By on November 19, 2021

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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37 Comments on “The Right Spec: 2021 Ford Mustang...”

  • avatar

    What, you skipped the Ecoboost? Heresy.

    Agree with all this but I’d have to have that cool candy apple red they do. And is there a way to skip the black wheels?

  • avatar

    This a tough one. I really like the Mustang so I’m frequently screwing around with the configuration tool.

    The performance package is quite spendy and would push my preferred build to the $56K range. That’s a lot of money for a normal trim Mustang. Meanwhile the California Special looks great, is only a $2K upcharge and does come with wider tires.

    Mustang GT Convertible
    Race Red
    10-speed automatic
    Active exhaust
    California Special*

    Total : $50,570

    *Assuming there are no big discounts present.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m right there with you as a frequent armchair Mustang configurator. For me it’s by far the most desirable of the ponycars, and perhaps the most desirable coupe period. But my answer is very different, which won’t surprise anyone who reads our posts.

      GT Premium fastback
      Iconic Silver (because it’s the plainest color and I don’t like attention)
      Midnight Blue interior
      Manual transmission
      GT Performance Package
      Nickel-painted 5-spoke forged 19″ wheels (these wheels can be ordered with the PP)
      Active exhaust
      Spoiler delete

      That’s a $54,915 Mustang that you have to look at three times to tell from a base EcoBoost price special, which is ridiculous.

      But the act of buying a Mustang would be ridiculous in itself, every one of those features adds something I really want, and the difference between a $46K Mustang and a $55K one wouldn’t change my financial situation all that much.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh, and for good measure, I’d delete the “5.0” badges and blacken the “GT” badge on the back and the horsey in the front.

      • 0 avatar

        I think a red Mustang convertible would be far less conspicuous in Daytona than it is in Seattle. If I lived north of Macon I’d probably go for a hard top version.

        On the PP1, I’ve never driven a Mustang so equipped and I’m sure I wouldn’t be sad having it but I’ve driven some nonPP1 GT coupes and the performance feel is already a bit above the Stinger so I don’t think I’d feel deprived. But it’s a tough call.

        • 0 avatar

          I have no doubt that a red Mustang vert would stick out less… well, just about anywhere else than it would here!

          I want PP1 mostly for the diff and a little bit for the brakes. Honestly if I could spec those things with the regular suspension I’d probably take it.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    The truth is, I can no longer afford a new Mustang if I’m going anywhere beyond the base EcoBoost with manual transmission. Package 101A with better sound system would bring it to $30K.

    One used to be able to equip the EcoBoost with better brakes and a handling package (without MagaRide) for not much more money. Options like that are gone now.

    Sure, a GT is great. But prices that top 40 and 50 grand just make my eyes glaze over. I guess it’s time to be satisfied with the Mustangs of my youth – and focus on things like a Honda Civic Si for now.

    • 0 avatar

      Base Ecoboost, 10 speed, Carbonized Gray, Black accent package, nothing else.
      Just over $30K
      It’s all about the base.

      Do I want a Shelby or Mach 1? Sure. Smiles per dollar I have to go with the base Ecoboost.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Biro

        The more I think about it, perhaps the 10 speed is the way to go with the EcoBoost model. And that’s saying quite a bit for this ex-racer.

        • 0 avatar

          No judgements on choice of transmission. When there is choice of manual or automatic I applaud.
          My joints can only endure so much after years of abuse from firefighting, military, sports and age.
          On the track in race car I’m driving manual, on street I’m happy with automatic. Any significant amount of time shifting results in knee and elbow pain.

          Back to Mustang, 22 Shelby Heritage is awesome in my view. Anyone have a stock tip so I can generate cash for this toY?

  • avatar

    “The GT PP is worth it in this context, even if it will tack an additional $50+ biweekly to your payment”

    That’s $100+ MONTHLY. The only time I see the term BIWEEKLY being used is by shysters and other financial predators. Next why don’t you tell us about how its only five easy payments of $8,756?

  • avatar

    “Bystanders will instantly spot the performance rear wing”

    Do wings such as this have any real benefit on a car that’s intended mostly for the street? To me they just scream “Pep Boys!”

    (Full disclosure – just about all my driving for pleasure is done on twisty roads in KY and WV, and my daily commute rarely includes the Mulsanne straight)

    Per dal20402 there is a “delete wing” check box for this Mustang. Good! Are there such for the garish wings on some of the Japanese performance trims?

