A Mustang Story

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Not all the news is bad news.

Ford has not cancelled the Mustang, for instance. Nor are there plans to ruin it by turning it into a battery powered device. At least that’s the word, for now. That may, of course, change. The coming (s)election will likely decide that.

Or maybe it won’t matter.

Ford is in a tough spot. The industry is in a tough spot. Having failed to contradict the assertions made about the “climate” and how it is “changing” on account of carbon dioxide being “emitted” by engines that burn gas, the industry agreed with the assertions made that it is necessary to get rid of engines and never mind what buyers want.

That it is necessary to sell devices, instead And lose money on each “sale.”

Back to the Mustang. The 2024 model I’m test driving this week got me thinking about the ’95 model I was test driving 30 years ago, back in the summer of ’94. As Elvis used to say, it’s been a long time, baby.

And for good as well as bad.

That Mustang – the one I was driving back in the summer of ’94 – was a ’95 Cobra R, which was the highest-performance Mustang available that year. It was a stripped-down, street legal race car without power windows or locks or even rear seats. No radio. No AC – and it was hot that summer. As it has always been during summer, before people got addled into believing the “climate” was “changing” because it got hot during the summer.

What it did have was the last factory-installed 351 cubic inch (5.8 liters, in our gay and fake times) V8 engine that Ford put into a new Mustang. This engine was unique to the Cobra R and it came only with a five speed manual transmission. Its exhaust headers radiated heat into the passenger compartment through the floorpans, which were not insulated to lock out the heat. I can remember the sound of its exhaust booming off the tiled walls of the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel at 130 MPH with the windows rolled down, on my up to New York City just for the Hell of it. I made that trip – from the DC area to downtown Manhattan – in a little over two hours.

That Mustang was fast – and fun.

And so is the newest one.

The difference is the ’24 Mustang I am driving right now has a 2.3 liter four cylinder engine less than half the size of the ’95 R’s 351 and with four fewer cylinders yet it makes more power: 315 vs. 300 horsepower as well as an astounding (for such a little engine) 350 ft.-lbs. of of torque. Almost as much torque as the 351 made (365 ft.-lbs.).

Which is why the new Mustang is just about as quick – 5.4 seconds to 60 – and also why it uses much less gas. EPA says 22 city, 33 highway. The ’95 used twice as much gas, despite being a much lighter car.

Which brings up the bad news. Or – more finely – what might have been really good news, if Ford had been able to continue building a car like that ’95 R. Not as a stripped-down, limited-production race car with license plates but a mass-production car like the new car, without all the weight (and cost) adding equipment that’s no longer optional – such as AC and all those god-damned air bags and other crap that makes a new Mustang with a four cylinder engine weigh 262 pounds more (3,588 lbs.) than a ’95 Mustang Cobra R (3,326 lbs.) with a V8 did back then.

As good as the new Mustang is, imagine how much better it would be – in terms of both performance and gas mileage – if it weighed less than a ’95 Cobra R. Shorn of say 300 pounds of deadweight, a ’24 Mustang with that 315 horsepower four (which by the way is the Mustang’ standard engine now; a V8 is available in the GT for those desire 480 horsepower and better performance than the race-car ’95 offered) would probably be capable of getting to 60 in the high fours and of returning better than 35 MPG on the highway, if you kept your right foot light.

Ah, what might have been!

On the other hand, what we have isn’t bad. Anyone can buy a copy of the Mustang I’m driving this week; you had to have an SCCA road racing license to buy a ’95 Cobra R, which is why so few people ever got to drive one, much less 130 MPH through the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel at 2 in the morning on the way to New York City, as I did.

That was all kinds of fun.

But this is alright, too!

. . .

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44 COMMENTS

  1. Eric, want some more good news- the sheep are noticing its not getting hotter ! its June and we’re still running heating at night or im wearing a jumper at work today !

    This has become so noticeable every few days the media has to run an article reminding us its the hottest ever…. and we may not notice it because well we’re stupid and need the media to tell us whats what…. (they actually said once that its hotter but we all dont notice because its at night!)

