Long-Term Tester Update: The FiST Is So Good, It's Become The New Boss of the House

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth
long term tester update the fist is so good its become the new boss of the house

As I travel this great nation of ours on a weekly basis, I am often asked the same question by people I meet. Whether it’s a stranger in an adjoining seats on a planes, a fellow patron dining solo at a restaurant, or even a new colleague whom I haven’t met, they all ask me the same thing:

“So, where do you call home?”

When I reply that I reside squarely in the middle of the Bluegrass in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I can tell immediately if my interrogator has ever been there simply by the way that he responds. If he has never visited our great state, he’ll likely crack some sort of joke about missing teeth or southern diphthongs. But, if he has, he’ll nearly always reply, “Oh, it’s so gorgeous there. You must love it.”

To which I reply: “Yes. Yes, I do.”

However, even relatively frequent visitors to my home state — or even perhaps you, the frequent visitor to TTAC — are often unaware of the severity of the winters in Kentucky. I live only eighty miles south of Cincinnati, Ohio. We get nearly exactly the same weather as our bordering neighbors to the north, only instead of the the snow that Buckeyes tend to get, we regularly get sheets of ice on our roads. As you can imagine, this can make driving a 444 horsepower, rear-wheel-drive pony car a bit treacherous.

And, as such, as I pulled out my iPad to make my rather oppressive payment on my Boss 302 Mustang, I wondered to myself: How often do I actually drive this thing? Do I drive it enough to keep paying such a large sum to own it? And how much will I really be driving it over the next four wintry months?

The answers to my questions led me to an ultimate answer that I didn’t expect, and I certainly didn’t like.

When I figured out the number of actual miles I’ve put on the Boss over the 42 months since I purchased it, I realized that I actually drive it around eight hundred miles a month. That hasn’t always been the case. In fact, at this same time last year, I was driving it considerably more — nearly eleven hundred miles a month. Then, I realized a truth that was self-evident once I chose to look at it: I have only driven the 302 three thousand miles this calendar year. And the reason was the rollerskate-looking thing that sits happily in the driveway, subjected to all of the elements while the Boss sits coolly in the garage.

Yep, you guessed it. Nearly nine thousand miles — or, in other words, all the workload that the Boss used to handle — have rolled their way around the odometer of my Fiesta ST in the nine months since I leased it. And, when I think about it, the only time I haven’t driven the Fiesta is when I am driving the Mustang for a specific reason; going to the track, driving it to a special event, etc. I never take it to the airport. I never drive it on trips. I never take it on trips to the store, or even to pick up the kids from school anymore. It’s been relegated to garage queen duty.

Which would be fine if I lovingly wiped it with a diaper every day, or if I admired it longingly as I leaned against the entryway to my door. But I don’t. I have too much seat time behind the wheel of the GT350 to really continue to love my Boss the way I used to. It’s not a classic car. It’s not a new car. It’s just … used. And that doesn’t do it for me anymore.

So, I sat down with Mrs. Bark, and explained that the 302 would be heading to a new home as soon as possible. While she’s no car lover, she knows how much I used to love it, and she could tell that I had lost my zest for the five-point-oh. She wasn’t the tough sell.

Neither was my daughter, Regan.

“Can we get another Mustang someday?” Maybe. “Okay.”

No, that was going to be my son, Kevin. When I tried to tell him that I wanted to sell the car, he wouldn’t even let me finish my sentence .

“No, we are not selling the Mustang.” He would not be dissuaded. He began to cry immediately. He didn’t stop for an hour. Once he stopped, he refused to talk to me for quite some time. He then woke up crying in the middle of the night.

It’s the only car he’s ever known. As a seven year old, he only has vague memories of the Boss’ predecessor, my Pontiac G8 GT, which he calls “the white car.” He knows that all the kids at school love the Mustang. His principal asks him every day if his dad brought “the cool car.”

I nearly caved twice. In fact, I did cave once, only to be brought back to a place of common sense by Mrs. Bark.

“Remember that he cried when we turned in my CX-7 at the end of its lease? And that he cried when we traded in the Equinox on the Flex? ”

She also gave me a piece of great advice, as only a wife can. “You know, the FiST is pretty cool. You’ve just never let Kevin see that it’s cool.”

She was so right. The Fiesta ST is a pretty damn cool car. Not only do I enjoy driving it on the street more than the Boss, I even enjoy driving it more on the track. It’s the most well-settled street car I’ve ever driven. The Performance Blue color is beautiful. Sure, it’s an acquired taste visually, but at the very least it’s unique.

