Ask Bark: Which Used Mustang Is Best Used Mustang?
I’ve been writing at TTAC for nearly eight years now, longer than just about anybody here, save for Sajeev and Murilee. I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go in that time, but one thing is consistent: y’all love Mustangs. My very first post was about my own Mustang, and since then, I’ve come to realize that if I want a guaranteed click winner, I can just put the word “Mustang” in the title. (Another sure winner? Anything about Accords, and not the type that were signed in Sokovia.)
As such, today’s Ask Bark feels a little like throwing a wounded hemophiliac into the Shark Encounter tank at Sea World. Nevertheless, here we go.
Our dear friend Luke writes:
Hi Bark,I want a Mustang. I’ve had Camaros, I’ve had a Challenger, I’ve had other muscle cars and sports cars. But I’ve never had a Mustang and I want one.It has to have a V8. I’d like for my wife to drive and enjoy it too, so it probably has to have an automatic transmission. That’s okay.It will be used for some amount of commuting during the non-snow months, weekend back road drives, and maybe one to three track events per year. Not competition, just open lapping or driving schools.It will be stored during the winter. This will be a third car.I have a nice garage, tools, and some level of wrenching skill so I’m comfortable doing maintenance “bolt-on” type mechanical upgrades if necessary. This seems important in the Mustang world.The budget is $25K for the car itself. A little less would be better but $25k is the top.I’m reaching out because when I go on the web there are just so, so many used options. So many variations in trim and equipment. The car has changed a lot very quickly and I haven’t really kept up. So I put it to you…for my $25K which Mustang is best Mustang?I have thoughts.
$25K buys you so. much. Mustang. There are used S550 GTs available all day long at $25k, many with super low mileage. We are still a couple of years away from being able to get a Performance Pack at that price, but honestly, I don’t think that you want the PP. The stiffer MagneRide suspension won’t make for a fun daily driver, especially on longer trips. I don’t know anything about your wife, so I don’t know if she is the type to enjoy a stiffer ride (I promise that is not a double-entendre), but I haven’t encountered many of the fairer sex who like that level of roughness. God, I’m making it worse. Let’s move on.
You’re saying that the car will be used at one to three track events per year, so if you really mean that, you’ll need to make some upgrades to the brakes if you plan to push the car at all. No stock brakes on any Mustang under $25K are capable of handling the sort of pace that the S197 and S550 can achieve at your local track, even with “upgraded” Brembos. So you may want to look at a car more around the $20-22k range and budget for upgraded calipers, pads, and rotors.
Don’t worry about power mods or bolt-ons — the Coyote makes more than enough power for mere mortals, and most people make Mustangs worse with modifications. Unless you are an absolute pro driver, you won’t need any more thrust from the engine.
As far as the actual model you want? I think the independent rear suspension S550 will be a bonus for you over the S197, but at that price point you’ll be looking at a more spartan interior with the S550 — might be difficult to find a leather interior or upgraded stereo. If you want something that’s nicer to drive every day, an S197 GT Premium would probably be the way to go, especially for your stated consideration set.
However, here’s my out-of-left-field recommendation: get yourself a nice, higher-mileage S550 convertible. Oh, here’s one. The enjoyment you’ll get out of the convertible as a summer car will outstrip the one to three days a year (which, let’s be honest, might never materialize) that you’ll be at the track. (I wouldn’t recommend tracking a ‘vert without a rollbar, but some organizations will let you.) The Mrs. will probably like to be able to put the top down on pleasant days, too. And the Coyote makes the same nasty sounds and straight line speed with the soft-top.
If you also want terrible advice, write to Bark and he’ll respond to you, either publicly or privately, at his earliest convenience.
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My instinct would be to go for the cleanest, lowest-mileage one that can be found at the $25,000 price point. I figure a V8 Mustang is hugely likely to have a DPO (dumb previous owner) who didn't treat it well--especially one with an automatic, as in someone who doesn't know how to drive a manual. The lower the miles, the lower abusive miles.
My instinct would be to go for the cleanest, lowest-mileage one that can be found at the $25,000 price point. I figure a V8 Mustang is hugely likely to have a DPO (dumb previous owner) who didn't treat it well--especially one with an automatic, as in someone who doesn't know how to drive a manual. The lower the miles, the lower the abusive miles.