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Juliet McGuire

The Ford Mustang is a “happy car”

It sounds ridiculous, but I am certain you know what I mean when I say that the Ford Mustang is a “happy car.” No matter who you are, where you’re from, what you do, or even what you like, the Mustang will no doubt put a smile on your face. It will always catch your eye and if you’re lucky enough to get behind the wheel of one, you will be all the happier for it. There is a reason it was the world’s best-selling sports coupé between 2015 and 2021 – it makes people happy.

Look, there isn’t much in this segment, is there? You could look at a Toyota 86, or maybe a BMW M4, but nothing is as iconic as the Mustang. And as we gear up for the model replacement, Ford is giving this generation one last hoorah by launching this limited edition Mustang California Special, which pays homage to the original from 1968.

NO LIMITS

Well, not quite no limits, there will only be 100 California’s in South Africa and all have already been sold. This is one of very few naturally aspirated V8s on the market so it is no wonder customers rushed to get their hands on one. This model has some features and styling aspects from that original model with a blacked out grille, no pony on the grille and a Shelby inspired rear spoiler. There is also a GT/CS badge in Race Red, as well as lower side stripes finished in black, red and grey. Incorporating GT/CS logos, the stripes run from the front to the rear wings and feature a hidden “California Special” script that is almost invisible in low light conditions but becomes much more prominent in stronger sunlight.

When I posted a pic of the California Special, many people commented on the wheels. Well, they are unique five-spoke alloy wheels with 19×9-inch at the front and 19×9.5-inch at the rear. They are finished in Carbonised Grey to complement the front splitter, side skirts and rear diffuser. Speaking of colour, there are nine exterior colours to choose from with one new colour added to the palette called…wait for it…Oil Slick Purple. Good grief. The mind goes to all sorts of places it shouldn’t when hearing that name. Or is it just my mind? Let’s move on…

CLIMB IN

The interior also sees unique badging here and there, especially that of the GT-CS badges on the front seats – which are heated and cooled by the way. These seats and door inserts are part-finished in grey Miko® suede – an ecological, synthetic material made from recycled polyester (not that it makes this an eco-friendly car mind you) – with red stitching. It’s all still quite old-school inside which I think matches the drive really well. I am not sure how I would feel about a modern, digitally-focused, tech-heavy interior in a Mustang. I think it should retain some of that heritage while it can…before we all go electric that is.

BEAST MODE

Under the bonnet sits the familiar and much-loved 5.0-litre V8 engine which produces 330 kW and 529 Nm of torque. It is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, which if you ask me, is just overkill. No engine should require that many gears, well, not a Mustang at least. Regardless, there is no denying the sheer pleasure of driving a Mustang. But not for the reasons you might think. I don’t enjoy throwing this around Franschhoek Pass, nor do I want to get on a track with it. In fact, my driving partner (the legendary Vann Van Staden, publisher of the epic Apex magazine) and I took a rather leisurely cruise along Clarens Drive and we throughly enjoyed it. Every now and then, when the road allows for it, you put your foot flat and enjoy the roar from this beast. But then you go back to cruising along the coast. It is, after all, called a California. Enjoy the ride, don’t try tear the balls of it, there are faster cars for that.

Now, there is one thing one must bear in mind when it comes to the Mustang. No matter where you go it will draw attention. If you don’t like chatting to strangers or hate small talk, do not get a Mustang. You will even get attention at traffic lights, people taking pictures of you (or the car) as you drive past, people in other cars shouting at you to “REVV IT!!!!!,” and so it goes. It can be exhausting. Basically what I am saying is that this is not the car for an introvert.

PRICE OF THE MUSTANG CALIFORNIA SPECIAL

The Mustang California Special is priced at R1 154 900. Included as standard is Ford Protect comprising a four-year/120 000km warranty, three-year/unlimited distance Roadside Assistance and five-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty. A service plan is optional.

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