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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-05, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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Less Roof, No Goof: Ford builds a better Mustang

Less Roof, No Goof: Ford builds a better Mustang

Photos By Boyd Jaynes

ON SALE: Spring
BASE PRICE: $27,000 (est.)
POWERTRAIN: 4.0-liter, 210-hp, 240-lb-ft V6; rwd, five-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 3476 pounds
0 TO 60 MPH: 6.9 seconds (est.)

Why is the new Mustang convertible better than the old Mustang convertible, better in fact, than any Mustang convertible ever? There are a lot of answers to that, but it all comes down to architecture.

“This is the first time that we had an all-new platform that didn’t require compromises for our use,” said Mustang vehicle engineering manager Bob Johnston.

That’s a polite way of saying Ford finally built a Mustang to be a Mustang, instead of forcing a Mustang on something else. As you’ll recall, the previous pony car traced its roots all the way back to the Fox platform of 1978, and even then it had to perform other duties, including but not limited to holding up those “icons” of style and speed, the Fairmont and Granada. It was like asking your weed whacker to function also as a Flowbee hair trimmer, Waring blender and a snowblower. Sure, with enough engineering it could probably carry it all off, but not as well as any of those should, and you always wound up with hair in your daiquiri.

Ford designers and engineers did a lot of things right in bringing the new Mustang to market, and maybe the single most important element was building a solid chassis that would allow for a no-compromises convertible. The result is a fun, solid car that lives up to its iconic good looks.

The new Mustang platform doesn’t have to be anything but a Mustang (so far, anyway), and when engineers started to build it, they started with the assumption that it would also be a convertible.

That meant the basic structure of the car was designed to work with a minimum of reinforcement to keep it structurally sound even without a roof.

Ripping the top off a car generally sucks out about 70 percent of its torsional rigidity. That can be replaced with weight-bogging reinforcements to the floor pan, rear structure, A-pillars and windshield frames, but that’s like adding the plumbing after you’ve put in the drywall.

“Typically, convertibles are afterthoughts,” said Mark Rushbrook, Mustang vehicle dynamics manager.

While there was some stiffening to those areas on this car, that stiffening was nowhere near as much as it had been on the Fox platform convertibles. The main reinforcements to the new convertible are a big V-brace underneath in the back and a strut bar underneath joining the lower inboard suspension pickup points in front. Together those changes keep the new convertible remarkably tight.

“You’re never going to get all the cowl shake out of a convertible, but this is much better than we’ve ever been able to do before,” said Rushbrook.

Rushbrook was speaking from the passenger seat of the convertible as we sped along the contour-hugging bends of State Highway 39 in the mountains above Los Angeles. Indeed, the cowl wasn’t shaking much at all. In previous Mustang convertibles you’d hit a bump or whang into a pothole—what vehicle dynamics engineers call “an incident”—and then the waves of energy would travel back and forth through the body of the car for several long seconds, and at a fairly low frequency. Things would rattle off the dashboard, the glovebox would spring open, your glasses would bounce off the end of your nose and your date would make a mildly unhappy sound from the passenger seat. Now there is far less residual shake, for a shorter duration and at what feels like a higher frequency. In other words, it’s tight, man.

In more precise engineering terms, the body of the old convertible took 3000 lb-ft of torque to twist 1 degree. When they made this convertible, the goal was to double that figure, but they wound up exceeding it with a measure of 6500 lb-ft per degree. Granted, that doesn’t compare to a carbon fiber race tub, but it is a 117 percent improvement. Bending resistance is also up, by 25 percent.

The Mustang convertible does weigh 120 pounds more than the coupe, but even that figure is 30 pounds less than the weight penalty the old convertible paid compared with the old coupe.

Cowl shake is also reduced by a softened suspension, which you can have if you’ve got a stiff chassis. If you can get the springs to soak up the bumps before the body has to, you’ve got a more efficient package. So spring rates front and rear are reduced by 15 percent while all four shocks are softened as well. The rear stabilizer bar goes up to 20 millimeters vs. 18 millimeters to compensate for the added roll of the softer springs and shocks. The convertible’s tires are the same as the coupe—235/55ZR-17s on the V8-powered GT and 215/65R-16s on the V6-powered base model.

On the road you might notice the softer setup; it felt just a little mushier than the coupes we’ve driven. The rack-and-pinion steering feels much better connected to the road than you’d expect, given the Mustang convertibles of yore. Four-wheel discs are standard. As with any coupe/convertible choice, driving and performance purists will want the coupe, but there is far less compromise in this soft-top version.

