The Truth About Cars » Mustang http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 28 Jul 2015 22:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Mustang http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Ford Patent Filing Shows Exterior Lighting Trim, Future is Here http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ford-patent-filing-shows-exterior-lighting-trim-future-is-here/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ford-patent-filing-shows-exterior-lighting-trim-future-is-here/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 19:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1117985 Future Fords may have decorative exterior molding or body panels with built-in lights, Carscoops.com (via FocusRSClub) has uncovered in patent filings. The filings detail luminescent panels and moldings that would light up to accent portions of some of Ford’s vehicles. Or you know, the stuff aftermarket shops have been offering for years now. According to the […]

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Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 10.59.27 AMFuture Fords may have decorative exterior molding or body panels with built-in lights, Carscoops.com (via FocusRSClub) has uncovered in patent filings.

The filings detail luminescent panels and moldings that would light up to accent portions of some of Ford’s vehicles.

Or you know, the stuff aftermarket shops have been offering for years now.

According to the patent filing, “Illumination arising from the use of photoluminescent structures offers a unique and attractive viewing experience.” So it’s clear we’re going to love these things.

Although the car depicted in the filing’s drawings is a Mustang, it’s likely that the lights could apply to any of Ford’s vehicles.

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 11.21.00 AM

Of course, this isn’t the only hubbub we’ve seen from a patent filing this week. Ram’s Ramps hit the United States Patent and Trademark Office earlier this month, and like we learned then, automakers file lots of patents that never see the light of day.

Or the light of a Mustang convertible’s rear deck, in this case.

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No, This is Not the Mustang Apollo Astronauts Drove http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/no-not-mustang-apollo-astronauts-drove/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/no-not-mustang-apollo-astronauts-drove/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 16:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1117641 It is the Mustang that could help students become future astronauts, however. Ford announced Wednesday the one-of-a-kind Apollo Edition Mustang that will be auctioned July 23 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to benefit the Experimental Aviation Association’s Young Eagles program, a youth flying education program. On top of the Saturn V-inspired paint, the 2015 Mustang GT goes like a […]

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It is the Mustang that could help students become future astronauts, however.

Ford announced Wednesday the one-of-a-kind Apollo Edition Mustang that will be auctioned July 23 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to benefit the Experimental Aviation Association’s Young Eagles program, a youth flying education program.

On top of the Saturn V-inspired paint, the 2015 Mustang GT goes like a rocket: 627 horsepower and 540 pound-feet of torque.

Ford engineers bolted on a Ford Performance supercharger screw, side and rear exhausts, six-piston Brembo brakes and custom Forgiato 21-inch performance wheels to the Mustang. The interior has a specialized instrument cluster, custom-embroidered seats, performance gauges and trim panels.

It’s the eighth-consecutive year Ford has developed a special vehicle for the Young Eagles program. Past highlights include a Blue Angels Mustang, a Roush-Shelby collaboration SR-71 Blackbird Mustang and an AV-X10 “Dearborn Doll” Mustang, which netted more than $250,000 for the charity. In total, the special-edition Mustangs have netted nearly $3 million, according to Ford.

Is it as cool as nerds in matching 1969 Corvettes? Maybe not.

Apollo Corvettes

But it is for a good cause, which is totally OK.

(Editor’s Note: In all due fairness, this is not the first car we’ve seen painted up like a Saturn V. All credit to Escape Velocity Racing, which painted up their Dodge Dart something fantastic for 24 Hours of LeMons.)

Escape Velocity Racing

Photo courtesy Escape Velocity Racing

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2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible Review – No Respect http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-ford-mustang-ecoboost-convertible-review-no-respect/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-ford-mustang-ecoboost-convertible-review-no-respect/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1117449 I pull up next to a previous-generation Mustang — its 5-liter V8 rumbling as it sits at a stop light — and look over to the driver. There is no acknowledgement from him that I exist. Not a nod, glance, nor a typical, Mustang-owner two-finger wave. That’s not surprising though — he probably couldn’t hear me. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline four is but a whimper […]

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2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible (1 of 11)

I pull up next to a previous-generation Mustang — its 5-liter V8 rumbling as it sits at a stop light — and look over to the driver. There is no acknowledgement from him that I exist. Not a nod, glance, nor a typical, Mustang-owner two-finger wave.

That’s not surprising though — he probably couldn’t hear me.

The 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline four is but a whimper next to the eight cylinders of Detroit aluminum. I give the boosted four banger a slight tip of accelerator. Still nothing from the owner of the “five-point-oh.”


The Tester

2015 Ford Mustang Convertible EcoBoost Premium (Automatic)

Engine: 2.3-liter DOHC I-4, direct injection, twin independent variable camshaft timing (310 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm, 320 lbs-ft @ 2,500-4,500 rpm)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters

Fuel Economy (Rating, MPG): 20 city/30 highway/24 combined
Fuel Economy (Observed, MPG): 23.3 mpg, approx. 70 percent highway

Options: 201A Equipment Group (Shaker Pro Audio System, Memory Driver’s Seat and Mirrors, Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert), Triple Yellow paint, 50 Years Appearance Package, EcoBoost Performance Package, Enhanced Security Package Active Anti­, Theft System with Perimeter Alarm, HID Headlamps with Signature Lighting, Reverse Sensing System, Spoiler Delete, Wheel Locking Kit, 3.55 Limited-Slip Rear Axle, 19-inch-by-9-inch Gloss Black Premium Painted Aluminum Wheels, Raven Black interior, Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Mitigation and Rain­ Sensing Wipers, SYNC with MyFord Touch, Voice­Activated Navigation System, Premium AM/FM Stereo with HD Radio.

As Tested (U.S.): $45,060 (sheet)
As Tested (Canada): $52,649 (sheet)


It isn’t until the light turns green that my newfound nemesis in the neighboring lane graces me with a single eyeball. Even with the EcoBoost’s bright yellow paint, a pass is required to command the 5-liter’s driver to look to his right and gaze upon my taillights.

Admittedly, this is a very specific scenario. During normal driving, when other Mustang owners are traveling in the opposite direction, any Mustang — no matter the vintage — is still due its two finger, steering-wheel salute. Unless you’re driving a Mustang II.

2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible (6 of 11)

Exterior
The front fascia of the Mustang is all modern. New headlights. New grille. This is the new look for Ford’s pony car going forward. While I don’t think this is a design Ford will look back on in 2050 and say, “Hey, we should make a retro-modern version of this,” it’s still a much more streamlined than the upright front with its recessed headlights that have graced the faces of Mustangs for the last two generations.

The headlights give the Mustang a purposeful, angry demeanor, while the long hood foretells of engines upwards of eight cylinders, though that hood is a bit of a lie in this case.

2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible (10 of 11)

On our convertible tester, the looks are greatly improved as soon as you drop the top. There is no cover for the folded roof, but it is neatly packed away behind the rear seats — unlike the Beetle Convertible — and doesn’t really require a covering. The belt line is rather high, but it works in this case. The Mustang is a big-bodied pony car and it should have as much sheet metal as is possible.

2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible (3 of 11)

The convertible, I’d argue, has a better silhouette than the new coupe. Instead of the awkward rear-window profile, the convertible offers a flatter and seemingly longer, deck lid. Our tester, with the EcoBoost Performance Package and 50 Years Appearance Package had its rear spoiler deleted, which made for one of the cleanest looking forms of the Mustang money can buy.

My only qualms with the Mustang’s design have to do with the rear. The designers at Ford had an opportunity to go all new with their latest creation, but the rear is still stuck in the past.

2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible (7 of 11)

Interior
Thank you Ford, for real, honest-to-goodness controls. What the Mustang offers up is incredibly user friendly and — save the outgoing version of SYNC with MyFord Touch — amazingly intuitive. The steering wheel controls are not as simple as those in the Dodge Charger I reviewed last week, though there’s definitely nothing wrong with the buttons festooned to the wheel in the Mustang. More options need more buttons.

Below the large MyFord Touch screen and HVAC controls sits a row of toggle switches to change driving mode, steering effort and a few other options. I would prefer these be closer to the driver and out of reach of any underage passengers trying to be clever by flipping between Comfort and Sport steering modes mid-corner.

Another pet peeve: Ford has decided to put the boost gauge right in the middle of the dash, far outside the peripheral vision of the driver. Please, Ford, put this in the instrument panel. At the very least, this could be one of the performance gauges offered up by the digital display between the speedometer and tachometer.

The seats are, well, just fair. I found myself constantly readjusting in order to be comfortable. Also, thanks to the speedometer and tachometer being fairly far apart from each other, the view through the steering wheel to the gauges can be compromised by the steering wheel itself.

The phrase “backseat comfort” in a car like this is an oxymoron, so I’m not even going to mention it.

2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible (8 of 11)Infotainment
As previously mentioned, the Mustang makes do with the outgoing version of SYNC and MyFord Touch. While other reviewers have called out Ford’s system for being a confusing, four-cornered mix mash, I’ve never had any serious usability problems with Ford’s infotainment system. If anything, my experience has been nothing but glowing — though not due to the screen itself.

SYNC’s voice-activation feature is one of the best systems for people like me who have horrible regional accents. Somehow, whether it be the folks at Ford or Microsoft (the company responsible for the software guts of SYNC) the system is able to figure out how to cut through all my weird ‘ar‘ combinations and other oddball dialectical artifacts.

Beyond that, the optional Shaker audio system might sound great in the coupe, but in the Mustang convertible it sounds like a tinny mess. If you can avoid the extra cost, do so.

Drivetrain
And now we get to the crux of this particular Mustang: its engine.

Ford’s new found love for turbocharging, combined with its “One Ford” plan to send Mustangs to Europe, has resulted in a four-cylinder Mustang with a twin-scroll turbocharger hanging off its side. On top of that, this engine is considered to be a premium choice over the 3.7-liter V6 engine.

Sitting them side by side, the EcoBoost four does, in fact, make more horsepower and torque. However, the quality of how it delivers that power and its attack on your senses is not something I would call premium.

For starters, the EcoBoost engine — even with faux exhaust note pumped through the Shaker audio system — sounds like any other four-cylinder engine on the market. Neither the engine nor exhaust notes are pleasing to the ear. Remember back when Hondas and Acuras would activate all the VTEC goodness at the top RPMs? Remember how great that sounded? The exact opposite is happening here.

That’s not to say the EcoBoost mill is a horrible engine. If your plan is to putt around town and stay out of the boost, the little four pot will return some pretty excellent fuel economy, even with the six-speed automatic. But, if you are looking for an experience pleasing to the ear, get a 6- or 8-cylinder engine.

Drive
I drove the Mustang the week following the Charger, and while I called the Dodge a “four-door pony car,” the two cars are definitely not in the same league.

For starters, the Mustang still sports a stiff ride, even with its new-fangled independent rear suspension. Handling might be improved, but the convertible still communicates a fair amount of chassis flex. With the top up, the Mustang isn’t even close to quiet; in truth, it even seemed quieter with the top down. It’s still a Mustang, foibles and all.

If the V6, automatic, convertible Mustang is the Cheerleader Edition of the Ford’s pony car, this EcoBoost-powered version is for the cheerleader that munches on Adderall from a Pez dispenser. It’s high-strung when pushed, but relaxed when it needs to be. The only time it sounds good is when you can’t hear it. And, to top it all off, this car is nearly $50,000. That’s fifty grand for a four cylinder.

Get the six. Save your money. Invest in the improved auditory experience for yourself and others. Turbocharging is not the answer — at least in this case.

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Crapwagon Outtake: 1985.5 Ford Mustang SVO http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/crapwagon-outtake-1985-5-ford-mustang-svo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/crapwagon-outtake-1985-5-ford-mustang-svo/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 13:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1117313 Imagine, if you will, that the beancounters in Dearborn had won the late-80’s battle over the enthusiasts and killed off the V8 Mustang in favor of what became the Probe. Forget the impact on racers and gearheads nationwide; no, the lyrical poet Van Winkle would have spun such different rhymes: Rollin in my SVO with […]

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Imagine, if you will, that the beancounters in Dearborn had won the late-80’s battle over the enthusiasts and killed off the V8 Mustang in favor of what became the Probe. Forget the impact on racers and gearheads nationwide; no, the lyrical poet Van Winkle would have spun such different rhymes:

Rollin
in my SVO
with the sunroof popped
so my hair can blow

It’s been more than 25 years since Ford offered a turbocharged Mustang — and what a classic. It’s the ur-EcoBoost, better known as the SVO with 2.3 turbocharged liters and 205 Pinto ponies. Fewer than 10,000 of these were built between ’84 and ’86. This ’85-and-a-half model was the first to get the better looking “aero” headlamps, rather than the recessed units fitted earlier. For just under $13,000, this 25,000 mile example looks like a steal. There seem to be a few for sale around this price at any given time.

I have to believe these will start appreciating soon. Bear with me: it’s a top-of-the-line Mustang, with a real performance bump over the pedestrian models — so it’s no tape-stripe-special Mustang II “Cobra” limited edition — with enough unique bits that poseurs can’t “build” one from catalogs and junkyards. These will be sought after at the auctions in about ten years, I’d wager.

I have a neighbor that owns an SVO. I don’t know the year, as I’ve only ever seen the rear in the 10 years I’ve lived in the neighborhood. That unmistakable biplane rear spoiler catches my eye as I round the corner every day. I don’t know that it’s moved under its own power in all that time. Shame, really, though I can’t say much. I’m going on about two years immobile on my Miata-shaped garage shelf. Anyhow, I’d love to get behind the wheel and experience an SVO before all of them get parked and polished into oblivion.