    Am I wrong to think this? If so, please try and change my mind. No snark intended, I’m quite serious.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      No, you’re right. Wings have little practical effect south of, say, 150 mph. They also add drag. Wing delete is the first item I would check when ordering any Mustang – or any car for that matter.

    • 0 avatar

      I want less attention when I’m driving. If I could put a CR-V body on my Mustang, I’d do it. Driving a Bolt in Seattle is awesome because no one ever looks at me. So that’s why I would order my Mustang without a spoiler, in a plain color, and with the forged wheels that look a lot like the base ones on the EcoBoost. And it’s why I’d delete the 5.0 badges and make the rest of the badging as inconspicuous as possible.

      • 0 avatar

        “I want less attention when I’m driving. If I could put a CR-V body on my Mustang, I’d do it.”

        If there was a magic spell that made my Mustang look like a CRV to everyone *except* me I could go for that.
        I actually hate attention and interactions with strangers too, but I wouldn’t enjoy owning a new vehicle that I don’t find visually appealing and I admit that often my tastes on performance cars does lean towards rear wings and hood scoops and decals and paint colors out of a Skittles bag. A “rental car appearance package” Mustang just wouldn’t do it for me. It’s annoying that I might draw attention to myself over a factory-option spoiler on my car but it is what it is.

      • 0 avatar

        “riving a Bolt in Seattle is awesome ”

        I’m sure the acceleration has caught a few people off guard. They’re probably thinking it has econobox acceleration and wonder if something is wrong with their car when they either get left behind or barely out-accelerate you.

  • avatar

    I find it interesting that we’re in late November and the Ford official website only offers 2021 Mustang information. When Ford has a new model or even new trim level, they will start hyping it about 18 months out (or more). The current generation Mustang, Super Duty, and Bronco were all teased relentlessly before they were available for retail customer delivery. Apparently, the FoMoCo marketing department has never heard of the phrase “under promise and over deliver”.

  • avatar

    Easy answer to this one for me: drop top, V8, auto, velocity blue, loud stereo.

    Ran this through the build and price and discovered it comes to 50 grand, which in Zimbabwe money is the same as every other car you’d actually want anymore and if anything on the low side.

    Also discovered that Ford has forgotten how to make good looking wheels and that all of their color choices for the interior here change one swatch down the middle of the seat and keep everything else black just like they do in the F-150s. Looks like ass here also just like the F-150s.

  • avatar

    Since winter is on it’s way, true gearheads are storing the summer toys and breaking out the winter toys. “Right Spec” this time of year isn’t a GT Mustang.

  • avatar

    Definitely the base GT with the manual, aftermarket where necessary. I want 4.27 gears anyway, don’t need a double overdrive.

  • avatar

    Is it possible to get any new car without the added “infotainment screen”? I’m baffled that any gearhead would want one. A TV in my car isn’t in the cards -ergo, I am not in possession of anything newer than 2009. I should probably stop reading any of these blogs but old habits die hard. I am perpetually curious of new tech, but only as they pertain to gas engines. When I first started to modify my cars, one horsepower per cubic inch was the goal and the best fuel injection- CIS – imitated a distributor. I’m astounded at the power being achieved but sorry that the attendant culture is being diluted. I guess the dinosaurs really are a cautionary tale. Having spilled my bile, if there is any car I would buy new in today’s market it would be the Mustang GT. I have a great set of 19 inch wheels from an SVT that I’m sure would fit, so no option package would be specified. Does Ford still have the “A” plan? It’s been since 1998 that I have availed myself of it, but they still send me checks.

  • avatar

    What concern me the most about Mustang is exhaust and sound of it. Can they make it BEV and get rid of that drama under the hood?

  • avatar

    Give me the Ecoboost with the High Performance pack and a 6 speed for $35k.

  • avatar

    Base mustang gt with blackout package. You don’t need the handling package to spin off into crowds so it’s a waste of money.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Too bad they no longer offer the V6 as a tweener. I have this engine in my work vehicle, a ’14 Police Utility, and it’s a baller.

  • avatar

    Gotta say it’s kind of either a)sad and/or b)pathetic that when clicking “Cars” on the Ford website, the only thing that appears is the Mustang. Gas prices stay high, people might start shifting back to cars again…some gas stations by me jumped .40/gal on Saturday afternoon. Cash in on Thanksgiving travel I guess.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, it’s the “fill up before the family road trip” price gouging season.

      I don’t think high gas prices will bring back sedan sales, though. Higher interest rates and shorter loan terms would do the trick.

  • avatar

    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


    And Lord knows what kinds of pricing games are to be had on a Mustang like this one.

  • avatar

    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.

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