Ford Mustang GT Convertible Review

Jonny Lieberman
by Jonny Lieberman

My local falafel joint has the world's smallest parking lot: just three spaces. The other day, I pulled in for supper and parked my sore-thumb standout Grabber Orange Mustang GT Convertible next to a Toyota Prius. The Prius owner was seated on the patio, munching his shawarma. The disparity between our two rides could hardly have been more stark. His: a futuristic, planet-saving, spaceship-looking personal statement. Mine: a retro-tastic, oil-burning, bright orange throw-back drop-top. Sure, Prius person only has to visit the gas station once a week to my thrice, but c’mon, it was no contest. Unless you’re an accountant, the right brain wins every time.

Strange to say, I’ve heard it said that the new topless ‘Stang isn’t all that. The front-end is supposedly a slavish copy of the original pony and the convertible roof allegedly makes it a “chick car.” Rubbish. The GT’s front end is as perfectly evolved as a shark snout and despite Steve McQueen's best efforts, Mustangs have always looked better sans top. The new GT is no exception.

Top down, side-on, the model’s balanced proportions are as obvious as Lt. Bullitt’s turtleneck. There's about a foot of sheet metal between the door-cut and the wheel well, emphasizing the Stang's sporty RWD-ness and providing a perfect perch for the big, chrome GT badge. The wheel arches nearly go through the hood (much like that equally charismatic American, the Dodge Charger) and the front overhang can be measured with your thumb and index finger. Out back, who doesn't like twin pipes? And Grabber Orange is the best of all possible colors for such a shiny showoff.

The GT’s interior is… not so well executed. A horizontal line runs across the GT’s dash. Everything above the line is milled, stitched and cool. From the vinyl dash cover to the deep-set instrument cluster, style-conscious drivers who keep their head up will be well pleased. As soon as their eyes dip down to get Sirius, they’ll be disappointed. Yes friends, once again we’re mired in cross-platform, cross-model, cross-brand parts binnage. While the Mustang GT doesn’t dip into the bottom of the Focus-barrel, it shares HVAC knobs with the Five-Hundred (and plenty of others). The bean counting makes no sense in this application, especially as the top part of the GT’s dash is already beautifully bespoke. The interior’s split personality is lazy, sloppy and cynical.

On the positive side, it must be noted that the ability to change the colors of the gauges is one of the hippest features found on any car. While the seats need a bit more side bolstering, the warm leatherette is plenty comfortable for Grand Touring. The ‘Stang’s rear-seat is ideal– for passengers who favor the Lotus position. The trunk can swallow three proper suitcases and, better yet, remains the same size (9.1 cubic ft) come rain or shine.

To determine whether the Mustang GT convertible is a sharply focused sports car or a floaty-drifty boulevard cruiser, I took her across Decker Canyon. The twisting two-laner serves up nine tortured miles of sheer drops, 100-degree turns and constant elevation changes. With the Mustang’s traction control switched to off, I quickly realized I was driving a pig. Understeer rode shotgun. The brakes faded faster than our government’s excuses for invading Iraq. The GT has so much low-end torque (320 lbs at 4500rpm) that powering out of a corner quickly leads to squealing, smoking, pants-shitting oversteer. Wild stuff, but the GT’s shoddy brakes and ancient suspension make it about as safe as condom-less group sex.

“Fun” over, I cruised over to the Pacific Coast Highway to let an ocean breeze cool the brakes. With the top folded and 300 honest horses braying in my ears, little things like cowl-shake and clumsy handling took a back seat to Zen. Mush the gas until the tach reads four-thousand – the engine's sweet spot – and this convertible can run with all but the best of them (albeit in a straight line.) While the GT is not a track day superstar, the Mustang is ideally engineered for long, lazy stretches of highway. How can you argue against 80mph at 2,250rpm with your iPod plugged in, a gentle summer sun warming your noggin and the sparkling Pacific Ocean as a backdrop? Sorry Mr. Gibson, but for an hour on Saturday, I owned Malibu.

My mother wants a convertible and intends to buy American. "Do you think the Cadillac XLR is cooler than the Mustang?" she asked. "Hell no," I replied. In fact, once I got to Santa Monica, I was surrounded by Porsches, Bentleys, Bimmers and Maseratis. Yet everyone was looking at me. All that fun, beauty, attention and acceleration for $32,000? Sold. Of course, getting Mom to go for Grabber Orange could prove to be a bit tricky.

[Ford provided the vehicle reviewed, insurance, taxes and a tank of gas.]

Jonny Lieberman
Jonny Lieberman

Cleanup driver for Team Black Metal V8olvo.

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  • ETID027 ETID027 on Oct 13, 2006

    "I was surrounded by Porsches, Bentleys, Bimmers and Maseratis. Yet everyone was looking at me. " probably wonder why is this crappy Ford here haha

  • TucsonHere TucsonHere on Apr 19, 2007

    I have one on order, does anyone know how to identify (confirm) the installation of the 3.55 ratio rear axle on the 5 speed manual? I ordered the option, but the whole order process leaves you wondering what will actually be assembled. Yes, for the money, it seems like quite a car! Nostalga, retro, mid life crisis? Call it what you want, I can finally afford a new one, and I dare to to come up with an affordable alternative. I've driven bla for years, too. I'm tired of bla (Honda this and that) Bill

  • Lou_BC "respondents between 18 and 80 years old" Basically anyone deemed an adult who might be allowed to drive.
  • Lou_BC They will do fine if they come up with some cool sedans ;)
  • Mister They've got their work cut out for them. I live in a large metropolitan city of 1.2+ million people, the is a single Mitsubishi dealer. It's really more like a used-car dealer that sells Mitsubishi on the side. With the remarkably cheesy name of "Johnny Legends".
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh WHAT !?
  • Jeff Matt--I think this is a good move for Mitsubishi to expand their presence with satellite dealers. I had a 85 MItsubishi Mighty Max and my sister had a 83 MItsubishi Starion. MItsubishi needs to add a compact pickup to compete with the Maverick and the Santa Cruz but offer it for less. A smaller more affordable truck will sell. I believe MItsubishi should still offer an inexpensive subcompact like the Mirage it will sell in a slowing car market with high msrps. Yes I know the Mirage is probably going to be canceled but I believe in these times it is a mistake and they should reconsider cancelling the Mirage. Toyota is having problems selling the new redesigned Tacomas and Tundras with the turbo 4s and 6s. Most Tacomas have MSRPs of well over 40k. There is room for MItsubishi to grow their market share with more affordable vehicles. I am not saying Mitsubishi is going to overtake Toyota, Honda, or Nissan but they should take advantage of the more affordable market segment that these companies for the most part have abandoned. MItsubishi doesn't have to be the biggest just increase sales and become more profitable.