Many other features were added to get the new ’Stang up to the competition. The top is all-new, of course. It is three layers thick, as are most tops nowadays, with an outer waterproof layer, middle sound insulation and a handsome inner liner. The basic construction consists of five bows that stack in a big Z behind the rear seats. The headliner is stiff and wide and attaches to the windshield frame with two big hand clamps. Top operation is electrohydraulic and takes 16 seconds. The rear glass is as big as they could make it, for optimum visibility, and has electric defrost standard. The Mustang also has rear quarter-windows, which, along with big side mirrors, add to all-around visibility.

The Mustang convertible weighs in 120 pounds heavier than the coupe, but it’s a price worth paying for being able to drop the top.

The side glass now slots up into rubber molding under the roof rails, a technique we first noticed on BMWs, and one also featured on the Mustang coupe. When you pull the door handle, the glass lowers before the door opens; when you close the door, the last thing the glass does is schmoosh up into the molding. That makes for a 12 percent reduction in wind noise and a 25 percent reduction in air leaking through the seals.

The rest of the Mustang doesn’t change. Power to the rear wheels comes from your choice of 4.6-liter 300-hp V8 in the GT or 4.0-liter 210-hp V6 in the base car. Five-speed manual and five-speed automatic are available in both models.

The convertible bows at the Los Angeles auto show about the time you read this and will enter showrooms in the spring, when pricing will be released. Past convertibles have made up about 30 percent of sales, and this one should settle down to that after an initial sales spike. And it will spike. After 26 years riding on the old Mustang/Fairmont/Granada, engineers were more than anxious to show what they could do with a clean-sheet-of-paper Mustang convertible.

“You’d kind of like to get it right,” said Johnston.

This time they certainly did.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-14-05, 01:32 PM
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Re: Less Roof, No Goof: Ford builds a better Mustang

Oooh i like that!

'67 Mustang V8 4sp... what fun to drive!
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-15-05, 06:38 AM
Can't wait for Winton...
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Re: Less Roof, No Goof: Ford builds a better Mustang

The car looks nice but that is the most shocking, corny headline I've heard in ages!
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-15-05, 04:11 PM
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Re: Less Roof, No Goof: Ford builds a better Mustang

its hot cause it looks ols school but still new
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-19-05, 07:12 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Less Roof, No Goof: Ford builds a better Mustang

UK:Ford Mustang GT Convertible

by John Rettie

They say it never rains in southern California, making it the perfect location for Ford to introduce its new Mustang Convertible. Unfortunately, the firm chose the area's wettest fortnight in history to roll the first models off the line. In a brief dry spell, we got behind the wheel and dropped the hood on the blue oval's most evocative soft-top of the decade.

Only a year ago, the world got its first glimpse of the all-new Mustang Coupé. Cynics complained it was yet another retro car, offering further proof that American designers are looking to the past, not the future. But the model has a legendary following, with more than eight million examples sold to date, so the stylists have decided not to mess with a winning formula when it comes to the Convertible, either. Boasting muscular lines and an instantly recognisable shape, the new soft-top is a car to be seen in. While the classic 'Stang is remembered by European enthusiasts for its sloppy handling, imprecise steering and weedy brakes, its modern-day equivalent is far more driveable.

The Mustang Convertible is a thoroughbred sports car, especially in GT specification with its 300bhp 4.6-litre V8. Performance fans will also be encouraged that it gets a five-speed manual gearbox as standard.

Well weighted steering makes the rear-wheel-drive model fun to drive. It is too big to be hustled quickly along narrow roads, but the gutsy performance never fails to raise a smile. The GT Convertible sprints from 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds and has a 143mph top speed. Yet the handling is not as sure-footed as the Mustang GT Coupé's; the soft-top's rear end bounces around when cornering and feels sloppy in comparison. For cruising in town or along a sunny promenade, the Convertible is fine, but it is not for spirited driving along mountain roads. Ford decided to soften the soft-top's suspension to make the ride smoother. While that's fine for the regular 210bhp 4.0-litre V6-powered model, we think it is a shame to remove the edge from the V8 GT version driven here. Thankfully, the Convertible demands few other compromises. Drop the roof and the steeply raked windscreen prevents passengers from being buffeted. Meanwhile, with the hood in place, there is very little wind noise. Although the electrically operated top goes up and down with a one-touch button, the driver still needs to manually push two levers to lock it in place.

