Tag Archives: Mustang


By: PEDRO ARRAIS on November 17, 2006
Original Article: WINNIPEG FREE PRESS (MB)

In variations from mild to wild, this retro Ford delivers fun, value

The venerable Ford Mustang is an unusual car — a throwback to the simpler ’60s’, when gas prices were low and horsepower high. It has endured, even prospered, virtually unchallenged domestically — arch-rivals Chevrolet and Dodge have nothing that competes with this icon.

You can get it from mild to wild — a 210-h.p V-6 or a ground-pounding 550- h.p supercharged V-8. There is one for every budget, from $24,099 for a base coupe to $83,000 for a Saleen Mustang.

I drove a relatively bare-bones Mustang coupe, to see what sort of value you get when your budget comes up against your desire for fun.

For $24,099, the 2007 Mustang comes equipped with a four-litre V-6 engine that produces 210 h.p and 240 lb-ft of torque. This engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Power steering, keyless entry, air-conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes, power windows and cruise control rounds out the standard equipment you get at this price.

The fun starts when you turn the key. The burble from the engine is music to the ears of anybody who has driven an honest-to-goodness muscle car. Sure, the engine is two cylinders and 100 horsepower shy for most power-hungry drivers, but it makes the most wonderful sounds. It is smooth, too, going up to 5,000 r.p.m without complaint. Drop the clutch and the tires either chirp or squeal — your right foot controls the volume and length of the sound.

Straight-line acceleration is the Mustang’s forte. Cornering should be taken with a bit more thought. The Mustang’s centre of gravity feels higher than most sporty models, imparting greater lean in a corner. The tester was shod with optional 235/55R17 tires and gave good road feel. Still, caution should be exercised as the solid rear end shows its lack of sophistication by losing traction at higher cornering speeds.

The Mustang has traction control, a feature that allows drivers to put the pedal to the metal while the car’s computers work to keep the vehicle going in a straight line. The car detects loss of traction in a wheel and will reduce power, apply brakes or both to keep the rubber rolling.

The benefit is that it will try to keep you from sliding into the weeds. Feeling brave? You can turn the system off — a nice touch for the enthusiast driver who still likes to hear the squealing of tires and feel the back end sliding out under full throttle acceleration. Did I say it was fun?

The anti-lock brakes are up to the task of halting the Mustang, with secure stops and no drama.

The manual transmission is the Achilles heel of the Mustang. It’s the clunkiest manual I have driven in a long time. It takes a hard push to get it into first gear and reverse is no better. Shifts were decent but I can’t see any but the most macho drivers liking it.

The transmission gearing is good for both acceleration and leisurely cruising, with 100 km on the highway seeing the engine loafing at low 1,800 r.p.m.

Driven moderately the Mustang’s fuel economy numbers are decent and comparable with conventional people movers, at 12.3 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 7.7 on the highway.

Occupants with larger frames will be happy in the Mustang’s power seats. Generous arm room, adjustable seat height and a long seat travel all serve to make happy front occupants — even tall and wide ones. The rear seats are really meant for occasional use by youngsters. A 50/50 fold-down rear seat allows access to the modest trunk. The interior fit and finish is as good as I have seen in a North American car. The imports seem to be able to make a piece of plastic look better but Ford is catching up in this field. The optional leather seats added an up-market feel.

Visibility is very good all round, surprisingly so out the back despite the rear spoiler. The instruments are tucked in twin binnacles. They are dimly lit and made worse when wearing sunglasses. The optional chrome bezels around them and the dash air outlets are attractive in the otherwise matte black dashboard.

Retained accessory power and one-touch power windows are nice items at this price.

Twin airbags are standard but side air-bags are a $500 option. The front seatbelts are a long reach over the shoulder. Rear seat headrests are low.

The new Mustang, going on its 43rd year, shows how a sports car can age gracefully. While the V-6 model might pale in comparison — performance wise — to its more powerful brethren, it more than makes it up by an affordable price, decent fuel mileage and a high fun quotient, especially with the manual transmission.

