Funny things, muscle cars. On the face of it, they're the embodiment of affordable performance, the attainable fast car dream for the working man. Or, at least, they are from where we sit gazing across the Atlantic. How we dreamed at the thought of a massive V8 and hooligan performance for the price of a hot hatch, how we wept at the reality of paying double the money to drive a left-hooker import costing more than an M3 but with cabin plastics that would embarrass a Euro-spec Fiesta.
JAN 31st 2017
Dan Trent: Dreaming of track day Top Trumps in a Mustang GT350
Now, of course, you CAN buy a V8 Mustang for the price of a Focus RS and with the wheel on the correct side of the car. And the 5.0 GT finally brings the dream of affordable V8-powered yee-haw excitement to British roads.
Call me ungrateful but I'm still looking at the Mustangs we can't buy here. Specifically the Shelby GT350 and the track-ready, carbon-wheeled GT350R. Back home these cost about $20,000 more than a standard 5.0 GT Fastback, which is more than half as much again but still $10,000 less than a BMW M4. And, believe me, the GT350 is much, MUCH more car than an M4.
Ironically it's actually close in spirit to the V8 M3 that car replaced. The 5.0-litre V8 is totally revised, expanded to 5.2 litres and gets a Ferrari-style flat-plane crank to permit an 8,250rpm redline. Yes, in an American V8. It delivers 526bhp and 429lb ft of good old-fashioned naturally aspirated grunt. It has a six-speed manual gearbox – a lightweight Tremec in place of the standard GT's Getrag as evidence of the attention to detail. By all accounts it is set up to actually, y'know, go round corners as well as demolish standing quarters and humble stoplight chancers. You can have it with adjustable magneto-rheological dampers and it has Brembo brakes as standard. And stripes. Of course, it has stripes. And if you go full beans and go for the R you get a c. 60kg weight saving, much of which is credited to super trick carbon fibre wheels.
I really, really like the idea of a muscle car you could take to a European track day, out-drag GT-Rs and Porsches up the straights AND show them a clean set of rear wheels through the corners. Brawn aplenty with brains to match it is very much my kind of car.
But we're back to that original muscle car problem. By the time a car that's a conspicuous bargain in the States lands here it's become expensive. Really, really expensive. Mustang experts Bill Shepherd are advertising a standard GT350 as sold at £84,500 and Clive Sutton has an R for sale at – wait for it – £112,500. It is, in short, an awful lot of money for a car that retails for $62,345 back home.
Daft, right? Yes, but to put that into context equivalent track-prepped special edition coupes are similar money. A C63 Black Series will cost you £100K or so, NISMO GT-Rs start at £130K and a BMW M4 GTS is a burly £170K. Special cars all of them. And exactly the kind of scalps it would be VERY satisfying to claim at the wheel of a supposedly knuckle-headed muscle car with stripes and a wing on the back.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call man maths in action! Think of it as a more palatable way of making America great again.
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