The Right Spec: 2021 Ford Mustang

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
the right spec 2021 ford mustang

We started this series however many months ago with the Challenger since it is a model with which I am familiar. Now, with summer in the rearview mirror and gearheads in wide swaths of the nation putting away their toys for the winter, build-n-price tools for sports cars will surely get a workout. After all, many car nuts often feel if they can’t exercise their clutch leg until spring, they might as well see what sort of rig they can build online.

It will be no surprise this entry will start with the fastback model since the convertible is heavier and more expensive. We will also skip right over the EcoBoost engine, despite it having way more horsepower than the 5.0L Mustangs your author coveted in high school, and settle on a Mustang with a V8 rumble. That puts us in a GT with a starting price of $36,285.

For that sum, one will find themselves in command of 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of tire-shredding torque, linked to a six-speed manual transmission. Vented brake rotors are larger in diameter than the entire steel wheel of a 1992 Ford Escort, and a 3.55 limited-slip rear axle prevents the ignominy of a one-wheel peel. All-season tires, measuring 18-inches with a 235mm cross-section, are standard kit at this price. Inside there are cloth bucket seats with leather-wrapped touchpoints and the usual smattering of basic tech features. And yes, there is air conditioning. This is not the ‘80s. Or even the ‘90s.

Beyond this, we have some decisions to make. Antimatter Blue is one of those colors that looks great on just about any vehicle, from Bronco to Mustang, so we’ll select that $0 choice here. Package 301A (why does Ford insist on such unattractive names for their option groups?) does bring an infotainment screen that won’t embarrass you in front of friends and dual-zone climate control to ward off marital disharmony. Use your discretion here. But we will recommend leaving appearance groups like the Black Appearance Package ($995) on the cutting room floor.

Here’s a big one: the vaunted GT Performance Package, priced at a heady $6,500. There’s a lot to like here, not the least of which are summer-only tires, Brembo-branded six-piston brakes, K-brace, and strut tower brace. Bystanders will instantly spot the performance rear wing while the engine will instantly spot the upgraded cooling system. Drivers will feel that 3.73 ratio Torsen rear diff every time they stomp the loud pedal. All this is in addition to a few other items like an upsized rear sway bar.

This is not an insignificant amount of money, but it is worth looking at the cost in perspective to performance upgrades at other marques. Big-buck brake systems often cost at least this much alone, while rear-end and cooling upgrades usually command thousands more. The GT PP is worth it in this context, even if it will tack an additional $50+ biweekly to your payment. And, while we’re spending money, you’d be a fool not to spec the $995 Active Valve Exhaust for maximum enjoyment of that 5.0L V8 engine. Hey, there’s even a Good Neighbor mode to take care of those early morning starts.

This now puts us at a sticker price of $43,780 sans destination and whatever money is on the hood (if any). A similarly equipped GT Premium with more creature comforts retails for $3,005 beyond that sum. Our suggestion? Put that amount towards track fees. Or new tires.

Please note the prices listed here are in United States dollars and currently accurate for base prices exclusive of any fees, taxes, or rebates. Your dealer may (and should) sell for less (obscene market conditions notwithstanding). Keep your foot down, bone up on available rebates, and bargain hard.

[Images: Ford]

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2 of 37 comments
  • Theflyersfan Theflyersfan on Nov 22, 2021

    If I'm going with a Mustang, then I'm getting the beast. Cobra is a little too much, but I'll get most of it with the Mach 1. So here goes: Ford Mustang Mach 1 Premium fastback 6-speed manual Grabber Yellow (has to be loud to the eyes and ears) Mach 1 Elite package (B&O stereo and better security) Red calipers $1195 in destination $58,540 And Lord knows what kinds of pricing games are to be had on a Mustang like this one.

  • Burgersandbeer Burgersandbeer on Nov 23, 2021

    6-speed GT Premium fastback in twister orange/ceramic with B&O and active exhaust for $44,000. Ideally I would get the heated steering wheel, but it looks buried in a $2400 package ☹️. Leaving out the PP is easy savings of you aren't going to the track regularly. Only the shorter gears and summer tires have any benefit on the street. Summer tires are easy to add later.

  • Jkross22 This might just be me, but the times that I've driven an EV, I use the brake regen paddles to quell my inner MT/control freak nature.
  • Randy in rocklin I had a 82 733 at one time. It was an awesome car. Good power and great handling. Smooth shifting and ride.
  • Jkross22 Gavin Newsom may not be aware of the fiscal problems of the state he leads, as his focus is on criticizing other states. It's actually better that he has someone shining a laser light on a map so he can stop making things worse here. Just lace his hair gel with some catnip and have him hit himself trying to get to it. Things in LA are getting so bad that even the leftists and progressives are showing up to LA city council meetings with mirrors to protest, well, everything - gas prices, the homeless pandemic, the house pricing pandemic, the crime pandemic. It shocked the City Council that their subjects dare attempt to ask for accountability. The Council president insisted that people with mirrors be escorted out, lest the council be reminded of their incompetence and hubris. That being said, there is no connection being made between the way LA subjects vote and the results it yields. Never underestimate the stupidity of the typical CA voter. The state is a basketcase but voters keep electing the same retreads every time.
  • ScarecrowRepair Too much for too little, unless you treat it strictly as a toy.
  • DedBull Mk2 Jettas are getting harder to find, especially ones that haven't been modified within an inch of their life. I grew up in an 85 GLI, and would love to have one in as close to stock configuration as I could get. This car isn't that starting point, especially sitting 3-4 years in the NY dirt. It's a parts car at best, but there might still be money in it even at that price, if you are willing to take it down to absolutely nothing left.