–CanWest News Service


By: N.A. on November 11, 2006
Original Article: PRESS, THE


Steve Saleen, founder of Ford tuner Saleen Inc, says he recently spoke with new Ford CEO Alan Mullally, who said the 2009 Mustang will not be a complete redesign, but more a facelift of the existing model. The overall body shape is expected to stay the same, but the front and rear should see extensive reworking to keep things fresh. Mustang fans must also be hoping the car will finally get the independent rear suspension it deserves, something its GM and DCX competitors already have.


By: DAVE DEWITTE on November 10, 2006

Nov. 10–Rob Bertling, the new owner of Tires Plus in Coralville, has never doubted the conventional business wisdom that you have to believe in yourself, and “keep the vision.”

“You stay the course, and no matter what comes you have to do that,” says the 37-year-old automobile fanatic, who met the previous owner through a mutual love of high performance Saleen Mustangs.

Even so, Bertling turned to an unlikely source of help, the Women’s Business Center of Iowa, when he had the chance to buy the retail tire and automotive service franchise from his former boss.

While the Women’s Business Center of Iowa was itself on the verge of closing last year, President Joni Thornton guided Bertling through preparation of a two-year business plan, financial projections, and a verbal presentation to lenders for financing.

“Joni took it out of my head and put it into words, to where it was presentable to the Tires Plus franchise, the tire distributors and the bankers,” Bertling said.

Bertling said Thornton even got him to control his usual habit of conversational rambling, so that bankers got the information they needed without the sales pitch.

The outcome was a loan that enabled Bertling in March to convert the opportunity into his longtime dream of owning an automotive business. He hopes to open at least one or two more Tires Plus stores in the future.

Thornton and the Women’s Business Center have taken the same advice — “believe in yourself” and “keep the vision” — to heart in recent months.

Struggling financially, the center closed its office at 136 36th St. Dr. NE in September.

Thornton, who’d overseen the center since 1998, had been paying some of the non-profit operation’s bills from her own pocket for years just to keep the doors open.

Thornton planned to find another job in the lending or startup assistance area. Eventually, she could not give up the center.

After seeing clients at her home for a month or two, Thornton reopened the center this month in a much smaller space at the APAC Building, 425 Second St. SE. She plans to redouble efforts to secure funds for the center from the state and federal government.

Thornton is working with two startups in Iowa City and two in Cedar Rapids, hoping they too will find the satisfaction that Bertling has found.

Bertling was impressed that Thornton could see the potential in his business ideas without even visiting the business he planned to buy.

“She goes by her instincts,” said Bertling, whose mother connected him with the center.

“Her compassion is wonderful.”

Despite its name, the center is not limited to assisting female entrepreneurs, a fact Thornton plans to emphasize more clearly in the future. She says the center got its start at a time when it was harder for entrepreneurial women to get lenders to take them seriously.

The center now answers its phone with “Business Center of Iowa,” a name it has registered with the state.

Bertling says that making a success of the Coralville Tires Plus, which has been trailing its peers in nearby cities, will help him leave behind a transient life of operating other people’s automotive businesses and settle down.

“When a customer comes in, I want them to feel they are entering my house,” he said. “I don’t even have ‘owner’ on my business card,” Bertling said. “I would rather have, ‘head of the house.'”


Original Article: LACAR.COM
© All words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz

2006 S281 Supercharged

As a high-performance specialty vehicle designer and builder, Steve Saleen builds vehicles that are designed, engineered and manufactured in compliance with the same government guidelines as those of larger automotive companies – ensuring safety, emissions compliance and quality.

Headquartered inside an 180,000 square foot facility in Irvine, California, Saleen high-performance Mustangs are built by highly trained technicians whose work is double and triple checked as the car slowly goes down the line to completion. Saleen builds about seven custom Mustangs a day, and each one is built to order.

