Ford Mustang Classic V8

Tests courtesy of "Mustang A Complete Guide a Car Life special Edition", printed 1965


When the Mustang was unveiled in the Spring of 1964, Ford Motor Company called it a 1965 model to emphasize its newness. There had been some question in the minds of many whether it was really going to be all new, or whether it would be a special-bodied Falcon. Advance leaks of details about dimensions and power-plans contributed to the impression of a Falcon-Mustang relationship similar to Volkswagen-Karman Ghia.

Once the engineering story was available, however, in the form of the final metal-and-rubber cars, there could no longer be any such question. The car was distinct from the Falcon, though it uitilized major Falcon components, and in the higher powered versions it was indeed closer to the Fair-lane. As engine size went up, Fairlane drive-trains were automatically installed.

But there was another question about the 1965 designation that had to await answering at the more traditional announcement time of September. The question concerned engines. During the 1964 model year. Falcons were equipped with either 144- or 170-cu. in. Sixes, both versions of the same block, or, as the top option, the thinwall 260-cu. in. V-8 of Fairlane derivation. The Fairlane, on the other hand,. had as basic engines the 200-cu. in. version of the 6-cyl. block as well as the 260 V-8, but most commonly was built with the enlarged 289 V-8.

For the Mustang, engineers gathered from both parts bins. The standard Six at announcement was the 170, developing 101 bhp at 4400 rpm. Then the buyer had a choice:

The 260 V-8 rated at 164 bhp at 4400 rpm with single 2-barrel carburetor, or the larger 289 which developed 210 bhp at 4400 with a single 4-barrel carburetor. The solid-lifter, 271-bhp version of the 289 was not immediately available and did not become so, in fact, until late in the summer. That one was, for all practical purposes, an actual 1965 model since its availability hardly preceded that of the new models in the other Ford lines.

It was when the 1965 announcement circus was underway, however, that it became evident two special Mustangs now had a place in the specialized car category. The dropping of the 260 engine from production (for all Fords) and the substitution of the 200-cu. in. Fairlane Six for the Mustang meant only one thing: 260 Mustangs and 170 Mustangs were now collectors' items, or if you will, "Classics."

How did it happen that the Mustang could be classic-ized between April and September? Many factors were involved, but the basic decider was public demand. The 289/210 Mustangs were far and away the leader in buyer orders during the hectic time following April when production fell so far behind sales. Dealers originally had a "market mix" which researchers had determined would handle most-on-the-spot buyers, and they did. So many buyers were left standing in line after the initial shipments had been snapped up that production wouldn't keep pace. But, in concert with the initial concept of tailoring their own car to their own specifications, they were ordering 289 V-8s. There was a concurrent under-current of skepticism about the adequacy of the 170 Six, although they were being ordered at a rate about equal to the 289s.

So, Ford acted by dropping the 260 and 170, substituting a 2-barrel 289 of 195 bhp (later 200 bhp) and the Fairlane 200, still with single throat carburetor and 120 bhp. Thus were two classics born.

It's all a little sad, in a way. Both of the classic Mustangs were highly satisfying and pleasant vehicles, fitting ideally into their predetermined niches in the Mustang picture. Car Life editors tested the pair in Dearborn before introduction day and came away convinced that they performed with the best Detroit has brought out. The report stated the cars "may well be, in fact, better than any domestically mass-produced automobile on the basis of handling and readability and performance, per dollar invested."

Only one of the five pre-production cars which CL tested had the 260-cu. in. V-8 and Cruise-0-Matic, and it was fitted with the normal off-the-shelf suspension components. Handling characteristics had that typical Ford feel which is to say, confidence-inspiring if a bit nose-heavy until the car was pressed. Then, when deliberately stormed too fast around the Dearborn test track handling circuit, with its series of turns of lessening, radii, the Mustang came into its element. So long as power was judiciously applied, it seemed to lift its nose and negotiate the bends in a perfect drift. Only minor steering corrections were necessary to maintain this attitude, despite road surface irregularities; body lean (and hence adverse tire scrub) was at a minimum.

The margin between drift and broadslide, of course, is as narrow as a tug on the steering wheel, but not once was the car's attitude anything but the former while at speed. On the other hand, the plowing of understeer caused some worry as to whether the road would be wide enough when the same circuit was attempted at lesser velocities. At such moments, however, throttle-induced oversteer (with two aboard) quickly righted the wrong.

