Envision a sunny day, a lonely road, and the wind at your back as you cruise the scenic roads of America. One hand on top of the wheel, the other rowing through the gears of a manual transmission. The ideal day with a convertible is one we all can imagine. Visions turned to reality when this Mustang GT convertible came to my driveway and fantastic memories were born.
New for 2016 are the three packages that enhance the Mustang’s looks: the Black Accent package, Pony Package, and California Special. This particular GT convertible was delivered with the California Special enhancement package, which includes distinct badging, unique wheels, and leather seats with Miko® suede inserts and red accent stitching.
My retro-tastic, pony car for the week was painted in bright Competition Orange and louder than a WWE match. No matter. Memories were made and they’ll stick with me forever. Here’s why.
5 Reasons Why the Mustang GT California Special Convertible Is So Memorable
Heart of a Champion
The 5.0-liter V8 pumps out 435 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, which has the performance and soundtrack to match. Power is never in short supply — no matter what gear you’re in — and the V8 growls all the way up to a heady 7,000 rpm. A six-speed automatic is available but why would you settle for a slushbox when the six-speed manual is standard equipment and saves you $1,195 dollars off the sticker price.
Every time I fired up the V8, it was like someone gave me a shot of adrenaline. My heart would thump faster and my soul would come alive. Basically, I was hooked. And the rest, they say, is history.
The new Mustang looks great from any angle and it’s clear that the Ford designers sweated the details on the sixth edition of their pony car. The ‘Stang has a strong modern style with lots of visual cues from past generations. Unmistakably, there’s no debate it is a Mustang when you see the bold Aston-Martin inspired grille or the three vertical slanted taillights from the rear.
“The convertible has a clean, uninterrupted beltline,” says Joel Piakowski, director of external design.
Ford gave the design team free reign, which allowed them to create a totally different deck lid and rear quarter panels to accommodate the convertible’s space needs.
Unique to the California Special appearance package are exclusive 19-inch machined aluminum wheels painted Ebony black, hood and side accent stripes, California Special badging, stand-off rear deck spoiler, darkened taillight trim, black-painted mirrors, and strut-tower brace with California Special branding.
The cabin also compliments the exterior. The four sports seats are trimmed with black leather and microsuede upholstery with red contrast stitching. The instrument panel is home to SYNC 3 touch interface with voice commands and navigation system, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-speaker audio system and USB charging ports. The center console is slimmer and the dash is narrower which makes the cabin roomier than its predecessor. The steering wheel is covered in leather and is smaller in size which makes it easier to use than the older larger one.
Independent Rear Suspension
Gone – and not missed – is the solid rear axle, which is replaced with a proper independent rear suspension. The old car was criticized because of its antiquated solid rear axle design and weak handling traits. Adoption of an independent rear suspension changed all that, which greatly improved the ride and handling over the old design. Now the GT is impressively composed on the road, delivering an excellent balance of grip and stability.
Equally responsible for the corner carving performance is the GT’s front suspension. Double-ball-joint independent Macpherson struts, twin-tube dampers, and a tubular front stabilizer bar are engineered for optimal handling that is decades ahead of the previous generation’s suspension design.
Configured with my convertible test car was the available Performance package, which includes a thicker rear anti-roll bar, heavy-duty front springs, strut-tower and underbody bracing, six-piston Brembo brakes, staggared width 19-inch wheels, and a 3.73:1 limited slip differential. Performance-package Mustangs also receive uniquely tuned stability control, ABS, and electric power steering; a more aggressive front splitter; engine-turned trim around the gauges.
Two aspiring sports cars, the Mustang GT vs the Jaguar F-TYPE R, compete nose-to-nose. Find out which one is faster around a track and in a straight up drag race.