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2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-ford-mustang-ecoboost-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-ford-mustang-ecoboost-review/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 15:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084361 I’m giddy like a school girl when the Mustang shows up. This is my ride to southern New Jersey for the 24 Hours of Lemons race, and it’s a perfect tool for the job. I think the new Mustang looks much better in person than pictures. This color combination is love at first sight. Upon closer inspection, it has the coveted […]

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2015 ford mustang ecoboost front side

I’m giddy like a school girl when the Mustang shows up. This is my ride to southern New Jersey for the 24 Hours of Lemons race, and it’s a perfect tool for the job.

I think the new Mustang looks much better in person than pictures. This color combination is love at first sight. Upon closer inspection, it has the coveted Performance Package, and a peek inside reveals its optional Recaro seats and, most importantly, a proper six-speed manual transmission! Yes, the car Gods have smiled upon me.

Yet, the biggest surprise is when I start the engine…

2015 ford mustang ecoboost engine

…which sounds like the Ford Escape.

Yup – it’s the new four-cylinder Mustang EcoBoost. That deep V8 tone, pronounced by a sweet rumble at start-up that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, is gone. Instead, I get the sound and fury of a CUV.

I keep an open mind because surely no one at Ford would put this four-banger into a Mustang if it’s anything but great. To be honest, to me, this is the most interesting engine of the three available, if for no other reason than I simply don’t not know what to expect.

Right away, this engine feels different than most sporty turbocharged fours. For one, it feels heavy. It does not rev very freely, as if there is a heavy flywheel attached. Interestingly, I said the exact same thing of the 1.0-liter three-cylinder in the Fiesta. Secondly, the torque curve is very flat and without much lag, both good. Ford says the engine’s peak 320 lb.-ft. is available between 2500 and 4500 rpm. There are 310 horsepower at 5500 rpm and it seems to drop off when approaching the redline.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost rear side

Accompanying that power from 2500 rpm up is the sweet sound of turbo whistle – quite addictive. During street acceleration or highway passing, this engine whistles blissfully while pulling hard, and it almost makes up for the lack of the V8 sound. Almost. But I question the noise: is it organic or is Ford fooling me?

So it’s got torque, but is it fast? That’s depends on your definition of fast. Buff books say the EcoBoost ‘Stang will achieve 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and complete the quarter in 13.9 seconds. That was fast some years ago, but today that’s hardly quick; a V6 Accord is just two tenths slower through the traps. The EcoBoost Mustang requires persuasion to really move fast, whereas a V8 engine would seemingly have all the power, all the time.

Even when driven in anger, I wouldn’t go racing any V8 Mustangs and, trust me, every Mustang driver on the road will want to race you. Just look away. If you’re into modifying, you’ll be happy to know there are EcoBoost Mustangs running around with 400 horsepower at the rear wheels.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost dash

Despite being the smallest of the three American muscle cars, the Mustang isn’t a small sports car, being six inches longer and two and a half inches wider than the BMW 428i coupe. It weighs 3,532 pounds, which is about 100 pounds more than the Bimmer and 170 less than an equivalent Mustang GT.

While it feels heavy, Ford has somehow managed to make this weight work, and it’s damn fun to drive on any road. Despite being at a race track, I did not have permission to do any laps in the ‘Stang, but I am certain it would do quite well with the Pirelli P-Zeros as part of the Performance Package.

What I’m disappointed with is the fact Ford went through all this effort to make the F-150 body out of aluminum but only the hood and fenders on the ‘Stang. Less weight, which one would expect in the change to a four-cylinder engine, would drive the fun factor way up. It would improve the fuel economy, too, which the EPA rates at 22 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined. On my somewhat casual New Jersey Turnpike drive I got about 27 mpg. With the overall trip average, which included the fun Merritt Parkway and crowded Bergen County, I averaged 23 mpg. For comparison, the manual V6 gets 17 mpg city and 28 highway, while the V8 manual is rated for 15 mpg city and 25 highway. Not that fuel economy is a selling point of the Mustang.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost interior details 2

The rest of the car, to be brief, is great. The Recaro seats, despite lacking side bolster adjustments or bottom cushion extension, are very comfortable for the six-foot-two me and drew cheers from the dozen guys who asked me if they could check out the car. While supportive, the seats are not difficult to get in and out of and not at all tiring over my six hour drive. Unlike the conventional seats, the Recaros are not heated or ventilated, and they don’t return to their original position after accessing the rear seat. If I had one wish, it would be for slightly more headroom for the times one is wearing a helmet. The rear seats are best suited for shorter folks.

The shifter is damn near perfect for enthusiastic driving – not too short, with only the sixth gear not always where expected; little to the right. It was as if the car wanted to shift naturally from fifth to fourth, but going into sixth requires more decisiveness, which makes sense. The clutch pedal feels a bit stiff, reminding you this is no econobox, but it is not difficult when stuck in gridlocked traffic on the George Washington Bridge approach.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost exterior details

Once seated, forward visibility is very good and much improved over the previous generation, but the side mirrors are a bit small. The dash is nicely laid out, with all controls within easy access. Some things, such as the toggle switches chrome-like trim or the “ground speed” speedometer, may not be to everyone’s taste, but everything worked very well. It has taken me many years, but I have finally warmed up to the love-it-or-hate-it, soon to be replaced MyFord Touch system, which in this car was complimented by the Shaker audio system. The HID headlights are excellent, too.

What irks me are the selectable drive and steering modes. There are four driving modes (normal, snow-wet, sport, and track) and three steering modes (comfort, normal and sport). With each restart they default to normal. I understand all automakers do this now for various reasons, but I shouldn’t need to tell my Mustang to be sporty each time I get into it. It should have two modes: Go! and LMHBSMA!, let-me-hoon-but-save-my-ass track mode.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost other details

The 2015 Mustang EcoBoost starts at $25,300. This Premium model punches it up to $29,300. The Shaker audio system is $1,795, adaptive cruise control is $1,195, Performance Package (19” wheels with Pirellis, 3.55 LSD, thicker rear sway bar, bracing, larger rotors and 4-piston front calipers, larger radiator, gauge pack) is well worth $1,995, $1,595 for Recaro seats, few other minor options and destination charge bring the price of the reviewed vehicle to $38,585. For comparison, an equally equipped GT model would cost over $5,000 more.

Minor annoyances aside, I really like this ‘Stang. I love how it looks (especially in this color combination, which seemed especially tricky to photograph). I like all the features, the fun-to-drive factor, comfort, refinement, and its surprisingly large trunk – but it does leave me somewhat puzzled. It’s not significantly lighter, cheaper, or economical than a Mustang with the proper V8 engine. It’s also not much faster than the V6. It exists so Ford can sell the Mustang around the world, but anyone who buys one anywhere will be reminded they should have gotten the V8 every time they start the engine.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. He and his team were doing really great in the race right until they blew the engine

Ford Motor Company provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. 

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Cobra vs. Camaro: A Brief Recap Of The Modern Era http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/cobra-vs-camaro-brief-recap-modern-era/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/cobra-vs-camaro-brief-recap-modern-era/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 16:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1087329 As a child, I was told that it was impolite to mention religion or politics at the dinner table, because such discussions tended to elicit irreconcilable differences between guests who would otherwise be perfectly compatible. Many years later, as an itinerant observer of the Midwestern street racing scene, I learned that there was a dinner […]

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cobrastory3

As a child, I was told that it was impolite to mention religion or politics at the dinner table, because such discussions tended to elicit irreconcilable differences between guests who would otherwise be perfectly compatible. Many years later, as an itinerant observer of the Midwestern street racing scene, I learned that there was a dinner topic that combined the worst aspects of religiosity and partisanship in its prospective combatants, and that topic was known to all and sundry as “Ford vs. Chevy”. It’s the third rail of car-guy discourse, and you’ll touch it at your peril. People take this stuff seriously; the bowtie and the blue oval were common tattoos back in the days before every size-12 Millennial female womens-studies graduate and her bewildered, low-testosterone life partner routinely got full ink sleeves as a way to ensure that they were exactly as different as everyone else.

It’s no surprise, then, that when I posted a reasonably popular article on the R&T website about driving a new-in-box 1995 Mustang Cobra R on a racetrack for the first time, my casual use of the phrase “Z28-killer” to describe said 5.8L, 300-horsepower ponycar caused hundreds of Facebook commenters to lose their collective minds. In short order, I was roughly e-Educated on the fourth-gen F-body’s clear and present superiority by people whose collective amnesia regarding things like Optispark wouldn’t be out of place in a Fifties-era Moose Lodge discussion of Executive Order 9066. Some of these people threatened my life. Worse still, they’re wrong. The ’95 Cobra would smoke a stock ’95 Z28 around a road course. Duh.

But that was just one battle in a long ponycar campaign that has raged since before most of us were born, and with additional violence since the “Cobra” name was first put on a Mustang. What follows, therefore, is a highly opinionated recap of this war without end. We’ll pick a winner for each battle, and we’ll skip the Sixties and Seventies – this isn’t Collectible Automobile – starting instead with the Year Of Our Lord 1993.


Round One: 1993 “Fox” Cobra vs. 1993 Z28
cobra4

“The mood is BMW”, C/D enthused regarding the 1993 Cobra, but the mood – and the rear discs, a long-overdue upgrade over the prehistoric drums on the “5.0” GT – didn’t make up for the massive deficit in power and pace between this and the new-for-1993 Camaro Z28. It wasn’t the first Cobra on this platform – that would be the 132-horsepower 1979 Cobra Turbo – and it wasn’t the first “special vehicle” on this platform – that would be the legendary Mustang SVO, also a four-cylinder turbo – but it was the debut vehicle for the re-imagined Special Vehicle Team. Had it arrived in 1992 to face the automatic-only 5.7 Z28, it would have been a superstar. Against the LT1 fourth-gen, however, it was an also-ran. A very limited-production Cobra R added big brakes and bespoke suspension but had no additional power, making it easy meat for the Chevrolet anywhere but the autocross course. Advantage: Camaro

Round Two: 1994 Cobra 5.0 vs. 1994 Z28

94cobra

The “mod motor” was well established in full-size Fords when the “SN95″ Mustangs reached showrooms for the 1994 model year, but the first two years of SN95 production used the beloved five-point-oh for reasons that were never clear to me even though I was an employee of Ford Credit at the time. The Cobra, too, used what was basically a carryover engine from the previous year, mildly bumped to 240 horsepower. It wasn’t enough and the extra weight of the new platform didn’t help at all. C/D confirmed that yet again the Cobra couldn’t run with a stock Z28.

The Cobra R, on the other hand, had the ability to run thirteens in private hands and a suspension that was well beyond anything that General Motors could offer. I enjoyed the heck out of the one I drove last month, I’ll tell you. Still, it cost twice as much as a plain Z28, making it more of a Corvette competitor. Advantage: Camaro

Round Three: 1996 Cobra 32v vs. 1996 Camaro SS

mysticcobra

I was a Ford salesman when the 32-valve Cobra appeared. It seemed like the perfect weapon to avenge three years’ worth of humiliation at the hands of the fourth-gen Camaro, and the optional “Mystic” color-flipping paint was just the icing on the cake. (I blush to admit that I wanted a Mystic Cobra so badly back then that I ended up buying a MusicMan JP6 Mystic Dream earlier this year just out of nostalgia for the car.) Unfortunately for Ford fanatics, Chevrolet had the pumped-up SS – and when C/D performed an unusually thorough comparison between it and the Cobra using champion drivers at a drag strip, an SCCA-Solo-II-style autocross course, and Michigan’s Grattan Raceway, the Camaro smoked the Mustang on all three fronts. Oh, the humiliation! But the margin of victory was much closer than it had been in 1994, so if you liked the Mustang’s superior driving position, park-ability, and quality control, you could put the Cobra in your garage and not feel too guilty about it. Advantage: Camaro

Round Four: 2001 New Edge Cobra vs. 2001 Camaro SS LS1

cobra5

The Mustang was revamped into the so-called “New Edge” for 1999. The Cobra got an independent rear suspension and a 320-horsepower version of the 32v 4.6. Unfortunately for Ford, the engine didn’t make the advertised power and in the resulting kerfluffle the Cobra was discontinued for 2000. When it returned in 2001, it was able to match the Camaro SS in all performance categories despite the Camaro’s upgrade to a Corvette-sourced LS1 aluminum small-block. The price difference was about ten percent in the Chevrolet’s favor, but the addition of IRS emphasized the Mustang’s real-world superiority. A 385-horse big-bore variant, the Cobra R, was priced against the Corvette but couldn’t match it for pace. Advantage: Tie game.

Round Five: 2004 Terminator Cobra vs….

cobra6

The supercharged SVT Cobra, nicknamed “Terminator” during development, ran a 12.9-second quarter-mile. And it handled, after a fashion. And it looked bad-ass. It was arguably the best Mustang since the original Shelby GT350. The Camaro SS, preparing to depart the market without a successor, had nothing for it. Advantage: Cobra, by a knockout.

Round Six: 2013 Shelby GT500 vs 2013 Camaro ZL1

8893

To my immense dismay, the successor to the Terminator Cobra was badged as a Shelby for reasons of pure and simple marketing. The first iron-block GT500 was a pretty good car and if you’re interested in watching low-res footage of spectator-shoe heel-and-toe you can watch my old video of one at MSR Houston. The 662-horsepower “Trinity” Cobra, however, was a high-water mark in ponycar history, a nearly perfect blend of power and poise and charisma. It impressed me beyond all words – okay, I came up with a few words – and, along with its Boss 302 sibling, put an exclamation point on the end of the retro-Mustang era.

