Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
January 1, 2014

Mustang Alley

The Woodward Dream Cruise can be a daunting experience, as thousands of vehicles take over the hallowed Michigan road to celebrate all things automotive. We've been there during the week leading up to the official Saturday cruise, and the number of cool cars around town is impressive. However, if you're just interested in Ford stuff, there's a place for you—Mustang Alley.

For the last 15 years, Ford Motor Company has corralled all the Mustangs and other Fords in one area along the cruise route, making it easy for the Blue Oval faithful to congregate in one spot for all the Ford fans to view. This year, the corner of 9 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue in Ferndale, Michigan, hosted over 800 Mustangs and Fords for the passing crowds.

Of course, the headliner of the display vehicles was the '14 Shelby GT500, but it was joined by the entire '14 Mustang lineup. Besides Mustangs, Ford also showed off its other Ecoboosted performance rides, including the Tremor sport truck, Focus ST, and Fiesta ST. Of course, Ford customers were in on the display as well, with over 800 '64-to-present examples of America's favorite ponycar parked along Mustang alley.

If you've never been, the Dream Cruise is worthy of a bucket list, with over 1.5 million visitors and 40,000 classic cars on display. With next year being the big five-oh for Mustang, we can't think of a better year to hit Woodward.


High Test

School might not have been your favorite thing, but what if it was a driving school and free? That's just the gift that Ford is giving to owners of its latest vehicles in the ST line—the Fiesta ST and Focus ST. Now these are fun cars, as your editor can attest, but owners can really learn how much fun they can be at the new ST Octane Academy at Miller Motorsports Park in Toele, Utah.

"We gave the all-new Fiesta ST the highest possible fun-to-drive factor," said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. "It's fast, it handles brilliantly, but it won't beat you up in daily driving. Add to that its affordability, and we think enthusiasts have reason to rejoice. It's really that good."

Inspired by the Octane Academy television show featuring Ford's sponsored drivers—Ken Block, Brian Deegan, Tanner Foust, and Vaughn Gittin Jr.— the ST academy will feature professional instruction and track time in Focus and Fiesta STs prepped with full safety gear.

The event kicks off with a reception, dinner, and tour at Ken Block's Hoonigan Racing shop. The next day, students will start in the classroom, then move into car-control exercises. After lunch, the afternoon session includes on-track instruction. Finally, there's graduation and a fun karting challenge. It sounds like a great day.

Of course, you have to cover the travel to get out there, but based on my experience at the Boss Track Attack, it is worth it. Likewise, you can opt to pay for an additional day of instruction, including driving Ford Mustang GT on the track and Ford F-150 SVT Raptor off-road. If you're going all the way to Miller, you have to do this!

Check out the website at www.stoctaneacademy.com for more info.

If you've never been, the Dream Cruise is worthy of a bucket list, with over 1.5 million visitors and 40,000 classic cars on display.


Charity Flight

Continuing its habit of building one-off Mustangs for the benefit of charity, Ford raised a whopping $398,000 for Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles program. So far, Ford vehicles built to benefit this charity have raised over $2.5 million to provide introductory flights for over 1.6 million youngsters.

This year's unique Mustang was a '14 Mustang GT built as a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Edition, and James Slattery of San Diego, California, placed the winning bid at this year's EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (www.airventure.org).

"The dedication and excellence displayed by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds are qualities we also celebrate at Ford," said Edsel B. Ford II, a member of the Ford board of directors. "With this year's beautiful U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Edition Mustang, we've captured the recognizable symbols of their stature and paired it with the innovation our Ford design and engineering teams build into all of our products.

"Through this project," he added, "we take great pride in continuing our support for EAA and the Young Eagles organization."

Starting with a '14 Mustang GT with the Glass Roof option and the unique 0001 VIN, Ford Design Manager Melvin Betancourt and Mustang Chief Nameplate Engineer Dave Pericak led the design and engineering teams in developing the Thunderbirds Edition. On the outside, it features a unique widebody kit incorporating custom parts from 3d Carbon and Creations N' Chrome. Filling out those widened haunches are massive Forgiato 22-inch hoops. Backing up all the appearance mods and generous application of Thunderbirds graphics is a full complement of Ford Racing Performance Parts, including the supercharger, handling pack, and GT500-spec Brembo brakes.

"Ford is a longtime, committed sponsor of EAA and AirVenture, bringing value to those who make Oshkosh the pinnacle of their aviation year," said Jack Pelton, EAA chairman. "These specialty vehicles reflect the depth of Ford's commitment, and allow EAA to provide support to its valuable programs and dedicated members in helping us grow the next generation of aviators."

