5.0 Mustang & Super FordsNews & Views
Bench Racer - Landmark '05 Mustang Turning 10 - November 2013
10 Years After
My fingers are clicking at the keys in front of me and firecrackers are bursting outside. The nation is about to celebrate another birthday, and it's a glorious occasion. It easy to get amped up for celebrations of this magnitude. It makes you pause for a moment and appreciate the good fortune you have if you live in the United States. Despite its imperfections, America is still the place that fosters the freedoms that brought us so many of the wonderful things we enjoy today.
Of course, the Mustang is one significant child of the USA, and it is approaching a huge milestone in anyone's book. Be it a person or a product, making it to the big five-oh is worthy of celebration. Certainly we enthusiasts are moved by this 50th anniversary. We appreciate being along for the ride and seeing the car through its ups and downs.
For the rest of the world, it seems to take these huge birthdays or monumental styling changes to attract their attention. The general automotive press, and, to some degree, the mainstream press will chase a forthcoming Mustang redesign like a misbehaving celebutant. However, once all is revealed and reported, they move on to other things until the next milestone or redesign once again borrows their limited attention spans.
We stick around through the nuances. We are there for the freshenings and foibles; the minor upgrades, and the special editions.
Being at the frontline of both the new Mustang and its predecessors in both stock and modified forms, I am often queried by people in all parts of the automotive industry about what I see as the trends in the marketplace. Every time I'm taken aback just a bit. Inside I still feel like that kid that fell hard for the '82 GT and couldn't wait to own a Mustang. Then I have to snap out of it and pretend I'm a magazine professional. After all, the trick of this gig is getting a read on what you (the reader and enthusiast) really want to read about. At our level there is little in the way of market research or focus groups. Sitting in the editor's chair means you have to go with your gut and hope for the best. If you aren't an enthusiast, you are sunk. If you are one, it still comes down to an educated guess.
What's interesting after coming into this game as the Fox had it swan song is that it's always been such a strong presence. Foxes transitioned smoothly from street performer to pure racer and back to hot rods. Foxes still live at all those levels. The cars that followed it have too, but many of them live in a narrower range than the Fox, which packs the healthy combo of affordability, and adaptability with a hearty dose of nostalgia for Mustangers of a certain age. Now, as time passes, the SN-95s and New Edges could hit a more fervent nostalgic stride as well.
However, what might not have struck you as the excitement over the new S550 Mustang hits a fever pitch is that 2015 will also mark the 10th birthday of the landmark '05 Mustang. So much has happened in the last 10 years—with the cornucopia of great Mustangs that Ford has produced since setting the stage with the then-all-new S197 platform—that it's easy to forget how big this car was. With a vastly improved chassis supporting a decidedly retro body and powered by a revamped Three-Valve 4.6, this car was a huge reset switch for enthusiasts. It not only brought new people into the fold, it re-stoked the passions of Mustang lifers.
In the following years, Ford has tweaked the chassis, styling, and powertrains in ways that also disrupted our world in positive ways. However, Ford is nearly ready to pull that big reset switch again. By all accounts, the Blue Oval will take the car in a more modern direction. Might that move prove a catalyst for some early onset S197 nostalgia? My gut tells me it might. Most people will probably take to the new car like race gas to ignition timing, but some might miss that old-school cool ...
This was the moment I feared most when Ford introduced that retro car 10 years ago. How do you transition a product to the future when you have leaned so heavily on the past? That question will soon be answered. History will decide how well it worked out. However, once the die is cast, I have a feeling that fans of the S197 era might just start buying and modifying the '05-'09 cars with renewed vigor. Perhaps they will become the new engine-swap darlings or maybe people will rebel against the uber-modern S550 by taking the S197s in an even more retro?
While the world ramps up for S550, I'll await its impact on the Mustangs that came before.