The Camaro ZL1 was the HHR to the Shelby’s PT Cruiser. More refinement, more visual drama, delivery to market about four years after the car that inspired it. Our friends at Car and Driver preferred it to the GT500, citing its superior composure on track and more comfortable ride while sniffing that the Mustang was “over-the-top brutish”. Since that is precisely what is required in a big-bore ponycar, that over-the-top brutality, I have no trouble calling this one Advantage: Cobra.

Round Seven: ?????

lifestyle-2015-rs

What does the future hold for the Cobra vs. Camaro rivalry? Will there be a counterpart to the GT350? Will both manufacturers field another supercharged V-8, or will Chevrolet attempt to build a sort of hybrid of the Z/28 and ZL1 that competes directly with the new Shelby? Will the lighter and smaller 2016 Camaro play the role of Fox-body to the 2015 Mustang’s third-gen Camaro, using a weight and dimensional advantage to capture reviewers’ hearts? I have no crystal ball, but I can offer one piece of advice: Don’t be in a hurry to buy a ponycar, because ever since 1979 there’s always been a better one around the corner.

Unless, that is, you have an order slot for a GT350.

You can go ahead and get that. And if you’d like to see how it compares to a 1995 Cobra R around a racetrack, you know how to reach me, right?

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While You Were Sleeping: Automated Crash Reporting, Worthersee, and Mad Max http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-automated-crash-reporting-worthersee-mad-max/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-automated-crash-reporting-worthersee-mad-max/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 11:04:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1056058 Many optionally available subscription-based services, such as OnStar, offering automated crash reporting could lose their marketing edge in 2018. 2015 GT350 & GT350R Mustang Options Pricing (Mustang6G) No MSRPs yet, but some of these options are incredibly pricy. Skoda unveils Fabia pickup concept car (AutoCar) A Škoda Fabia pickup built by 17- and 18-year-old apprentices? I’d drive it. 37 UberX Vehicles Seized in Montreal Since February […]

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They’ll live. Picture courtesy ambulancevisibility.com

Many optionally available subscription-based services, such as OnStar, offering automated crash reporting could lose their marketing edge in 2018.

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While You Were Sleeping: 137 Shelbys, Eight Cylinder Porsches and One Lost Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-137-shelbys-eight-cylinder-porsches-one-lost-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-137-shelbys-eight-cylinder-porsches-one-lost-car/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 10:28:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1055585 In Los Angeles and Detroit, Ford took the covers off their two track-ready Mustangs – the GT350 and GT350R. And Ford is only going to build 137 of them for 2015. Ehh? Theft Stats with Keys Left Inside Vehicle (NCIB) “For the years 2012 through 2014, at total of 126,603 vehicles were reported stolen with […]

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Ford Shelby GT350

In Los Angeles and Detroit, Ford took the covers off their two track-ready Mustangs – the GT350 and GT350R.

And Ford is only going to build 137 of them for 2015. Ehh?

What we’re driving this week:

Only two of us have press vehicles this week and both are full-size sedans, albeit aimed at very different consumers.

  • Alex Dykes is driving around in the brand new 2015 Dodge Charger R/T
  • Mark Stevenson (that’s me) is cruising in the top-trim 2015 Toyota Avalon Limited

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European Prices For 2015 Ford Mustang Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/european-prices-2015-ford-mustang-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/european-prices-2015-ford-mustang-revealed/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 12:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=974306 Europeans who are itching to saddle up the new 2015 Ford Mustang now know how much the price of admission will be to do so, and it’s quite the pretty penny. Mustang6G obtained a German market brochure for the pony car in late December, which listed the base prices for the following configurations: 2.3-liter EcoBoost […]

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2015-Ford-Mustang-Low-Angle-2

Europeans who are itching to saddle up the new 2015 Ford Mustang now know how much the price of admission will be to do so, and it’s quite the pretty penny.

Mustang6G obtained a German market brochure for the pony car in late December, which listed the base prices for the following configurations:

  • 2.3-liter EcoBoost Fastback (manual) – €34,000 (~$41,511 USD)
  • 2.3-liter EcoBoost Fastback (auto) – €36,000 (~$43,953)
  • 2.3-liter EcoBoost Convertible (manual) – €38,000 (~$46,394)
  • 2.3-liter EcoBoost Convertible (auto) – €40,000 (~$48,836)
  • 5.0-liter Coyote Fastback (manual) – €39,000 (~$47,615)
  • 5.0-liter Coyote Fastback (auto) – €41,000 (~$50,057)
  • 5.0-liter Coyote Convertible (manual) – €43,000 (~$52,500)
  • 5.0-liter Coyote Convertible (auto) – €45,000 (~$54,941)

Though the European prices are much higher than the $23,800 – $46,170 base range in the United States, the Mustang still fares well against other sport coupes in the market. For example, the BMW 4 Series starts at €36,050 ($42,638), topping out at €48,100 ($56,891) for the 435i. Meanwhile, the Euro-spec Chevrolet Camaro, powered by the SS’ 6.2-liter V8, begins at €39,990 ($47,298), bringing it in line with the 5-liter manual fastback.

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Piston Slap: Flat Plane Crankshaft Design? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-flat-plane-crankshaft-design/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-flat-plane-crankshaft-design/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 12:37:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=956042   GCH writes: Sajeev: Could you/somebody please explain what a “flat plane crankshaft” is in the new Mustang GT350, and older Porsches and Ferraris? I have seen numerous references to it online and in print but nobody, including Wikipedia explains it in non-calculus terms. Sajeev answers: Dumbing it down sadly glosses over hundreds (thousands?) of […]

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My 98 booming with a trunk of funk, Don’t Believe the Hype. (photo courtesy: Ford)

GCH writes:

Sajeev:

Could you/somebody please explain what a “flat plane crankshaft” is in the new Mustang GT350, and older Porsches and Ferraris?

I have seen numerous references to it online and in print but nobody, including Wikipedia explains it in non-calculus terms.

Sajeev answers:

Dumbing it down sadly glosses over hundreds (thousands?) of salient details in casting technology and/or computer-aided design. But I left Engineering school for a reason, so let’s simplify: rest a flat plane crankshaft on a table and it’s flat like a sheet of paper.

Ford Powerstroke 6.0 crank (photo courtesy: mkmcustoms.com)

Ok, maybe not “paper flat” with those boomerang counterweights at the ends…but compared to the crossplane crank in most V8 passenger vehicles?

Capture

LS9 crankshaft. (Photo Courtesy: General Motors)

Crankshafts, like damn near everything else in our lives, benefits from the KISS principle. A flat plane crankshaft has the potential for significant weight savings to optimize a motor’s moment of inertia and more even firing to benefit the exhaust stroke, allowing for more revs/horsepower. And that unique sound!

But NVH control is a problem: hence widespread adoption of crossplane crankshafts.

Which means flat plane crankshaft-ed Mustangs shall be completely pointless moot when trapped, idling at a red light in American surburbia…which is precisely where 88.7% of Mustang GT350s shall live. 

The stock Coyote V8 is a better option, cool/brag factor aside. Why? Because it’s got a damn good crank, and here’s 8000+ reasons why:

Click here to view the embedded video.

When comparing modifications side-to-side, will a modified GT350 rev harder and make more horses than a similar GT?  Probably.

Will it, in the process, lose valuable low-end torque needed on the street?  Probably.

So go kick some GT350 ass with the Mustang GT’s phenomenal aftermarket support, of which many retain the factory warranty. Come on Son, were you expecting breathless PR boosting for Ford’s latest hot one from TTAC?

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: UR U Joints Be Bangin’ Dat Stang? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/piston-slap-ur-u-joints-bangin-dat-stang/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/piston-slap-ur-u-joints-bangin-dat-stang/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 13:30:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=939361 Mark writes: Sajeev– Here’s a weird one to test your skills of remote diagnosis. Fire up your Magic 8 Ball for this one. Car: 2012 Mustang V6, manual gearbox, performance package (currently running some crappy General AS Max-03 tires), 33,000 miles. I’m the only owner; special ordered to get it just the way I want. […]

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Torque On The Left Hand side? (photo courtesy: www.moderndriveline.com)

Mark writes:

Sajeev–

Here’s a weird one to test your skills of remote diagnosis. Fire up your Magic 8 Ball for this one.

Car: 2012 Mustang V6, manual gearbox, performance package (currently running some crappy General AS Max-03 tires), 33,000 miles. I’m the only owner; special ordered to get it just the way I want. Mods limited to a Shaftmasters one piece drive shaft (scared into it by a few YouTube videos), a Draw-Tite receiver hitch to pull my one bike motorcycle trailer, and an 87 octane tune uploaded via SCT (on your recommendation). The car will go into a nearby Ford dealer for a look at this issue under warranty this coming Friday, but based on the “quality” of some of the work I’ve had done over the years, I thought it would help to give the techs some clues.

Problem: For the past few days, I’ve heard irregular “bangs” or “clunks” from under the car.

The noise is heard, not felt, and I’m unable to pinpoint the corner of the car from where the noise emanates. It doesn’t seem to be speed related: the noise can happen at a walking pace on up to about 40 mph, and the frequency doesn’t vary with speed; the noises can be 2 seconds apart or 30 seconds apart. I think the noise continues at higher speed, it’s just drowned out by wind/road noise. Some bumps set off the noise, some don’t…can’t seem to figure out any common threads on the bump-noise relationship. The one thing I have noticed: no noise if the brakes are applied. Even a very light drag of the brakes silences any noise.

My Own Research: I’ve had the car jacked up in the garage and I don’t see any obvious issues. The exhaust system seems to be well secured, as do the anti-roll bars. No obvious hanging parts. The brake pads have plenty of meat. No leaks from the shocks/struts. The receiver hitch is not loose.

This car has had a few chassis issues: a new steering box around 15k and a new rear anti-roll bar around 30k. I blame the poor condition of roads here in Illinois for those failures, along with the lack of give from the low profile 40-series tires.

Some digging in Mustang forums failed to uncover a smoking gun.

Bonus Question: When these crappy Generals give up the ghost, do you see a major problem with switching to 45-series tires in an effort to gain a little more bump compliance?

Thanks, Sajeev!

Sajeev answers:

I’ll answer the easier (bonus) question first: sure, no problem and it might help a little. But wanting bump compliance from 19″ wheels on a car is like expecting an honest answer from a politician.  Both are laughable: try minus sizing via 17″ wheels from an older S197 (as they get dumped on craigslist for dirt cheap) over the performance package’s upgraded front stoppers.  If not, maybe 18″.  If not, give up be awesome and get a Grand Marquis as a second car.

That was easy.  Now, I suspect your first question shall have no solution when a mechanic starts prying/wiggling suspension things to test for play.

I commend you on the modifications, but…there’s always a but. My gut thinks the new U joints on that new (and necessary) upgraded driveshaft are the problem. Can you (gently, with millimeters of throttle input) load/unload the drive line while the tires are losing/gaining traction?  Like maybe on a bumpy/slick road at highway speeds. If the thud/clunk comes back, it’s the U joints.

If not? Maybe it’s a shock/strut mount. Or maybe a sway bar mount, but the speeds you mentioned make me think U joints Über Alles.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: Factory Tune, Power On The Table? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-6/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 12:02:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916986 TTAC commentator Raph writes: Hey Sajeev I’ve got a a bit of a conundrum with 09 GT500. I recently purchased a blue-tooth OBDII dongle and the Torque Pro app for my phone which provides a variety of useful functions including monitoring various PIDs (On Board Diagnostic Parameter IDs). While checking over the various PIDs I […]

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TTAC commentator Raph writes:

Hey Sajeev I’ve got a a bit of a conundrum with 09 GT500. I recently purchased a blue-tooth OBDII dongle and the Torque Pro app for my phone which provides a variety of useful functions including monitoring various PIDs (On Board Diagnostic Parameter IDs).

While checking over the various PIDs I noticed the throttle body was limited to 75% of WOT and I’m not sure if that was just a limitation of the app or perhaps the tune was limiting the range of movement on the throttle body?

Also I noticed that the boost inferred by the car’s factory boost gauge does not correlate to the boost reading in Torque Pro? The Torque Pro app has an adjustment feature to scale the boost reading by either setting it to zero, a positive value or 14.7 psi or a negative value of 14.7 psi.

I’m unsure how Ford references boost with the MAP sensor since fiddling with the scale adjustment in Torque Pro hasn’t produced any worthwhile results (a best 4 PSI but the blower on the car is pullied to produce in the neighborhood or 18 psi.

Long story short: Am I leaving some power on the table and what about that damn boost reading?

 

Sajeev answers:

Whoa duuude, you mean that the fancy smarty-phone app says you are only at 75% throttle when you floor it?

We’ve been down this road before, as these apps often read parameters sans the accuracy of tools available to powertrain engineers or even shade-tree tuners with EFI hacks. While it’s been proven many times over that the GT500’s stock tune is pretty conservative, it surely ain’t 75% throttle conservative.  As much as I love new tech, while my career revolves around Web 2.0, we need a reality check: sometimes apps aren’t that awesome, they can kinda suck.