Even to those conversant with Ford Fairlane and Mercury Caliente handling, such characteristics with the stock, general-purpose underpinnings on the Mustang were exhilarating. It was obvious that the car had borrowed more suspension from those two than from the Falcon, though its dimensions had led some (including us) to expect the Mustang to be merely a Falcon Sprint "special."

There should be little doubt that the special handling suspension options could produce a nearly optimum vehicle for serious, European-style rallying and American-style road racing. Aiding and abetting this fine edge of handling excellence, of course, was the selection of wheel and tire options available when the car was ordered.

Straight-line performance of the car was expected to be brisk and our test figures show that it was. But the biggest surprise to our testers was the performance of the 6-cyl. basic Mustang. This car, which had differing spring rates at each wheel (for engineering tests) and thereby was eliminated from handling considerations, demonstrated a lurch off the line that was startling, in view of the engine's marginal performance in earlier Falcons of our acquaintance. ,

The performance improvement must definitely be attributed to the 3-speed automatic transmission. Hooking this transmission to the engine rather than the Falcon 2-speed proves the truth of that old adage: "If it won't go, gear it." Here is a car that, while designed for the little woman with its economical Six and efficient automatic, avoids the stigma of underpowering by a most effective utilization of available torque.

Best balanced of the Mustangs tested was the 260 with automatic. With the 2-barrel carburetor and 3.00:1 rear axle ratio, it should return quite acceptable fuel mileage figures to a vast segment of car buyers. Had it not been equipped with air conditioner, its performance figures would have been more inspirational.

With all the emphasis on go-power, the brakes assume greater importance. Here again, it seems that more development work is in order. The "disc brake option, which hadn't materialized at the time of the test, was expected to bring this characteristic up to the standard set by the rest of the design. The CL decelerometer registered stopping powers in the 18-21 ft./sec./sec. range, that vast average for all domestic cars, but some insight into the problem may have been lent by Executive Engineer Jack Prendergast in one of the design objectives involving brakes was pedal pressures at 0.7 G stopping power. Once this pressure (65 Ibs. for the Six, 72 Ibs. for the V-8) was achieved, further development on brakes apparently ceased. Hence these cars and by inference other domestic cars are engineered only to provide 0.7 G (which translates into 18 ft./sec./sec. stopping rate on the decelerometer) as a result of a ratio established by an engineering and cost per unit minimum.

Steering on the test cars was quite precise, but the purists will still feel that the faster ratio remains too slow. An annoyance was the deep-dish steering wheel, projecting too far toward the driver's chest, even with the seat at its most rearward notch.

These Mustangs have had a significant effect on the domestic automobile scene, more so perhaps than had they incorporated revolutionary concepts. They stood as the culmination, the sum total of 35 years of development, executed with an awareness of the proper order of motoring requirements.

But our testers made one error in judgment then. The Mustang 260, they reported, "will undoubtedly be the hottest-selling combination, providing as it does quite respectable acceleration and performance for the minimal extra cost of V-8 and automatic." The ever-fickle public outwitted us as well as the Ford marketing planners, plunking down even more cash to opt for the highest power they could get for their Mustangs. One result was a serious shortage of 289 engine blocks, which persisted through the end of 1964. Another was the determination to accept less-desirable weight balance in return for accelerative performance by rejecting the 260. And, of course, there was the result of creating a Mustang Classic.


Mustang has everything going for it except exclusivity. It's impossible to drive more than a few miles without spotting one or more. They've grown so commonplace that Mustangs don't bother to wave at each other. Not that they could expect recognition from those who remember the special art of waving, but some sort of camaraderie might have been hoped for. Anyway, it didn't happen and now there's discouragement in numbers.

That was all part of another era, a time when brave iconoclasts took to newly re-discovered sports cars from overseas in revolt against growing Detroit ostentation and ossification. Certainly it was a rare wave who was seated in a car which commanded an annual production rate approaching a single month's output of Mustangs. That was basic to the ritual, and dearness in price served as another criterion. But few, very few, were more unadulterated automobile than the range pony from the Rouge River Valley .

It has been more than one year since the first of the thundering herd pounded over the horizon. It was an epic scene:

News magazines reported the event in depth, corporate medicine men rhythmically beat the tom-toms, crowds of the curious and the enthusiastic inspected the all-too-rare specimen which could be held in some dealer's corral. There were scoffers and doubters aplenty; there still are. But there were also those who detected the bloodlines of the thoroughbred, the sinewy stock of the tough cactusland cayuse and the nimble balance of a polo pony all blending into a hybrid breed. Those who saw this apparently numbered thousands and so began some of the most spirited horse-trading ever seen inside this country's sales barns.