Chop the roof off any car and you are virtually guaranteed to lose some rigidity, but the good news is that the Mustang Convertible still feels stiff. Driven along the winding, muddy canyon roads in the mountains near Los Angeles, our test car was free of rattles and flexing, with only the softened suspension detracting from the experience. From the beginning, engineers designed the all-new Mustang chassis to integrate the stiffer body needed for a drop-top - which is why this version is a mere 54.5kg heavier than the Coupé.

And the Convertible is surprisingly practical, too. It is a genuine two-plus-two, and rear passengers get a decent amount of space plus, surprisingly, more headroom than in the Coupé. The front occupants will also be comfortable on slick retro seats, while the driver enjoys the benefits of modern switchgear combined with classic design features.

In the US, the GT variant will sell for the equivalent of £16,000, making it one of the world's best-value sports cars. The bad news is that there are currently no plans to officially bring the Mustang to the UK. A pity, because it would undoubtedly be a big hit over here.

First Opinion
By removing the roof from its latest Mustang, Ford has added to the car's appeal. We'd have preferred the V8 coupé's firmer set-up, but with sharp steering and awesome performance, the 'Stang is still a thriller. If only it was coming to the UK, Ford dealers would be able to offer a soft-top with unbeatable value for money.

At a Glance
* Convertible debuts in spring
* Likely to be brought to the UK by specialist US car importers

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-05, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Less Roof, No Goof: Ford builds a better Mustang

Ford Mustang Convertible

The Mustang blows its top.

Hot on the heels of a successful model launch, a Car and Driver 10Best award, and victory in a comparison test against a car with a 100-hp advantage, Ford’s Mustang now begets a convertible derivative. And it’s a good one. But we’ll admit to a persistent concern—before journeying to Irwindale Speedway in California to try the new topless pony car—that the decapitation would gravely compromise the latest Mustang’s stiff new structure.

O we of little faith. It turns out the development work on Ford’s famous icon was undertaken with the same meticulous care that made Ford’s steed this year’s triple-crown champion. The engineers stiffened the K-shaped brace that ties together the frame rails, engine, and lower control arms, added a V-brace at the rear (to hook the rear section of the rocker panels to the tire tubs), and used thicker-gauge steel for the rockers. These changes improved the new ragtop Mustang’s torsional rigidity to a claimed 6500 foot-pounds per degree (the old car managed 3000) and upped its bending resistance by 25 percent. They say the weight penalty for this is about 120 pounds.

The numbers may be academic, but the results are distinctly tangible. This Mustang convertible hangs together remarkably well on rough surfaces, transmitting little vibration or movement through the steering wheel, with insignificant levels of windshield-frame tremor. All of this is evidence of good cowl rigidity and a tightly constrained structure.

Helping enhance the impression of solidity in the convertible is a slightly softened suspension, with front spring rates that are 9 percent more compliant and rears that are 14 percent softer, shocks that have been revalved for their new mission, and anti-roll bars that are reduced in diameter from 0.8 to 0.7 inch.

Increased suppleness in the undercarriage means less force is transmitted to the body shell. That in turn lessens any tendency in the body structure to act as a spring, twisting in the process. The result is one of the tightest convertibles on the road. Since our demo car was a GT, with the 300-hp V-8 and high-performance chassis calibrations, it suggests that the less-powerful V-6 model is likely to ride even more smoothly.

Despite a slightly softer ride (compared with the coupe), our GT convertible took to the tortuous roads in the San Bernardino Mountains with aplomb. The steering response is clear and accurate, providing instinctive path control on the part of the driver. The car’s nose swings in strict accordance with your expectations and stays on line with an easy precision. Better yet, the droptop GT handles transitions with agility, flicking from one direction to the other without overshooting your intended arc. And it does this at tire-squealing cornering velocities as well as at moderate speeds.

Considering the usual role of a ragtop Mustang, we consider the handling to be well above the likely requirements. Ford’s Mark Rushbrook, who participated in the convertible’s ride-and-handling development, reports that much of the chassis tuning was conducted on tracks, but calibrations were refined on public roads for a comfortable compromise. It shows. There’s a good balance in this chassis between everyday commuting and mountain-road madness.