To wit, I sent your queries to a real tuner, Mr. Torrie McPhail, who is both a trusted friend and a well-regarded dude in the tuning world.  This isn’t an endorsement (even if it is) because I can’t possibly know the stuff in Torrie’s brain. So let’s do it, to it:

“First point: what calibration is in use? If you are using something non-stock, I would request calibration information from that source as to vehicle output.

I doubt anyone would be limiting throttle angle on a car like this, most likely that is how the phone app construes the PID output while at WOT which would put it squarely in the shadow of the shaft anyways.

And the factory boost gauge isn’t actual and just calculates inferred manifold pressure from sensor output. I would stick a good Autometer boost gauge in the car to solve that.”

So there you have it: if you have a stock tune, you are leaving PLENTY of power on the table, even a conservative tune will unlock plenty more power. And don’t take the engine app too seriously. Off to you, Best and Brightest!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

 

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Piston Slap: The Fallacy of Miata Ride Comfort? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-fallacy-miata-ride-comfort/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-fallacy-miata-ride-comfort/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:53:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903449   TTAC Commentator johnny ro writes: Hi Sajeev, So I like my new 2010 Miata Touring (second car and half time daily driver), and picked it because it looked good on the side of the road by my house, low miles (19k), priced OK(mid 14’s), I had the dough saved up for a bike and […]

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photo courtesy: www.flyinmiata.com

TTAC Commentator johnny ro writes:

Hi Sajeev,

So I like my new 2010 Miata Touring (second car and half time daily driver), and picked it because it looked good on the side of the road by my house, low miles (19k), priced OK(mid 14’s), I had the dough saved up for a bike and I am happy with the current Vstrom, and last but not least it is an automatic. The OEM suspension seems firm to me but obviously not race ready. Roads in Northeast are usually not-so-new ranging down to horrible. Miata people say its mushy and floaty, those who want to autocross or race.

It’s body is stiffer than my 1999 was. The 1999 benefited from chassis stiffeners- new frame rails, X-brace underneath, frog arms under the front fenders, door bars. Still a small noisy uncomfortable car for more than an hour. The 2010 is a bit more comfortable. For the 2006-2014 there are also aftermarket body stiffeners and plenty of suspension upgrades all meant to improve track performance.

What I really want is a GT, not a race car. I am not interested in more power.

Question for the best and brightest, should I bother stiffening the body on an automatic Miata?

What suspension would make it more civilized without less comfort?

Am I better off buying a true GT? What GT for $14k.

Sajeev answers:

When someone complains about a stock one, the words “Miata Ride Comfort” make no sense together. Instead do an LSX-FTW swap so you’ll rarely have the time to focus on the punishing ride. And no, I’m only partially kidding.

To wit, a friend once asked if their Miata wouldn’t punish one’s lower back with the upgraded leather slip covers from a Grand Touring model: what a load of trash! Leather seats aren’t magically wrapped around Fleetwood Brougham thrones, or even CamCord thrones. Time to suck it up and buy a more comfortable car.

“What I really want is a GT, not a race car.”

Oh wait, you already admitted that.  Why? Chassis stiffeners cannot cut the impact harshness from a pothole, they help the suspension/steering/braking systems work as intended in spirited driving on imperfect roads.  Which totally isn’t the same thing.

And if there is a softer-than-stock suspension (not likely) it won’t help enough. Considering roadster levels of suspension travel, seat cushion padding, short wheelbase, light weight (to some extent), low-ish profile tires, a quite-modest sprinkling of NVH reducing materials…see where I’m going with this?

Go find a pre-engineered GT car!  A Mazda 3 or 6 sedan is a logical and practical step backward, but perhaps there are too many doors.  Maybe a Mazda 2? Maybe a somewhat used Mustang? Not refined enough.  A fairly used 3-series?  If you know a good indie-BMW mechanic and don’t mind paying them.  A garage-queen C5 Corvette with Magnaride and conventional (not run-flat) tires?  Entirely possible.

 

 

Or just suck it up and maraud your way to love…

 

 

80e940196e_640

(photo courtesy: www.empireautos11.com)

…Panther Love…

…SON!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 

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Piston Slap: Ain’t Skeered of no Blown Stang! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/piston-slap-aint-skeered-blown-stang/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/piston-slap-aint-skeered-blown-stang/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:41:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=880890 TTAC commentator 1trikpny writes: Hi, I’ve got a 2005 Mustang GT Deluxe,5spd, no Leather, no options. Black with 18″ chrome wheels, 285/35 Sumitomo HRT-Z 3’s, I’m the second adult owner.The previous owner bought it new, and at 40,000 miles installed a Saleen Supercharger with a Brenspeed Stage 3 tune. 500 hp at the crank. Currently at […]

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frpcustoms

photo courtesy: frpcustoms.com

TTAC commentator 1trikpny writes:

Hi, I’ve got a 2005 Mustang GT Deluxe,5spd, no Leather, no options. Black with 18″ chrome wheels, 285/35 Sumitomo HRT-Z 3’s, I’m the second adult owner.The previous owner bought it new, and at 40,000 miles installed a Saleen Supercharger with a Brenspeed Stage 3 tune. 500 hp at the crank. Currently at 63000 miles. I’ve added BMR LCA’s, Relocation brackets, and Panhard bar. this car has been very well maintained all of it’s life. No smoke, no noises, everything is just right.

So what’s the problem?

I can’t help thinking about breakage, so I’m thinking of selling it. I really like this car, and don’t even drive it hard, but I am well aware that stuff happens. Although money is not an issue, any I put into repairs would be gone as far as resale. Right now the car is worth every penny I paid, including the BMR stuff.

I won’t replace it if I sell, but I would certainly miss it. It always puts a smile on my face!

What do you and the B&B think? Am I just worrying too much? I do that naturally………

Thank you in advance for thoughtful comment,

Sajeev answers:

Ah, the classic “is this relationship too good to be true?” question posed by many a tuned automobile owner.  A scary proposition if this was a modified WRX with an unknown owner history, but somewhat benign with an adult-owned supercharged Mustang. Let’s find out why!

Assuming the computer recalibration is set for a healthy balance (in the air/fuel ratio) between component safety and dyno-pleasing power figures, there’s little to worry about.  Continue to drive like an adult on premium fuel and the engine should be fine, as supercharging Ford V8s is far from complicated or dangerous. It’s been that way for years. Ditto the solid rear axle: Ford’s 8.8 is robust, even the Camaro boys love them.

The only concern is the transmission.  While a stock Mustang gearbox is good for an impressive 360 ft-lbs, you could easily destroy it with hard launches/power shifting/regular application of full throttle on a supercharged Mustang.  But money fixes everything. Rather cheaply in a Mustang compared to other tuned machines, I might add!

The point: you are indeed worrying too much. Enjoy the “adult driven” Mustang and find a worrisome issue that’s worthy of your time.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 

 

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Michigan Performance Company Takes To Crowdfunding For CNG Mustang Concept http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/michigan-performance-company-takes-to-crowdfunding-for-cng-mustang-concept/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/michigan-performance-company-takes-to-crowdfunding-for-cng-mustang-concept/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=826265 Crowdfunding has been used to deliver financing to projects ranging from fashion collections and film productions, to food trucks and the occasional work that ends up bombing while investors are left holding nothing (not even the bag their were promised as a gift for investing). This project may be a success or failure, but if […]

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Crowdfunding has been used to deliver financing to projects ranging from fashion collections and film productions, to food trucks and the occasional work that ends up bombing while investors are left holding nothing (not even the bag their were promised as a gift for investing).

This project may be a success or failure, but if all goes as promised, Michigan’s Performance CNG will be able to deliver a CNG-powered 2003 Ford Mustang while demonstrating all compressed natural gas can do in the name of energy independence.

Autoblog Green reports the company, headed by founder Daryl Patrishkoff, is attempting to raise $55,000 through IndieGoGo to pay for the battery of emissions testing required by the Environmental Protection Agency, acquisition of high-performance CNG parts, and engine calibration. Currently, the Mustang, which runs on gasoline and CNG paired with alcohol injection, puts out 470 horsepower, with the aim of adding more horses through the fundraising.

And what will the project deliver to its investors (beyond being named a contributor in all promotion material)? The hope others will take notice on natural gas, bringing their investment capital to the table with the goal of liberating the United States from foreign energy resources, adding jobs to the industry, and delivering a wide range of vehicles using CNG to the masses; as of this moment, only 120,000 vehicles use the fuel, the majority of which are buses and trucks.

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The Deuce’s Coupe – Henry Ford II’s Personal Prototype Mustang http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/the-deuces-coupe-henry-ford-iis-personal-prototype-mustang/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/the-deuces-coupe-henry-ford-iis-personal-prototype-mustang/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 01:56:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=804458 Fifty years ago this week, the first Ford Mustang went on sale. While Lee Iacocca is considered by many to be the father of the Mustang, the simple reality is that without the approval of Henry Ford II, the chief executive at Ford, the Mustang would never have happened. That took some doing. After American […]

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Full gallery here.

Fifty years ago this week, the first Ford Mustang went on sale. While Lee Iacocca is considered by many to be the father of the Mustang, the simple reality is that without the approval of Henry Ford II, the chief executive at Ford, the Mustang would never have happened. That took some doing. After American Motors had shown the viability of compact cars, in 1960, Ford introduced the Falcon, Chevrolet introduced the Corvair, and Pontiac brought out the original, compact, Tempest. When GM introduced the sportier Monza versions of the Corvair, Iacocca, who by then was a Ford corporate VP and general manager of the Ford division, wanted something to compete with it. Henry Ford II, aka “Hank the Deuce”, had to be convinced to spend money on the project, just a few short years after FoMoCo took a serious financial hit when the Edsel brand did not have a successful launch. Iacocca, one of the great salesmen, not only sold his boss on the concept of the Mustang, the Deuce came to love the pony car so much he had a very special one made just for himself.

 

Multiple accounts from other participants in the story affirm that HFII was reluctant to give the Mustang program a green light. By early 1962, Iacocca had already been turned down at least twice, with Ford shouting “No! No!” when Ford’s division boss asked for $75 million to go after the youth market with a reskinned Falcon. Iacocca’s unofficial “Fairlane Committee”, an advanced product planning group that met every couple of weeks at the Fairlane Motel, away from prying eyes and ears at the Glass House, Ford’s World headquarters, had been working on the Mustang idea, but the team despaired of getting HFII’s approval.

In an interview on the Mustang’s genesis, Iacocca explained his challenge:

Henry Ford II had just dealt with one of the biggest losses in Ford history with the Edsel. It was dumped just one year earlier at a loss of $250 million. Henry was not receptive to launching a new, unproven line of cars which would present further risk to the company.

I made a number of trips to his office before I gained approval to build. He told me if it wasn’t a success, it would be my ass, and I might be looking for a new job elsewhere.

Surprisingly, Iacocca got word that Ford would let him pitch the as yet unnamed sporty car one more time. With the meeting scheduled for the next morning, Iacocca convened an emergency meeting of his secret committee. Things had to be secret because in the wake of the Edsel debacle, Ford’s corporate culture had become very cautious.

According to Ford head of public relations and Iacocca’s speechwriter Walter T. Murphy, who was at the meeting, the group included: Don Frey, Ford’s chief product planner; John Bowers, advertising manager; Frank Zimmerman, Ford division head of marketing; Robert Eggert, the company’s chief market research authority; Hal Sperlich, who wore many hats as Iacocca’s right hand man (and would follow him to Chrysler): and William Laurie, senior officer of Ford’s advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson.

In a 1989 account that he wrote for Ward’s Auto, Murphy described the scene:

“What I need are some fresh grabbers for my meeting tomorrow morning with Henry at the Glass House,” Mr. Iacocca told his committee (Note: we always called him Henry at meetings when Mr. Ford was not present), Bob Eggert, the researcher, was first at bat: “Lee, let’s lead off with the name of the car we’ve decided on.”

The feeling was that Henry didn’t know we were picking the Mustang name and he’d be entranced. Mr. Frey supported Mr. Eggert. “That’s a good way to go, but emphasize that this stylish pony car will kick GM’s Monza square in the balls.” Henry should love that! “I’ve got it,” Mr. Iacocca responded as he snapped shut the little car research binder that Mr. Eggert had slipped in front of him. “Murphy, put together some notes for me by early tomorrow morning. Thank you. The meeting is adjourned.”

The following morning Mr. Ford stretched out in his leather chair, fingers clasped atop his expanding belly. Mr. Iacocca stood holding a few index cards. He was not smoking or fingering a cigar, as he usually did. Mr. Ford asked “What have you got, Lee?”

Lee launched into his pitch on the market for the youthful low-cost cars that Ford once dominated but had surrendered to GM along with a bushel of profit/penetration points. “Now this new little pony car, the Mustang, would give an orgasm to anyone under 30,” he said. Henry sat upright as if he had been jabbed with a needle. “What was that you said, Lee?” asked Mr. Ford.

Lee began to repeat his orgasm line but Mr. Ford interrupted. “No not that crap, what did you call the car?” “It’s the Mustang, Mr. Ford, a name that will sell like hell.” “Sounds good; have Frey take it to the product planning committee and get it approved. And as of now, you’ve got $75 million to fund your Mustang.”

In the end, Henry Ford II’s approval of the Mustang came down to the name. I’ll note that Walker’s recollection is slightly different than that of Iacocca, who says that Ford initially committed just $45 million for the project.