During that first year, Mustangs were purchased in such ever-increasing numbers that only three other brands could claim more action, if not reaction. This automobile in 12 months' time outdistanced at least a dozen other major domestic brands including, it should be noted, some other potent and racy machinery though it had handicapped itself by a few years in the sales race. Hardly a recognized measuring point passed that the Mustang didn't surpass some record in its breakneck overhaul of its competitors. At the end of its first nine months, it had surpassed the unthink able 250,000 landmark in sales; before its first anniversary 400,000 had been sold and it was still running strong. popularity in itself some measure of the machine?

Of the three makes still ahead of Mustang in sales, could be considered more than a mere appliance devised pamper man's lethargy, strangle his rapidly dwindling road space, and satisfy his acquisitonal instincts for largesse. Mustang appeals to other appetites and may well carry a message for those cars it has passed as well as those which it still presses.

To discover (or more correctly, to rediscover) those traits which have helped Mustang gallop to its present pinnacle, we borrowed one of the most popular versions of the car powered by the 225-bhp V-8, driving through an automatic transmission, and was fitted with the optional front wheel disc brakes which had been so long awaited. The conservative dark green color was complemented with a two-tone green interior, and with a thin, white pin-stripe out- I lining the side panel indentation in place of the phony rear scoop, it was a picture of tastefulness.

Here was a car that wanted to run. With the relatively long 3.00:1 rear axle ratio, it was in its element on long open ¦ stretches of highway. It could cruise contentedly hour after hour without faltering, all the time exhibiting a healthy respect for the price of gasoline. There are, of course, more economical Mustangs but they are not quite so happy when great stretches of time and distance are to be faced.

Yet, it also had a certain impatience when forced into run-ing short errands. Though not the sprinter some of its empowered and shorter-geared companions are, it none the less let the driver know it preferred to do and be done these menial chores with briskness and dispatch. Idling around town to gawk at the scenery was a situation which made this car decidedly unhappy.

With free-breathing 4-barrel carburetion, its engine almost craved exercise. The torque converter of its 3-speed Cruise-0-Matic transmission would whisk it away from the stop light and, if one wasn't paying full attention, have shifted into high and be charging away from the traffic pack before the driver awoke to the fact. Part of the reason this, to be sure, was its lack of fussiness The engine and transmission worked so well together around town that there is only the low hum of an underhood lullaby to intrude on the driver's reverie.

Adding to the pleasantness and, in some cases, exhilaration of the car was its nimbleness and responsiveness. While quite on par with some imported cars, it was of a quality to shame most other domestic autos. The Mustang's major vice was present, to be sure, in an occasional reluctance to keep its rear tires working during periods of exuberant cornering particularly on wet or rough pavement. But even this was well within bounds and easily corrected and controlled.

The 6.95-14 tires with which the test car was fitted keep its handling qualities on the plus side. But the tires also contributed to a sizeable speedometer error, just as they enhanced the aforementioned impression of easy distance driving. The-ultraconservative speedometer readings, in particular, meant that the braking tests were spectacular than bargained for, as later calculations revealed.

The brakes one of the primary reasons for testing the car were the optional 11.375-in. front wheel discs of ventilated cast iron with regular 10-in. rear drums. Usual testing procedure is to apply full pressure, just short of locking the wheels, twice in succession from 80 mph and recording the maximum deceleration rate. The disc/drum system performed quite well, registering a best-of-the-line 23 ft/sec./ sec. with no evidence of fade. The rear drums did show a tendency to bind from the effects of a lighter rear loading and the natural weight shift toward the front, but this was easily controlled by backing off the pedal slightly. Braking effectiveness, in fact, was almost directly proportional to the amount of pedal pressure, since the system did not include power assist. It was just as well that they did a better than average job of pinching off speed, however, because the road used for the test ended rather abruptly at a highway department barrier. Had the drivers known they were stopping from almost 10 mph faster, or had they been in a car with lesser brakes, the deceleration rates would have registered a sudden all-time high.

