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In This Issue
September 2022 Newsletter


Functional, affordable, stylish, fun, well built (finally), and really, really fast. It retains the soul that made it an icon. There’s no other automobile like it.

One hundred and eighteen years after Henry Ford first clattered around his neighborhood, there are few household names in American cars. You’ve got your Model T’s and your wartime Jeeps and your Chevy Corvettes, none of which need an introduction. And somehow, more widely loved than any of them—its relaunch this year made more headlines than the appearance of the last new Vette—the Ford Mustang.

Legend paints the Mustang as the brainchild of Ford’s Lee Iacocca, a sales genius who somehow managed to talk himself onto the covers of Time and Newsweek in the same week in 1964, the year the car was launched. Iacocca invented modern car marketing here, convincing a nation that his pretty boulevardier was a lust object—a million examples were sold by March of 1966—which is astonishing, because under the skin it was a rebody of the crappy Falcon, with a solid trucklike rear axle.

Fifty years of evolution turned the car into something real. The solid axle stayed, but everything gradually got better. You could always get a tire-smoking V-8, which helped. Countless imitators sprang up, but somehow—and we’re not even sure Ford knows why—the car always offered a happy blend of low-buck optimism and an all-things-to-all-people vibe. It was a blank canvas for hot-rodders, a rebellion for quiet office assistants, a small-town Fourth of July parade float, a midlife crisis for any wallet. The sole drawback lay in its low-cost roots and finish, which the car never quite shook. You were either a Mustang person, overlooking that stuff, or you weren’t.

And now we have this—the first blank-sheet Mustang since Iacocca. It is everything the old car was and more. The solid axle—the jumpy, jittery, Bowie-knife core of the Mustang’s personality—is finally gone, replaced by independent rear suspension. You can still get a V-8 and a six-speed manual, but finally there are no excuses. The base 435-hp GT costs $32,925, or $35,420 if you order the optional Performance Pack, which provides stiffer suspension, quicker acceleration, and Brembo brakes. These get you one of the most approachable performance cars on the planet, a thundering bare-knuckle boxer with an astonishingly polished interior and a desperate need to slice up the highway. It eggs you on; it makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something simply by liking it; it makes you wonder if everything negative about American cars was just a smoke screen created by idiots and naysayers. And there isn’t a single thing about it that feels cheap; on the contrary, it could cost twice as much and you’d still feel like you stole it. And like the car itself was egging you on as you tore down the street, burglar alarms ringing in your wake.

It’s that feel that matters most. The Esquire Car of the Year must be many things: affordable, stylish, a riot to drive. But above all, it has to make you want it badly and make not owning it seem like a crime. One of last year’s stars, the recently revitalized Corvette, reminded us of the power of the home team: The Chevy was a joy to be in and a wonderful car, but it was also astonishing value, well built, and vice-free—everything that we knew Detroit was capable of. The 2015 Mustang is the same idea for more people.

Source: esquire.com

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