The Mustang team first developed the four cylinder midengine Mustang (now known as Mustang I) concept for the 1962 show circuit, gauging interest in a sporty car targeted at young people. Because of cost concerns, they were likely to never build such a car (the Edsel failure guaranteed that the car would have to be based on an existing Ford car), but the reaction was positive, leading to the Falcon based Mustang II concept (not to be confused with the 1974 Mustang II production car). The Mustang II was based on a very early preproduction Mustang body shell, first used for a styling study with stretched front end (with “Cougar” badging – the name that convinced HFII was chosen very late in the process)  and then taken out on the ’63 auto show circuit to drum up interest in the new car. The Mustang II is owned by the Detroit Historical Museum and it would be hard to put a dollar value on such a rare and historically significant Mustang.

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Henry Ford II with the Mustang at Ford’s pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, where the Mustang was first introduced to the public. Above and behind him you can see one of the convertibles used in the Walt Disney Co. designed Magic Skyway that carried visitors through Ford’s exhibit.

Before the official start of Mustang production on March 9, 1964, in February Ford started to build actual preproduction prototypes of the Mustang, about 180 of them in all. The bodies-in-white were pilot plant units built off of body bucks by Ford Body & Assembly in Allen Park, which explains the leaded seams. The bodies were then trucked to the nearby Dearborn assembly plant where they were assembled as part of the validation process.

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From left to right: Lee Iacocca, Henry Ford II, and Gene Bordinat

One of of those preproduction prototypes was set aside for special treatment by Ford Design. Ten years later, it was just another old Mustang when Art Cairo spotted a classified ad in a Detroit newspaper that read, “1965 Mustang once owned by the Ford family.” The asking price was a very reasonable $1,000 so Cairo went to look at the car. He found what appeared to be a Hi-Po 289 hardtop in black. It had some unusual parts, though. The vinyl roof was leather, not vinyl, as was the interior upholstery and dashpad. The brightwork on the wheel arch lips was die-cast, not anodized aluminum as on production cars. Door jams and trunk openings had fully leaded seams, and there were features like GT foglights in the grille, exhaust tips and styled steel wheels that were not available on early production Mustangs. Under the hood, there was an alternator instead of a generator, which was what ran the electrical system of early Mustangs. The only Ford products that offered alternators in mid 1964 were Lincolns.

On the interior, in addition to leather seats there was real teakwood, molded leather door panels with pistol-grip door handles, and a factory reverb unit and rear speaker under the package shelf. Door strikers and latches were chrome plated. In addition to what appeared to be an authentic High Performance 289, the car had disc brakes up front, a “top loader” four speed manual transmission and a 9 inch rear end with a 3.50:1 final drive ratio.

When Art read the VIN, 5F07K100148, and realized that it was a genuine “K code” Mustang, an early production “1964 1/2″ model, with a real Hi-Po 289 and lots of oddball parts, he recognized that it was a special car and that he needed to buy it (it would turn out later that Cairo’s Mustang was the very first K-code Mustang built). In the glovebox he found an owner’s manual for a ’65 Mustang written with the name “Edsel B. Ford II” and a Grosse Pointe address. The VIN in the manual, however, was for a fastback and didn’t match the one in the car.

Edsel, Henry Ford II’s son, would have been in high school when the car was new so Cairo figured it was an authentic Ford family car and bought it, assuming it was the younger Ford’s personal car. In 1983, when Art was interviewing Edsel for the Mustang Monthly magazine, Edsel revealed to him that the hardtop was not his, but his father’s and that somehow the owner’s manual for his fastback ’65 ended up with his dad’s car. Since the car’s restoration, Edsel autographed the teakwood glovebox door.

It turns out that while the cars were built for Ford family members to use, they were not titled to the Ford’s but rather remained the possession of the Ford company. After Henry and Edsel were done with their Mustangs, they were returned to FoMoCo and sold. The story that Cairo had heard was that the Deuce gave his Mustang to his chauffeur, who then sold it to the person who sold it to Cairo.

In addition to the changes mentioned above, other modifications were discovered when the car was finally restored. The alternator meant that the car had a custom wiring harness. A steel scatter shield was welded into the transmission tunnel in case of a failure of the clutch or flywheel. The engine was a real Hi-Po 289, but it had experimental cylinder heads, and even the steering box was not a production unit. The original headliner was leather, to match the roof and upholstery and in addition to all the real wood and chrome plating, a custom AM radio with die-cast knobs and buttons was installed.

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“X” stands for experimental. The Hi-Po 289 V8 in Henry Ford II’s personal Mustang had experimental heads.

The fog lamps, exhaust trumpets and die-cast moldings were developmental parts planned to be introduced the following year, installed by Ford Design.

As mentioned, when Cairo bought the car, he knew it was special, being an early K-code car, but he didn’t take the Ford family provenance that seriously. He loaned the car to his brother, who beat on it pretty hard until something broke in the 289’s valvetrain. Art retrieved the keys, overhauled the heads and did a mild restoration and respray.

He didn’t drive it much because his job involving new vehicle launches at Ford kept him on the road a lot, moving from assembly plant to assembly plant. Though he drove 5F07K100148 sparingly, for the most part the car was unknown to the Mustang community.

In 2002, Cairo started getting worried about the long term effects of inactivity and humidity and a deep inspection found significant decay, rust and rodent damage. Rustbusters, a restoration shop in Redford, Michigan was entrusted with the car.

This was going to be a complicated job. Some parts, like the headliner and upholstery are so original they cannot be “restored”. How do you restore a one off with a replica?

The car was carefully taken apart, with copious notes and photographs taken. Once disassembled, they discovered that the rust had eaten through body panels, floors, frame-rails, wheelhouses, quarter-panels, inner fenders, doors, and the cowl vent. Had this been a run of the mill ’65 Mustang, most owners would have removed the VIN and bought a replacement body from Dynacorn.

Instead, with the help of reproduction company National Parts Depot, Rustbusters used a body jig custom designed for vintage Mustangs and repaired all of the sheet metal. A modern self-etching primer sealer was used as was polymer seam sealer, but Cairo was able to locate some vintage Ford Raven Black enamel, and after spraying, the Mustang was color sanded and hand rubbed old school style to replicate a 1964 era paint job. Unfortunately, the die-cast prototype wheel-lip moldings were too corroded to use.

Early production Mustangs came with an unimproved hood that had sharp edges, replaced in 1965 with a hood that had a rolled lip. Since all preproduction and Indy Pace Car Mustangs (Ford provided the pace car for the 1964 race) that have surfaced so far feature the later style hood, Art decided to go with the “1965” hood, which is how he found the car when he bought it.

The engine was rebuilt to factory specs, other than a .030 overbore, but inspections revealed that both the transmission and rear end just needed new seals and gaskets.

The car was finished just in time for Ford’s centennial in 2003 and Art was invited to display his car in front of Ford World Headquarters as part of the 100th anniversary celebration. This month it’s appropriately back in the lobby of the “Glass House”, whose official name is the Henry Ford II World Center, along with some other historic Mustangs, to celebrate the Mustang’s semicentennial.

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Piston Slap: A Faltering Ford’s ESP? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-faltering-fords-esp/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-faltering-fords-esp/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 12:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=773537 Mark writes: Sajeev– I’m sure you’ve fielded similar questions in the past, but in the spirit of basic cable, here’s a potential re-run: I have a 2012 Mustang V6 with the performance package & a 6-speed manual. It’s coming up on 26k miles, so I’ve got 10k miles and/or about 9 months before the 3/36 bumper […]

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Mark writes:

Sajeev–

I’m sure you’ve fielded similar questions in the past, but in the spirit of basic cable, here’s a potential re-run: I have a 2012 Mustang V6 with the performance package & a 6-speed manual. It’s coming up on 26k miles, so I’ve got 10k miles and/or about 9 months before the 3/36 bumper to bumper warranty expires. The car has had a couple issues covered under warranty so far, with the biggest one being a new steering box at about 15k miles. A nearby Ford dealer will sell me a Ford factory warranty (not an aftermarket roll of the dice) to basically double the 3/36 coverage for about $1200.

That comes with a $100 deductible, and if I sell the car before the warranty expires, I can have the unused portion refunded to me. Normally I wouldn’t consider buying an extended warranty, but I’ve had just enough trouble with the car up to this point, and read enough horror stories about the MT82 gearbox, to make me think about it. I’m really not sure how long I’ll keep the car, but I do like the idea of having that warranty security blanket as long as I do. What’s your take?

Sajeev answers:

Nothing wrong with revisiting a classic!  We’ve previously said that “scary” Euro-metal needs an extended warranty, provided you shop around for the best price. And that less scary metal might not benefit from any warranty, even the factory one with fancy Lexus loaner cars and plush Lexus lounges. So why not discuss in terms of Ford’s ESP plan?

This commonplace, low value Ford product (unlike the Lexus and BMW) is not an easy vehicle to armchair assess and judge.  Aside from the well known MT82, will an “unmodified” Mustang have significant failure in the next 72,000-ish miles and 3-ish years? I am guessing not.  And will the MT82 survive under the V6’s less aggressive torque curve and your shifting behavior?  That’s entirely possible.

Back to the unmodified part: assuming you aren’t skirting warranty issues with an non-stock engine tune (that pushes the boundaries of “safe” aftermarket air-fuel ratios) or aftermarket suspension bits, etc. you aren’t likely to break anything large enough to justify the cost of the warranty.

My gut says no, don’t get an extended warranty.  Instead get a local mechanic that you trust, and use places like Rockauto and eBay for getting spares. But if the peace of mind suits you, stick with the factory (i.e. Ford ESP) warranty and shop around: perhaps you can get it for less by emailing dealerships across the country.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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A Visit To Ford’s Wind Tunnel To Look At The New Mustang’s Slick Aero Tricks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/a-visit-to-fords-wind-tunnel-to-look-at-the-new-mustangs-slick-aero-tricks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/a-visit-to-fords-wind-tunnel-to-look-at-the-new-mustangs-slick-aero-tricks/#comments Sat, 01 Mar 2014 18:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=756721 Click on the settings icon in the menu bar of the video above to watch it in 2D or your choice of 3D formats. The second best part about the job of writing about cars is not getting to drive expensive cars for free or being flown to resorts with Jacuzzi tubs. No, the second […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.


Click on the settings icon in the menu bar of the video above to watch it in 2D or your choice of 3D formats.

The second best part about the job of writing about cars is not getting to drive expensive cars for free or being flown to resorts with Jacuzzi tubs. No, the second best part about the gig is that I get to see and do some very cool car guy things. How many of you have watched film or video of a car being tested in a wind tunnel and thought to yourself, “that’s neat!”? Well, this week I got to observe the new 2015 Ford Mustang’s aerodynamic features demonstrated in one of those neat wind tunnels.

As part of the publicity campaign leading up to the April introduction of the all-new 2015 Ford Mustang, Ford is going to have a series of presentations to Detroit area automotive media types and they kicked it off with a visit to FoMoCo’s Driveability Testing  Facility in Allen Park. The DTF contains a number of test cells that allow Ford engineers to duplicate just about any temperature, altitude or meteorological condition (including snow and hail) a driver might experience. Three of the test cells are wind tunnels large enough to test full size cars and Ford’s marketing and engineering folks had a preproduction black 2015 Mustang GT coupe sitting in one of them.

After Kemal Curić, who was in charge of exterior design on the new Mustang, did a walkaround, pointing out the various aerodynamic features of the car, they fired up the fans to 30 mph and a technician used a smoke wand so we could actually see just how effective those features are.

Click here to view the embedded video.

When the 2015 Mustang finally hits the showrooms later this year, you may not notice the differences, but each of the models has been fine tuned for aerodynamic balance. Ford says that they spent twice as much time on the new Mustang’s aerodynamic performance as on the outgoing model. Much of that work was done in the digital domain, which can work at a very fine granular resolution that can’t be replicated with real-world pressure sensors or physical tufts, but still everything is subjected to real-world testing with real airflow in a wind tunnel.

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Some of the changes are almost imperceptible, for example, raising or shaving the surface of the rear deck lid by as little as 1 millimeter will have an observable and significant effect. Each model, Ecoboost 4, V6 or GT, has slightly different aero features and if you order the performance package on the GT, that gets its own special wind-cheating tricks. For example, EcoBoost powered Mustangs will feature active grille shutters that close to reduce drag at higher speeds. Different front splitters and functional rear underbody air extractors were developed for each model. The front fascia on all models incorporates ducts that create aero wheel curtains that isolate the spinning wheels and tires from turbulence, a first for Ford.

Wheel aero curtains on the 2015 Mustang

Wheel aero curtains on the 2015 Mustang

Most of the work is aimed at reducing turbulence and hence drag by keeping the airflow closely attached to the car body’s surface as it passes the car. With the smoke wand set right at the leading edge of the hood, the trail smoothly runs from the nose of the car up over the roof and then down the fastback roofline and over the integrated spoiler on the deck lid. It’s only when the smoke is finally trailing the car that you see any turbulence, though as it transitions past the functional cold air intake for the engine at the base of the windshield you can see the eddies curling air down into the induction system.

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Another of the aero features of the front end are functional air extractors in the hood. Not only do they prevent air pressure from building up under the hood, Curić said that they actually create downforce. Moving back along the car, the side mirrors have been moved from the window frame down to a stalk on the door. That aerodynamically isolates the mirror from the body, allowing laminar flow along the window. The mirror itself has been shaped so that air flows smoothly around and past it. A side skirt below the rocker panel works with the front splitter to keep underbody airflow separate from the upper air. One aero device you might not notice is a small flap spoiler mounted under the car just in front of each rear wheel, intended to smooth the flow of air around the rear tires.