Fat-treaded tires are not to be discounted in their aid to braking as well as traction (which amount to the same thing), but the normal road test braking results corresponded well with earlier comparative tests which Car Life conducted among all five domestic makes which offer the disc systems. At that time, 10 consecutive stops were made from 80 mph and the Mustang averaged between 24 and 26 ft./sec./sec., with a one-time best stop of 29. However, the same tendency for the rear to lock was evident then, to a greater degree than was the case with Continental and Thunderbird. It would seem that the pressure limiting valves for the rear hydraulic lines on the latter two, designed to overcome this problem, did somewhat the better job. They cut in at 450 psi line pressure while the Mustang's goes to work at only 300.

Nonetheless, the Mustang's disc brake option (which costs $54 extra) overcomes one of the two major shortcomings which the car has had for the serious driver. The other-quicker and even more precise steering is still to come. But the car now is able to stop as well as go, which can be the more important consideration when things get tight.

And "tight" is a perfect description of the test car after the drivers rolled up many miles on it. Despite its lower-priced nature, this and most other Mustangs we have tried seemed solidly built. No creaking joints or groaning body panels materialized, which says volumes about the basic engineering involved in the platform frame. There was some drumming noise transmitted through the body from the road surface, as is true of all unitized cars, but it was hardly objectionable. The non-fussy nature of the engine conspired with the taut construction to make this example a real Quiet One.

During the past year, various owners have complained in some measure about the Mustang's seating and comfort, particularly on longer trips. Though our test drivers took special note of this, they could find only one area for complaint: The lack of rear seat armrests, in company with the "coved" rear seat back, left passengers behind with nothing to hang onto when the maneuvering began to get brisk. Cornering at anything above tuming-into-the-driveway speeds meant the rear passengers, were sliding around a bit.

Still, in the final analysis, we found ourselves growing more attached to the Mustang. Those feelings of fondness which it awakened in us when it first appeared have stayed with us and, if anything, intensified as we have tried successive specimens.


Likening the Ford-produced automobile to its purposeful namesake is pretty easy to do, particularly where the High Performance Mustang version is concerned. The attributes of the muscle and bone mustang would seem to be those of the steel and rubber Mustang. It's the sort of car a man can become attached to, although he probably won't feel quite as romantic about it as The Cowboy does about His Horse.

The HP Mustang is specified here because of its obvious superiority to the more mundane everyday Mustang. Where the latter has a style and a flair of design that promises a road-hugging sort of performance, and then falls slightly short of this self-established goal, the HP Mustang backs up its looks in spades. It promises, it delivers, and for good measure it does even more than one could reasonably expect.

The editors had the opportunity of trying one of the first production-line HP Mustangs and it was a delightful experience to all who drove the car. We put it through our usual paces (see data panel) and added a few hi-jinks just for fun. We took it up and down our favorite mountain road, where it acquitted itself with vigor and nobility, and we took it on some high-speed desert highway runs; then we just pottered around town, commuting through traffic to and from our offices and battling the freeway tides.

For a high-performance sort of car it is unusually versatile;

it accepts without fuss any treatment outside of fourth-gear starts. It is docile enough for 2-gear (second and fourth) driving, yet it is fierce enough to achieve under-16-sec. quarter-mile bursts of acceleration and stable enough to challenge and master that twisting mountain road. And in 1500 miles of this now-torturous, now-easy testing, we uncovered only one weakness of structure, a faulty clutch disc spring.

To cope with the power from the HP 289 V-8, Ford equips the Mustang with a 10.40-in. heavy-duty clutch disc and semi-centrifugal cover assembly. This latter makes the clutch grip harder as rpm increase, but also tends to raise the pedal pressure needed to release the clutch at high engine rpm. A weak spring in the test Mustang caused incomplete release of the disc and consequent "hanging up" of the gears when rapid shifts were attempted. This condition was worsened when the clutch release actuating rod became kinked, and finally the clutch would not release at all. Some quide Service at our friendly local HP dealer (Shelly-American. Inc.) put the car back onto the road, the problem apparently cured by the replacement of the spring and the rod.

The key component in the transformation of the ordinary Mustang to one suiting the HP label is the power plant. Where the standard engine is an in-line ohv 6 cyl. of 200 cu. in. and 120 bhp (formerly 170 cu. in. and 101 bhp). Ford offers optional V-8 power at 289 cu. in./200 bhp, 289/225 and 289/271 (with another 260-164 discontinued) levels. Obviously, horsepower increases, performance rises accordingly. So, the 289-cu. in./271-bhp unit is going to give the highest performance and thus this is the "HP" unit. Since the time this appeared, however, special Shelby Mustangs called GT-350s have gone into production and blurred that distinction, but they are relatively limited in availability.

