america

The new Ford Mustang has a tough rival – the old one

The new Mustang looks good - but the old one really turns headsTHE NEW Mustang is one of the real feelgood motors of the moment.

There’s an almighty buzz about the GT supercar and the turbo nutter vibe of the Focus RS but I honestly reckon the American import is a better measure of everything Ford’s doing right at the moment. I’ve yet to drive one but it has that all-important thing far too many of today’s offerings miss; a want-one factor.

For starters it looks superb. They’re just starting to trickle into the real world, and it looks just as good in the supermarket car park as it does in the brochures. The closely-stacked triple rear lights, the slippery profile and those pinched headlights have clearly been designed by someone who had posters of fast cars – rather than Farrah Fawcett – on his bedroom wall as a kid.

It’s also the first Mustang that’s been designed with us in mind. It’s available in right-hand-drive and while more than two thirds of the buyers have ordered theirs with the full fat, 5.0-litre V8, you can also order it with a 2.3-litre Ecoboost engine that’s a bit more in keeping with Cameron’s Britain. In a nation that wears a pair of Levis and sups its coffee in branches of Starbucks, you can’t help wondering why the Mustang didn’t apply for its visa earlier.

So the Mustang is clearly creating a bit of a buzz as a new car – but that’s nothing compared to the seismic impact of the old one.

The other day I was lent the keys to a real American icon – a ’66 Mustang Convertible in Rangoon Red. Like the new car it has a 5.0-litre V8, but the baritone rumble the original makes has to be experienced to be believed. Until The Champion lands through your letterbox with a free CD of V8 engine noises you’ll just have to imagine it!

It also looked – even when you compare it to the current car – utterly sensational, and whenever I parked it up it always drew a crowd of curious onlookers.

Reality check. A 50-year old car isn’t going to have a DAB radio, traction control or airbags and you’ll struggle to top 20 miles to the gallon. It’s also left-hand-drive and a bit ponderous to drive – the steering in particular is a little on the lazy side – and it’ll be comprehensively out-cornered and out-braked by the class of 2016.

But if you’re only going to use it occasionally, go for the old one. I would say that it’s hard to put a price on the wonderful noise it makes and the smiles it puts on people’s faces as you drive past – but you can, because at £23,000 for the one I drove it’s eight grand cheaper than the new one. Oh, and it’s tax exempt.

Sounds pretty good value to me.