Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
September 1, 2005

It's as if the entire aftermarket stopped and turned its head toward the '05 Mustang. From the moment the first cars rolled out into a few lucky hands for conversion into SEMA superstars, to the full-on frenzy of cars rolling off dealer lots into the driveways of real people, the aftermarket attention focused on this car has been uncanny. Trying to capture the flurry of '05 development while balancing attention on the early cars is a struggle. I've already begun receiving letters saying we're doing too much '05 stuff, but the fact of the matter is all this aftermarket attention will only strengthen our beloved Mustang's position as the car to make parts for, so it will continue to be the blank canvas you can create into your own for years to come.

Fortunately, it's a great canvas to start with. Yes, I was a bit hesitant about the retro styling, but what I wasn't hesitant about was how great a car it is to drive. Moreover, it's improved in almost every way over its predecessors. Emphasizing that engineering superiority was a recent drive in the '05 convertible. Typically, press drives are held out West, but this time around, Ford brought its corporate media machine to my backyard. Really, what better place to drive a Mustang convertible than sunny Florida-better yet, cruising one around the Tampa-St. Petersburg area beaches and bridges. Starting off in an '05 GT coupe was a now-familiar experience. Good power, good handling, good braking, and the annoyance of my leg resting on the edge of the center console. All in all, driving the stock '05 GT coupe is a pleasure. Sure there's some power and handling prowess left on the table, but as a stocker, she's great.

Despite living in Florida, I've always been a coupe guy. Lighter, stronger, faster is my mantra. Besides, the prior convertibles suffered such compromised engineering. The windshield looked as if it might shake off the car if you crossed a dip in the road, or worse yet, a set of railroad tracks at speed in the Fox-based convertible. Not so in the '05. The engineers had the benefit of knowing this car would be a convertible from the get-go, so they built it solidly. In fact, they told me, a stock '05 coupe is more rigid than a Fox-body with a rollcage. Better yet, the addition of the convertible top doesn't add obscene poundage to the car. In previous years, the drop-tops gained 300 or more pounds to compensate for the loss of the roof structure. The '05 gains only 175.

As such, driving the convertible is similar to driving a coupe without a roof. There's no discernable performance disadvantage, and the car is still rock solid. Moreover, the design of the windshield and headrest really seem to reduce the noise and buffeting of the wind, and the new top design folds neatly into place so you can look cool without installing a boot. If you like convertibles, you are going to love the '05 convertible.

Of course, I realized something else by driving the new cars. It made sense that all those vintage Mustang guys loved their old cars. I remember driving my former boss' '65 Mustang convertible. Even though it had an EFI 5.0 underhood and numerous updates, it still felt like driving a 25-year-old car to me. That's because it was-boy, those brakes were bad. Anyway, it's much like me going from an '05 to a Fox Mustang. Sure, the Fox has questionable braking, a few squeaks and rattles, and the like, but that's how the cars felt when they had a few miles on them. Those little shortcomings aren't so bad when they remind you of good times gone by. They are the sounds of the car's affordable soul. So even if you step up to a refined '05, you might find yourself missing some of those rough edges of your Mustang past.