2006 S281 Supercharged

With the Saleen supercharged Mustang, you get a complete system of enhancements in styling, power, performance and interior comfort. The total package is carefully designed, engineered and rigorously tested on the street and the track. Everything here works together seamlessly. It helps when the same company designs all the components from the ground up. Saleen’s quality and workmanship is so well regarded by Ford that they back up every Saleen with a 24-month warranty.

I tested the all-new Saleen S281 Supercharged Mustang – a real thrill machine, with neck-snapping straight-line acceleration, superb handling ability on twisting roads, and eye-popping braking.

With the addition of the new, more powerful, Saleen-designed 2.3 liter Series VI integrated twin-screw supercharger with a dual-stage water-to-air intercooler, the V8 is further tuned up with a 3.55″ x 3.54″ bore and stroke, a Saleen Powerflash performance calibration upgrade to the CPU, and a Saleen performance air filter to bring in more air. The hot gases generated are exited through a Saleen design, 2.5-inch stainless steel performance quad-exhaust system with 4-inch wide, dual outlets in the center of the rear lower bumper, and one outlet at each muffler end. This exhaust really howls with a sweet bass sound when you start the engine, and whenever you give it more throttle, no matter your speed. You can hear the Saleen Mustang coming from a long distance away.

2006 S281 Supercharged

Power generated from the 4.6-liter V8 is raised significantly, up to 435 horsepower at 5,800 rpm, and a whopping 420 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. The supercharger works so easily that boost is set at just 4 psi. The supercharger whine is a great complement to the howl of the custom exhaust.

All that torque is channeled to the rear wheels via a Saleen quick-ration five-speed transmission with an 8.8-inch differential gear, and a ratio of 3.55:1 with the manual, and 3.31:1 with the optional 5-speed electronically controlled automatic. You can also option for the Saleen MaxGrip speed-sensitive limited-slip differential to get even more rubber to the pavement.

With the all-new Mustang’s stiffer and stronger chassis and frame, Saleen has a more solid foundation in which to mount the race-bred suspension, brakes, wheels and tires. The car is pinned to the ground up front with a MacPherson strut with lower control arm setup that includes Saleen Racecraft N2 struts with linear-rate coil springs, a 1.38-inch tubular stabilizer bar with urethane pivot bushings, and specially calibrated suspension settings. The rear suspension features the factory live axle located by three links, a Panhard rod, and upgraded with Saleen Racecraft N2 shocks, direct-acting linear coil springs, and a 0.79-inch stabilizer bar, all specially calibrated.

2006 S281 Supercharged

The car rides on big, wheel-well stuffing, 20 x 9, seven-spoke Saleen designed alloy wheels that are wrapped with high-performance Dunlop 275/35ZR20 Sport tires. My Saleen Mustang came with the optional 20 x 9 front and 20 x 10-inch rear seven-spoke, Saleen-designed alloy wheels wrapped around ultra-high-performance Pirelli 275/35ZR20 front and 27540ZR20 rear P Zero tires for the ultimate in traction and grip.

Wow, we’re talking ultra-high-performance. The 435 horsepower supercharged Saleen Mustang rockets out to 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.6 seconds and tops out at over 180 mph.

Quickly stopping the forward movement of the car are very powerful brakes. Up front are Saleen designed 14-inch slotted and vented aluminum rotors clamped with Saleen ABS four-piston calipers. The rear brakes are left factory since 80 percent of your braking power is generated from the front brakes. You can opt for the same front brake rotors and calipers in the rear for even stronger braking power.

2006 S281 Supercharged

Even with all this power and torque at my disposal, the car is well behaved in slow Los Angeles street traffic and when driving in stop-and-go rush-hour freeway traffic. The short-throw five-speed is so smooth and easy to operate, I never miss a gear change. At these slow speeds, the best part is the sweet and loud growl coming from the performance exhaust. The sound really turns heads, but it’s the unique, aggressive styling of the car that makes everyone even more curious.

