Austin C. Craig
September 22, 2010

Last spring, I had the opportunity to drive a new '11 Mustang across the state of Michigan, from Dearborn to Grand Rapids and back. The idea was sparked when my wife, Barbra, and I learned that our granddaughter, Victoria Jackson, was one of six finalists, as selected by the Young Playwrights Festival, to have a play produced at the Michigan State Wharton Center for Arts and Creativity.

A junior at East Grand Rapids High School, Tori was the first from her school to have a play selected, so the opportunity to watch Tori's play was something we did not want to miss. And having lived in Michigan for 25 years, much of it while working on Ford advertising business at J. Walter Thompson, I always like to find a reason to return to the Motor City-in this case, to pick up an '11 Mustang for our travels.

After talking with Mustang Product Marketing Manager Allison Revier and Chief Nameplate Engineer Dave Pericak, their excitement for the new V-6 was evident. Both felt the new 3.7-liter engine, six-speed transmissions, suspension updates, and electric steering transform the car into a true sports coupe. When I learned I was being assigned a Mustang Club of America Edition, I could not wait to try out the latest Mustang on a weekend road trip.

After picking up our Grabber Blue MCA Edition at the Detroit airport, we headed to Dearborn. Right away I noticed the six-speed's short shifter, which makes it effortless to locate all six gears, and the new electric power steering. Whether you are parking in a tight space, driving in the rain, or straightening a few curves, this is the best steering feel I have ever experienced in a Mustang. It really adds to the FPM-Fun Per Mile-of the new Mustang.

Pulling out on I-94, I noticed that the new V-6's sound resembles the high-pitched song of a GT race car. I've never heard a V-6 sound so good. The engine revs easily to its 7,000-rpm redline, with Ford rating the new V-6 at 305 hp with 280 lb-ft of torque. You can believe the numbers-this car is fast. Our Mustang came with the optional 3.31 rear, and that's definitely the way to go.

In Dearborn, we stopped by the Ford Design Center, which was christened in 1953 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower during Ford's 50th Anniversary. We also visited Ford World Headquarters where I spent many hours working with the Ford Office of General Council. All Ford advertising must be approved by Ford's legal department, so I had the pleasure of working with a number of talented attorneys during my many visits to the building, which was constructed in 1956.

Michigan roads are not known for their tabletop smoothness, but it didn't make any difference to our Mustang. Equipped with the optional V-6 Performance Package (GT suspension and brakes, strut tower brace, and 8.5x19 wheels with 255/40R19 Pirelli PZero tires), the Mustang handles like it is on rails yet exhibits excellent ride quality. When merging from the Southfield Freeway onto the Lodge Freeway, there's a curve that would test any vehicle. The Mustang went through it like it was a straightaway.

In no time, we arrived for a visit with our friends Jim and Carol Hearrell. While helping to unload, Jim noticed the pile of luggage in the trunk. Barbra does not travel light, so we loaded many a bag into the Mustang. When someone tells you they don't own a Mustang because the trunk is not large enough, refer them to the photo in this article.

It's always a pleasure to spend time with Scott Hoag, president of MRT Performance. I met Scott when he was program manager for the Mustang Bullitt. It was so much fun working with him on that project that I purchased Bullitt Mustang number 17. After Bullitt, Scott headed up the Mach 1 program before retiring from Ford and starting MRT. Scott was impressed by the '11 Mustang's total package, which includes dual exhaust, the first offered by the factory on a six-cylinder Mustang.

Later, it was back to Dearborn for dinner with Robert Parker, director of Ford product communications. A real car guy, Robert was responsible for the '06 Shelby Hertz Mustang as well as many other successful programs while working in his former position as car marketing manager. With people like Robert, it's easy to understand why Ford Motor Company is producing so many good vehicles these days.

The following day, we headed to Grosse Pointe on Detroit's east side. Grosse Pointe is very beautiful in the spring and we enjoyed driving by our former home on the way to Peter and Jean Stroh's house. I had the pleasure of working with Peter at JWT and always admired his substance and style. Peter's father, Ed Stroh, headed up the Autolite Division and was responsible for Autolite's involvement in motorsports.

Joining us for dinner were Peter and Elaine Schweitzer, a former JWT president and one of the best advertising executives I've ever worked with. Peter built a strong relationship with Ford during his 20 years heading up the Detroit office. Ever the car guy, Peter arrived in his Ford Flex, an all-wheel drive model powered by the twin-turbocharged 3.5L EcoBoost V-6.

The next day, I finally had to add gas to the V-6 Mustang for the trip to Grand Rapids. I was amazed by the Mustang's excellent road manners. It's also comfortable to drive over an extended period of time, with the lumbar device in the leather seats providing extra support.

In Grand Rapids, we met up with family for Tori's play. While staying at daughter Shannon's new home in East Grand Rapids, we drove the Mustang to dinner at a very nice pub called The Green Well. It was fun to watch people check out the Mustang as they walked by on the street.

I was amazed how easy it was to install the car seat for grandson James as we prepared to drive for ice cream. Although only five years old, I could tell James wanted to drive the Mustang almost as much as he wanted his ice cream cone. The car appeals to all ages.

Next it was time to pick up grandson Tevin for a ride in the Mustang. It was fun to watch his fellow eighth graders stop to check out the Mustang on their way home from school. Tevin liked the sound of the exhaust and the Sirius Satellite radio, although he prefers current rock instead of my classic oldies.

During our three-hour drive back to Detroit, I appreciated the light clutch when an Interstate traffic jam resulted in stop and go traffic for about 20 minutes. When traffic started to move again, my leg did not feel like I had been in a gym for eight hours.

After driving the '11 MCA Mustang across Michigan in all sorts of weather conditions and road surfaces, I can say that the new Mustang is a winner. As mentioned earlier, the FPM factor never goes away. The V-6 Mustang can run with most performance cars and it handles like a sports car, plus gets great fuel mileage. As a staunch V-8 guy who has owned 24 Mustangs, I have to say that the new V-6 Mustang will please and delight just about anybody.

I see now why Dave Pericak and Allison Revier were so enthusiastic about the new V-6 Mustang; it is a true sports coupe.

2011 Mustang Club of America Package

  • Unique stainless steel billet grille with Tri-bar Pony emblem
  • Foglamps
  • Custom rear decklid tape appliqué between the taillamps
  • Rear decklid spoiler
  • Unique 18x8.5-inch gray painted alloy wheels
  • Automatic headlamps
  • Premium carpeted front floor mats with Pony logo
  • V-6 sport tape stripe