5.0 Mustang & Super FordsNews & Views
First Expression - Bench Racer
I am tapping on this keyboard a day after the '15 Mustang officially showed its face to the world. Sure, all the leaks sort of ruined the Christmas- morning excitement of December 5, 2013, but now you have all shared the experience of seeing the car for the first time. By this point you've had time to digest it and look at it beyond the skin-deep reaction.
As I shared on this page, I look forward to these moments with a mix of trepidation and anticipation. Change is always tantalizing, but it can also create discomfort. This was a big one. Not only does the '15 Mustang mark the 50th anniversary of the marque, but it is the follow-up to the beloved S197 era.
The level of online anticipation leading up to this car's reveal was insane. Everyone had their theory on what the car would look like and what sort of engines would be under its hood. There seemed to be new illustrations produced every day to forecast what the car might look like. People really loved the thrill of the chase.
Then the covers came off and the real car was bare for the denizens of the Internet to discuss. Now we know the Internet is a place that fosters extremes. While the hope that builds can be overly optimistic, the expression of disappointment often swells even higher in the opposite direction. Middle ground is a rarity.
From the instant the images of the '15 Mustang hit our website and social outlets, the reaction seemed overtly negative. While I'm typing this, the poll on our website is running neck and neck between people that love it and people that hate it. The group in the middle is far smaller.
Let's face it—the early Fox was a really big departure from the Mustang II.
When the '05 Mustang concept broke cover in 2004, the reaction seemed far more universal in its acceptance. However, back then, interactivity and the ever-present social media had not reached the level that it has on today's Internet. Now anyone can drop their two pennies in the opinion bucket, and they enjoy doing so.
Back in 2005, I felt like the only one skeptical about the S197. It wasn't that I hated the car. I just wasn't down with the retro theme. Not because I don't enjoy old Mustangs, but because it seemed as an admission that the ideas for Mustang design were running low. It reminded me of remaking a classic movie. It's a tough feat to pull off.
The real reason I was concerned was this exact moment. It's why I had the butterflies before they pulled off the cover. How do you fast forward from retro to modern? I knew this shift would be a critical one.
It turned out that the GT500 converted me to an S197 fan, but that was a couple years after the base car's debut. While I really look forward to the SVT variant of the S550, I was immediately smitten by this car. It was strange to be on the positive side this time around. So, I wondered what it was like when the Fox supplanted the Mustang II. I knew the SN-95 had a rocky start with the hardcore Mustang fans, while the S197 was wholeheartedly embraced.
Since I was only 10 in 1979, I asked Mustang Monthly editor Donald Farr what he recalled about the Fox debut. He described it as a non-event at first. However, he added that the '79 Pace Car started converting some vintage-'Stang fans. That's a bit like what happened with the GT500 and I.
Let's face it—the early Fox was a really big departure from the Mustang II. It also shared little, outside of simplicity and a running horse, with the '60s and '70s Mustangs. Yet it gained a cult following as the people's performance car. Even the SN-95 eventually gained acceptance, especially with the New Edge refresh. Time tends to soften the blunt force of change. Mustang fans usually come around to Mustang designs sooner or later.
I can assure you that the S550 looks better in person than it does in the photos. I can also promise that you won't really know how you feel about a Mustang until you see one that's been modified. Wheels, lowering, and tinted windows are to a car what makeup is to a lady. Besides, the best part of the S550 is the rearend. That front fascia and fenders bolt on, so they can be tweaked by Ford in a couple years—or by you with aftermarket parts.
When it comes right down to it, making the Mustang your own is what it's all about for anyone reading these words, so don't commit too heavily to your first impression. You might just change your mind.