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The rear decklid of the new Mustang GT is the collaborative product of the designers, aerodynamicists and the manufacturing engineers. You may not realize this when you see the complex shapes on modern cars, but there’s a constant struggle between the designers and the body engineers over what is possible, or more importantly, what is possible at a price point. The decklid on the 2015 Mustang is a relatively complicated shape, particularly because they decided on an integrated spoiler, not a bolt on part. It’s one thing to get a clay model to perform well in the wind tunnel, it’s another thing to be able to reproduce that shape in metal or plastic production parts.

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One reason why they don’t just rely on testing aero with fluid dynamics in the digital domain is that the wind tunnel isn’t just used for aerodynamics. Microphone arrays mounted above and to the side of the car are used to measure noise and are part of the process of reducing NVH. Interior sound measurements are taken with the audio equivalent of crash test dummies, but I was told that exterior measurements correlate well with how much noise there is inside the car, which makes sense.

IMG_0027At the event I learned a little bit about how they do wind tunnel testing at Ford and how that affects the way the new Mustang looks and drives. I also learned a bit about just how serious the Ford engineers and designers are about wringing out a small percentage improvement here and another one there. When it comes to aero, all those little things add up. Though they wouldn’t cite a specific drag coefficient, we were told that the new Mustang is 3% better in terms of aerodynamics than the 2014 model, yielding a 1% improvement in highway fuel economy. As you can see from the acoustic testing, though, it’s not only about miles per gallon.

Almost one in five Mustangs that are sold currently are convertibles. Before the wind tunnel presentation we heard about the Webasto supplied folding roof on the new Mustang convertible and how it’s quieter, goes up and down faster (an electromechanical drive replaces hydraulics), folds flatter, looks better both up and down, and, yes, has better aerodynamics than the ragtop on the outgoing model. The old roof had three supporting bows, a vinyl outer skin and an inexpensive inner skin. The new roof has an additional bow to give the roof better shape, the outside is fabric, the inside is real headlining material and between them, for the first time on a Mustang, is a layer of sound and heat insulating foam. One of the reporters asked them if the improvements were made in response to consumer feedback. The Ford engineer replied that yes, they had gotten feedback indicating that Mustang owners wanted a quieter car, and then, almost as an aside, he said, they wanted to give the new Mustang a better roof in general.

It’s quite difficult to convey to people just how massive an undertaking it is to develop a new car. I’m sure that what I saw at Ford is duplicated at every major car company. Because of this job I get a peak behind the curtain now and then and I get to pay attention to the men and women working behind that curtain. However, instead of charlatans pulling levers projecting the image of greatness, there are lots of very hardworking people making great efforts at incremental improvements that, taken cumulatively, positively impact our experiences as drivers and car owners.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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A Love Story: A Woman, Her Mustang, and Her Man http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/a-love-story-a-woman-her-mustang-and-her-man/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/a-love-story-a-woman-her-mustang-and-her-man/#comments Sat, 08 Feb 2014 16:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=736577 Carroll Shelby rather famously derided the original Ford Falcon-based first generation Mustang as a “secretary’s car”, and he wasn’t far from the mark. Young, single working women were one of the original target markets for the original pony car and you can see that from period advertisements for the Mustang. In 1964, as the Mustang […]

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Carroll Shelby rather famously derided the original Ford Falcon-based first generation Mustang as a “secretary’s car”, and he wasn’t far from the mark. Young, single working women were one of the original target markets for the original pony car and you can see that from period advertisements for the Mustang. In 1964, as the Mustang approached its official sales date of April 17th of that year, Gail Brown was 22 years old, just graduated from the Chicago Teachers College, still living with her parents, and exactly the kind of young woman Ford wanted as their customer. In today’s hindsight, her mom’s ’57 Ford Fairlane that Gail drove to work every day was a pretty cool car, but she wanted her own wheels. She wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted, but it had to be cool and it had to be a convertible. Since the Browns were a Ford family, on April 15th, 1964 Gail went to Johnson Ford in Chicago.

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Nothing in the showroom excited her, but the salesman decided to bend a couple of rules and took her to a storage area in the back lot where a car was hidden under a cover. Pulling back the cover, the salesman showed Gail a loaded powder blue 1965 Mustang, complete with Rally Pac instruments, a 260 V8 (the 260 was the first version of what in time would become the 289), and most important, a convertible top. Though the Mustang wasn’t supposed to officially go on sale until two days later on the 17th on the month, Gail loved the car so much that she persuaded the dealer to sell it to her, making her the first known retail owner of a Mustang.

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Gail may have been single, but she had a college sweetheart, Tom Wise, who was serving on board a nuclear powered missile submarine during the height of the cold war. He was the envy of many of his shipmates, having a pretty girlfriend with a convertible that he could drive when he visited her on leave. He did eventually buy his own car, a base  Chevy Biscayne that he ordered before his ship left on assignment and was ready when he next got shore leave.

They married in 1966 and started their family in the suburbs of Chicago. Now if you had your choice of driving a stripper full size Chevy or a well equipped Mustang convertible with a V8, you’d understand why Tom used the Mustang as his daily driver in nice weather. Besides, they had a growing family and Gail had an easier time fitting their kids in the back seat of the the Chevy. After years of fun and  faithful service, a recalcitrant carburetor put the Mustang in their garage, where it sat for 27 years. After they retired, in 2007, Tom started what became a three year full restoration of the car. Though they paid someone to do the body and paint work, Tom did most of the assembly work, done to a very high standard, himself.

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As you might expect, the Wises have a cordial relationship with Ford Motor Company. I first met them a couple of months ago when Ford revealed the all-new 2015 Mustang. The lobby of Ford’s conference center in Dearborn was filled with historic Mustangs including the Wise’s ’64 1/2 convertible. Not far away from their car was Mustang VIN #001, also a convertible, in Wimbledon white. That white Mustang was part of Ford’s display for the new Mustang at the Detroit auto show. As mentioned, the Wises live in the Chicago area, so for the vintage part of the Mustang display at the Chicago Auto Show, Ford put their blue pony car in a place of honor in Ford’s exhibit at McCormick Place.

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That’s where I met them for the second time, with what they describe as a family member, their now 50  year old car. Mr. Wise told me that the car is in great demand by organizers of Mustang and Ford car shows and they take it to a lot events. It’s pretty obvious that the Wises have a lot of affection for their car and the company that made it. Tom’s current daily driver is a Ford Escape and he told me that he’s very happy with the little SUV. Even more obvious is the affection that the Wises have for each other. A fifty year old, one family car is a rarity, but these days, a marriage that has spanned five decades may be even rarer.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Piston Slap: In Accordance with Wants and Needs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/piston-slap-in-accordance-with-wants-and-needs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/piston-slap-in-accordance-with-wants-and-needs/#comments Mon, 30 Dec 2013 13:39:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=689154 Matt writes: Hi Sajeev! I submitted a question last year about which SUV/CUV we should buy to replace my wife’s 2005 Odyssey.  I admit that I may have embellished my description of some of her thoughts and feedback during that process when I submitted my question the last time–mostly in the spirit of satire.  Well, […]

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Matt writes:

Hi Sajeev!

I submitted a question last year about which SUV/CUV we should buy to replace my wife’s 2005 Odyssey.  I admit that I may have embellished my description of some of her thoughts and feedback during that process when I submitted my question the last time–mostly in the spirit of satire.  Well, some of the B&B didn’t catch on to that and they ended up flaming her pretty badly.  I was so excited to see your response that I showed the post to her before reading through the comments. She’s more thorough than me and did continue on into the comments.

To make a long story short, it wasn’t pretty for me.  

Fortunately, we’re still married and we replaced the Ody with a 2013 Highlander Limited, initially Steve Lang’s suggestion, and seconded by several commenters.  She’s had it now since March and is generally pretty happy with it.

Since my experience went so well the last time (/sarcasm), I thought I’d submit another one related to my 2001 Honda Accord EX 4 cyl. with 122,000 miles.

I can’t really say anything bad about it.  Sure, it’s on its 3rd transmission, but two of those failures were within months of each other, and since the last one was put in about 7-8 years ago, I’ve not had any problems.  It’s in fine shape cosmetically with no rust, though the alloy wheels are starting to get a bit rough.  At my last oil change, my mechanic said everything looks really good underneath and in the engine compartment and he expects it will live a long time.  The inside is clean, though some of the rubberized plastic on the center console is getting a bit sticky due to UV exposure.  Basically, nothing is wrong with it, and I don’t expect any expensive repairs any time soon.  The only other part that’s needed replacement was the timing belt at 100K.

I use the car mainly as a commuter (13 miles one-way on country back roads through the corn fields) and errand runner around town.  It might take 1-2 longer trips per year (< 400 miles), but that’s rare.  It gets driven much less in the summer since I bought a motorcycle for getting back and forth to work.

Obviously, I don’t need to replace the car for any reason, other than I’ve been driving it for 12 years and am in the mood for a change.  I saw the new Accord, and really liked the looks of it.  That got me thinking about new cars in general.  I don’t honestly know what I would replace it with.  Lots of vehicles on the wish list (Ram 1500, Mustang GT, Mazda 6, Honda Accord, Chrysler 300 V-8, Jeep Grand Cherokee), but that’s not really at the heart of this question.  It’s more about whether I should keep it or move on.

I’m generally a keeper (obviously), and find pleasure in not wasting, whether it’s money, energy, time, etc.  There’s something I enjoy about hanging on to something that has plenty of life left in it.  As long as the thing doesn’t look like a complete hooptie, I enjoy it.  My 9 year-old son is also quite fond of the car and has informed me that he wants it when he turns 16.  Also, considering the way in which I use, it, there’s really no need for another vehicle (though there are plenty of days I dream about how easy that home project would be with a pick-up).

On the other hand…

It seems like cars have come so far in the last 12 years, and I wouldn’t mind enjoying some of the comfort and convenience features that can now be had.  I really am a bit of gear head at heart, and I do tire of constantly reading about (and lusting after) new cars, but doing nothing about it.  As much as I enjoy being a keeper, there is part of me that says “to heck with it, just get that rear-drive car with the manual transmission and V8 that you’ve always wanted!”

Sajeev, I’m conflicted.  What is a man to do?

Sincerely,
Matt

P.S.  I’m pretty sure a panther will not scratch that itch…sorry.

Sajeev answers:

Pro Tip: consider a heavily depreciated Ford Econoline conversion van instead of Panther Love if you put words in your wife’s mouth again…cuz you’ll be sleepin’ in the street, son! 

I don’t recall my previous suggestions, it’s impossible to Google considering the number of cringe-worthy instances when a reader gives an incorrect elaboration on/assumption of the needs of one’s spouse.  (Never mind, the B&B found it, thanks!) And, with your marriage in mind, I can’t tell you to repress/take action on your lust for a newer, more tech savvy, more exciting machine.  Because your Accord sounds like a peach and we got bigger problems in life.

I consider you to be a lucky man to be in such a position. My advice?

  1. Test Drive any car you might possibly want, within the confines of your budget and future expenses.  You know, things like the kid’s college tuition, a new roof, divorce lawyer, etc.
  2. Rent something with all the toys/gadgets for a week.
  3. Ask your wife and do whatever she says.
  4. Get an Executive Decision Maker and run with it.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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2015 Ford Mustang “Body in White” Coming w/ Ford 9″ Axle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/2015-ford-mustang-body-in-white-coming-w-ford-9-axle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/2015-ford-mustang-body-in-white-coming-w-ford-9-axle/#comments Tue, 17 Dec 2013 19:32:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=682578 I was there when Ford debuted its new-for-1999 Mustang Cobra with its “revolutionary” new independent rear suspension. The IRS was a first for the Ford Mustang, and it was a move that Ford’s brass believed would allow the “new edge” Cobra to compete with cars like the BMW M3 for supremacy in the budget super […]

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2015 Mustang

I was there when Ford debuted its new-for-1999 Mustang Cobra with its “revolutionary” new independent rear suspension. The IRS was a first for the Ford Mustang, and it was a move that Ford’s brass believed would allow the “new edge” Cobra to compete with cars like the BMW M3 for supremacy in the budget super car market. I also remember the very first question that was asked: Will a Ford 9″ bolt in? It was the first question, right out of the box … and it seems like someone at Ford remembers. The new-for-2015 Mustang is going to hit dealers with a new independent rear suspension late next year, and it seems like Ford Racing will have a 9″ live axle option ready.

According to a Ford Racing employee at PRI, the live-axle version of the 2015 Ford Mustang is expected to debut at next year’s PRI show as part of a new “body in white” program intended to attract serious racers to the platform. The body in white 2015 Mustang will also serve to take some of the shine off of bitter rival Chevrolet’s current COPO Camaro and body in white Camaro programs.

Once the live-axle 2015 Mustang racers are out “in the wild”, the parts needed to convert street-going Mustangs from independent rear suspensions to the 9″ setup should become available through Ford Racing and participating dealers. Back in 1999, SVT engineer Eric Zinkosky said the “new independent rear suspension (was packaged) in not only the same space as the solid-axle design, but we had to use the same suspension mounting points. We virtually ‘reverse-engineered’ the IRS from the known suspension hardpoints, and we had to keep everything inside the same box.” Assuming similar thinking went into the upcoming Ford Racing 9″ suspension for the bodies in white, getting a solid axle to help get a high-horsepower Ecoboost Mustang’s power down should be a lot easier than many have feared.