At least as much care was lavished on the Mustang’s fabric top. Ford calls the powered-roof mechanism a Z-fold top, which accurately describes the shape it assumes when the motors fold and stow the collapsible framework into its well. The controversial triangular rear quarter-lights you see in the coupe are not reproduced in the convertible. Instead, there are conventional small rear panes to maintain the car’s glasshouse profile, and these—and the front windows—power down into the bodywork to provide a clean convertible silhouette.

Two header latches secure the roof to the windshield frame, but other than the driver having to tug these free before calling on the roof button to go to work, the entire process is automatic, taking about 13 seconds to stash the top if the windows have been lowered. Say 16 seconds when starting with the windows up. You can even put the top down while on the move, as long as you’re traveling under 5 mph.

When up, the new roof provides air-leakage rates (a key measure of how well it seals) some 25 percent better than those of the last Mustang’s toupee. The new car also utilizes a so-called short-drop window function. The windows automatically open a crack during opening and closing events to allow the use of specific-design rubber seals for improved window-seal performance. Obviously, any reduction in noise and leakage improves the interior ambience.

The Ford guys put as big a glass backlight as they could fit into the space, and rear visibility is consequently pretty good. The C-pillar area is rather large, but because of its placement and relationship to the mirrors, it doesn’t massively contribute to the creation of blind spots. So all-around vision isn’t seriously compromised. Naturally, the rear glass section contains an electric defogger, again ensuring better visibility in adverse weather conditions.

Rear-seat space—modest to begin with—survives intact, but the trunk space has been reduced from 13 cubic feet to 11 to house the softtop. The trunk pass-through feature has been sacrificed, and the rear seatbacks do not drop forward. Other than these minor compromises, the Mustang offers a classic open-top experience—complete with V-8 exhaust note in full surround sound in the GT—with virtually no downside. Our worst nightmare went unfulfilled, and the new Mustang’s reputation looks to be in good shape, in either tintop or droptop guise.

Ford Mustang Convertible
Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door convertible
Estimated base price: $25,000–$29,000
Engines: SOHC 16-valve 4.0-liter V-6, 210 hp, 240 lb-ft; SOHC 24-valve 4.6-liter V-8, 300 hp, 320 lb-ft

Transmissions: 5-speed manual, 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 107.1 in
Length/width/height: 188.0/73.9/55.7 in
Curb weight: 3500–3700 lb
Performance ratings (C/D est):
Zero to 60 mph: 5.3–7.0 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 13.2–19.0 sec
Standing 1/4-mile: 14.0–15.5 sec
Projected fuel economy (C/D est):
EPA city driving: 17–19 mpg
EPA highway driving: 23–27 mpg

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-02-05, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Less Roof, No Goof: Ford builds a better Mustang

Go ahead, wave a flag / Ford Mustang GT convertible

Pretty pony

LA Times

Detroit's share of the U.S. market is at a historic low and no one knows how far it can drop. Where do American manufacturers go from here? Two homegrown hits point the way. Smart, expressive styling Japanese and European carmakers may cut as many stars from the automotive firmament as they like, but they can't build a pony car, never mind the pony car. You will look in vain for a direct competitor to the Mustang — redesigned from the treads up for the 2005 model year — but there are no other V6- or V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive coupes out there between 20 and 30 grand. Cross-shoppers might consider the $32,000 Pontiac GTO, a rear-geared V8 built by GM's Holden in Australia, but it's hard to imagine anybody choosing the abstinence-based styling of the GTO over the weaponized cool of the Mustang.

I thought of the Mustang while reading Malcolm Gladwell's new book, "Blink," which describes the human experience of what he calls "rapid cognition," the power to tell at a glance if something is right or wrong. If ever there was an example in car styling, it's the Mustang, which looks perfect and definitive at a glance. Those impressions only deepen and season over time. What a great-looking car.

Now, you may contend that the credit for this retro-mobile belongs not to Ford circa 2005 but Ford circa 1968, with a nod to a certain tall Texan named Carroll. And it's true, the Mustang is rather a pastiche of designs of the late 1960s and early 1970s. But that's the beauty of the Mustang program: At a time when American companies are struggling to compete on value and technology, their one unchallenged advantage is history: their portfolio of iconic designs that have their own pop-culture gravity. After all, nobody's writing songs about the Nissan 350Z.