So I sat down with Kevin and explained all that to him. I told him that he’d likely be too big to sit in the back of the Mustang soon (he’s already cramped), and that, most importantly, when the Fiesta lease was over, he and I could do some car shopping together, and if wanted to, he could help me pick out our next ride. (I already have it picked out: a Focus RS in Stealth Gray. He doesn’t know that.) He liked that idea, although he thought it should be less like a year from now, and maybe more like “a few days from now.” We’ll work on that.

The end result? Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bark M. Boss 302 is officially for sale.

I’m not going to advertise it on Craigslist or Autotrader. I don’t want endless parades of tire kickers, or people who want to take it on sweet test drives. No, I will either sell to a friend (internet or real), or I’ll dump it on my local Ford dealer, who’s been salivating at the thought of acquiring it. So if you think you’d like to send me a check for a few dollars over the wholesale-ish price that they’re likely to offer me, hit me up on the Twitters ( @barkm302).

Damn. Do I have to change my Twitter handle? Hmm. Didn’t think of that.

You know what — no. I don’t.

The Boss was part of my life for three and half years; the longest timeframe that I’ve ever owned any car in my life. It was the first car I drove on track. It was the first car I ever owned that I would have called my “dream car.” Maybe, thirty years from now, I’ll regret that I sold it. But I’ll never regret owning it. It doesn’t define me, but it’s definitely part of me.

In the meantime, I can enjoy taking Kevin and Regan on spins to Tasty Time for ice cream after soccer in the FiST, and I can do it on 87 octane gasoline at 33 mpg. I can grab a set of snow tires and plow through the wintry mix. And even at less than half the cost of the Boss, it’s certainly more than half the car.

In fact, in many ways, it’s much, much more.

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2 of 153 comments
  • -Nate -Nate on Nov 09, 2015

    Those who grow up hungry tend not to be picky eaters =8-) . I still hate Chitlin's tho . Tripe too . Both are parts of tasty animals that have _SHIT_ in them . Anyone who tells you different , has never been to the Slaughter House . -Nate

  • Keeperkyle Keeperkyle on Dec 10, 2015

    Hey BART M.! I'm your twin! Bart, It's exciting to read a Journalist's Article about his ownership experience with the same car you own. It's even more exciting when that guy writes about (2) cars he owns that are the same as you own! I rarely comment on anything, but hey, the stars have aligned. I own a 2012 Boss 302, aka “The Boss” (I know, real original), and a 2015 Fiesta ST, aka “the squirrel”, but we'll call it "the FiST" like others do. So your not in love with the Boss anymore, I get it, especially if your writing out a big check monthly for it, and a lease payment on the FiST. The FiST is a better daily driver, urban driver, economy driver, and in some ways, fun driver. But it's not a Boss! And I still love mine. For the most part though, I agree with all that you said. Full disclosure though, my Boss is paid for. Maybe that's why I ran out and bought a FiST! I couldn't stand not having a car payment! But I think your smart, get rid of a payment, keep what you love (or even better, buy it and make double or triple payments on one car at a time). That being said, and from a guy with the same garage as you but with one less chain around his ankle, I offer an alternative perspective for you and the (3) other people out there that might care: Fiesta ST -It's a car I find myself having fun in no matter were I'm driving it! -I'm not use to driving small cars. I see it and say, “that's a little car”. -The hatch space is great for daily tasks, but I wouldn't expect to get the Bowling team in it. -It says Fiesta on the back, and most people are perplexed I spent 23k and change on it. -Probably the funnest Urban, run about, park anywhere, zippy car I've had EVER. Boss 302 -I love looking at it. I like the FiST too, but it's not quite the same. -The sound of the side pipes makes me giggle. This car has character. I traded in my GT for it. -My wife and I would road trip the Boss over the FiST every time. It's a more comfortable cruiser. -It gets attention and I like sharing it. Strangers and Store Attendants come out to take cell photos. -Overall just as fun as the FiST, but less convenient. I'll keep my Boss for now....One day I'll drive a GT350, but then again, is the next “better” thing worth the perpetual payment? ..oh wait, the RS is coming.

  • Zerocred So many great drives:Dalton Hwy from Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle.Alaska Marine Highway from Bellingham WA to Skagway AK. it was a multi-day ferry ride so I didn’t actually drive it, but I did take my truck.Icefields Parkway from Jasper AB to Lake Louise AB, CA.I-70 and Hwy 50 from Denver to Sacramento.Hwy 395 on the east side of the Sierras.
  • Aidian Holder I'm not interested in buying anything from a company that deliberately targets all their production in crappy union-busting states. Ford decided to build their EV manufaturing in Tennessee. The company built it there because of an anti-union legal environment. I won't buy another Ford because of that. I've owned four Fords to date -- three of them pickups. I'm shopping for a new one. It won't be a Ford Lightning. If you care about your fellow workers, you won't buy one either.
  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.