There's more than just a label here, of course, as this 271-bhp engine is basically identical to the ones which powered the potent little AC Cobras (before the 1963 racing season) and the HP Fairlanes. More than just higher compression (10.5:1 vs. 9.00:1), these are HP engines from crankshaft to carburetor. Cranks, bearings, rods and pistons are all tougher, more durable design and material, the camshaft is of much "wilder" specification, lifting valves higher and leaving them open longer (306°) for optimum breathing at high rpm, the heads have more open ports and the carburetor, a single 4-throat Holley unit, has larger barrels and somewhat richer jetting than would be used in the normal 4-barrel unit.

These improvements over the standard sort of V-8 are aimed at giving the HP-289 a whole new area of operation over 5000 rpm, where the other engines are flat out from gasping for air. Indeed, we found the optimum shift points for the HP Mustang to be 6500 rpm, where a 289/225 tested earlier had to be shifted at 4800 rpm. In testing the Cobra at one time, however, we found that it could be shifted happily at an even higher point (6800-7000 rpm) because of a more "open" exhaust system from which the HP Mustang could benefit, too.

Straight-line acceleration is not the forte of this engine/ axle combination, however. The test car had 3.89:1 differential gears, which were just a little too low (numerically) for good drag racing acceleration (4.11s or 4.56s are available) and a little too high for ground-gulping road-running. The Mustang option list Includes a set of 3.50:1 gears and these, we feel, would give the car a little more room to stretch out in. With the 3.89s the car just barely pulls 6500 rpm, which works out at 120 mph top speed. With 3.50s, the mph/1000 ratio would increase from 18.5 to 20.5 whereas with 4.1Is it would drop to 17.5 (with the same tires

The transmission is Ford's new-last-year 4-speed synchromesh unit, which replaced the Warner Gear T-10 box formerly in Ford products] The newer unit. has extremely good gear spacing, 8.32:1 working out well as a starting gear, 1.69:1 being in about the right range to use for tight cornering, and 1.28:1 making a fine passing gear. The balk-ring synchros make shifting sure arid easy.

The other part of the high-performance label applies to the suspension, where the Mustang achieves a notable level of cornering and directional stability. Again, standard components are replaced with units of sturdier specifications. Front and rear roll rates are increased with stiffer springs while shock absorbers are recalibrated to provide a firmer damping of spring action. Briefly, the specifications are thus:

HP Normal

Anti-roll bar dia., in. 0.840 0.690 Roll rate, ft. Ib., front 438 308

rear 340 260 Spring rate, rear, Ib./in. 110 65 Spring jounce, front 230 130

rear 230 140 Spring rebound, front 320 160

rear 370 210 Shock absorbers, cycles/min. 170 n.a.

stroke, in. 3.00 n.a.

The effect of this stiffening is to increase the resistance to body roll during cornering, thus keeping the tires at more desirable angles of contact with the pavement. Although this does nothing to improve the hefty forward weight bias (56%), it does help combat the strong understeer such a situation creates. Coupled with the ultra-low profile, wide-tread Firestone Super Sport 5.90-15 racing tires, the result is a fine-handling car capable of sticking to any highway at any speed it can attain.

(It should be noted that shortly after our test was made, the company quietly dropped the Firestone tire option and offered instead the U. S. Royal 800 tire with dual red-striped sidewalk. Handling characteristics with the new tires probably are affected only mildly since the same 6-in. rims are used.)

The understeer is still strong and particularly resists any turning of the car off a straight line at low speeds, where the optional manual steering ratio of 21.0 3.5 turns, lock to lock, adds to the muscle-power required. But once a good drifting turn is started, the car's attitude can be controlled with the throttle and most corners can be accomplished in spectacular fashion. At about 80-85 mph the car achieves a "neutral steer" in fast cornering and it is at about this speed that true 4-wheel drifts can be developed.

Heavy-duty brakes unfortunately are not included in the High Performance package and at the time of the test there were no options available except for a power booster. However, the Mustang now has a disc brake system option to fill such a glaring void. The HP Mustang tested had the same brakes as all other V-8 Mustangs and the results of our stopping tests were about the same: Barely adequate for normal use but too quick to fade for safe high-speed stopping.

