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NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLITT

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Jul 13, 2003

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLITT

By Contributing Editor DAVID GARDNER

WARNING! Testosterone-challenged drivers and anyone with pink or pastel-colored cars need read no further. This review is for real men only (and some of the words are a bit naughty).

It’s black and it’s gutsy and it’s definitely not for girls. The new Ford Mustang Centennial GT Coupe gives you an erection just putting your foot on the metal-plated accelerator and hearing that deep throat gurgle for the first time Okay, I’m being sexist and chauvinistic. So sue me! All I know is that there are all sorts of things I don’t like about this car, but I’d still like to own one. Why? Because I want to feel like a man again. The only feeling I can liken it to is the throb you get from a Harley Fat Boy that hits a g-spot right in the groin and makes you glad to be male. There are not many new cars around today that let you feel like Steve McQueen when you muscle through the gears on the 405 in the middle of another hot afternoon. The girls can have Marky Mark and his Italian Job Minis squeezing down the subway, but real men want real cars with masculinity. Most cars are so efficient and smooth they might as well be moving walkways. You get in, turn on the engine and they get you where you want to go without any fuss. They’ve got radios, CDs, DVDs, videos, Play Stations, all to divert you from the fact that you are sitting in a car, a necessity for getting you from one place to another. This Mustang is ALL about the drive. Detective Frank Bullitt gave the car its cool cache in 1968 and Ford have done little to mess with it ever since. Some cars need to progress, to keep up with the changing trends and shapes and stay ahead of their ever-evolving rivals. The Mustang needs to be left alone.

It doesn’t need to be like the Sebring. Not that there is anything wrong with its rival from Chrysler. It is a mighty fine, classy car - but you ain’t going to be getting a hard-on in a car with satin jade pearl trim with a light taupe interior. That’s just not in the “How To Be Macho” handbook. The more retro the manufacturers leave the Mustang, the happier pseudo blokes like me are going to be. The Mustang isn’t a particularly easy drive. You have to heave through the gears and keep plastering down your foot to the floor to keep up speed on the freeway; you get a crick neck every time you stoop to get in the driver seat and it’ll stall on you if you don’t slam it fully into reverse. But you know you are driving a real bloody T-bone steak of a car rather than the Las Vegas buffet that most mid-priced cars offer with everything thrown in to ensure no potential punter is left wanting. Don’t get me wrong, the 4.6L V-8 is a highly efficient engine, but you sense it could go wrong any time in this Mustang and I mean that as a compliment. You feel like you should be able to smell the oil and grease and have a wrench ready in case the engine needs tweaking to roar back to life. In a time when most men are only reminded of their sex when they are asked to take out the trash, that’s a feeling to cherish. The single overhead cam design helps feed through the power at higher speeds and the engine delivers an impressive 260 horsepower and 302 lb.-ft of torque. Most of us can’t go out and spend $80,000 on a car to make us feel good about ourselves. You can get a 2003 GT 2-door Mustang for $24,850. Not a bad price for a new pair of balls. If you want to add the Centennial package and a pounding Mach 1000 audio system you will be ready to rock, literally, for a total $28,110.

I know this isn’t going to help my He-Man street cred, but personally I would forego the dubious pleasure offered by the Mach 1000 audio system. Blasting out my favorite Barry Manilow CD in the parking lot through the giant woofers in the cramped trunk would be a worthwhile tradeoff to be able to fit in a vanity case or two. But that’s just me. Mind you, an old lady in an Oldsmobile beat me away from the lights on my first trip out in the Mustang because I was checking my nasal hair in the rearview mirror, so there is a valid argument for putting me back in the Sebring. The fact is that cars can give us the illusion of reinventing ourselves, even if it is only for a moment at a time and even if no one else notices a thing. It is why we don’t all drive Volvos and it is why there are an awful lot of Mustangs still riding the roads. In keeping with all the Ford 100th anniversary vehicles, the Centennial Mustang has a sleek black clearcoat exterior and as only 3,000 were made, the silver badge signifying the event adds a touch of prestige. The 17-inch alloy premium wheels with 245/45ZR17 performance tires look the part, as does the rear spoiler. The glass is tinted but if you are thinking of an illicit adventure with the girlfriend - or wife - in the back seat you might as well forget it unless you’ve read past page seven of the Kama Sutra. Ford advertises this model as a “4-passenger specialty”, but the only possible positions in the back seat are 9, 37 and 372. Don’t even think about 69! I loved the old-fashioned leather-wrapped, crooked gear stick which you have to throttle through the 5-speed manual transmission like you are choking the Thanksgiving turkey and the power rack and pinion steering makes a three-point turn into a major production. Again, I should emphasize that while these may be irritating drawbacks in another car, in this case they simply serve to remind you that you are driving a Mustang that has yet to be tamed after all of these years. It is as well that the brakes work efficiently, with ABS and traction control and power 4-wheel disc brakes. There’s even a nice handbrake to show off those fast and furious handbrake turns in the Macy’s parking lot.

I could tell you that there are dual visor vanity mirrors, dual cupholders, a console with armrest and variable interval wipers, but the fancy little extras are hardly the point. The interior “medium parchment leather” is too plastic to match the exterior, a common problem with models that load up in some areas and leave others back at basic. The no frills Mustang cockpit is functional and comfortable and that’s just fine with me. Just in case you were wondering, it does 18 mpg around town and 26 mpg on the freeway. If none of those statistics impress you, try this... I have just turned 43 and I drove this Mustang five times yesterday with only short breaks in between. And I still wasn’t satisfied. I wanted more.

More information on Mustangs can be found at www.ford.com

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