The latest: a retro Mustang convertible

The front of a 2005 Ford Mustang GT Monday, November 29, 2004.

DOUG FINGER/ The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, January 8, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2005 at 10:20 p.m.


Customizing the Mustang

Options for the new vehicle include:

  • A color fade that lets you choose from 125 different-colored dashboard lights.
  • A 500-watt shaker 500 audio 6-disc in-dash CD/MP3 player, or 1000-watt shaker
  • Fog lamps
  • Your choice of interior color and optional leather seats
  • V-6 or V-8 engine
  • And choose from 10 external colors.

  • Once known as "the poor man's sports car," it might be America's greatest automotive icon.
    And now, after numerous transformations over four decades, the newest incarnation of the Ford Mustang is turning heads once again.
    The company has gone back to the original drawing board by redesigning the Mustang to look more like its late 1960s predecessor. The 2005 now offers a bigger engine with an attractive retro design, more horsepower, newer features and an all-new chassis.
    Stephanie Kirkland, 35, purchased the first 2005 Mustang at Gainesville Ford-Mitsubishi and was amazed at how fast it took off.
    "I was hoping to have the only new Mustang for a while, thinking they would not get a whole lot more in," she said. "Unfortunately, now I see them everywhere."
    It was supposed to be a day for her husband to get a new truck, but after they saw the white 2005 Mustang, which had just been brought in that day, it turned into an early Christmas for both.
    "I have never really been a Mustang fanatic," she said. "But after I saw the retro look and the new body style, it sold me."
    In the first month and a half, Gainesville Ford-Mitsubishi sold 12 Mustangs, and the dealership has now sold nearly 40, with 20 to 25 custom orders on schedule.
    Going retro The exterior offers many of the same legendary pony-car features like the aggressive, forward leaning nose, long hood and short rear deck, round head lights, the infamous running pony mounted in uniform egg-crate grille, side C-scoops and small side windows, tri-bar tail lamps and the bar-and-pony logo replacing the old gas cap.
    Since her purchase of the car in mid-October, it seems everywhere Kirkland goes, people will do anything to get a closer glimpse of her car.
    "We have had people pull us over on the road so they could take pictures with their camera phones," she said.
    So far, Ford's sales of the new-generation Mustang have all been coupes. Ford plans to make a convertible version. The company recently announced that the convertible version will go on sale in March.
    "I plan to baby-sit this car until the spring, when the Mustang GT convertible comes out, because I love convertibles," Kirkland said. "So once it comes in, I will swap it."
    Charlotte Doyen, 28, refers to herself as the all-American girl who loves all-American sports cars. Her love for the American muscle car drove her to selling them at Gainesville Ford-Mitsubishi. So she was happy to see the new Mustang, and understands what led to the style change.
    "I believe the reason Ford decided to bring the Mustang back was the positive impact Chrysler's PT Cruiser and the Chevy SSR Truck had on people," she said. "They knew the Mustang was due for a face lift, and this was probably one of the best face lifts they could have made."
    She also said that going "old school" doesn't always guarantee that a car will sell.
    "Many American car companies have been trying to go retro. For instance, Pontiac came out with the GTO, which lacked a retro look, and Chevy went to the Corvette, which ended up looking foreign and nothing like the original," she said.
    The price is right Ford also has many satisfied with the price.
    Considered one of the few remaining American muscle cars, the 2005 Mustang can be purchased at what many claim is a "wallet-friendly" price for a sports car, starting at $19,410 for the V-6 and $24,995 for the V-8 GT.
    Compared to the 2004 Pontiac GTO, listed at $33,495, and the Chevy Corvette, starting around $44,510, the Mustang is a little more obtainable to the average consumer.
    Kirkland said that she assumed the car would be too expensive after seeing the new body style and hearing all the hype.
    "For the price range and for the look, you are getting a beautiful car," Kirkland said.
    The hype is drawing a wide variety of ages to the car lot, from high-school students to baby-boomers.
    Doyen said at Gainesville Ford-Mitsubishi they have been getting a lot of young students interested in getting a glimpse or possibly a test drive.
    But for the most part, she said, the older generation that grew up with the late 1960s Mustang are the ones most interested in purchasing the car.
    "They are engulfed by the look and style of it. For them, it brings back memories," Doyen said. "She sends you down memory lane."
    A car with a history It was Ford's greatest success of the '60s. The first Mustang rolled off the assembly line in 1964, and from there it captured hearts around the world.
    The engine Ford offered in the '64 Mustang came in two types, the smaller 170 cid V-6 engine, which dished out a little more than 100 horsepower, and the V-8 engine, producing 164 horsepower.
    Fast-forward to 2005, that horsepower has increased dramatically.
    "The six-cylinder is getting a lot more attention than it used to get," Doyen said. "This year, they have beefed up its horsepower by 15 from the previous model and gone from a 3.9 liter to a 4.0."
    The 2005 Mustang GT is able to harness 300 horses with its 4.6L OHC 3-valve V-8 engine.
    Mindy Slone, 33, ordered a Mustang GT. Since they are selling so briskly, Gainesville Ford can't keep them on the lot, so many like Slone are forced to wait a while.
    "It's aggravating having to wait 10 weeks, but it will be well worth the wait," she said. "I want to get the car with all the features accustomed to my wants."
    Just months after the successful launch of its all-new 2005 Ford Mustang, Ford unveiled this week the latest ragtop version of the legendary sports car.
    The 2005 Mustang coupe, which made its debut in Detroit last year, went on sale in October and has been a bright spot for Ford, which saw sales up roughly 9 percent in December from a year ago - the best December for the model since 1979.
    The new car's design has received accolades from analysts and Mustang enthusiasts for effectively marrying design cues from the 1960s with modern enhancements. The three-element taillights, for example, harken back four decades. But the new 4.6-liter, 300-horsepower engine has more than 50 percent more power than the V-8 in the inaugural 1964 model.
    The 2005 convertible will go on sale in March. The starting price for the V-6 version will be about $25,000. The V-8-powered GT version will start at around $30,000.
    The 2005 V-6 coupe's base price is $19,570.
    Stephanie Kirkland purchased her 2005 Ford Mustang in October 2004. According to the dealership, she was the first person to purchase the new Mustang in Gainesville.
    Gainesville Ford-Mitsubishi has now sold nearly 40 of the new Ford Mustangs. An additional 20 to 25 custom orders are scheduled to arrive.

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