The Right Spec: 2021 Ford Mustang


We started this series however many months ago with the Challenger since it is a model with which I am familiar. Now, with summer in the rearview mirror and gearheads in wide swaths of the nation putting away their toys for the winter, build-n-price tools for sports cars will surely get a workout. After all, many car nuts often feel if they can’t exercise their clutch leg until spring, they might as well see what sort of rig they can build online.

It will be no surprise this entry will start with the fastback model since the convertible is heavier and more expensive. We will also skip right over the EcoBoost engine, despite it having way more horsepower than the 5.0L Mustangs your author coveted in high school, and settle on a Mustang with a V8 rumble. That puts us in a GT with a starting price of $36,285.

For that sum, one will find themselves in command of 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of tire-shredding torque, linked to a six-speed manual transmission. Vented brake rotors are larger in diameter than the entire steel wheel of a 1992 Ford Escort, and a 3.55 limited-slip rear axle prevents the ignominy of a one-wheel peel. All-season tires, measuring 18-inches with a 235mm cross-section, are standard kit at this price. Inside there are cloth bucket seats with leather-wrapped touchpoints and the usual smattering of basic tech features. And yes, there is air conditioning. This is not the ‘80s. Or even the ‘90s.

Beyond this, we have some decisions to make. Antimatter Blue is one of those colors that looks great on just about any vehicle, from Bronco to Mustang, so we’ll select that $0 choice here. Package 301A (why does Ford insist on such unattractive names for their option groups?) does bring an infotainment screen that won’t embarrass you in front of friends and dual-zone climate control to ward off marital disharmony. Use your discretion here. But we will recommend leaving appearance groups like the Black Appearance Package ($995) on the cutting room floor.

Here’s a big one: the vaunted GT Performance Package, priced at a heady $6,500. There’s a lot to like here, not the least of which are summer-only tires, Brembo-branded six-piston brakes, K-brace, and strut tower brace. Bystanders will instantly spot the performance rear wing while the engine will instantly spot the upgraded cooling system. Drivers will feel that 3.73 ratio Torsen rear diff every time they stomp the loud pedal. All this is in addition to a few other items like an upsized rear sway bar.

This is not an insignificant amount of money, but it is worth looking at the cost in perspective to performance upgrades at other marques. Big-buck brake systems often cost at least this much alone, while rear-end and cooling upgrades usually command thousands more. The GT PP is worth it in this context, even if it will tack an additional $50+ biweekly to your payment. And, while we’re spending money, you’d be a fool not to spec the $995 Active Valve Exhaust for maximum enjoyment of that 5.0L V8 engine. Hey, there’s even a Good Neighbor mode to take care of those early morning starts.

This now puts us at a sticker price of $43,780 sans destination and whatever money is on the hood (if any). A similarly equipped GT Premium with more creature comforts retails for $3,005 beyond that sum. Our suggestion? Put that amount towards track fees. Or new tires.

Please note the prices listed here are in United States dollars and currently accurate for base prices exclusive of any fees, taxes, or rebates. Your dealer may (and should) sell for less (obscene market conditions notwithstanding). Keep your foot down, bone up on available rebates, and bargain hard.

 [Images: Ford]

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