The 2015 Ford Mustang will be in UK dealers soon. Chris Small owns a 2005 model and wonders if the right hand drive UK version will be able to retain it's unique Mustang cachet.
|2014 Ford Mustang|
Well, maybe it is, maybe isn’t. You see, I’m just not convinced. I have to make something clear from the outset here; I am a Mustang owner. Currently nestled in my garage, sheltering from the typical English summer rain is a black 2005 GT V8 Coupe. And I adore it. So my opinions of the forthcoming UK car are bound to be somewhat biased to say the least, but please bear with me.
|Chris's 2005 Mustang GT V8 Coupe|
What makes us so fascinated with Mustangs? Why when we see one in a Hollywood movie do we long to have one so much? And why do people always come over and talk to me when I’m making one of my many trips to the petrol station? Aside from the noise and the general look of it, there are two main, interlinked, underlying reasons. Firstly it’s American and secondly they were never officially sold here.
As a nation of pessimists, weather obsessives, quiet complainers and emotionally reserved individuals, we find anything that comes from across the pond alluring, cool and outlandish in a way that we could never achieve. Factor in the fact that you can’t go to a Ford dealer and buy one and you have a classic case of wanting what you can’t have. Sure there are specialist importers that will bring a Mustang over for you and indeed there are plenty on the used market now. However, to the average Joe in the street, seeing a Mustang invokes all kinds of emotions, topped off with an air of mystery about how the car actually ended up in a sleepy Somerset village in the first place. Ford themselves are clearly well aware of our U.S automotive fixations. A quick glance at the official imagery on the Ford UK website shows the car in a typically non-British setting, reinforcing the American association and glossing over our archaic, narrow, potholed filled byways.
So, fast forward 12 months when dealer forecourts are littered with them and you can’t go five minutes without seeing one, will we still feel the same? Look at it this way, when the first McDonalds restaurant opened in 1974, us Brits couldn’t get enough of this new fangled, glamorous, American fast food that we had heard so much about and seen in the movies. The more we craved the Big Mac, the more outlets opened. I vividly remember the excitement when the brand first came to my home town in Somerset. Queuing up in the rain to be one of the first to try a Big Mac was like waiting in line to taste a slice of America. So, what about now? Is a trip to the Golden M still as exciting and special? Well unless you’re under the age of ten, probably not.
And this is where my concerns lie. Getting my Mustang out of the garage always feels exciting. Firing up that burbly V8 and trickling out on to the main road never ceases to feel special. The cabin (although not the most tactile) looks like no other, the instantly recognisable exhaust note, the profile of the body, it is all quintessentially American. When I look at it parked up in a street next to all the bland euro-mobiles, it makes me feel just a little bit mischievous and ever so slightly naughty. So, what about when there’s a Mustang around every corner? What about then?
Well, after spending a few weeks in California last year, I can tell you exactly what that’s like. Mustangs on the ‘west coast’ are as common as Range Rovers outside a private school in the Cotswolds. They are unsurprisingly everywhere. People don’t bat an eyelid when one goes past, and drivers look as glum as any other motorist who’s stuck in an 8 lane LA traffic jam. It is a BMW 3 series, a Ford Mondeo; it is nothing remarkable.
In reality the new 2015 UK Mustang will probably be a cracking car, I don’t doubt that for a minute. Certainly the all new independent rear suspension is the feature that is grabbing most of the automotive headlines. However, I usually find that those who have the most to say about the outgoing car’s rigid axle draw their information more from Top Gear rather than personal experience. Nonetheless, based on what we know about the new car, it stands every chance of being a great drive.
So, perhaps I’m being unfair. Popularity doesn’t need to be the demise of that magical feeling anyway. Jaguar, for example, are now selling more cars than they ever have done, but that doesn’t make them feel any less special when you get behind the wheel. If Ford have got this right, we could be looking at the most exciting mass market car for a generation. If they’ve got it wrong however, we could be looking at the next Ford Probe; and no one wants that. I just hope that the new car doesn’t do anything to damage the nostalgic affection that we have for one of the most iconic cars of all time.
One final point to note is that the new car will be sold with a built-in burnout mode, that when selected, releases only the rear brakes when you mash the throttle into the carpet. So, at least they haven’t lost their sense of humour. And that bodes well. Very well indeed.
By Chris Small