Ford Mustang. I believe this is a 2012.
I got to drive a 2011 Ford Mustang GT a few days ago. It's distinguished by a superb all-new 412-hp V8 engine, and it's an experience. A flatbelly in a FWD riceburner tried to jump us at a stoplight and the V8 let out a big BLAP-BLAP-BLAP-BLAP-BLAP roar and slapped him down—as if to say, "I eat Evo for breakfast, sucker." (We needed the soundtrack from Ferris Bueller's Day Off intoning, "Oh, Yeah.") I suspect half the attraction of a V8 like the GT's is the awesome noise it makes.
I've never owned a V8 car. I don't know for sure, but as I cast through my mental filing cabinet I don't think I've ever driven a V8 car before, except for one—my father's beige Buick Electra 225, the "Big Beige," which, near as I can figure, would have been either a 1972, '73, or '74 [picture]. Known as "land yachts," the deuce-and-a-quarters (which, fittingly, more or less coincided with peak oil production in the U.S.) were fully as big as the most ridiculous SUVs, just shaped differently—longer, wider, flatter.
My idea of a great car at the time was a BMW 2002Tii [picture] of sainted memory—my dad and I test-drove it, and that brief experience probably made more of an impression on me than any car has before or since. Dad had owned a dark blue Mustang fastback [picture] in 1965, but he got rid of it, mainly because he got it stuck (or perhaps I should say "it got him stuck") in the woods when he was trying to leave a salt lick out for the deer in the ravine opposite our house, and because he hated bucket seats (also one of the reasons he didn't like the little BMW).
As of 2011, the Mustangs are a different breed of horse*. Both the V8 and the V6 engines are all-new, and both new engines are superlative for their cost—the V6 especially. The V6 is the first engine in the world to put out 300+ horsepower and score a highway mileage rating of more than 30 mpg in the car it comes in. Like the original Taurus SHO, it makes the current V6 Mustang a car you'd buy just for its engine.
Of course, I approach the whole world aesthetically...and I just can't help thinking that the car I drove is just...well...a little...fat. Its bulging snout contributes to its aggressive look, for sure, but there's also just a whole lot of car in that car. Amusingly, and suspiciously, Ford doesn't specify curb weight in the car specs on its website, but other sites peg it at a portly 3,605 lbs. That's only half a ton less than my father's early '70s land yacht—and half a ton more than his '65 Mustang Fastback. (The '72 2002Tii scales in at a mere 2,262 lbs.)
Of course, maybe the Mustang is right in step. We Americans seem to be getting more portly, too. Take our Coach for instance. We love Mike McCarthy here in 'Sconsin. He's a fine guy, smart and unpretentious, down to earth but obviously very successful. And I'm the last person to criticize anyone for the way they happen to look. But let's be honest: he's not...er...dainty, is he? Coach is the fireplug type. So let's just put it this way, before I stray too far into political incorrectness: if the 2011 Mustang GT were a person, it would be a Mike McCarthy. Doncha think? I'm just sayin'.
It's probably impossible for the Mustang to go back in time entirely to the original's 2400–2800 curb-weight range. But my impression is that the ol' Bullet could sure stand to lose a few. Like most of the guys who drive 'em, probably. Can't exclude myself from that club, unfortunately.
But to get back to the kind of car I like best—a present-day, more extreme counterpart of the early '70s 2002—take a look at this video, especially the marvelous little snippet at about 2:18 (start it a few seconds earlier if you're only going to watch the snip)—if you're a car pilot, seeing that is guaranteed to make you feel better. I've watched it about eighteen times. Yowza.
*Did you know that the only difference between a "pony" and a "horse" is size? That's all. You might say the Pony Car has become a Horse Car.
(P.S. The usual apologies if anyone can't see the video. It's called "Caterham R500 vs Ducati by autocar.co.uk" if you'd like to search for it elsewhere.)
"Open Mike" is a series of off-topic posts that appears only, but not always, on Sundays.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Leslie Ashe:
"Your comments about the BMW 2002tii reminded me of my days photographing rally cars in Ireland and U.K. Above is a picture of what was probably the ultimate in this machine—a fully lightened 2002tii on the Donegal International Rally 1975 driven by German Rally ace Achim Warmbold. It was a right-hand corner and the tail is just drifting out. An impressive sight and sound. Pentax Spotmatic 1000 (200mm lens) on Tri-X rated at 800 ISO. No auto metering or focusing in those days!"
Featured Comment by Christian: "It's seemed to me that every generation of Mustang gets chubbier aesthetically."
Mike replies: Yes, an endemic, pan-manufacturer problem with car models. The Honda Civic is now bigger than the early Accords, for instance.
Featured Comment by Joe: "In the mid-'60s, my father was president of the local chapter of the Jaycees, and the group decided to raffle a car to raise money. Through the local Ford dealer, somehow, they got a hold of one of the very first Mustangs, just before they were officially released to the public—so this must have been spring or summer 1964, just as I was about to enter fifth grade. And one weekend afternoon just before the car was given to the raffle winner, my father took me for a spin in the thing, top down, through the mountain roads around our town. I'm not really a car guy, and I have only a few vivid memories of that drive, but I can tell you I've never stopped finding those early Mustangs beautiful and wonderful machines."