March 1, 2013

Having a balance is important, not only for performance, but in life as well. For our team, balancing stories is especially important. When you consider the plethora of late-model combinations, we have an endless amount of paths to take.

Knowing we have loyal readers with all types of Mustangs and fast Fords, our staff does its best to include the most budget- oriented tips and tricks, and the high-end installs such as twin-turbos with big boost. The aftermarket is flooded from the smallest resto parts to the most ground-pounding power adders and as a news and entertainment source, we love exposing the multitude of components and combinations, as well as testing the latest parts and cars.

With that, MM&FF has always kept the newbie in mind. Getting involved can be difficult as the Mustang world can be overwhelming. New enthusiasts often have lots of questions, and we regularly field them through email, Facebook, our website and at events.

In fact, I was recently involved in a panel discuss during the SEMA show to create ways to get young people involved with cars. It seems young people are disappearing and our panel came up with concrete ways to invigorate the youth. I’ve done my part by offering internships and opportunities to those starting out in the automotive journalism field.

Whether you are a newbie or a grizzled vet, the first thing on most people’s minds is horsepower—the hard part is figuring out a combination to fulfill your desires. Should you go with a blower, turbo, or nitrous? Should you have a custom stroker engine built? Should you go pushrod or modular? The possibilities can drive you crazy.

To help answer some questions, we’ve compiled a story for the first-time Mustang buyer, or anyone looking to upgrade. Associate editor Kristian Grimsland’s piece, “Buying Your First Stang” on page 74, breaks down how much Mustang you can (and should) afford, based on your budget and mechanical talent.

Having realistic expectations goes a long way. Ultimately, the fun will come from driving or racing your Ford, so plan properly to get behind the wheel quickly.

To prevent disappointment, avoid getting in over your head. For instance, completely stripping out a car and planning a ground-up 9-seocnd build is not a great idea when you have $8,000 in your bank account. Instead, take the $8,000, buy a $5,000 Mustang, and plan some reasonable mods.

Recently, a friend was about to drop $300 on a pushrod 302 to replace the V-6 in a ’99 Stang. Seemingly, a great deal, right? Well, not so much. Why? Basically the entire drivetrain and K-member would have to be swapped out or modified to accommodate the new engine in that body (including the front engine dress, cooling system, computer, fuel system, driveline, and so on). Suddenly the $300 engine swap would cost thousands, not to mention any mechanical issues in making it run right. The better option would be to sell the V-6 Stang and trade up to a V-8 model.

Bottom line—educate yourself. And don’t forget to leave a few bucks aside for insurance and other odds and ends.

In the end, do your research and be realistic. It goes a long way. Having a good experience your first time around will help keep you in the hobby and before you know it, you’ll be the expert. EJS

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