As expected, Ford rolled out the convertible Mustang for the 2005 Los Angeles Auto Show in January. The car sheds the distinctive hardtop in favor of a "z-fold" power ragtop that retracts with the weather-side out, dispensing with the need for a tonneau cover. I have to say I like the hardtop look better because it picks up a little more of the fastback styling of old Mustang Mach 1s. Also, the convertible top doesn't have the triangular side windows of the coupe, which I like.

The convertible top is a nice bit of work that fits like Tupperware onto the windshield header. The car is surprisingly quiet and tranquil even at interstate speeds, which can cause other tops to bellow. To lower the top you pull two levers detaching the leading edge from the windshield and hold a switch in the console until the top lands behind the seats. A single switch lowers both rear-quarter windows. To make room for the top, trunk space is cannibalized a bit but it's still quite large by sport coupe standards.

The body structure has been reinforced to compensate for the loss of the roof's rigidity, adding 120 pounds to the curb weight of the car (3,500 pounds). The car doesn't have a vault-like solidity, exactly, but it is very stiff and very tensile, so that even over the whoop-de-do's of the Glendale Freeway the Mustang never judders or shimmies. One of the striking things about the new 'Stang is its refined ride: The suspension tuning is fairly firm overall but nicely compliant in the first few inches of suspension travel, so day-to-day driving has an easy, gliding quality; as body motions increase with harder driving, the suspension finds some oak under the willow.

The suspension design is traditional, and then some: MacPherson struts in front and a solid axle in the rear, with coil springs outboard and a Panhard rod inboard. This is a compromise layout, for sure, and yet most people, even hard-chargers used to independent rear suspensions, will find little to complain about. The car skates through corners with an overachieving grace. Steering is slop-free, quick and well weighted; the brakes are firm and muscular. And all of these qualities will be raised in exponential fashion when Ford and an army of aftermarket manufacturers finish amping up the Mustang.

Our test car was the maxed-out GT premium convertible with the 300-horsepower, 4.6-liter V8 under the hood and a five-speed shifter in the transom. You could not ask for a smoother, more tractable powertrain than this: The shifting is effortless and slick, the clutch is light and progressive, and the power — when called upon — comes on like a high school football team defensive line. The variable-valve timing helps flatten out the torque (maximum 320 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm) for good power anywhere north of about 3,000 rpm.

This is not the fastest car in the world. Zero-60 mph is a matter of five seconds or so. But what it lacks in intensity it makes up for in aural immensity. The dual exhaust note is spectacular, a gutty growl that would make the Sphinx crack a smile.

Complaints? As enamored as I am with the outside, I don't think the Mustang interior wears very well. While it's the very model of retro specificity — with the deep-dish gauges inside chrome bezels and textured aluminum all over the dash — the plastic and rubbery bits look and feel pretty cheap. Maybe not a problem in a $20,000 Mustang, but in the $30,000 convertible, it all feels like a lost opportunity for a premium experience.

Small stuff. This is a terrific car, worthy of the beer blessings of Mustang club enthusiasts from L.A. to Latrobe (please don't drink and drive). The Mustang convertible means that, for now, and in at least one part of gloomy Detroit, the sun is shining.

2005 Mustang GT convertible
Price, as tested: $34,080
Powertrain: 4.6-liter, overhead-cam V8, with variable valve timing; five-speed manual transmission; rear-wheel drive
Horsepower: 300 at 5,750 rpm
Torque: 320 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm
Curb weight: 3,500 (est.)
0-60: 5.5 seconds (est.)
EPA fuel economy: 17 miles per gallon city, 25 highway
Wheelbase: 107 inches
Overall length: 188 inches
Final thoughts: See Biscuit

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-07-05, 05:17 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Less Roof, No Goof: Ford builds a better Mustang

2005 Ford Mustang convertible

Ragtop retro Mustang reinterprets a classic

By Anita Lienert / Special to The Detroit News
Photo's by Ford Motor Co.

Non-auto companies - like OPI nail polish - covet product tie-ins with the popular Mustang.

The Mustang convertible's interior has a certain '60s charm.

DEXTER --The next time you get a pedicure, you might want to select one of the hot new OPI nail polish colors inspired by the Ford Mustang.

Choices include "Gone Platinum in 60 Seconds," "Revved up and Red-y" and "You Make Me Vroom."

David Fee, Ford Mustang marketing manager, said he spends a considerable part of his day fielding requests from non-automotive companies that want to connect with the ultra-hot Mustang, especially as the convertible version makes its debut this spring.