  2. An SCCA road racing license? I didn’t even know there was such a thing.
    The American caste system is so complex.

  3. Missing my 70 Cougar 351 Windsor 4 BBl Edelbrock Afb. Ford electronic big cap distributor. MSD box and plug wires, Edelbrock cam and double roller drive. Port matched head and manifold. Heads reworked with stellite seats, stainless steel valves, Comp Cams dual springs. I rebuilt the front end with MOOG and TRW, new front coils, rearched with an extra long leaf. KYB Gas adjust mono shocks, and ADDCO sway bars. Dual exhaust, with an H pipe, and Maremount turbo mufflers. Yes, also good tunes Alpine CD player etc. I just loved driving that car through it’s evolution from stock when I bought it in 81. It was fun fast and stable on my way to the mountain town where I lived for awhile. I dove the constantly evolving passion for 21 years everywhere. It had 237k on it when we parted. A plumber was very happy.

    • But why? You buy a R8 for its big engine, and the noise it makes

      Id buy a kit car if I wanted a light weight beast, or K swap a MR2 Spyder or Lotus Elise

      • It’s for hillclimb racing….they don’t care…they just want maximum power…minimum weight….not worried about the sound…

        The quickest one was a 1500 lb fiat X1/9…….

        Always one of the most spectacular HillClimb events of the year, Buzetski Dani in Croatia featured once again a tremendous entry list, filled with an incredible amount of proper Monsters, making for a incredible selection of machines for the final Top 10 list.

        With 3 Lancer Evolution models, all over 600Hp…. 500 hp GT3 from Porsche and 570 hp Ferrari GT3…. 740Hp Seat Léon R32 Turbo….. Renault RS01 600 hp….. BMW M3 540 hp…. 450 hp V8 Lotus Elise,

        at the very Top we saw 2 of absolute fastest Monsters in Europe: Dan Michl´s famous 450 hp Lotus Elise V8 …….and Manuel Dondi in his frantic 320 hp FIAT X1/9 Lampredi 9000 rpm twin cam hemi 2.0 lt 4 cylinder….

        Fiat X1/9 hillclimb car with a 2 litre 320 hp na 9000 rpm Lampredi twin cam hemi engine …670 kg/1500 lb…has best time of the day… 4:51:108…quicker then all the other cars…..lightest car…..lightness matters…ask Colin Chapman…

        Lampredi 4 cylinder twin cam hemi, best 4 cylinder engine in the world…..designed by Ferrari engine designer Aurelio Lampredi….a Ferrari designer designed engine in your X1/9….

        see at 9:30 in video….

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9ipUEWlCqs

      • K swap a MR2 Spyder or Lotus Elise…the Fiat X1/9 is quicker…I really want to get one setup like this…..

        Fiat X1/9 hillclimb car with a 2 litre 320 hp na 9000 rpm Lampredi twin cam hemi engine …670 kg/1500 lb…has best time of the day… 4:51:108…quicker then all the other cars…..

        MR2 Spyder or Lotus Elise….are too heavy….

  4. No one wants a new car now, here’s why

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/ar-BB1nMiWA

    From link:

    Whether the car-buying public has been aware of it, the past 30 years have been the best of times for automobiles and those who love them, an era when engineers had all the advantages of computer-assisted design and precision manufacturing while still wielding the primal force of combustion.

    Those carefree, underregulated days are over…

    By 2032 gas-burning vehicles will need robust hybrid and plug-in hybrid systems in order for automakers to avoid noncompliance penalties. The number of potential failure points will grow dramatically. This is one of the many reasons I encourage consumers to jump to EVs and avoid the bitter end of combustion technology.

    —-

    The “bitter end” of combustion technology. Got that?

    • ‘Those carefree, underregulated days are over.’ — Dan Neil, quoted by the Funk Doctor

      Absurd, black-is-white lies: this is what the Lügenpresse has descended to.

      Dan Neil actually got a reputation as an auto-journo bad boy for his 1996 Ford Expedition review describing a back-seat encounter with his girlfriend. “This was loving, consensual and — given the Expedition’s dual airbags, side impact beams and standard four-wheel anti-lock brakes — safe sex.”

      Compare corporatized Dan Neil today: ‘New-car deniers [sic] form a broad coalition of the unpersuaded.’ Like election deniers, get it?

      Or this: ‘Advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) such as automatic lane-keeping, emergency braking and blind-spot detection … are bells that can’t be unrung.’ Says who?

