By Ted Orme
I have a long term love affair with the Ford Mustang, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. I went cross-country in one of the original “pony cars,” a sleek 1965 V-8 fastback. It was a truly epic trip until an extra passenger forced the use the cramped back seat for part of the return trip.
Mighty 5.0-liter V-8 Mustangs were the hot rides at high performance driving sessions for the press I attended at Bob Bondurant’s Sears Point, California and Bill Scott’s Summit Point, West Virginia driving schools – thoughts of which still get me whipped up. And, of course, there were all those Mustang test cars through the years that gave great fun and caused me to set a very bad driving example for my children.
Now in its ninth generation with more than 9 million models sold, the Mustang has earned fame and glory and top classic car dollars with such legendary models as Cobra Jet, Boss 302 and 429, Mach 1 and Shelby Mustangs.
But there was one glaring exception: the thoroughly despised 1974-78 Mustang II, a four-banger Pinto in disguise rushed to production in response to the first oil crisis and onset of fuel economy standards. The 2.3-liter, single-overhead cam buzz bomb in the Mustang II was rated at – can you believe – a truly pitiful 88 horsepower, which was reduced even further to 83 horsepower with the mandatory addition of a catalytic converter in 1975.
With this foul memory still lingering in my mind, I recently got the keys to the latest 2.3-liter four-cylinder Mustang, the 2015 EcoBoost I4 Premium. The all-new 2015 Mustang sports new sheet metal, a refreshed engine lineup with more horsepower, revised drivetrain, a clean-slate platform and a first-ever fully independent rear suspension.