Kristian Grimsland
Associate Editor, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
March 1, 2013
Photos By: MM&FF Archives, Justin Cesler
If you are looking for the reliability of a newer Stang, then the S197 might suit you. Prices range between $10,00 to $20,000.

S197 Stangs (2005-present)
Ford introduced a total redesign in the '05-to-present Mustangs, also known as the S197. The fifth-generation Mustang's styling echoes the fastback Mustang models of the late '60s. With the new design, Ford introduced a new 300 horsepower 4.6L Three-Valve engine into the GT models, and V6 models featured a new 210hp 4.0-liter. Best of all, the S197 features a rigid chassis and a revised suspension that works great for all types of racing and performance driving. The stock electronics are easily modified to keep up with any performance parts and the aftermarket is just flooded with cool parts to help you personalize your Pony.

The rear suspension utilizes a three-link system with a Panhard rod, instead of the previous four-link. The S197 chassis design offers far better suspension and handling, noise vibrations harshness reduction, and strengthened chassis rigidity.

If you have money to spend, the benefits of purchasing a newer S197 are stellar. With a S197, it's likely you'll find a Mustang that doesn't need paint, interior work, an engine rebuild, or replacement of serviceable items (other than maybe brakes and tires), so you can get right to the modifications.

The reliability factors of its age, chassis design, and styling-queue's are optimal for a first time buyer, however price ranges are typically between $10,000 to $20,000. For this section, our main concern is with the '05-'10 Mustangs. Newer '11-'13 Stangs are a part of the S197 family but don't really fit in this story

There aren't really any prominent flaws to point out, but there is lots of room to improve performance and looks. Knowing what you want and how much you want to spend is key. Don't let the excitement of buying your first Stang overshadow any negatives or flaws in the car or seller. Ask yourself simple questions about the seller and his or her motivation for selling. Signs of hesitation when speaking with the seller should signal a red flag that he/she may be hiding something. Check and look for blemishes or discoloration in the paint. This could be a sign of a prior accident. And always test all the systems in the car, right down to the brakes lights, turn signals, washer fluid sprayer, and so on.

Also, if the car is supercharged, you'll have to wonder if it's been beat on or raced. Also, question what tune is in there and who tuned it? You'll also want to be sure the car has catalytic converters if you live in a state that requires them.

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Since you are going to be purchasing a Stang higher in the price spectrum, check to see when the last time the car was serviced for maintenance. Also check the amount of tread left on the tires. If the car needs four new tires you'll need to keep a few bucks in your pocket.

Seal the Deal
No matter what type of first Stang you are looking for, knowing what to look for and what questions will help you purchase "your" perfect Mustang. Be sure to drive the car and pay attention to steering feel, praking performance, and check all the systems including lights, signals, A/C, etc. We believe there's a happy medium out there for you, and with a little research and common sense, you might just be surprised at what you find.