The new Saleen air management aerodynamic bodykit is very aggressive and bold. The brilliantly styled body easily projects the enormous power and performance under the sheet metal. The body enhancements work to keep the front and rear solidly planted on the road during high speed driving, and when challenging the tightest curves. The Saleen-designed body enhancements include a power-dome hood with dual heat extractors, front aero ducting, injection-molded front fascia, injection-molded side skirts and door cladding, front blacked-out grille and integrated front turn signals, injection-molded rear fascia, rear center body panel, rear spoiler with end caps, and a very bold rear wing. Everywhere I stop, I’m asked if this is the new Saleen Mustang, “it’s bold, it’s loud, and it must be a whole lot of fun to drive.” It’s true in every case. You can tell that it’s a Saleen Mustang because of the Saleen badges front, side and in the rear.

2006 S281 Supercharged

What makes the new 2006 Saleen Supercharged Mustang even more enjoyable is the upgraded interior. You get custom Saleen leather sport bucket seats with extra side bolstering, louvered head rests with embroidered Saleen lettering on the seatbacks, a Saleen-design instrument cluster with a 200 mph speedometer, and 8,000 rpm tachometer with smaller gauges in the middle for fuel, oil pressure, engine coolant temperature and volts.

On the shelf above the center stack is a pod containing a Saleen-design boost gauge and an air temperature gauge. You’ll notice the Saleen-design dash vents and bezels, Saleen steering wheel badge, Saleen performance driving pedals with driver foot brace, and a Saleen close-ratio shifter with the new billet shift knob. Open the doors and you’ll also see Saleen door sill plates for a real custom look.

Completing the authentication is a Saleen windshield graphic, Saleen fender badge, Saleen signature graphic on the lower doors, Saleen-serialized engine bay plaque, Saleen-serialized bumper number, Saleen-serialized dash plaque, Saleen championship wreath, S281 custom floor mats, Saleen key fob, a Saleen ‘Eagle One detail kit, and a Saleen owners document portfolio and warranty guide.

2006 S281 Supercharged

Saleen also offers many custom paint schemes, plus optional Saleen-design HID headlamps, a large glass Scenic Roof for the coupe model, a Saleen convertible Sport Bar that my test convertible came with, and the Saleen Speedster package – which consists of the Sport Bar with wind deflector and Speedster designed three piece tonneau cover that fits in the trunk with its own storage bag when not in use.

I enjoy every second behind the wheel of the new Saleen supercharged Mustang, whether I’m stuck in traffic with all eyes focused on the car, or traveling at triple-digit speeds on the open road with adrenaline rushing through my veins. If you’re serious about Mustangs, and you want to deal directly with one custom builder, then Saleen should be on the top of your list. With Ford standing behind Saleen, it’s hard to go wrong.

2006 S281 Supercharged

Power in the hands of a few was never so benevolent.

For more information about Saleen products, go to www.saleen.com

More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

2006 S281 Supercharged

Name of vehicle:
2006 Saleen S281 Supercharged Ford Mustang GT Convertible


4.6-liter, three-valve, aluminum V8 with Saleen intercooled twin-screw,
water-to-air supercharger

Drive configuration:
Front engine/rear-wheel-drive

Five-speed Quick-Ratio manual transmission, five-speed automatic optional

Front-MacPherson struts, lower control arm, Saleen Racecraft system with N2
struts, with linear rate coil-over springs, 1.36-inch tubular stabilizer bar,
urethane pivot bushings, sport -tuned by Saleen

Rear-Live axle located by three-links, plus Panhard rod, Saleen Racecraft system
with direct-acting linear-rate coil springs, N2 struts, 0.79in. solid stabilizer
bar, sport-tuned by Saleen

Front-14-inch slotted and vented with 4-piston calipers
Rear-11.8-inch solid disc, single-piston calipers

Front: 20X9 seven-spoke alloy wheels and P275/35ZR20 tires
Rear: 20X10 seven-spoke alloy wheels and P275/35ZR20 tires

Total length:
189.1 inches

Total width:
74 inches

Total height:
56 inches

Curb weight:
3,650 pounds


By: N.A. on April 29, 2006
Original Article: MERCURY, THE (HOBART)

Car To Watch

Victorian Craig Dean lost faith in the Mustang for more than two decades until Ford went back to the drawing board and released the latest version of the revered coupe.

