Having been gone for a while, lots of things have changed, including my car. The Fiesta ST is gone, only for another Ford to take its place: a 2018 Mustang EcoBoost. There isn’t much more to say about the car than that, as it is 100% zero-options, ‘base’ as can be. So, what do you get with the cheapest Mustang you can buy new? Well, the 6-speed manual transmission is roughly the same as it’s big-brother V8 GT, except it only has to deal with 310hp and 350lb-ft of torque, numbers up 30lb-ft from previous EcoBoost pony cars. This is sent to a meh sort-of limited slip differential, sending power to rental-car spec’ 17in wheels and fat tires. If I don’t sound excited about the car, it is because a base Mustang is not really something to be excited about.
So why did I get the dang thing, when I loved my Fiesta ST so much? As with any decision that involves so much moolah, quite a lot of things went into it. In no particular order, here are a quick rundown of some of the factors that went into my particular decision:
- I am a big-lad, and the Fiesta was a small car. I was ready for something I could sit in and not rub shoulders with my passengers.
- I wanted rear-wheel drive. I had been in a front-wheel drive platform for a while and was ready to try something new. All-wheel drive (generally) means either Subaru or a more expensive car, and I didn’t want a Subaru, so RWD it was.
- I had done some work for Ford and was able to get quite an amazing deal on a car from them, incentivizing me to buy new. Because I like to make my cars mine through modification, it is nice to fully know the cars history. This led me to a new car over a used car.
So, taking those factors together, there weren’t many options available to me. I find the Toyota GT86 platform to be small for me, and I wanted a larger car, which at my price point led me to American muscle cars: they are the only RWD cars at that price besides the GT86 and cousins. I REALLY don’t like the Camaro—interior sight lines or exterior…lines—and the Challenger/Charger cars are a bit larger than I wanted. I was already familiar with Ford’s ecosystem, and as such had a better idea of what I needed out of their particular car. All of this clearly led me into the car I bought: The Mustang.
Now, the elephant in the room; if I settled on a Mustang, why did I settle for a non-V8 model? The truth of the matter is, no matter how much I would have wanted a V8—because of course I do—it just doesn’t make any sense. A major part of this car’s life will be spent driving between Northern California and Southern California, and that means lots and lots of miles a year. Like, 30,000 or so miles a year. The V8 model, besides costing about $10,000 more out the door, also gets much worse miles per gallon. While normally the argument of “smiles per gallon” would work on me, driving so much for me is something I do for work, and when a bottom-line comes into the picture math must be done. With the V8 using (conservatively) 50% more gas a year, that would be a significant amount of money. Coupled with the buy-in cost as well as inevitably higher insurance, it just didn’t make any sense.
Luckily, the refreshed-for-2018 2.3L turbo-four in my Mustang makes more power and torque than the 4.6L V8 used in modern Mustangs up until 2010 and is by no means a slouch on the road. Coupled with the independent rear suspension Ford finally blessed the Mustang with, and the ‘base’ Mustang has the potential to be a fun car. The key word there, however, is potential. As it sat from the factory—if you couldn’t tell from my tepid introduction of the car—the Mustang was not a very fun car. The power was nice, but the wheels, tires, and brakes were all solidly in the “rental car” corner. While I could have solved that with the Ford Performance Pack for $2,500, my base car with its zero options left me desiring more.
I choose this reality for myself on purpose, however. As I had lived with and modified the Fiesta ST, I knew what options would end up being wastes of money for me. I went out of my way to get a totally base Mustang because literally all the options looked like something I could live without or would want to add or modify myself. I skipped the option of a nicer interior that came with Sync 3, because the Fiesta taught me that Sync 3 is not an upgrade by any use of the imagination. A quick glance around the internet showed I could get nicer track-focused seats of my choosing for less than the price of the package, leading to me skipping any of the nicer interiors or audio upgrades. I also had to forgo a sun-roof, due to the aforementioned fact of me being a big-lad; when the car had a sun-roof, I wouldn’t fit in with a helmet.
The big option package I skipped was the Performance Pack. At $2,500 you got 19” wheels, bigger brakes, sway bars and stiffer suspension, and a “sport” mode for the traction control. Again, I looked at that and realized all of that would be money wasted, as I would end up putting my own things in those places or would be able to replicate them for cheaper. That, combined with the interior choices, all led me to get a base Mustang that drives ‘meh’ from the factory.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Knowing I have a ‘meh’ version of a car that is regularly turned into awesome tuner creations, means I have a serious case of ‘Blank Slate Syndrome’. This totally-not made-up syndrome means I can plan out the car to be exactly what I want it to be, and then make it into that. Since the Mustang has the title of “most modified car ever”, the market certainly existed to allow me to do this. For me, this means leaving the engine mostly alone—and reliable—while building and tweaking the chassis into a comfortable cruising, track attack/canyon carving beast. This will keep the mileage and reliability where it needs to be for a long-haul cruiser, while still enabling me to have fun wherever I may be and enjoy the local tracks in my fine state.
In fact, the Mustang’s journey there has already begun. While the car is still quite new to me, it is also quite far from stock. Followers of my Instagram will have seen that the car has already been modified along the lines laid out above, but for a full breakdown of where the car is—only a short 3,000 miles into its life—check back next Wednesday. Meanwhile, I am going to keep getting to know my new Mustang and continuing to fall a bit more in love with it. As I make it mine, it is really coming into its own.
Check back next Friday to see where it is already at!
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I recently recieved a degree in History from the University of Nevada, Reno.