Quick Spin: Fiesta ST

Just over a year prior, your author was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, falling for the then-new '13 Focus ST. Fast forward to August 2013 and it was time to check out its little brother—the '14 Fiesta ST—the latest Ford to earn the Sport Technologies badge. A product of engineering cooperation betwixt Team RS in Europe and SVT in America, this ST offers the intriguing combo of less weight and slightly smaller 1.6-liter Ecoboost engine in the compact Fiesta package.

Following the ST template, the Fiesta features a signature look with a familiar fascia treatment, as well as a unique chin spoiler, side skirts, rear diffuser, and dual exhaust tips. Backing up that look with real performance, the turbocharged 1.6 underhood is rated at 197 hp and 202 lb-ft of torque, which is still said to deliver 29 miles per gallon in mixed driving, thanks in part to a six-speed manual trans. Balancing that power is a revised suspension, bigger brakes, and 17-inch wheels with summer performance tires.

We spent an afternoon playing on the backroads of Michigan in the Fiesta ST and came away impressed with the balance of performance and value. It comes with fewer optional packages, which are loaded with more gear than its big brother. That's in part because Ford learned that Focus ST buyers like to load up on the options. So in the mid-$20,000 range you can get a well-appointed Fiesta ST.

Still, this is Ford's value-oriented base car, so even the ST only moves it upmarket so far. It definitely shows its budget leanings, especially on the inside, but if performance on a budget is your move, this can be overlooked. Where the rubber meets the road, the Fiesta ST offers like-it-should be power that pleases but doesn't wow. Around corners and in stopping situations, the ST upgrades acquit themselves well. The Fiesta comes off as a more aggressive handler than its big brother, which is both a product of its weight and its a slightly higher rate on the springs to keep those low-profile tires from slamming deeply into potholes.

Of course, our test rides were set up with the optional navigation and Recaro seats, which are welcome pleasantries. We love the cradling of the supportive Recaros in the turns. Meanwhile the MyFord Touch screen, even if appearing tacked on, offers a much better way to get from point A to point B and interact with the car's myriad infotainment settings.

At the end of the day, the Fiesta is a little too small for my liking, but if you're into affordable performance in a compact package, the '14 Fiesta ST might just be your daily driver.

Upshifts:
• Value
• Handling
• Mileage

Downshifts:
• Interior
• Power
• Size


5.0 Feedback

Fabulous Coverage

My name is James Vasser and I do, in fact, own the Yellow Blaze Tri-Coat '11 GT that is in the Sept. '13 issue on page 104. Thank you for including my car in the coverage! I can't tell you how stoked I am to see the car in such a great photo with a quick blurb.

I'm a single dad who gets visitation with my daughter on the weekends, so for Fabulous Fords I was doing double duty: showing the car and taking my daughter to Knott's. She helped me unpack, wipe down the car, and set out the paperwork, and then we bounced into the park for a daddy/daughter day. I didn't even see the official info pack in the goodie bag until I got home, so I wasn't able to put down any info to better describe the car.

I'm the third owner of the car and purchased it in January 2013. So far the only mods are an exhaust upgrade that consists of a 3-inch Pypes after-cat, X-pipe, resonator deletes, and universal 3-inch Magnaflow mufflers. I'll be chasing the demons out of the car starting at the rear and going forward (LCA's, UCA, and bracket, drop down brackets for the LCA's, a one-piece aluminum driveshaft, shifter/bracket combo, and so on). Once I can get the power the car already has to the ground, I'll start building more—all in due time on a dad's budget.

Thanks again for including my car in the mag!

James Vasser
Via email

Fantastic story, James. It's great that you could enjoy Fabulous Fords in your Mustang and share a great day at Knott's Berry Farm with your daughter. That's a sharp and rare car you have. I bet your daughter will always have fond memories of Dad's yellow Mustang.


Short Times

Spy shots of the purported '15 Mustang tore around the Internet like wildfire, along with rumors the car would be 400 pounds lighter. Could Aluminum play a more prominent role in the S550 Mustang?... European Ecoboost tuner Mountune (www.mountune.com) is expanding its reach into the United States with a new California facility. While the company already has gear for the Focus ST and Fiesta ST, the international nature of the next Mustang could give performance consumers lots more choices... The NMRA (www.nmradigital.com) recently rolled out a customer-oriented ProPledge program. "If a racer, fan, or sponsor ever has an issue at one of our events, we guarantee we will try to resolve it to their satisfaction," said Steve Wolcott. "We just produced our first event at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, and I was blown away by the customer service the Bader family guarantees their customers. Our new friendship with the Bader family inspired our ProPledge program, which will further enhance our customer's experience..."


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