Dean imported a 2006 Mustang Saleen S281SC and converted it to right-hand-drive for Targa Tasmania.

The way he is throwing the black beauty around on Tasmania’s roads this week, he is loving every second of it.

“It’s an awesome car to drive,” said Dean, who is competing with son Ben.

Dean’s Mustang is the only ’06 model racing in Australia.

His Mustang packs a 4.6-litre engine (281 cubic inches, as the name suggests) with a supercharger to add extra bang for your bucks.

It pumps out an impressive 435 horsepower to move the 1614kg car around at 25 litres per 100km in Targa competition mode.

“It’s been souped up for Targa,” Dean said.

“It’s the most high-performance model you can buy.”



DETROIT, Jan. 18 /PRNewswire/ — More than 40 production and concept vehicles on display at the 2006 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) tout laminated glass in side and rear windows, as well as roof applications, as reported by the Enhanced Protective Glass Automotive Association (EPGAA). Laminated glass has become a mainstream technology in the automotive industry, with approximately 1.3 million vehicles produced annually with laminated glass.

“It is the goal of the EPGAA to educate the industry and consumers on using laminated glass in applications other than windshields,” said Mike Sanders, EPGAA President and director for DuPont Automotive Safety Systems. “We are pleased to see the continued increase in adoption of laminated glass; it shows that automakers and consumers alike are realizing the extended benefits of this technology.”

Laminated glass is a high-impact resistant glass technology that automakers and car buyers have trusted for use in windshields for more than 60 years. In addition to windshield applications, laminated glass is being developed specifically for use in side and rear window, and roof applications. Laminated glass provides four key benefits, to help protect vehicle occupants:

In addition to meeting global automotive safety standards, laminated glass could help save up to 1,300 lives annually and reduce occupant ejection — according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

With a tough plastic interlayer or film composite, laminated glass provides significant increases to intrusion resistance — enough to deter most would-be thieves.

Sound Reduction
The interlayer in laminated glass helps provide protection from outside wind and road noises, keeping the car interior quieter and more comfortable. This benefit allows automakers to offer consumers a vehicle with additional value without significantly increasing the cost of the vehicle. Acoustic studies note that laminated glass reduces interior noise by three to four decibels, allowing for better conversation and use of entertainment equipment.

Solar Protection
With the help of an available infrared (IR) reflective coating, laminated glass provides several benefits to the interior of vehicles. Testing has shown vehicles equipped with laminated glass parked in the sun with the windows closed may reduce the effects of solar heat by up to 18 degrees F (10 degrees C) compared to standard tempered glass.

Laminated glass also offers several benefits from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays to protect vehicle occupants and interiors from the damaging effects of the sun. UV rays cause interior vehicle fabrics to fade and degrade, leather to age, and plastic and vinyl to crack, which laminated glass can help to prevent. According to the Australian Radiation protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPNSA), the laminated glass interlayer also screens up to 95 percent of damaging UV rays, providing a UV protection factor of 50+ SPF.

About the EPGAA
The Enhanced Protective Glass Automotive Association (EPGAA) is composed of laminate and glass providers to provide information and overall education on the development of laminated glass for added vehicle security, occupant comfort and safety. Currently, DuPont Automotive; Glasstech, Inc.; Guardian Industries Corp.; PPG Industries, Inc.; Saint-Gobain Sekurit; Sekisui America Corporation and Solutia Automotive are members of the EPGAA. For more information on the EPGAA, visit http://www.epgaa.com .

