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MUSTANG SALLY NEVER HAD IT THIS GOOD

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, May 8, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

AMERICA'S FAVORITE PONY CAR IS BETTER THAN EVER By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

It has been a long time, since a totally all-new Mustang GT has appeared on the scene - since 1978, in fact. In the Fall of 1978, the chassis that first appeared in the Ford Fairmont underpinned all Mustangs - until today. The Mustang now rides on a heavily modified, state-of-the-art version of the Lincoln LS/Jaguar S-Type platform. But unlike those two luxo-cruisers, America's favorite pony car retains its blue-collar, coil-over layout, abetted by a tubular Panhard rod. The legend continues in the 2005 Mustang with a clean sheet design that makes it faster, safer, more agile, more comfortable and better looking than ever. The new platform gives it a 5.8 inch increase in wheelbase, which improves ride and handling control. The total length is up 4.8 inches, with height and width increased only a little. To the naked eye, the new Mustang appears no larger than before, but weight is increased by 215 pounds.

The styling of the new Mustang GT is retro-modern, with several design cues taken from the 1967-68 Mustang GT. The signature long hood and short rear deck coupe gets a higher beltline and 1966 Shelby GT350 fastback-styled rear quarter windows. The aggressive front fascia is highlighted with two round halogen headlamps behind trapezoidal clear lenses at the sides, two round fog lamps inside the signature Mustang GT grille with a centered galloping pony badge, a wide air intake down below and a menacing shark like nose similar to the 1967-68 model. From the side, the steeply racked windshield, C-scoops, lower side extensions, wheels pushed to the corners inside flared wheel-arches, and wider, more aerodynamic side mirrors give the Mustang GT a look of motion when standing still. From the rear the trunk-mounted spoiler, triple vertical tail lamp treatment with a big, centered GT emblem, and dual, round, stainless steel exhaust tips completes the new pony car style. It is a very refreshing style, with European standards of minimum gaps between body panels that also breath new life into this more modern version of the fabled pony car. All body panels are galvanized, stamped steel sheet metal, with an aluminum hood. Another breath of fresh air is the new GT's 4.6-liter SOHC, all-aluminum, modular V8 engine that now features 24-valves instead of 16-valves. The three-valve heads permit an increase of 40 horses and 18 pound feet of torque, now up to 300 hp at 5,750 rpm and 320 lb. ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. To get there you'll have to reach for more rpms, but that is really what turns us on: The throaty roar from the dual exhaust increases as the rpms increase.

The Mustang GT comes standard with a rugged Tremec 3650 five-speed, short-throw transmission that really improves acceleration as you quickly and smoothly go up the gears. A limited-slip differential puts the power down on the rear wheels. For the first time, the Mustang GT is available with an optional five-speed automatic taken from the Lincoln LS. Along with an all-new chassis is an all-new sport-tuned suspension that features an independent setup up front, with MacPherson struts using reverse 'L' lower control arms, coil springs, gas-charged shocks, and a 34 mm tubular stabilizer bar. The unique rear suspension features a 'live axle' with a new 3-link architecture, (2-lower trailing links,1-upper trailing link), including a lightweight, tubular Panhard rod that provides precise control of the live rear axle, coil springs, gas-charged shocks, and a 20 mm solid stabilizer bar. The Mustang GT now rides like a modern car: Less jarring, fewer expansion-strip jitters, no lateral looseness over broken pavement and less suspension-borne road noise. Even with this new, more comfortable ride, the handling has definitely tightened-up and improved. The new GT's grip is better than the new Nissan 350Z Touring, with a 300 foot diagonal skid pad reading of 0.87 g's.

When you pitch hard into corners, the GT is initially neutral, and then tends toward understeer. If the push is annoying, just stab on the throttle and you can induce power oversteer. Neutral, understeer, oversteer. It's quite a choice, and the tail-happiness now materializes more gently, rather than in one heart-stopping twitch of yesterday's GT. It is amazing what the Ford engineers did to tune the old 'live-axle' rear suspension. I'd like to see a strut tower brace to tighten the suspension up even more. Maybe we'll see it in the upcoming Shelby GT500 Cobra. The power-assisted rack & pinion steering is good, but it's not the most precise. Although the steering does not excel in the 'feel of the road' category, it does the job with quick response to your inputs. The feel is light at all speeds but the power-assist never feels artificial, and there is no kickback. The GT now rides on sticky Pirelli 235/55R17 P Zero Nero high-performance radial tires wrapped around racy 17X8 cast aluminum wheels. Straight-line acceleration is what muscle cars are famous for, and the new Mustang GT doesn't disappoint. It clocks the fastest times recorded in Mustang GT history. You can now cover the quarter mile in just 13.8 seconds, at 102 mph, race from 0-60 mph in just 5.2sec., and enjoy a top speed of 149 mph. The brakes on the new GT have been reworked and strengthened, with vented discs at all corners. They measure 12.4 inches up front with dual-piston calipers, while 11.8-inch rear discs are clamped with a large, single piston caliper. Although these brakes are stronger than ever, I want to see bigger vented discs with 4-piston calipers up front, and 2-piston calipers in the rear for even better braking power for this more powerful sport coupe. Nonetheless, the new GT shortens the distance when stopping from 60 mph to 0 down to 120 feet.

