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Mon 25 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Used cars

If you think of yourself as a modern day Steve McQueen, you'll want to get a Mustang. Tom Bird tells you how.

If you think of yourself as a modern day Steve McQueen, you'll want to get a Mustang. Tom Bird tells you how.

When ford revealed the Mustang in Detroit in 2004, little did it know that it would trigger a rennaissance in pony and muscle cars harking back to the good old days of the 1960s. Its ‘retro-futuristic' design echoes the Mustangs from such cinematic classics like Bullitt and Gone in 60 Seconds.

The Mustang has been in constant production since the mid-'60s, but we conveniently forget the troubled '80s and '90s era cars, and suggest you do the same. Enthusiasts around the world clambered to get their hands on the latest model with many cars being personally imported to areas where Ford doesn't sell the car officially. In the region, Ford started selling the GT coupe model from mid 2006, with the GT500 version having arrived officially in the past few months.

Many lambasted Ford for fitting a live rear axle to the Mustang instead of fully independent rear suspension. The blue oval cites cost reasoning, claiming that the more complex suspension system would have added $5000 to the price of a new Mustang. However, Mustang fans do not mind the more basic setup as it allows them to modify their 'Stang without having to dump expensive components when fitting aftermarket performance parts.

Admittedly, the Mustang is not the last word in handling - driving it back to back against something like a BMW M3 will show just show good a rear-wheel drive car can be. But, the Mustang has a certain old-school charm to it. Switch off the electronics via a simple button on the centre console, and the Mustang will burn rubber like it was born to do it.

The ability to perform lurid oversteering powerslides and burnouts are increasingly being engineered out of modern day cars, but the Mustang will spin those rear wheels at a drop of a hat.

Standard 4.6-litre V8 GTs have 330bhp and 320lb ft of torque and are good for 0-100kph in 5.2secs (5.1 with the manual box) and a 230kph top speed.

The choice between auto or manual is a personal one - the auto box will be more relaxing to drive in traffic, but the manual will deliver more to the demanding driver - though the clutch pedal is quite heavy and the gearshift isn't very slick.

Though officially a four-seater, the perches in the back aren't exactly huge, but the boot is a useful size. One of the benefits of the high-riding nature of the Mustang, is that you can drive on broken surfaces or across dirt trails without fear of grounding out. Speed bumps won't damage your front bumper either.

Used Mustangs are plentiful in the region - private examples can be found advertised online or in the local papers from around $22,000, and many second hand dealers have one in the showroom - though more often than not it's a grey import V6, which aren't exactly exciting.

Ford dealers will have ex-demo V8 GTs which will have been well looked after and will come with a warranty - expect to pay a premium on these.

Avoid the Convertible version - it has truly atrocious scuttle shake and is terrible to drive at anything over walking pace. Get the coupe, turn the air-con up and burn some rubber!

Checklist...Tyred outWith its tail happy nature, it easy for the Mustang's rear tyres to wear out a lot quicker than the fronts, so check the tread of all four tyres and ensure that you rotate tyres from the front to the rear of the car regularly to keep an even wear rate between the tyres.

Go faster stripes

You'll be hard pushed to find a Mustang in the region without Shelby-esque stripes running across the full length of the car. But to keep you on the correct side of the law and avoid being pulled over by the police and even having your Stang impounded, your documents must note that the car is finished in two colours.

Join the club

The Dubai Mustang Club - www.dubaimustangclub.com - is a popular site where local owners talk all things 'Stang and are more than willing to help wannabe owners consider their options before buying a Mustang. They also arrange days out to the must drive Jebel Hafeet mountain road and local track days.

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