[SOURCE Enhanced Protective Glass Automotive Association]


By: BEN CUBBY and JORDAN BAKER on August 26, 2005

Barrister Wayne Baffsky usually arrives at court in style. His pride and joy is a black 1999 supercharged Mustang Saleen convertible, which carries the number plate 556A (a reference to a section of the Crimes Act which means that even though you have been found guilty, no conviction is recorded).

The wheels have certainly impressed the crowd at Glebe Coroner’s Court, where an inquest is under way into the alleged arsonist Max Gibson’s death by a “hot shot” of heroin. Baffsky is representing the Vincent clan, led by underworld figure Tony Vincent snr.

But yesterday his Mustang was nowhere to be seen. He told the coroner it was at the repair shop. While the car had been sitting in the court car park the day before, someone had scraped one side and driven two nails into a tyre on the other. “I put it on record,” Baffsky told Spike. “It may have been an accident.”

If you can’t beat ’em

Firebrand Murrandoo Yanner is going mainstream. The outspoken Aboriginal activist was this week elected to Burke Shire Council in north-west Queensland. It’s an organisation he has locked horns with for years.

Councillor Yanner will attend meetings, cut ribbons and second motions but, if his past is anything to go by, he won’t be able to keep a lid on things for long. When Palm Island erupted in riots last year, he said: “Bloody good on ya, one for us.” In 1997, he was convicted of three assaults outside the Burketown Pub and in 2003 was jailed for punching a Townsville nightclub manager into a pot plant. He is also inclined towards hyperbole.

Of his tribal initiation, he has said: “I lost my foreskin. They made it into a saddlebag for an elephant.” One of his biggest victories over Burke Shire came when he stopped construction work related to the Pasminco Century mine. The gig went to the neighbouring shire, and some locals are still bitter, though others seem to have forgiven him.

Local publican Peter Upton says there are two Murrandoos: the public loudmouth and the private gentleman, who is “well-spoken, intelligent and thinks things through”.

What shape, what style

Bulldogs bad boy Willie Mason was revealed as something of an artist last year, when his doodlings of a rabbit, a flower and some maniacal-looking faces were published in the Herald.

This week he was flexing his artistic muscles again. He was spotted at the launch of Sydney Art ’05, an art fair otherwise known as the Affordable Arts Show in less snobbish cities. The launch on Wednesday night was hosted by fellow sportsman Ian Thorpe, who had regular manbag Lee Furlong in tow.

Spike’s spy heard Mason giving a running commentary on the work in an apparent attempt to impress the attractive young woman by his side. At one stage, while gazing at a photo of a schoolgirl in her bedroom, he helpfully pointed out the Britney Spears poster on the young lady’s wall. Move over Robert Hughes.

What lies beneath

Yawning has become a political act in Queensland. The pineapple state’s Opposition Leader, Lawrence Springborg, has been chastised for yawning in Parliament as the Small Business Minister, Chris Cummins, was preparing to answer a question, AAP reported yesterday. The Speaker, Tony McGrady, said Springborg had been expressing his weariness all morning, and told him to get a good night’s sleep. Springborg countered by saying his yawns constituted a protest against the Labor Government’s rhetoric.

Springers has long been dogged by claims he is too bland to beat the flamboyant Premier, Peter Beattie. “I note that some people said I was too much of a Mr Nice Guy in asking questions to the Premier,” he told reporters shortly after he was elected in 2003. “So today I will come in here [to Parliament] and course my brow and clench my fists. Is that tough enough?”

Keeping it real

A Dutch television company will further push the limits of good taste and common sense with a new reality show called “I want your child … and nothing else!”

Backed by John de Mol, the man who created the Big Brother TV concept, the show features a woman choosing between candidates for a sperm donor to conceive a child. She will then be artificially inseminated, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s own version of reality television has got off the ground in Baghdad. About 2000 hopefuls have auditioned for Iraq Star, the local equivalent of Australian Idol. For security reasons, the final will be held in Beirut, and there is no studio audience. As the BBC points out, aspirants have often braved bullets and bombs just to reach the studio, only to have their egos badly bruised when they are bluntly told to go home and practise more often. On the bright side, they don’t have to have anything to do with Kyle Sandilands.