The actual body/frame structure of the HP version is the same as other production Mustangs and as such continues the low-priced bargain concept. Indeed, while the HP packages (the stiff er suspension can be purchased with any engine) add upwards of $450 onto the base price of the car, it is still possible to get a rip-snorting, big-muscled go-pony for right around $3000 a real bargain in performance.

It's all the more a bargain because the same sportive interior appointments the full carpets and color-matched vinyl upholstering remain in the car.

We can only add that this is the sort of Mustang that Ford ought to build more of; it has the guts of its namesake, the looks of a thoroughbred and the fleetness of a Native Dancer. It's been some time since we enjoyed doing a road test so much; in the words of another, non-automotive (Ol' Ern') Ford, "It was rode hard and put away wet."

If Ford Motor Company had the foresight to build the Mustang in Europe, with its new-for-1965 /200-cu. inline Six, the car would have been hailed by automotive enthusiasts everywhere as an example of exceptional engineering and, perhaps, even as A Real Sports Car.

After all, the "secretary's sports car," as the "basic Mustang has come to be known, has perfectly acceptable performance for Europe . Its 90 mph top speed is respectable enough, its engine, had it come from Europe , would be viewed as a marvel of engineering ingenuity, and to have an automatic transmission hooked to such a huge powerplant would be hailed as the utmost in luxury.

Moreover, it easily outruns Volkswagens and assorted cars of similar ilk, its handling and maneuvering is sprightly enough, it cradles one in American comfort and relatively embarrassing richness, and it can brag about tough and tenacious relatives while disdaining itself any appearances in the competitive pits and paddocks.

So it is that, in getting acquainted with this Stewardess' Six-Pack, we see the engine as an -interesting development, if not a marvel of engineering achievement. The 200-cu. in. Six is a thorough redesign of the earlier block which had been in use since the 1960 models. It's the largest of the 144 (now discontinued) 170-200-cu. in. family of engines, with an oversquare, 3.68 x 3.13-in. bore and stroke. Engineers have laid in three additional webs for the main bearings and redesigned the crankshaft to ride in them, thereby bringing the engine up to snuff in an era of 7-main bearing 6-cyl. designs. Strength and stamina thus assured, attention was then turned briefly to the upper end.

In the cylinder head, it was found that valves of 1.62 and 1.36 in. could be accommodated without strain, representing enlargement from 1.52 and 1.27 in. intakes and exhausts, respectively. Camshaft timing was altered, too, the new sequence of 7-65-55-21 being on the wilder side, though hardly enough to notice. Compression ratio was increased from 8.7 to 9.2:1. The resultant 4-bhp increase still peaks out at 4400 rpm and the torque peak of 190 Ib.-ft. — up from 174 — still comes at 2400 rpm. The significant cost of this work is an additional 15 Ib., for a total engine weight of 380 Ib.

One of the benefits of the 7-bearing design is increased engine smoothness, though modem vibration dampers and other design considerations seldom let the older 4-main engines seem particularly obtrusive. There's no doubt that this revamped Six is smooth, but it wasn't something measurable. In fact, because of carburetor bothers which never really were sorted out during the time of the test, this particular example had an annoying shake problem at idle.

It is in the carburetion that fiddling would be most desirable. This engine has a single throat Zenith of 1.437 in. venturi diameter, somewhat hopelessly overwhelmed by all that increased valve area and hardly capable of supplying the demand of those pumping 3.68-i'n. pistons at full greed, In normal trim, -with air cleaner and mufflers in place, the engine drew the line against further effort at about 4000 rpm. It is unfortunate that most emphasis in bolt-on power accessories nowadays is on V-8 engines because Sixes such as this would be such practical and pleasing subjects for a bit of attention. While there would be nothing remotely complicated about multi-barrel manifolding, which is just what this engine cries out for, the preferred methods seem to be to simply pop in a big V-8 engine rather than bother with Six.

The Mustang is a perfect example of the problems which crop up with such substitution. When the next larger engine, the 289-cu. in./200-bhp V-8, is ordered, there's an immediate jump in front-end weight by some 100 Ib. Then, power steering is certainly desirable, so that adds another 50 Ib. When the \f-8 is installed, the car is automatically equipped with heavier front suspension components, larger tires, wheels, brakes, rear axle and lesser related components. So there is a net gain of 300 Ib. involved, then, in adding 80 bhp (some of which is siphoned off by the power-steering pump anyway) because of the substitution of largely Fairlane-based running gear for previously used Falcon-based components. It wouldn't take much in the way of carburetion work and camshaft timing to equal the power/ weight improvement with the lighter basic car.