 

About my source: While I have opted to not give his name, this information came to me from a Ford Racing employee on-hand at the 2013 PRI Show yesterday, 12DEC2013, when I asked if I could look under the hood of the (supposedly) 4 cyl. Ecoboost Mustang spinning on the big lazy Susan at the Ford Racing stand. He said no. I told another PRI old-timer the story about the 1999 Cobra IRS reveal, which the Ford Racing rep overheard. He laughed and said, “Yeah, that’s not ’til next year. We’ll probably announce it at the same time as the body in white program …” but he got called away before he could say “That’s off the record.” Take that how you will.

 

Originally published on Gas 2.

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American Graffiti – X http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/american-graffiti-x/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/american-graffiti-x/#comments Sun, 15 Dec 2013 12:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=679594 Way back in 1973, a relatively young and inexperienced director by the name of George Lucas made a movie that starred a whole bunch of nobodies. Called “American Graffiti,” it turned out to be the little movie that could. Co-Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and Gary Kurtz for just $775,000, it went on to become […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Way back in 1973, a relatively young and inexperienced director by the name of George Lucas made a movie that starred a whole bunch of nobodies. Called “American Graffiti,” it turned out to be the little movie that could. Co-Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and Gary Kurtz for just $775,000, it went on to become one of the most profitable films of all time, making an estimated $200 million dollars and, in the process, turned several of those “nobodies,” people like Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfus, Suzanne Summers, and Cindy Williams, into bankable stars. In 1995, the National Library of Congress declared it to be “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation by adding it to the National Film Registry.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, I won’t ruin the story by revealing any of the finer points of the plot. Generally speaking, it is the story of teenage angst and antics set amid classic cars and punctuated by great old-time rock and roll music and the action follows several teens on a hot August night in the far away year of 1962 as they cruise their cars around the California town of Modesto in search of action and adventure. The movie hit theaters just as the first wave of the baby boom generation, people born between 1946 and 64, began to close-in on the ripe old age of 30 and to see it now is to look back upon the days of their youth through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia.

It has taken me a long time to appreciate it. I was all of 7 years old when American Graffiti went into theatrical release and didn’t actually sit down and watch it until VCRs became commonplace in the American home sometime in the early 1980s. Frankly, I didn‘t get it. For me, a founding member of Generation X who was born in 1966, the movie seemed a cloying tale of ancient silliness that had long since been wiped away the decades that had followed them. I think now, however, that the real problem was that, even though I was the same age as the kids depicted, I would never have done the things they did. Having nothing real in common with any of the characters, I ended up listening to the dated, but admittedly wonderful, soundtrack and watching that old Detroit iron endlessly circling the town. In that regard, at least, the movie reflected a reality that I actually knew. That’s because, despite the 20 years that had elapsed between the action depicted in American Graffiti and the tawdry days of my own youth, virtually nothing had changed.

Yours truly, master of the pin-stripe tape.

Yours truly, master of the pin-stripe tape.

I got my driver’s license in early 1983 and by my senior year of high school, 1984, my Nova and I were a regular part of the street scene. My car, armed with a six cylinder and a three on the tree, was never competitive but, thanks to my ability with pin stripe tape and a set of rallye wheels that came from my brother Tracy I had a good looking little cruiser that was both reliable and about as fuel efficient as I could get. It was my buddies who had the heavy iron, Rick with his Javelin at first and later a 69 Charger and Denny with a 340 Demon, who carried the honor of our small group. Even so, we were never the “fast guys.”

The fast guys were older than us. Already working solid $4.00 and hour jobs 40 hours a week, they had real money to throw at their cars. There was Jim, who had an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser with a 442 front end grafted on. It wasn’t fast, but it was custom. Then came Dave, whose father owned a local body shop, who had a wickedly fast 68 Camaro but who spent most of his time selling and smoking pot rather than actually racing. Next was Bob, who had a custom bodied Comet Caliente that mounted square headlights above a front spoiler do big we called it “The Bulldozer.” And finally Tye, our own local hot-rodder who had finished school just a year earlier. His 68 Mustang had none of the shine or polish the other cars enjoyed, but he worked relentlessly to make it just a little bit faster each week.

Perhaps it was because their cars were so similar beneath the skin, or perhaps it was because, when everything was said and done, they were both a couple of jerks way down deep inside, but for some reason Bob and Tye who should have been, in my opinion, friends were instead mortal enemies. I remember them now, a couple of wanna-be toughs in greasy pants and with cigarettes dangling from their lower lips as they glowered at one another from opposite ends of our local video game arcade’s parking lot. They got there early and staked out their spots, their supporters filling in around them while the rest of us endlessly circled around like a giant school of fish.

Like stags in the rutting season, each boy was compelled to trumpet his prowess in the loudest way possible and every so often, one or the other would jump into his car to start and rev his uncorked engine. If we were lucky, the other boy would respond to the challenge and a burn off contest would ensue. Back and forth it would go, the pressure of imminent conflict gradually increasing by the hour as the witching hour drew nigh. Then, just before midnight, when most of us had to be home, both boys would lead their troops to the battlefield.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org

We had a special spot close to the Everett Boeing 747/777 assembly plant. The factory is immense and tens of thousands of people work there. Every shift change floods the roadway with commuters and as a result the plant is served by its own 6 lane wide highway spur. At one end, close to the factory gate is a stoplight to control ingress and egress from the huge parking lots that line the roadway and approximately ¼ mile away is a giant overhead sign that directs traffic onto the main highway, East to Mukilteo or West to Everett. The course was wide, safe and, at anytime other than shift change, totally desolate.

The two caravans of cars, and those of us who had dared to break our curfews to become hangers on, would converge on the spot just prior to the main event. Looking back on it now, the local police had to know what we were doing but for the most part they left us alone. Generally they were good to us so long as we were good to them and, unlike the movie (spoiler alert!) we played no shenanigans. Usually we would get about 30 minutes on-site before a single cruiser would roll through with its lights on reminding us that we needed to go home.

In that 30 minutes we had, however, the ritual was unvaried. Bob and Tye would stage up singly and make a practice run while the other watched. Final adjustments would be made and burn offs would follow. At last, the night culminated as they came to the lone, door handle to door handle.

The stoplight switched to green and both drivers hammered the gas. The sound of their Fords’ engines pounded the night and reflecting back at us off the wall of the factory as the two cars accelerated. Bob hit his shifts perfectly while Tye’s automatic did the work for him as they came out of the hole and ran up to speed. It was neck and neck and then, slowly the Bob’s Bulldozer began to inch away. He stretched out his lead to one car length as then two before they passed the finish line. The winner would slow and turn, making a victory lap along the line of kids while the loser, unwilling to face the jeers of the masses, would continue up the on ramp and onto the freeway.

With the main movers done, the rest of us would take our own turns. Rick or Denny would take on all comers, sometimes winning sometimes losing, while I looked for someone whose engine was as deficient in acceleration as my own lest I be beaten to a pulp every time. There was never money involved, we never had more than a few dollars in our pockets anyhow, it was all for fun and, perhaps, just a bit of pride. And then, as he 30 minute mark would approach, that single police cruiser would come and, as quickly as it started, it would end.

At the end of the movie, we get to find out what happened to the kids those “nobodies” played. As the credits rolled, a single subtitled line told us their fates. Without ruining for you, all I can say is that some of them went far in life and some of them didn’t. I would imagine it is the same for the kids I knew too. Some of us have found our way to places no one would ever have believed we could go while others of us still struggle. The one thing we have in common now are those nights and the heady days that came at the ends of our own childhoods. Maybe one day, someone will make a movie about that.

Snohomish High School Auto Shop 1983/84

Snohomish High School Auto Shop 1983/84

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast, he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Sunday Stories: “A Father’s Obligation” by Thomas Kreutzer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/sunday-stories-a-fathers-obligation-by-thomas-kreutzer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/sunday-stories-a-fathers-obligation-by-thomas-kreutzer/#comments Sun, 08 Dec 2013 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=670074 Several months ago, when he assumed the editorial responsibility for the The Truth About Cars, Jack Baruth made a the readers several promises. Among those promises was a commitment that this web site’s home page would be “100% work safe.” Anyone, he said, should be able to visit this website any time and not have […]

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Several months ago, when he assumed the editorial responsibility for the The Truth About Cars, Jack Baruth made a the readers several promises. Among those promises was a commitment that this web site’s home page would be “100% work safe.” Anyone, he said, should be able to visit this website any time and not have their career put in danger. NSFW material could still be published, he promised, but it would always come with a warning and be kept behind a link.

This week, I found out first-hand that he meant what he said. Ladies and gentlemen, the following story begins with certain language that, if taken out of context by someone in your place of employment, might get some of you into trouble. Click the following Sunday Story link at your own peril.

I look forward to reading your thoughts on this work in the comment section. – TMK

Pho

The girl snapped her eyes shut and reflexively turned her face away from the stream of cock sauce an instant before it struck. Time dilated and James watched in slow motion as gooey mixture impacted the gentle curve of her cheek and then sprayed in every direction. The blast painted the side of her face, spattered up into her hair and dribbled down onto the front of her obviously expensive dress. The girl’s mother shrieked, her sister giggled and her father, an enormous stern-looking man, silently studied the boy who had just sullied his daughter. The man‘s expression showed nothing but James knew he was being judged. His entire unhappy life flashed before his eyes, replayed in its entirety from his ignoble beginning and culminating in the night’s events. From there, the future stretched without cheer or hope towards an oppressive black horizon.

They weren’t the kind of people who usually ate at the Pho-King. The Vietnamese noodle shop was one of those places that attracted business with a large neon sign that read “You’ll love our Pho-King soup!” and its usual customers were broke college kids and working class families on tight budgets. This family seemed above such silliness but, for whatever reason, on this night they had chosen the fluorescent lights and plastic place mats of the Pho-King over the many better restaurants in town. The other customers could only watch and wonder why.

The matriarch was a stunning Asian beauty who spoke in the gentle tones of exotically accented English. Impossibly petite, with flawless make up, impeccable clothes and expensive jewelry, she had the look of a trophy wife. The father was a broad shouldered Caucasian with salt-and-pepper hair who, despite his age, was impressively fit with massive biceps – “guns” the Frat guys would call them thought James. The man’s clothes were nowhere near as expensive as his wife’s but his attention to the fine details of his appearance, the Rolex watch on his wrist and the high powered European sedan that had quickly attracted James’ attention when it first rolled into the parking lot told the world he was a man of real means.

The couple’s two daughters were as different from one another as the two parents. The older girl, the one James had just hosed down with hot pepper sauce, favored her mother and was a small Asian American beauty with soft brown eyes, clear olive skin and long auburn hair that fell in long, naturally curly ringlets down to the middle of her back. The other girl, around sixteen years old and just as pretty as her mom and sister, favored her father. She was already a head taller than the other two women and had the hard, muscular look of an athlete. Telephone in hand, she giggled happily at her sister’s misfortune as she filmed the scene. “This is Pho-king hilarious!” she snorted.

Time reasserted itself and James, in a panic, seized a napkin and swiped at the girl’s face, carefully trying to sweep the mixture of red peppers and vinegar away from her eyes. Thank God she had quick reflexes he thought as he cursed his own carelessness. She could have really been hurt, he realized. Why on Earth had he decided the bottle needed to be shaken up before he added the pepper sauce to her plate? He had been trying to impress her, he knew, and a wave of shame swept over him.

He knew her, of course, her name was Sachi. They went to the same college and they often found themselves together in the classes. They had been paired countless times for group projects and made a good team. James was smart, maybe a little too nerdy according to some girls, but he was a popular choice for joint assignments as he usually did the lion’s share of the work. But Sachi wasn’t a free rider, he knew. Perhaps she wasn’t as cerebral as James liked to think he was, but she did her fair share and, he had to acknowledge, her contributions always made their projects better.

They had, over time, gained a mutual respect for one another’s abilities and an odd “Beauty and the Beast” sort of friendship had taken root. Not long after that, James found that his heart began beat faster whenever she was near. He wanted to be with her, but there were always papers to write, tests to study for and, of course, his own difficult work schedule in the way. He just didn’t have the time, at least that’s what he told himself, but the truth was that he had learned early in life that pretty girls like Sachi didn’t date nerds like him. To ask her out was to court rejection and so, he had taken a different course.

He had done his best to seem casual as he passed her the 50% off coupon and invited her to come and visit him at work. He never really thought she would actually follow through and when the girl arrived that very night with her whole family in tow, James had nearly lost his mind. That she had come at all meant something important, he knew, but exactly what he could not fathom. The uncertainty made him nervous and the added stress of facing her mother, father and sister had driven him towards panic. He had felt sick to his stomach when they had come in, but he did his best to rise to the occasion. Things had been going well until…

The father spoke sharply and his tone had the hint of a real threat to it. “Yuri, put that damn camera away. If this ends up on the internet you’ll be off-line and at home for a month.”

The girl filmed for a moment more, gave a heavy sigh and rolled her eyes before putting the phone away. The mother, meanwhile, dug through her purse and pulled out a small bag of wet wipes. Gently pushing the boy’s hands away from her daughter, she cleaned the girl’s face and then tried to blot away at the stain on the dress before it could set. The daughter objected and there was a brief exchange in a foreign language. A moment later, they both stood and headed towards the rest room, the mother still fussing over the girl like a hen over a baby chick.