"A garage band even sent me a CD with their song called, 'I Love My Mustang,'" Fee says. "It's a heavy metal song about being born and bred in the USA. They wanted Ford to sponsor their tour. Any auto brand manager would love to have people writing songs about his vehicle, but I had to turn them down."

Let's just say the new song wasn't quite up to the caliber of "Mustang Sally."

The point is that the public can't seem to get enough of the redesigned, retro-styled 2005 Mustang. And after driving the new convertible version, we can't either. The Flat Rock-built 2005 Mustang convertible is on sale now.

Prices start at $24,495 including a $625 destination charge for the base Mustang convertible with a 4.0-liter V-6 engine. A Mustang GT with a 4.6-liter V-8 starts at $29,995, including destination.

Be prepared to pay full price. The coupe and convertible variants of the Mustang are two of just a handful of Ford Motor Co. products that don't come with incentives.

The Mustang is so popular, it doesn't need rebates or low-rate loans to entice buyers.

Ford says Mustang demand is up over 45 percent this year even before the launch of the convertible, which is expected to account for about 30 percent of all Mustang sales. The Mustang is so hot that Ford recently announced plans to hike production by 70 percent.

Two weeks behind the wheel of a "screaming yellow" Mustang GT Premium convertible with a black top and dark charcoal leather interior convinced us that this car is destined to be the convertible of the year.

It has lots to recommend it, from the relatively affordable sticker price to its solid driving characteristics and thrilling exhaust note.

We felt fortunate that we were able to test our amply equipped $33,605 Mustang GT during a transitional weather season here that included a slushy ice storm as well as sunny days that hit nearly 70 degrees.

Unlike some convertibles, which seem fit for duty only in the best weather conditions, the Mustang performed valiantly in a variety of settings even though it lacked cold-weather features like heated seats and stability control, which helps keep you out of trouble on wet and icy roads.

The compact two-door Mustang manages to avoid the toy-like feel of some convertibles -- the Mini Cooper and the Mazda Miata are just two that come to mind.

The rear-wheel-drive Mustang convertible has the presence of an all-season car with a solid ride quality that tends to feel harsh only on rough pavement. Ford says it tuned the suspension on the convertible to provide for a slightly more relaxed ride without sacrificing steering response.

A satisfying steering feel is one of the Mustang's strong points. We appreciated the good, responsive feedback it provided along the curving roads in rural Washtenaw County. In fact, the Mustang convertible handles like a sports car and is decidedly more nimble than its predecessor.

And then there are the intangibles.

If you are suffering from loneliness, the Mustang convertible is a sure cure. People -- especially men of a certain age -- feel compelled to strike up conversations about their memories of old Mustangs and what the new car means to them.

Outside the Andiamo restaurant in St. Clair Shores, a 40ish man cornered us as we were getting out of the Mustang. He criticized the 21st century version as a "collage of all the Mustangs from the 1960s." But, he added, "I still love it anyway."

Speaking of memories, purists may be rejoicing over the debut of the new Mustang convertible. After all, the first Mustang ever was a Wimbledon white convertible with a 260 cubic-inch V-8.

The new Mustang convertible doesn't deviate much from the coupe version, inside or out or under the hood.

Like the coupe, it features a knockout look with a long hood, forward-leaning grille and classic fastback profile. Basically, it's a cleaned-up version of the previous Mustang convertible. Designers wisely stripped off such extraneous details as the hood scoop and side scoops. The convertible top itself comes in a choice of two colors, black or parchment, which is a shade of tan.

We were surprised that the visibility was so good, even with the top up. And the cloth top is fairly easy to manipulate. Inside, the convertible's cabin is dominated by a retro-inspired three-spoke steering wheel with the old-style horse and red-white-and-blue logo on the hub and square-arched "eyebrows" above the instrument panel. A color-configurable instrument cluster can be backlit in any of 125 colors at the touch of a button.

Some may find the interior a bit heavy on the plastic, but it does have a certain '60s charm. On the plus side, controls and displays are simple and easy to use. Storage space is fairly limited, but usable, especially for weekend trips.

Our test vehicle came standard with a long list of amenities, including an in-dash six-CD player, power accessories and air conditioning. Expect to pay $115 for a convertible boot cover and $995 for the optional five-speed automatic transmission.

Like many of the sidewalk critics we encountered, we loved the Mustang convertible even though we came up with a list of things we wished it had, from more rear-seat room to lighted vanity mirrors.

