Kristian Grimsland
Associate Editor, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
March 1, 2013
Photos By: MM&FF Archives, Justin Cesler

With sportiness, affordability, style, and power, Mustangs have been a hit since they were introduced in 1964.

Ford did a fantastic job creating a versatile 2+2 sports car that has become an American icon. People young and old aspire to own a Mustang, and finally it's your turn to buy one.

But before you lay down the cash, you'll need to know where to start and what to look for before making that very first purchase.

To get the best deal possible, you'll need to consider budget, appearance, and performance. You'll need a good plan to prevent falling into the typical first-time-buyer traps, like your author once did.

Ask yourself, is your Stang going to be a daily driver, fixer-upper, race car or show car? The more high-end the build, the more money, time and skill it will take. There's something out there for everyone, but it's important to educate yourself to make a solid purchase.

Actually, I wish I'd been better educated when I bought my first Mustang—a '96 black-on-black, five-speed V-6, with a Saleen body kit. It looked great, and in my young eyes, was everything I dreamed of. I was only 16 years old and quite anxious. I walked up to the dealer with my parents and was greeted by a salesman dressed in a tacky brown suit suitable for the '70s. My father test-drove the car since I couldn't drive a manual transmission. Shortly after arriving back, I emptied my pockets and handed over $6,500. It took nearly 10 years of birthday money, and summer construction jobs to save it.

Once home, we discovered the speedometer was incorrect, the odometer didn't work, and the temperature gauge was reading hot. As quick as the sale took place, my excitement dwindled to pure disappointment. My bank account was exhausted and I had nothing left to fix it. I realized I made a poor decision in my purchase, and I learned a lesson that paid for itself over time.

Though it was an expensive learning experience, I can now help you avoid similar pitfalls. We've come up with some helpful tips to consider before signing a title and handing over your wad of cash.

During your search it's important to dial in what you want from your Mustang. Are you a young first-time car buyer with a part-time job, or a 50-year-old adult with a full toolbox looking for a weekend cruiser? Fox-bodies are reaching 30-plus years in age, so they are very affordable but will need more (read: money, time and parts) to make them right.

Newer SN-95 Stangs have a more updated look and better factory options. They are younger in age, and the potential to find one with low miles is greater than a Fox. S197 Mustangs offer great reliability, better all-around performance, and retro-style ques. There is likely less to do in terms of paint and performance.