I dislike American cars. To be more specific, I dislike the concept of the muscle car: massive engines producing largely inefficient power figures, massive proportions, and the inability to turn anything more than a gently sweeping corner. Engineering wise, muscle cars had very little innovation, in my opinion.
When my editor sent me on an assignment to feature the one and only modern day Mustang in Bangladesh, I figured I would be standing by my stance on the pseudo-retro muscle car business. He saw it as an opportunity to change it. Would I change my mind? If any car could, it would probably be the successor to the crowning moment of Ford's glittering past.
Yasir M. Faisal wanted a car that would stand out in Dhaka. Seeing a distinct lack of American iron on Dhaka's streets, and having been fascinated with the legacy and almost 60 years of heritage that the Mustang badge offered, he knew what he wanted to get. It couldn't be any regular Mustang though, and his search for a car led him to the Mustang GT California Special, a convertible special edition built to commemorate the success of the original 1968 California Mustang.
Brought in from UAE, the Mustang was originally black. Thinking it would disappear in Dhaka traffic (despite its large proportions and iconic design),Yasir decided it needed new paint. Settling for a metallic gold-yellow with black stripes, the end result is definitely a head turner. In fact, while Tasdid was shooting the thuggishly beautiful car in the searing afternoon sun, Yasir and I stepped back and watched as every passing car slowed down going past it, passengers gaping at it from a distance. Sitting in the left hand side of a modern but retro-styled cabin, Yasir says he feels like a celebrity while driving it.
Roof down, the car soaks in the sun in true Californian fashion. Sitting on the tarmac, the Mustang's handsome, sun drenched features reflected everything in sight, and gave off a vibe that spelled out “P-O-W-E-R”.
A ride along on the empty roads of Baridhara dictated those letters to the car's occupants. Equipped with a torque converter automatic, the Mustang is surprisingly easy to bring up to speed. Just step on the right pedal, and the throaty burble from the 4.6 liter V8 thickens into a full blown roar. The front end rises up marginally, trying to lift itself up to meet the sky, and the car surges forward effortlessly without the drama of a lighter car. With the soft-top up, the wind rushes in between the thin gaps, making the whole ordeal a frenzy of sound, speed and power. It's quite the rush.
When I ask Yasir about the handling, he cracks into a sheepish smile. “Its difficult, driving this thing in traffic. If you're not careful it can break traction very easily, and its best to take the corners as slowly as possible. I've never had any close calls with this car, but you can tell when driving it.”
As far as modifications go, other than a K&N air intake, a Borla exhaust and bigger brakes, the Mustang is pretty much stock otherwise. Handling modifications are on the cards, unless Yasir goes abroad for higher studies before any more work can be done on the car. The wheels are from a Shelby GT, and look the part in contrast with the paintjob.
Have I been convinced? Well, in terms of straight line speed from a standing start, few cars can come close to the torque delivery of a big American V8. It also has the presence and charisma expected of such an iconic marque. However, I'd take a tuned STi or Evolution any day, while paying due respect to the legacy of the Mustang.
Photos: Tasdid Chowdhury