While the Mustang convertible has decent standard safety features, including antilock brakes and traction control, front seat side air bags cost $370 extra on our test car. And there is no air-bag coverage for rear-seat passengers and no adjustable pedals -- glaring oversights.

Fortunately, there is horsepower aplenty.

Our Mustang GT's V-8 delivers a beefy 300 horsepower and 320 pounds-feet of torque. Ford says the car goes from 0-to-60 in 5.1 seconds, with a top speed of 143 mph. Despite the performance aspects of the convertible, fuel economy is reasonable, at 18 miles per gallon in city driving and 23 mpg on the highway.

Before we drove the Mustang convertible, one of our nagging concerns was that it would be little more than a novelty -- the flavor of the month like so many retro-styled convertibles before it.

After all, the Chrysler PT Cruiser and the Volkswagen New Beetle were wildly popular when they first came out, with sales spiking early on, and then tapering off in relatively short order.

But we don't get that sense with the Mustang convertible, even though it has been introduced with a certain amount of silliness, including a wedding in the Mustang exhibit during January's Detroit auto show.

"Given the 40 years of history and the strong owner base, I don't see the Mustang falling into that trend," said Ford's Fee. "I don't see a temporary spike in demand.This is a modern interpretation of a classic."

We couldn't agree more.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-07-05, 10:08 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Less Roof, No Goof: Ford builds a better Mustang

Mustang with the top off

The new Mustang convertible is out just in time for spring and we spent time with two of them.

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, staff writer, CNN/Money

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - As a child, I wanted to grow up to be a reporter, and I wanted to drive a Mustang convertible, just like Joe Rossi on "The Lou Grant Show."

I also wanted to date Billie Newman. That part never happened. But the reporter part did. And the Mustang convertible part happened just this week.

I accepted the loan of two Mustang convertibles at the invitation of Ford Motor Co. First, I drove a Mustang GT for four days, then one with the standard V6 engine for two more days.

I will confess, up front, that I have a fondness for the Mustang that is not entirely rational. I tend to ignore faults for which I would smack other vehicles. The dashboard, while great looking, is made of hard, cheap plastic. The back seat may be roomier than last year's but my three-year old, strapped into the back in a child carrier, whined about not having room to kick his feet.

There are also those who complain about the lack of independent rear suspension, something that almost every other car has, at any price.

Perhaps this is perverse, but I actually like the solid rear axle. It's sort of a nostalgia trip to hit asphalt patches while turning and feeling the rear end wiggle sideways a bit. The Mustang's rear suspension is, in fact, supple for a solid axle design. The shimmy that remains is like a bit of seasoning. It adds flavor.

As far as looks go, the hard-top Mustang coupe is nearly perfect. In its convertible trim, though, some of the Mustang's naked aggression looks to have been modestly covered in cloth.

When the top is up, it's hard to tell the difference between the coupe and convertible from the driver's seat. The hood and windshield could be seen to wiggle a bit over hard bumps and when starting up the GT's 4.6 liter V8. But, mostly, the car felt quite solid. There was no noise or rattling.

The 2005 Mustang was designed from the start to perform well as a convertible. Ordinarily, performance and ride quality suffer in convertible designs because a solid roof helps stiffen the car's body.

When the roof is taken away, the lower body of the car has to be strengthened which, unfortunately, adds weight. Ford brags that its convertible is just 175 pounds heavier than the hard-top.

The weather refused to cooperate -- we had flood-producing rains in the Northeast -- during my four days with a black Mustang GT. I barely got a chance to lower the lid.

With the top up, though, wind noise was never a problem even at highway speeds. The cloth top does allow more engine noise to enter the cabin, but that shouldn't cause complaints. Engine noise is part of the car's attraction.

I got a second shot at top-down driving when I traded that car in for a V-6 automatic in "Legend Lime," a pale metallic green color. I loved the paint job. Pretty much everyone else hated it.

With the top down in the V6 the relatively quiet engine wasn't an issue. On the highway, the wind wafted gently in over the back seats, threatening to pop the baseball cap off my head. I smashed the hat down a little harder.

The standard V6 Mustang did seem awfully mild after having driven the 300 horsepower Mustang GT. But, at a maximum 210 horsepower, the V-6 nearly matches the output of a Mustang V-8 of just a decade ago and it handily beats a standard Mustang GT engine from the 1980s, according to Krause Publications' "Standard Catalog of Mustang."