      If Dan Neil still dared to invoke erotic metaphors, he’d be the elderly spinster advising a worried Victorian bride to ‘lie back and think of England.’ Yeah — that must have a riot of fun and laughs — just like today’s lard-ass, chip-encrusted cars. /sarc

      • Hi Jim,

        I don’t get this Dan Neil guy; he’s older than me and so been around longer than I and for that reason ought to be in a position to not need to a be corporate shill-hack. And yet, he is. I suppose it pays well. Not enough for me, though!

        • Eric,

          Like a lot of us, Neil ran wild during his misspent youth:

          ‘In 1991, Neil moved from the newsroom of the Raleigh News & Observer to the classified advertising department with the expectation that he would write dealer-friendly pieces to attract readers to the newspaper’s automobile classified section.

          ‘In contrast to the newsroom, where Neil had worked with editors, he noticed his copy was no longer edited. “For seven years, I had unfettered access to 200,000 readers.” Neil’s writing eventually reflected the lack of constraint.’ — Wikipedia

          As does mine. But Neil went gray-suit corporate at the Wall Street Journal 14 years ago. He’s a made man of the Establishment, spewing its ‘government is good; resistance is futile’ bullshit.

        • Eric – So much grist for the mill these days. Did ya know that buying 3 year old rental EV from Hertz is your best bet and heralds the EV revolution?

          https://www.cnbc.com/2024/06/06/ev-sales-slump-hertz-dump-take-used-tesla-to-no-haggle-25000-price.html?&qsearchterm=Hertz

          From link:

          The race to the $25,000 EV in the U.S. car market has been won, but not in the way the auto industry wanted.

          Yet the eventual transition to EVs remains inevitable, as sticker prices become more in line with those of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles — something the sales slump is making happen even faster as auto companies attempt to move EVs — battery technology improves driving range and the charging infrastructure expands. And there is the overarching imperative to reduce the tons of climate-changing carbon emissions that cars and trucks produce.

          Three years is considered a “sweet spot” among used electric cars, including used Teslas, according to Yossi Levi, who as the Car Dealership Guy opines about buying new and used cars. “The best bang for the buck for consumers in the market today, bar none, is the used electric vehicle,” he said. “And the best-value purchase is likely a three-year-old EV.”

          Look, the EV revolution is happening! Fo reals! A three year old EV rental car is your best value purchase. Got that? LOL.

          , to there are (3), count ’em, EVs that offer the range of a gas car for less than the average new car price of $45K (with “incentives” you may or may not qualify for, of course), to, finally, and saddest of all, more teens are sticking with their E-bikes over getting a drivers license (China says yay!).

        • Covid taught me just how many people enjoy licking that boot on their face.

          I can’t offer up an explanation of why that is so. It is what it is.

          Now I know. 😉

    • jump to EVs…haha

      EV’s and plug in hybrids are more unreliable, have more problems, then any car in history…and depreciate faster……lol….progress……

      demobilization….sell them EV’s that don’t run…can’t be fixed….and there is no power to charge them……next…..on foot in the 15 min city/prison….

  5. The 1st generation is the best…..

    1965 Ford Mustang GT350 R…original msrp…$4547……in 2024 $….$45,470

    289 ci 350 HP…2568 lb….4 speed…4:11 diff…in track spec…186 mph top speed…

    0 to 60 4.7 seconds

    2024 Mustang 4 cylinder 315 HP….3588 lb….10 speed automatic…in 2020 had stick shift…gone now…stick shift only with V8….

    0 to 60 5.4 seconds

    2024 Mustang weighs 1000 lb more…has less HP…..but…has a 10 speed automatic…a huge advantage over a 4 speed manual…

    • 1965 Mustang safety…

      seatbelts?…nothing else….

      2024 Mustang Safety..

      AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
      ABS And Driveline Traction Control
      Side Impact Beams
      Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
      Rear Parking Sensors
      BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) Blind Spot
      Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
      Lane Keeping Alert Lane Keeping Assist
      Lane Keeping Alert Lane Departure Warning
      Collision Mitigation-Front
      Driver Monitoring-Alert
      Collision Mitigation-Rear
      Tire Specific Low Tire Pressure Warning
      Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
      Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
      Airbag Occupancy Sensor
      Driver And Passenger Knee Airbag
      Mykey System -inc: Top Speed Limiter, Audio Volume Limiter, Early Low Fuel Warning, Programmable Sound Chimes and Beltminder w/Audio Mute
      Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Pretensioners
      Back-Up Camera

      • The computer is driving the car…or the driver…lol

        Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
        Lane Keeping Alert Lane Keeping Assist
        Lane Keeping Alert Lane Departure Warning
        Collision Mitigation-Front
        Driver Monitoring-Alert
        Collision Mitigation-Rear

    • 2024 Mustang 4 cylinder 315 HP

      Another over stressed, wound tight engine…with a short life…the 1965 289 V8 was a better engine….

