Over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to drive a 2018 Mustang GT on several occasions, including a road trip from Toronto to Halifax.
With a 460-horsepower 5.0-litre V8, 10-speed automatic transmission, throaty growl and a 50-plus year pedigree, it’s hard not to love this car.
Although I would prefer a six-speed manual, the 10-speed automatic is velvet smooth and instrumental in rocketing the 3,900-pound car from 0-100 km/h in just four seconds.
Quick, stable and planted, this latest generation Mustang offers awesome performance in a hot, easy-to-drive package.
The GT version of the Mustang was introduced in the 1965 model of the car that started the pony car craze eventually hatching competition like the Chevy Camaro, Plymouth Barracuda, Pontiac Firebird and AMC AMX.
Living up to a legend
The Mustang GT has always been special to me. The third car twin Larry and I ever bought was a then-two-year-old 1967 Mustang 390 GT. That candy apple red fastback with a set of spinner-clad ET mag wheels and four-speed manual transmission had been the car of my dreams since it surfaced on the streets of Moncton when I was a 17-year-old car nut.
I would see the GT every now and then, throwing me into a state of unrequited car fever. Word on the street was it belonged to someone named Vaughn Hill who had purchased it from Casey Ford in Amherst.
Lloyd Broad, a fellow lot boy at the Lincoln Mercury dealership where I worked after school, said the low-slung dream machine looked more Corvette than Mustang.
Driving the 2018 GT this summer, I couldn’t help but compare the two cars. Obviously the ’67 was a much less complicated machine with few safety features beyond seat belts and a padded dash.
It had optional disc brakes on the front but there was no ABS, traction or stability control or anything that had to do with emission control. The four-barrel carbureted V-8 ran on premium leaded fuel, and lots of it, devouring about twice what the 460-horse 2018 GT uses.
As a result, at 3,400 pounds, the ’67 GT was 500 pounds lighter than the new one. Even with positive traction without traction control, wheelspin and wheel hop was a problem coming off the line. The heavy 390 cubic inch (6.5-litre) engine resulted in an awkward 60-40 front/rear weight distribution and that, coupled with a rear live axle, made it a handful to control when powershifting under full throttle.
It was one fun car to drive.
New model, old stomping grounds
I tracked down Vaughn Hill last weekend in Moncton. He lives in the same home he did when we bought the ’67 GT from him a half century ago.
He still has a mischievous twinkle in his eye and showed me his man cave garage. Out front was an 1977 Corvette neatly wrapped in a car cover. Inside was a 2002 Thunderbird and a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am along with a 1955 Pontiac. On the wall, among a collection of old-school calendars and car posters and several photographs of legendary New Brunswick drag racer Walter Brooks, was a framed faded photograph of the ’67 Mustang GT taken before Vaughn sold it to the Sowerby twins.
Vaughn had ordered the $4,170 Mustang without power steering to offer a little more grunt to the rear wheels. He traded in a ’66 Comet Cyclone with the same 335-horse 390 V8 the Mustang had.
Seeing the picture brought it all back. The scramble Larry and I went through to pull the $3,000 together, the stiffness of the clutch pedal, the sound of air sucking into the low restriction air cleaner, the feel of the chamois sliding over the fastback roof line and the words of the Led Zeppelin pumping Whole Lotta Love through the speakers of its eight-track tape player.
Indeed, in terms of car excitement trading our 1961 Mercury Monterey with Vaughn for our dream car was the purchase pinnacle of the hundred or so vehicles I’ve owned over the past 52 years.
Larry and I had paid for the 1967 Mustang GT ourselves and loved it for the three years we owned it. I can still hear it winding up in third gear.
“I think of all the cars I’ve owned, the one you sold us is my favourite,” I told Vaughn Hill as we parted.
“Mine too!” He laughed.