,havent been able to do that yet.The seats in this car are very comfy and beautiful with the two tone color,and when its cold they heat up, Awww thats nice.It”s looks are what got me,a blast from the past,Ford nailed it at least they did for me:) on this one and I have never been a Ford guy.57,63,67,68,73 and 88 chevys and Loved them all,they were all fast too with exception for the 63.For me this 09 GT/CS is all those car together and better.I didnt buy it for its handling abilitys,bought it for its throw back looks and American Muscle and I just flat out took my breath away and to boot they only made 938 convertibles and I have one ,happy about that also!Now I need to go drive my Awesome and I still cant believe im saying,my Ford GT/CS fully loaded convertiable Mustang;)

  • avatar
    fsheff

    After lo, these many years, I’m not going to bother pointing out the several errors by posters on both sides of the GT/CS desirability issue. I will tell you what was happening and why I eventually owned two of them.

    In mid-2008 the S197 Mustang was well-established as an attractive, useful package to serve as the base for “personalization” of a good-looking, relatively inexpensive, relatively high-performance car. When I was shopping Mustangs the GT/CS and Shelby GT front valence and the GT/CS, Shelby GT, and Shelby GT500 rear valence were common add-ons that could distinguish those cars from the standard GT. The hood scoop is part of the GT Appearance option, not the GT/CS. The wheels, 18×8.5 “Bullitt”-style items were popular and attractive. Two-tone seats and interior were addtitonal distinctions. “Rolled-tip” exhaust came with both the GT/CS package and the GT Appearance thing. (I got both; still seems to me I was over-charged one way or another.)

    I did the “careful shopping” among GTs and found that the GT/CS package was a good deal cheaper than sourcing and adding the individual options that I liked, and although a few Mustang GTs slipped out of the factory with two-tone interiors, I’ve never heard of a GT with the two-tone seats.

    So, the answer was: I expected to add just about all the GT/CS options to a GT, the GT/CS made it easy, plus the two-tone business. Worked for me. The first one I bought was the 2009 manual-shift coupe version, in white. Carroll Shelby his own self derogated it in person, in Lajitas/Terlingua, Texas. It eventually did creditable work in a track day at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway and in quite a few autocross efforts. Just last week I traded it on a 2013 black six-speed 5.0 coupe. I didn’t get the new-and-different GT/CS because it and the Brembo brake (and wheel) package are mutually exclusive. Looks as if Ford doesn’t expect purchasers of the decorative GT/CS package to be willing to pay for the big brakes as well. And /vice versa/.

    Second GT/CS I bought was the left-over 2008 convertible automatic version in black. It’s a beauty, my wife drives it, and we’re keeping it!

    Any road, it’s all well and good to criticize the designers’ and purchasers’ decisions (why are there /any/ fake scoops at all?) but you can’t challenge anyone’s likes. They may be different, unusual, less-than-informed, but they are genuine and personal, and account for a whole lot of joy that someone might be missing!

    Frank S
    San Diego CA
    USA


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