    • 1965 Ford Mustang GT350

      If you see one on the street now, you will be surprised how small they are…about the same size and weight as a Porsche 944…..the new Mustangs are huge…..

      Just like 911’s…the 1st generation were small and light…about 2000 lb…the newest 911’s are huge…like a 928…..and weigh about 3200 lb…..the 911 became the 928…a freeway cruiser GT….

  6. ‘The industry is in a tough spot.’ — eric

    Autos are a consumer discretionary item — meaning people buy them when they feel flush. Auto sales can get chopped in half in a bad recession.

    One recession indicator I follow is based on the unemployment rate, which rose to 4.0% in today’s report. That’s low, on a historical basis. But it’s up from a bottom at 3.4% set 13 months ago. And it’s the trend, not the level, that matters for this indicator.

    Check out this chart. The indicator based on the 12-month moving average (black line) has been warning of recession since June 2023, when it rose above 1. If the U-rate holds steady at 4.0% next month, the slower-moving 36-month indicator (red line) also will rise above 1, giving a double-barreled recession warning which has never failed.

    https://ibb.co/0MmN2D2

    Mark my words: the US economy is headed into tank next year. Auto makers are facing an existential crisis, as sales across all categories (not just EeeVees) get smacked down hard. I will cheer and jeer as they get crushed like bugs. This unloved industry needs a total wipeout, and a fresh start.

  7. A 4 banger Mustang is sort of a travesty BUT ringing 315HP out of a 4 cylinder with the help of a twin scroll turbo setup is still damn impressive. That is BMW level of engineering basically. But imagine that same turbo setup on a V8! The car would be a 400+ HP monster out of the box no mods needed.

    Plus a turbo Mustang just sounds odd to me. Turbos were always the realm of the Japs and Germans, if you wanted some exotic setups for high horsepower. Superchargers were the American muscle version of the same basically. 🤷‍♀️

    • Feel the only real issue is its a Mustang and not say a rebadged T-bird or some smaller entry level car going after the Toyobaru’s and Miatas

      Basically a Maverick to the Ranger, but rwd, stripped weight, even if it’s in the low 3’s, maybe a 2.0t instead of a 2.3t, be a nicer toy.

      I know Nissan dropped the ball with the IDX, and Ford dropping the Hot Hatches also was a mistake. I know the Ecoboost can perform, so again, good engine, wrong car as everyone wonders where the V8 is

  8. Having owned a ’16 EB Vert, and driven a new one, day and night difference between how they felt, although Ford still doesn’t compare to the Camaro.

    Surprised they don’t do a EB-R, stripped down like a Cobra R w/an optional manual and analog gauges, that’d be an interesting toy considering the light nose weight. Ford’s really dropping the ball on this one, sell it with a HPP like the last Gen, keep it under the GT considering all the options stripped and watch it sell to racers or tuners who save time with the parts already removed.

    Oh well, what isn’t ford doing to screw up lately?

    • Drove a manual GT a few weeks ago, definitely was beautiful. Also was nice that the salesman let me drive 8 and half miles/25 mins (had to get gas, he took care of it of course). Never had a chance to floor it, but definitely know it’d be a monster with how easily it just cruised

      I’m normally a “No new car” guy (Save my Bronco), but a Red vert as pictured with a stick is calling me

  9. The Mustang with the turbo 2.3 is laudable, but it suffers from the same problem that every 2024 car has; it spies on its owner. It could be the lightest, fastest, most-efficient and affordable car ever, but for that reason alone it’s a hard no.

    • Ford is for some reason actively trying to destroy the Mustang name by using it for its Mach(werk)-E dEVice, which is not even a sports car. So the ICE-powered Mustang is probably not long for this world.

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