Of course, 210 horsepower from a V-6 is not the same as 300 horses from a V-8. With less power, and especially less torque, the V-6 Mustang is a mellower ride. The engine sound is suitably rumblish at idle. But when the gas is pressed, it elicits more of a purr than the growl the V8 puts out.

Without that evil sound controlling my brain, and without the wicked punch of the V8's torgue, I found myself driving in a far more adult manner in the V6 than I had in the GT. In the GT, I drove like one of those "bad kids" in high school, racing away from stop lights, taking every turn way too fast .

The V6 still had plenty of power when demanded and it handled every bit as well as the GT, which means very well in either coupe or convertible form.

One way in which the V6 is actually quicker than the GT is in depreciation, however. Over 3 years, a V6 will lose about seven percent more value than a Mustang GT, according to sources at Kelley Blue Book. That will eat into some of your savings, but with insurance and fuel costs factored in, the V6 still makes a strong financial case for itself.

Also, I suspect many folks might find the V-6 a more pleasant daily companion. Easier throttle control makes it less of a handful in the day-to-day grind of traffic and parking lots.

When the top, and the road, are wide open, it's still fun.

OK, it's not as much fun as the GT. But it's still fun.

Prices for the Ford Mustang GT convertible, with the 300 horsepower V-8 engine, start at $29,995. If you don't feel like you need that much power, or you just want to save on gas and insurance premiums, the 210 horsepower V-6 convertible starts at about $24,495.

The standard V6 Mustang costs substantially less than the V8-powered Mustang GT. With 210 horsepower it still has ample motivation under the hood and the engine even has a nice throaty growl at idle. It doesn't have the nearly the low-end punch of the V8, but the savings on insurance premiums are not to be overlooked.

Even more than just its power, the GT's sound and launch-tuned gearing offer a nearly irresistible invitation to the traffic court docket. Those lacking extraordinary levels of self-control ("Must... upshift... now!") should be prepared.

The "Legend Lime" paint job with beige top on our V6 convertible was hated by nearly everyone but me. Clearly, people just don't get it.

The windshield of the Mustang convertible is more steeply sloped than the one on the hard-top version. This cuts down on wind noise with the top up or down. The rear seatbacks are also higher, to buffer the wind sweeping in from the back when the top is down.

With the top up, the car is entirely free of wind noise. There is, of course, more engine noise in the cabin. For a Mustang GT owner, that would be like a classical music fan complaining that the Verdi's too loud. The engine sound is one of the car's finest points. More is always better.

The power top folds down and up quickly and easily, but I found the latches at each corner of the windshield a bit hard to work.

The Mustang convertible remains composed over bumps, with minimal twisting. The Mustang coupe was engineered to be "convertible friendly," so Ford didn't have to do much strengthening when creating the roofless version. The convertible weighs a relatively modest 175 pounds more than the coupe.

The convertible's easy handling is indistinguishable from the hard top's. In either, there is some tendency for the back end to slide if you press the gas at the wrong -- or right, depending on your driving style -- point in a hard turn. At least on dry pavement, it's a predictable trait and the car gives you plenty of warning.

The solid rear axle does give a bit of rear-end shimmy if it hits a bump during a turn, but not to the point of being a real handling issue. I consider it part of the car's personality.

The Mustang does offer electronic traction control, which is tuned to allow a respectable amount of wheel spin before kicking in. Unfortunately, stability control, which helps rectify skids, is not offered.

Both Mustang convertibles I drove had the brushed aluminum "interior upgrade package," a $450 option. While it's nice looking, shiny metal isn't the best thing to have in front of you when driving on a sunny day with the top down. Unfortunately, if you pass on the dashboard metallics, you aren't allowed to get a lot of other stuff, including front seat side airbags, which still cost another $375.

In the interest of safety, I suggest getting the "interior upgrade package," and buying a good pair of sunglasses.

The upgrade package also includes "My color," which allows you to select, with a remarkable degree of precision, the color of the car's dashboard lights.

Both cars I tested had the Shaker 1000 stereo system, which includes bass speakers mounted in a large trunk box. The booming bass sound is impressive, though it does eat up some trunk space. Obviously, it's a little less so in the convertible. But it still shakes the seatbacks nicely.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
Stacy94PGT is offline  
post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-07-06, 08:47 AM
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Re: Less Roof, No Goof: Ford builds a better Mustang

Has anyone seen a Z-fold top like this before (in any other car)
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