Still, demand for V-8 Mustangs is running at about 80% of production (at $100-some premium in base price), so the more popular route obviously is via bigger engines. But there is another penalty involved, the deteriorating front/rear weight distribution from that originally designed. Now all Mustangs (save, perhaps, those getting sohc 427-cu. in. engines) are capable of good handling. This is particularly true of the Six, so long as basic springing is taken into consideration; They have reasonable understeer, kept within reasonable limits. If there is one weak spot, it is rear axle tramp; more often than not some conscious effort will be necessary to compensate for the skipping around which the rear wheels develop upon abrupt unloading. Relatively speaking, however, the Six goes about its task a little better because it's 1), closer to basic design in weight distribution;

and, 2) not so potent that it overpowers its rear-wheel cornering ability by brute torque. At speed, it's so easy to slip the Six into a drift while bombing along a meandering road that one soon begins to feel like an expert.

Just for the record, this 2600-lb. car is sprung somewhat softly, in the modem manner, but is well controlled by its shock absorbers. Anyone wishing to reduce'the sponginess can simply install heavier-duty shocks. Off-the-shelf, however, it has a ride which certainly should please any secretary, stewardess or housefrau.

About the only piece of extra-cost equipment on this particular car was the 3-speed Croise-O-Matic transmission. This was controlled by a T-handle on the floor (no console) but it seemed to have more looseness than we like in an automatic, shifting too slowly and erratically. However, when pushing the car to the limit for acceleration times, it-turned out to be smarter than our drivers. Several runs made by manually holding gears to higher rpm produced poorer times than those where shifting was automatically accomplished. The best times were recorded with the lever in the D2 spot, stuffing the. foot to the firewall and driving off the line.

Much of the pleasantness of this car is the result of having the automatic with its 2.14:1 torque multiplication, thereby utilizing the somewhat limited torque of the Six to its greatest extent. Had there been some higher (numerically) final drive than the stock 3.00:1, the snappiness of the car would have been more evident. Mustang Sixes with manual transmission come with 3.20:1 rear gears, but the gear spacing with either the 3- or the 4-speed is somewhat less happy. The English Ford-adapted 4-speed has gearing of 3.16 low, 2.21 second, 1.41 third, and 1.00:1 high—far too widely spaced to be of much more than novelty value.

Though it really wasn't needed, the Bendix linkage-assist power steering reduced the pull necessary on the rim to an uneasy lightness. But more important, use of the 16.0:1 gear reduced overall ratio to 21.7 and the number of wheel turns between locks to 3.73. As such, it has about the minimum quality of quickness which can be tolerated in a vehicle of this type. "

Another pleasure with this particular car was the brake performance. Deceleration rates of 22 ft./sec./sec. (maximum) were consistent and above average. In fact, such performance is little worse than that of the optional disc brakes. To achieve this with the 9-in. Falcon drums is, to say the least, remarkable. Total swept area is a minimal 212 sq. in., so the credit must be given to the light overall weight and a somewhat tougher molded asbestos lining material than has been used heretofore. With overall performance judged better than average, one need have no fear of letting the girl-friend drive this car.

To all gals, by the way, find the Mustang doesn't interfere with bouffant hair-dos. The bucket seats are quite close to the floorboards and one sits down in the car, rather than Eerching upon it. But the petite gals might just complain a it about this very thing. It's possible that a woman of diminutive stature would be staring more at looming hood than open road. There are adjustments which can be made to the seat, but seating position should be checked against personal preferences. The new "bench seat" option, which actually is a pair of the present buckets joined by an over-the-hump connection, really doesn't change the situation since most of the same mounting hardware is used.

Although there are some new dress-up options for the Mustang which have their main appeal to Gal Friday, the basic bottom-of-the-line Six comes in very presentable form. Full vinyl and carpet and color-keyed interiors leave a tasteful impression on the womenfolk, as well they should. Things fit together well, but the gals may complain a bit more often about the poorly operating glove box door latch. From there, however, additional degrees of luxury are offered, including simulated wood trim all over the inside, embossed horses galloping across the seat backs, and door panels with integral arm rests and pistol-grip handles (all newly announced last spring).

With all that sort of thing going for it, the verdict on the Mustang probably should be: Those doggone Yankees really have gone and built a car almost as interesting as anything the Europeans have!