James stammered an apology but no one seemed be listening. He turned his attention to the mess on the table and had almost finished cleaning when the manager arrived. “Looks like you’ll be paying for this family’s dinner tonight.” He said ominously. James nodded without looking up, it was better that way. A day’s lost wages would be a burden, he knew, but it was fair. He’d probably get asked to pay for Sachi’s dry cleaning, too. Damn, would there ever be a time when money wasn’t an issue?

After cleaning up the mess, James took a 15 minute break and exited the kitchen via the back door. He needed to decompress and the parking lot was the only real option. He liked cars and for some reason being around them always made him feel calmer. Behind the wheel of his Mustang the world made sense. He wasn’t the world’s greatest driver, he knew, but when he was in the driver‘s seat, he could go anywhere his heart desired. He looked at his car and wished he could slip into it now and slink away but he had a meal to pay for and he needed the hours. Escape was impossible but, at the very least, Sachi and her family would be gone when he got back. Of course, he would still have to face her at school on Monday. He shivered at the thought.

The curvaceous shape of the expensive sedan on the far side of the parking lot caught the boy’s eye and, awestruck, James wandered towards it without thinking. Sleek and powerful, the car hunkered in its space like a predator waiting to pounce. It was beautiful, thought James, more art than machine. He stopped at a respectful distance as he admired the car’s lines in the in the unnatural brightness of the streetlights. He would never own anything like it, he realized suddenly. Even after he had graduated, a teacher’s salary would never pay for something like this. He hadn’t guessed that Sachi’s parents had this kind of wealth and, feeling suddenly foolish, he hung his head.

For a big man, Sachi’s father was surprisingly stealthy and James was startled by the man’s sudden presence at his side. The two men stood together silently, both eyeing the grand car while they each searched for the words that would bridge the gap between them. As the silence stretched out, James reached down deep and found the courage to speak. “Nice car.” he squeaked.

The man smiled and looked at the youth. “Thanks.” he answered. “When I was young, I couldn’t have imagined that one day I might own something like that.” He gestured towards the car with his chin. “Sometimes, life takes you places you never thought you could go. You just have to keep getting back up every time you fall down.”

James had been expecting a rebuke and was surprised at the man’s gentle tone. He searched for something else to say but Sachi’s father continued, “Your boss wouldn’t let us pay our bill.” he said seriously. “Is he really going to make you pay for our dinner out of your own pocket?”

James nodded. “Yes.” he answered. “But it’s OK. I ruined your dinner, and Sachi’s dress and, well,” his voice broke, “everything.”

“The entire bill came to about $50.” said the man. “There were times in my life when that much money was a day or two of hard work. That’s a high price to pay for what was obviously an accident.” The big man fished out his wallet, withdrew a $100 bill and offered it to the boy.

James gaped at the money, too afraid to take it. The older man responded to the boy’s silence by stuffing it into the pocket of the younger man’s apron. “My daughter says good things about you.” he continued. “That you’re smart, funny and that you want to be a high school teacher when you graduate from college.”

James was dumbfounded. Sachi talked about him? To her parents? It was too much to believe.

“Looks to me like you’re earnest and hard working too.” the man added. “Those are qualities that I find a many young men lack these days.” Sachi’s father paused and, for the second time that night, James felt he was being judged.

The expression on Sachi’s father’s face softened ever so slightly. “You know,” he said at last, “lots of boys call our house asking to speak to our daughters but Sachi has good sense when it comes to people and most of them don’t get very far. Tonight, when she insisted that we spend our family Friday here, I knew it was important.” He shook his head. “Not my kind of food to be honest, but a father has an obligation to help their children get what they want in life.”

Before James had time to think about what the words might have meant the door to the restaurant opened and the three women came out in a group, Sachi’s mom still fussing over her eldest daughter while the younger girl tittered and laughed at her big sister’s distress. Sachi saw the two men standing together and broke from the others as her mother and sister went to the car. She approached the men furtively, sidling up to her father and taking him by the hand. “Daddy,” she asked in the sly little voice she used when she wanted something. “You’re not hassling James, are you?”

“Well,” replied her father with the hint of humor in his voice, “he did assault my daughter, did he not?”

“It was just a silly accident.” she argued playfully. She looked at James, her face radiant and the boy suddenly flushed deep red in response. Was it possible to see someone blush under the streetlights?

“We were just talking about cars.” replied the big man as he shot the boy a wink.

“You’re always talking about cars, daddy.” she teased. Her tone brightened suddenly, “Did I tell you that James promised me a ride in his Mustang?”

A ride? Had he really promised her a ride? The boy’s mind raced but he was finding it difficult to think. Something was happening but he wasn’t quite sure what.

The big man hugged his daughter with one arm and put his other hand on James’ shoulder. “That’s great.” he answered. “I’m looking forward to talking with him some more when he comes to pick you up. It’ll be nice to have someone around who appreciates fast cars for a change.”

The big man guided the two kids together, placed his daughter’s hand in the boy’s and muttered something about starting the car as he turned to go. But the words were lost to the night. Sachi’s touch was electric and for the second time that night James’ entire life flashed before his eyes. Only this time, when the vision had ended, cheer and hope and begun to bloom and, out on the distant horizon, the sun was rising.

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Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast, he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Bark’s Bites: A Moment of Appreciation for Depreciation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/barks-bites-a-moment-of-appreciation-for-depreciation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/barks-bites-a-moment-of-appreciation-for-depreciation/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2013 14:18:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=668850 Everybody on the internet knows that buying new cars is just plain stupid. New cars, after all, are just “depreciating hunks of metal.” New cars depreciate an average of 20% immediately, and then go down another 15% each year after that, according to sources such as KBB and Edmunds. According to every message board I’ve […]

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Everybody on the internet knows that buying new cars is just plain stupid. New cars, after all, are just “depreciating hunks of metal.” New cars depreciate an average of 20% immediately, and then go down another 15% each year after that, according to sources such as KBB and Edmunds. According to every message board I’ve ever read, buying a new car will probably cause you to lose your house, get divorced, and be sent to the Chateau d’If for thirteen years.

But how true is that? And if it is true, does it matter? Let’s find out.

Like the best scientists (and by the best scientists, I mean Norman Osborn), I made the decision to test this theory myself several years ago, albeit not necessary intentionally. Since 2000, I have bought five cars for myself, all of them new. In order:

2000 Hyundai Tiburon (bought new in March 2000)

2001 Hyundai Santa Fe (bought new in June 2001)

2004 Mazda RX-8 (bought new in May 2005)

2009 Pontiac G8 GT (bought new in October of 2008)

2013 Ford Boss 302 (bought new in June 2012)

Each car was financed over a sixty month term, and only the Tiburon had any sort of cash down payment (you can read about how that happened in my epic tale of short-lived 944 ownership). Each car was traded in on its successor at a franchise dealership. In other words, I did exactly what you’re NOT supposed to do. How did it work out?

The longest I kept any car was nearly four years. The shortest was a little over a year. In each case, I either got out even up (Tiburon, Santa Fe) or I had positive equity on my trade(RX-8, G8). So, essentially, I leased the cars for varying terms from sixteen to forty-six months. How did I manage to do this without taking massive financial losses?

1) Negotiate the hell out of the price on the front end. With the exception of the Boss (which, at that point, was seeing an average of $5K-10K ADM), I paid significantly less than invoice for the car. My best purchase was on the RX-8. For a car that stickered at just over $30k, I paid $22,500, which included a $4K factory rebate and $4K of dealer markdown. I was able to accomplish this due to my patience and willing to buy a car from the previous model year six months into the current model year. It took over two weeks of negotiating to make this happen, including walking away from the deal entirely twice only to have the dealer call me back. Use everything that’s available to you. Maybe your employer is a GM supplier-find out. Get invoice numbers, not only on the base car but on options. Dealers HATE how much information is available to consumers now-more than one dealer has said it’s impossible to make money on the front end of a sale of a new car. Use it all. You’re not there to make friends. Which leads me to…

2) Finance, finance, finance-but only at a good rate. It’s amazing to me how many people will battle like crazy on the price of a car only to give it all back in the Finance and Insurance office. If you have a beacon score of at least 700 (and that’s auto-adjusted, meaning that even if you’ve missed a credit card payment or two over the years but you’ve paid your car on time, you should be fine), there is NO REASON to ever, ever pay more than whatever the best promotional rate available is. If you’re at least a 660, you can still negotiate down to a very good rate-nothing more than 3.9% over sixty months. Anything that’s less than the rate of inflation is essentially free money. I was able to get zero percent for 60 months on the G8, so the payments I was making three years into my schedule were actually worth about six or seven percent less in actual dollars than the payments I was making in my first year. If the dealership is trying to hit you with a rate over five percent, it’s because the F and I guy is getting spiffed on every point above and beyond standard rates he can get you to agree to. Back-end profits are about all a dealer has left nowadays-don’t give it away. Know your score before you go in and, even better, pre-arrange financing with your own financial institution so you have an offer in your pocket.

3) Try to buy interesting, desirable cars. Most modern dealers will have some sort of desirability index that they reference when deciding what value they give your trade. It grades the supply of similar vehicles in the market compared to the market demand for that vehicle. If you have a 2011 Ford Fusion, you are screwed. The supply of these vehicles far outweighs the demand. Get ready to battle. If you have a 2009 Jeep Wrangler with low miles, feel free to sit on your hands and wait for the offers to come in. I was able to leverage this in two cases-my RX-8 and my Tiburon (and if I’d been willing to wait a little bit longer, my G8, too). I got crushed on my Santa Fe. Nobody wanted a Hyundai with nearly 100,000 miles on it. Part of my two-week negotiation with the Mazda dealer on my RX-8 was getting them to just get me out of the Santa Fe even up; they initially offered a value that was four thousand dollars less than my remaining payoff. The cooler and more interesting your car is when you buy it, the cooler and more interesting it will be when you go to trade it in. But even if you have a lame car…

4) Dealers need to take in trades for their business model to work. Auction prices are out of control. Dealers both want and need trades-in fact, they are keeping stuff now that they never, ever would have before. It’s no longer crazy to go in asking for retail price for your car. You might not necessarily get it, but you might not be that far off, especially if the used car manager has a prospective customer for your car. I had a used car manager stalk me on my G8 for weeks, even after I traded it in elsewhere-he asked if I had any other friends with G8s.

5) Buy cars when the OEM/Dealer needs to sell it to you. Dealers have OEM new car targets that they have to hit. In fact, it’s one of the few ways that they can make money on new car sales anymore. And for some marques, the very existence of the franchise can be at stake if they don’t make targets. The whole thing about buying cars at the end of the year/quarter? It’s totally true. I have always bought cars on the last weekend of the month, and always when there is additional cash on the hood (again, with the exception of the Boss 302). Buy from struggling dealers. That guy that advertises that he’s the number one franchise dealer in town? Avoid his store like the plague. Buy from the desperate dealer. It matters.
But let’s say you take all of my advice-you’re still going to lose SOME money. After all, unless you bought a 993, you DID buy a depreciating asset. And even if you buy used, you’re STILL going to lose money.

Here’s my advice. Accept that buying a car, virtually any car, is a money loser. Don’t lose sleep over it. Enjoy it. Remember that if you’re reading TTAC, you’re probably an enthusiast. You’re buying a car because, on some level, you enjoy driving. You enjoy car ownership. Every day that I’ve owned my Boss 302 is a day that I’ve been able to enjoy it. The guy who’s waiting two years for it to depreciate forty percent? I’m enjoying my car for two years longer than he will. Maybe that’s worth forty percent to me. If this sort of thing matters to you, I got it when it was new and hot. He’ll get it when there’s a newer, hotter model of Mustang being sold at Ford stores. Maybe that means I’ll enjoy it more.
When you buy your dream car brand new, and then when you have the incredible nerve to finance it, rest assured; the Internet will call you an idiot. Who cares. You’ve got your dream car. In my experience, there have been few better days than the days I drove my new cars into my driveway for the first time. I sincerely hope you have the chance to share that same experience.

And tell the Internet to go to Hell. After all, it’s your money.

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Future Ford Product Teased Just Before Debut, May Monitor Driver’s Health http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/future-ford-product-teased-just-before-debut-may-monitor-drivers-health/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/future-ford-product-teased-just-before-debut-may-monitor-drivers-health/#comments Fri, 29 Nov 2013 16:07:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=666538 Checking out GoFurtherLive.com, the site Ford has set up to livestream video from their upcoming reveal of the all-new 2015 Mustang, it appears that the teaser video may include exterior and interior views of the new car, along with the possibility that the 50th anniversary version of Ford’s pony car will actually monitor the driver’s […]

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Checking out GoFurtherLive.com, the site Ford has set up to livestream video from their upcoming reveal of the all-new 2015 Mustang, it appears that the teaser video may include exterior and interior views of the new car, along with the possibility that the 50th anniversary version of Ford’s pony car will actually monitor the driver’s health.

 

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While mentioning that Ford executives will be present for “major product reveals”, the video references “remarkable technologies” while a list of technology features scroll on the screen. Included among features like Fully Automated Parking, SYNC Emergency Assist and Lane Keep Assist are two features that appear to have the ability to monitor the driver’s health: ECG Heart Rate Monitoring and Glucose Level Monitoring. Some cars today can record all sorts of performance data. Extending a car’s information technology to record the driver’s ‘performance’ levels as well is a logical next step.

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Of course, it’s just a promotional video. The driver monitoring technologies might be science fiction and the images might not be of the new Mustang but the fact that those health measurements are included on that list shows that at the very least, someone in Dearborn is thinking about them.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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