The anti-lock brake system and traction control (which can be shut off for drag strip burnouts) do a good job of limiting unwanted wheel spin, keep you in control on slippery surfaces or during severe braking. The engineering and mechanicals of this new GT are far superior to last year's Mustang GT. I really enjoyed listening to the 'mechanical' sounds of the transmission and loud, throaty burbles coming from the engine as I quickly shifted up or down. The six-inch wheelbase gain maximizes the comfort inside the cabin, especially for the driver. There is more legroom, shoulder-room, and headroom. I feel less claustrophobic in the new model than I did before in the old one. The 'flying buttress' style light aluminum faced dashboard has thin, black lines stenciled onto the front, and the 'eyelash' dash shelf is reminiscent of years past. The fixed, chrome-ringed air-vent portholes give out more air and reflect more daylight than before. The driver's seat is much more firm, with better lateral support. The relationship between the sporty, tilting, three-spoke steering wheel, seat and pedals have been improved and the new, smaller stick shift lever has finally been moved closer so you don't have to stretch to go into third or fifth gear. The rear seatback folds flat, revealing a pass-through that's 12 inches high and 40 inches wide. And the trunk is two cubic feet larger, making the cargo-carrying capacity quite good for a compact sport coupe. All related buttons, dials and levers are within reach for easy operation. Now, about the new, state-of-the-art instrument cluster. Straight ahead of the driver are two, big, round, chrome ringed tubes that house the 140 mph speedometer and 8,000 rpm tachometer. In between these are four smaller gauges for fuel, oil pressure, engine coolant temperature and voltmeter. I think that the tubes are too recessed, adding to the darkness of the cockpit. Perhaps it's to highlight the industry first color-configurable instrument panel that offers the ultimate in personalization. Mustang owners can mix and match at the touch of a button, to create more than 125 different color backgrounds to suit their personality, mood, outfit or whim.

Ford says that "the colors, set against a striking backdrop (dark), large plates of real aluminum panels spanning the T-shaped dashboard with dual chrome-ringed gauges, four-chrome-ringed air-ducts, add a look of technical precision." I wonder. Couldn't your average analog gauges work just as well and make the dashboard more light and awake? This new system is optional and you get white letters against the dark background if you don't option for it. Standard features in the all-new GT include one-touch up/down power windows and door locks, power side mirrors, AC/heater, keyless entry, thick-pile carpeting with front floor mats, heated rear window, interval wipers/washers, cruise-control with buttons mounted on the tilting, leather steering wheel, ABS/traction control, and an AM-FM stereo radio with a single in-dash CD and four speakers. Options include side-seat mounted airbags, interior upgrade with satin aluminum trim and MyColor custom instrument panel, interior color accent package with black interior and red leather bucket seats and door trim inserts, wheel locks, 17X8 bright-machined cast aluminum wheels, Shaker 500 Audio system with six speakers and a six-disc CD player, Aberdeen leather-trimmed embossed sport bucket seats, and active-theft system. With more power and performance comes more safety features for the driver and passenger. You get Ford's Personal Safety System, that is a comprehensive safety technology package and provides increased protection in front crashes by analyzing crash factors and determining the proper response within milliseconds. It uses dual-stage driver and front-passenger airbags-capable of deploying at full or partial power three-point safety belts with pretensioners and energy management retractors. Front and rear crush zones and steel beams in each door help to dissipate front and side collision energy. The all-new 2005 Ford Mustang GT is also a terrific value, with prices starting at just $25,665,00 and topping out fully loaded at just $27,570.00. You've got to test drive the all-new 2005 Ford Mustang GT to see the state-of-the-art American muscle car.

© All text and photos by Harvey Schwartz

For a collector's perspective, go to Can the New Mustang Pass Collector Muster? For more information on Ford products, go to www.fordvehicles.com More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2005 Ford Mustang GT Deluxe Price: $25,865.00, including Delivery Engine type: 4.6liter, SOHC, 3-valve, aluminum block/heads, V8 Horsepower: 300 at 5,750 rpm Torque 320 lb. ft. at 4,500 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel-drive Transmission type: Tremec T3650 5-speed manual, 5-speed automatic optional Front suspension: Independent, MacPherson struts, reverse 'L' lower control arms, coil springs, gas-charged shocks, 34mm stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Live-axle, 3-link architecture with 2-lower trailing links, 1-upper trailing link, lightweight, tubular pan head rod, coil springs, gas-charged shocks, 20mm solid stabilizer bar Wheels/tires: P235/55R17 P Zero Nero high-performance radial tires, 17X8 cast aluminum wheels Brakes: Front: 12.4-inch vented rotors, two piston calipers Rear: 11.8-inch vented rotors, single piston calipers Overall length: 187.6 in. Overall width: 73.9 in. Overall height: 54.5 in. Curb weight: 3,520 lbs. EPA estimates: 18 mpg in the city; 26 mpg on the highway 0-60 mph: 5.2sec.

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