In union is strength

Labor MP Reba Meagher was the picture of wedded bliss last night as she ventured onto the social scene with her new husband, Tim Gleason, in tow. The pair eloped to Las Vegas to get married last month, and Meagher’s mother Jackie ended up watching the Vegas chapel ceremony from Western Australia via an internet link-up. Unfortunately Bob Carr’s resignation meant Meagher had to cut the honeymoon short so she could get back to Sydney and join the ALP caucus vote for a new premier. Gleason, Bob Carr’s former press secretary, is still looking for work. Last night the pair were spotted attending rising Sydney foodie Ross Dobson’s Chinatown book launch in Surry Hills.


By: JOHN GITTELSOHN on July 17, 2005

Who’ll Drive What?

Jul. 17–The Legislature adjourned for its month-long summer recess, and many lawmakers plan to spend their breaks serving constituents in their districts.

You might see them on the road in vehicles leased for them by the state. Call it a perk of power, although lawmakers do have to pay part of the lease costs. The rules say their choices are limited to U.S. brands or foreign-made hybrids.


1. Sen. Dick Ackerman, R-Irvine
2. Sen. John Campbell, R-Irvine
3. Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Santa Ana
4. Sen. Bob Margett, R-Arcadia
5. Sen. Bill Morrow, R-Oceanside
6. Assemblyman Rudy Bermdez, D-Norwalk
7. Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher, R-Brea
8. Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine
9. Assemblyman Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach
10. Assemblyman Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar
11. Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, R-Orange
12. Assemblyman Van Tran, R-Westminster
13. Assemblyman Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana
14. Assemblywoman Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel

A. 2005 Ford Mustang Saleen, $41,488
B. 2005 Cadillac CTS, $41,326
C. 2005 Cadillac CTS, $37,500
D. 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid, $32,000
E. 2003 GMC Yukon SLT 2WD, $38,259
F. 2004 Chevy Silverado Pickup, $37,860
G. 2005 Chrysler 300 Touring, $29,738
H. 2003 Toyota Prius, $22,122
I. 2004 Ford Explorer, $27,785
J. 2005 Ford Explorer, $38,310
K. 2003 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer, $37,069
L. 2005 Chrysler 300M Sedan, $35,158
M. No vehicle (Hint: Two answers)

Answers: 1-J, 2-A, 3-M (or N), 4-B, 5-F, 6-K, 7-C, 8-N (or M), 9-L, 10-I, 11-E, 12-G, 13-D, 14-H


By: KELLY TAYLOR on May 20, 2005
Original Article: WINNIPEG FREE PRESS (MB)

New Mustang droptop as impressive as the coupe

The problem with second chances is that they often show you got it wrong the first time around.

When I first drove the 2005 Ford Mustang — the new one — I was impressed at how well the latest generation of pony cars handled despite its yestertech solid rear axle.

Then when I took it on the track at last year’s Canadian Car and Truck of the Year TestFest, where cars are put through an exacting four-day test program and where the Mustang emerged as Canadian Car of the Year, I was further amazed. Solid axles aren’t supposed to work this well.

So when I stepped into the Mustang this week at Le Circuit de Mont Tremblant racetrack northwest of Montreal, I was expecting to find the problems I missed the first time around.

And while I was able to pick a few nits after driving a convertible back to Montreal, I still couldn’t find any reasonable complaints to make about the Mustang and its surprisingly good handling.

I tried. I went around the circuit for at least 15 laps, including three others with Champ Car racing star Alex Tagliani at the wheel, but it proved itself once again as the best sports car bargain on the market today.

You can toss it through corners with near-reckless aplomb. You can try to force its hand by running it over the apex curbs.

