2008 Ford Mustang GT 4.6 gasoline from North America
Passenger side window gap.
Hard to beat muscle -- about as subtle as a sledgehammer -- and damn near as reliable too.
Bought this Mustang in Chula Vista, for $12,000 (salvage title) Calif, when it had 37,000 and have put 13,000 more on it since then.
The car is a beautiful glossy back with a broad gun-metal stripe on the centerline; not a lot of modifications, a bit of suspension, cold air intake, exhaust, throttle-body, Hurst manual shifter.
It's astonishing that a car this recent actually has so little in the way of electrical or mechanical gadgetry -- a fact that can be seen negatively, but which may well be positive. For example: no buttons on the steering-wheel for anything except cruise-control: no music volume/function/telephone/derriere-scratching commands.
Whether this lack of features is a conscious attempt at minimalism or purism, or merely cost-saving, I don't know.
The driver controls don't even have a lever or button to open the trunk -- there's just a button on the key-fob; leaving this particular feature out is a bit cheap.
The trunk could be larger -- and so could the back seat. Back seat comfort in terms of visibility is also a bit claustrophobic -- especially if rear-window louvres are fitted.
Seat inclination adjustment is via a manual lever, and I have the impression that the gradations of the inclination are rather limited.
OK, so much for the limitations. It's a beautiful, aggressive, masculine automobile -- one of the immortal designs of car history: low-slung, long hood, short deck, the GT fog lights. Purists may well love the 1965-1967 models best, for turn-key reliability and out-of-the box performance, but the "S-197" 2005-2008 are what comes closest to the original when it comes to looks.
Performance is potentially frightening to the inexperienced: a lot of torque, a heavy clutch, and a heavy car with a solid rear end can bring from exhilaration to terror in seconds, especially on slick roads with the wrong tires.
I went from driving a 2002 Toyota MR2 Spyder to the Mustang GT, so there was a bit of a learning curve, especially living in a rainy mountainous part of the Golden State. Seeing a late model GT-500 wiped out on its roof on Highway 9 was a sobering experience. A grizzled hillbilly mechanic smiled acidly when asked if modifications could make the GT handle in the mountains; he thought not -- get a Subaru WRX.
I won't pretend that a Mustang S197 will be able to successfully battle WRXs in the mountains, but I have learned that the commonplace knocks on American muscle cars in general, and the Mustangs (with solid rear axles) handling can be overblown: there is an art to driving these, to actually derive advantage from the weight of the car, let the weight of the front engine help pull you through the back end of the curve -- but still realize that you aren't going to beat the Miatas and WRXs in maneuverability. But when a straight comes...
I'm starting to think that the Mustang GT actually has more in common with the famous P-38/P-47/P-51 fighter planes than the name: the Lightning/Warthog/Mustang could not out-turn or dogfight the Mitsubishi Zero; but in climbing or diving -- because of the weight and power of the American machines -- they could, and did shred them.
In looks, very, very few cars can hold a candle to the classic Mustang styling; in power, it's also excellent, in price it's quite inexpensive, especially now that 2 newer iterations have appeared, in reliability -- here we find really a strong point: the 4.6 Ford motor has maintained an impressive record; indeed, the 4.6 motors, which have been featured in the typical American police car, the Crown Victoria, and also the Lincoln Town Car limousine, have routinely achieved 500,000, even 600,000 miles, without major engine work, and even with half a million miles on the odometer, are commonly found for sale on Craigslist. The Ford 4.6 (but not so much the more powerful, later 5.0 "Coyote" motor) is included among many expert mechanics' (even die-hard Chevy lovers) list of the best, most durable motors on the planet (on a par with the Toyota 22re or Volvo 2 liter).
The ubiquity of this motor also means that parts and many sorts of bolt-on modifications are available at affordable prices.
Gas mileage is surprisingly good for such a large motor and heavy car -- provided much of the driving is on the highways, and one resists the (hard to resist) temptation of indulging in the delectable rumble of the V-8. I have consistently averaged between 24 to 26 miles per gallon. I was surprised that on many long trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco, there was little MPG penalty between cruising at 65 mph versus 85 mph.
There are many cars that can go faster, or handle better, or get better mileage, or have more space, or more little electronic features than the S197.
But I know of very few modern cars that offer this much character, classic style, power -- and reliability -- at such an affordable price.
For example, you could buy a BMW 645, a sporty coupe, so in a similar class -- and I imagine that the BMW might very well significantly out-accelerate and out-handle the Mustang GT. But what about reliability, or the cost of repairs for BMW (modern ones)?
My feeling that in order to have another car of similar style or 'panache' to the Mustang GT, one would be giving up a lot of reliability, because the alternatives would be German, or perhaps Italian (Alfa-Romeo).
Or, if you wanted similar reliability, one could opt for a Japanese car -- but many of their reasonably-priced automobiles are still numbingly bland.
So, in the end, I conclude that while the Ford S197 Mustang is far from a perfect car, it does offer a pretty rare value overall -- not a sports-car, but a sporty, good-looking car.
Let's face it, aesthetics are important in car-buying and life is too short to drive ugly cars. I don't regret NOT buying a Honda Fit (and I own four cars).
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 28th January, 2016