There have always been great Mustangs, and the bad ones. Since 1964, the iconic muscle car has been with us, has inspired numerous other automotive brands and designers, building dreams of a few petrolhead generations. Well almost, because I can’t remember anyone dreaming of the Mustangs from the late 1980s and 1990s… But in 2005, when Ford decided to relaunch its pony myth, finally, the muscle car icon was back. 10 years and two generations after, the Detroit based brand has just presented the new one, and even better, its finally headed for Europe ! Text : Mickael B. © Images : Ford ©

Mustang1

I’ve always loved the Mustang. I mean, the real Mustang, the one Steve McQueen drove in the famous Bullit movie against the Dodge Charger in the first and one of the most epic car chase in movie history : the 1968 GT390 Fastback Coupé. I have to say that if I had to own one, and only one Mustang, it would be this particular model. Or maybe, the Mustang Shelby GT500 Super Snake “Eleanor” of the movie Gone in 60 seconds, with Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie. The Mustang has always been a show car, an automotive so beautiful it is always a real pleasure to see one, especially here in Europe where this car is so rare it’s almost considered as an exotic, and the pleasure even increases when the V8 roars to life.

Mustang2 Mustang3

Back in 1964 it was designed to be just an affordable – not to say cheap – sport’s car for the masses and the pony’s recipe was quite simple : gorgeous design, big 289 cubic inches V8 in the front for the GT version, and a cheaper V6 if you wanted, and tons of options to add on your car. This car was indeed the first one, where there was an options list when you ordered your Mustang. It didn’t only introduced the world to the idea of a cheap sport’s car, but as well to the idea of customization of your car. It was designed to be fast, as well, with over 200 horsepower, but only on straight lines, because it had a solid rear axle that made it very wobbly on twisty roads. Nevertheless, this car was great, and its commercial success contributed to the incredible icon it has become, gaining a very special place in petrolhead’s mind, and building alone the muscle car automotive type. It’s so important indeed that today, if you ask anyone to think about a muscle car, their answer will surely be the Ford Mustang. The pony is such an icon it has its place at the pantheon of automotive’s myths, next to the Ford T, the Porsche 911, or the Ferrari F40, for instance.

vintagestang

Not all Mustang are great. You just have to look from the second to the fourth generation, from 1964 to 2004, to understand that Ford’s wish of growing Mustang sales destroyed the original idea. The look especially of these cars had nothing more in common with the brilliant design that Lee Iacocca’s team had done in 1964, losing all the agressivity, and making the Mustang a much more common looking car that really couldn’t differentiate itself from its fade contemporary sisters. So when Ford asked its chief designer Sid Ramnarace to get to the drawing boards for the fifth Mustang generation, they decided to go back to the basics. And when the Mustang GT Concept was presented at the 2004 North American International Auto Show, everyone was enthusiast and enjoyed the return of the pony.

Mustang5

Finally the Mustang was back. It was the perfect modern reinterpretation of the 1964 design. Both engines, the V6 and the V8 were finally real sport’s engines. It still had its live rear axle, which surely gave the car its wobbly feeling on twisty mountain roads, but which every Mustang enthusiast enjoyed. But sadly only Americans could enjoy the Pony, as Ford commercial plans didn’t include selling the Pony elsewhere than in the USA. Even Caroll Shelby went to put back his hands on the Mustang offering us GT500 modern versions that were real brutal men machines to drive. A few facelifts after, the Mustang evolved, but keeping the pony philosophy and main characteristics that made its success.

Mustang7 Mustang6

In 2012, Ford announced a great news : the Mustang is coming to Europe ! Sadly, it wasn’t the actual generation, but the one which has just been presented today. And when the first rendering and leaks started to appear, I remember not being especially excited, as the impression it gave me was more of a Ford Mondeo than a Mustang. And it got even worse when the Detroit brand announced that the only engine we would get was… A 2.3 litre Ecoboost four cylinder engine. But still I didn’t want to spoil my pleasure about the idea of finally having officially the Ford Mustang in Europe. So patiently, I waited.

Mustang8

And today, it’s there. The 2015, sixth generation of Ford Mustang. The exterior styling is not as worth as what I expected, it has still every elements of the pony. The only thing I don’t like are the two nostrils on the bonnet. It really is still a proper tribute to the original pony. One thing I noticed was how strangely the front face looked similar to the 2006 Mustang based concept-car the italian designer Giugiaro had presented during the 2006 Los Angeles Motor Show. As expected, other markets from the USA will only have the possibility to buy the four cylinder 2.3 litre Ecoboost version, although Ford does not deny the idea of selling the other engines, 3.7 litre 305 horsepower V6 and 5.0 litre 420 horsepower V8 available afterwards. The biggest deception arrived when I went through the different specifications though. To meet EU regulations, and improve the ride comfort, Ford engineers have decided to abandon the traditionnal live rear axle for an independant rear suspension. So the Mustang has just lost one of the main elements of its myth. We’ll have to see hands on wheel, how it has affected the pony’s character, but surely driving a Mustang won’t be as exciting anymore.