THERE is an emotional attachment between people and their cars, writes Declan Colley
It matters not whether you are Pat the Postman or Billy the Butcher, your van is as important to you as is Eithne the engineer’s executive saloon to her or Max the stay-at-home dad’s MPV to him.
But the passion engendered by certain cars transcends the relationship people have with their day-to-day transport. And this passion crosses all normal boundaries defined by gender, ethnicity, religion, or any other social or cultural paradigm.
A case in point: the Ford Mustang. In all my years of doing this gig, I doubt if I have ever seen a car create as much excitement among such a broad spectrum of the public as did the ‘Triple Yellow’ five-litre V8 Mustang Fastback that decorated my driveway for a seemingly endless week recently.
I use the words ‘decorated’ and ‘endless’ advisedly, as I suspect the car was so vivid a colour that the astronauts on the international space station could easily see it as they passed overhead, and there was a non-stop line of people, of all ages and social backgrounds, queuing up for a view.
I swear, if I’d have got myself a busman’s hat and a ticketing machine, I could have made a few quid exploiting whatever magnetic hold it is that the Mustang has over people — all people. Sure, if it were something madly exotic, like a Ferrari or a Lambo’ or a Bugatti, you might expect a flood of interested punters to follow you around. But a mere Ford?
Well, in fairness, not quite a mere Ford. More like an iconic Ford. And, equally, Ford products don’t really get any more iconic than this latest (it is right-hand drive for the first time ever) version of the company’s stalwart muscle car.
Of course, we’ve already driven the ‘lesser’, 2.3-litre EcoBoost Mustang in convertible mode and it is a big, affable, and slightly outrageous motoring companion. But the five-litre V8 version, in full ‘monster’ mode, is something else altogether in terms of magnetism.
Indeed, it seemed like people instinctively knew this machine was the real deal and gravitated towards it. It was like that old RTÉ ad, involving Melbourne Olympic gold medal winner Ronnie Delaney. He visits a school and the children demand: “Did ya bring it Ronnie? Have ya got it Ronnie?” Same here. Wherever I went, it was a case of: “Did ya bring it Deccie? Have ya got it Deccie?” I never thought a yellow Mustang would have the same effect as a gold medal.
But I could not but admire the mesmeric effect it had on people. They were fascinated by it. For potential owners, this mean two things: First, that you would have to be a natural showman/fantastical egotist to own one; and, second, that you’d better be prepared for people calling to your door at all hours demanding to look at it.
Owning one brings responsibilities with it.
But how does it drive? Well, there is no greater way of kicking the adrenal gland into action than firing this thing up. The typical V8 burble does not seem menacing, initially, but blip the throttle and you send out tremors that can impact the Richter scale. Slot it into first — the wrist-flick gear-change is a joy — and play the clutch and accelerator off against each other and you feel an earth-shattering momentum building.
With 421bhp at 5,500rpm, a 4.2-second 0-100 capability, and a top speed of 250kph, you will feel that terror mixed with spine-tingling anticipation that any muscle car worth its salt should deliver by the truck-load. The Mustang delivers.
But, while the car seems docile in normal circumstances, there is a fine line here between normal and insane and once you cross that line you know that even the tiniest miscalculation can hurt — badly. To explore the performance parameters of the Mustang, you will have to display Victoria Cross levels of bravery.
Doing so in places where immediate arrest is not a threat is fine, but on the open road it is a different matter. Aside from the conspicuousness of the Mustang — you can forget about anonymity in this thing — finding the limits on the open road is far from advisable.
There is an undoubted feeling, when behind the wheel, that any excess on the throttle will induce neck-snapping oversteer. This does introduce caution into every action you take behind the wheel.
But the sheer joie de vivre induced by the muscular prowess has to be experienced by any self-respecting petrolhead.
Be in no doubt that I gave the Mustang as much of a thrashing as I felt was wise, but any slip on my behalf could potentially have made the car react in a way that would not have been good for longevity — nor for mine or the car’s.
To truly appreciate the Mustang, you would need considerable time to explore its capabilities and its foibles. This is a classic highway tourer (a highway with plenty of petrol stations on it) which would nonchalantly eat miles for days at a time; the hustle of cross-country, Irish by-road motoring was certainly not its metier. Though it is far from being the Neanderthal handler of lore, it is nothing like as sophisticated — or secure — as any European coupe.
Was it a car I would buy? Well, no. But there are a few things which need to be appreciated here. First off, it is ridiculously cheap for what you get: The aura and the engine.
Secondly, the specification is huge, with loads of toys as standard, but you do have to forgive some pretty naff switchgear and interior décor. And, thirdly, the stand-out looks.
The Mustang GT Fastback is not a car for the fainthearted and it is not really a 2+2, either (the legroom in the back is terrible) and you would have to have the skin of an armadillo to own one.
But if you did own one, you would rest easy at night knowing that, while everyone has an emotional attachment to whatever car they own, your Mustang is not only emotionally attached to you, but to most of the known world, as well.
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