As with any car, you can get it out of shape. A grass fire in the driver’s rear wheel after a 445-horsepower Saleen Mustang got loose and found turf proved that. But you really have to be trying to be an idiot for that to happen.

“I want to know how close to the fence you were,” Tagliani said as graciously as possible to the driver who lost it just ahead of Tagliani.

“I was going too fast,” said the driver sheepishly. Hardly the car’s fault.

But even in non-Saleen form, the Mustang acquitted itself very well on the track. Considering you can get in to a Mustang GT for just a hair over $32,000, that’s quite an accomplishment.

While we had seat time in a coupe, the real purpose was to highlight the convertible, which went on sale this spring.

Considering the few visible changes to the body shape from the coupe, the convertible was surprisingly stiff, thanks to an extra 70 kilograms of high-strength steel in strategic locations around the chassis and an extra brace under the hood.

While it wasn’t as stiff as, say, a BMW Z4, the convertible displayed excellent handling overall, navigating the race track as adeptly as the coupe. Wind noise, at highway speed with the top down, was more than manageable, with fellow auto scribe Harry Pegg and I able to carry on a conversation as easily as in a hardtop.

There was some cowl shake on the worst bumps, and Quebec roads are notorious for their condition, but it was certainly not objectionable. Especially considering the price: $27,995 for a V6 base price and $36,795 for the GT.

The bump to the GT gets you a delightfully throaty, powerful V8, delivering 300 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. The V6 acquits itself nicely at 210 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque.

The nits I found to pick had nothing to do with its handling, power or overall performance. Sure, the five-speed gearbox takes a bit of getting used to before third gear engages smoothly, but there’s little else to complain about performance wise.

Complaints instead are generally minor, with one exception: driving a convertible back from Mont Tremblant to Montreal showed the aluminum brightwork across the dash kicks up waaaay too much glare under sunny skies than is tolerable for the passenger, where the aluminum is most expansive, but also for the driver. The flat black is a much better choice.

Some of the finish work is a tad crude: the box housing the overhead lights seems plunked unharmoniously on the headliner, with crude-looking but good-feeling switches for the lights.

The only trunk release other than on the trunk lid itself is on the key fob, which means you have to fumble for the fob if you need to open the trunk but don’t want to take the keys out of the ignition.

Admittedly, minor, but no objective report on the Mustang could exclude them.

Overall the Mustang, in coupe or convertible form, remains a head-turner.

New for 2006 is a Pony Package, which brings to the V6 version the fog lights of the V8, upgraded suspension and some brightwork inside (fine for the coupes, see above), and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Also out now is the Saleen Mustang, which includes a number of upgrades, starting with a new grille, new front fascia, new rear fascia, new exhaust system and upgraded shifter knob. For even more dough, Saleen will bolt on an intercooled supercharger, bringing horsepower up to 445 horsepower as well as a healthy increase in torque.

An upgraded suspension — but still not independent rear — makes the car handle better but also makes it less forgiving to less-skilled hands. Saleen takes the cars from Ford and does their work before selling them, with warranty, to the public. Saleen Canada is working to line up a dealer in Winnipeg — as part of an existing Ford store — soon.


Our trip to Mont Tremblant was also intended to highlight the improvements to the 2005 Focus. And while I was quite impressed with its handling on the track, two of the Focuses were retired. One died, another was losing power, a malady corrected quickly with the scan tool. The problems on the one that died weren’t diagnosed. After lunch, no more Focuses were allowed on the track.

Granted, track time stresses a car much more than street driving, especially when piloted by journalists of varying skill levels.

But while driving the Focus on the street, it proved itself as one of the leading cars in the economy segment. It handles great, it’s comfortable to drive and it comes with the Canadian winter package, which adds heated seats and heated mirrors as well as traction control. Good value on those cold, slippery January days.

Aside from some cosmetic changes, which include stiffening for crash safety and a new interior that replaces the odd-looking creation in the original, the Focus remains on the same platform as before.

Look for the next Focus to ride on a revised version of the wonderful Mazda3 platform.