Review by Jacob Black, photos by Jacob Black and Kanishka Sonnadara.

There aren’t many things that scream “‘MURICA” quite like a Harley or a Ford Mustang.

Both are image- and brand-conscious decisions and both represent that classic American “bigger is better” ideology. The Mustang is big and brutish and visceral, the Sportster tough, heavy and strong. These vehicles are renowned for their nostalgic cachet as much or more than for their performance.

For the money, there are higher-tech, higher-speed and better-handling variants of each – but that’s not the point. You don’t buy these because they’re the best – you buy them because they’re the baddest.

So which of these rigs is right for you? Luckily, we have another Pop Quiz* prepared for this occasion:

Pop Quiz: 2014 Ford Mustang GT vs Harley Sportster 1200
Pop Quiz: 2014 Ford Mustang GT vs Harley Sportster 1200
Pop Quiz: 2014 Ford Mustang GT vs Harley Sportster 1200. Click image to enlarge

1. Do you like bugs?

    A: Yes, they are delicious
    B: Yes, but only as an impromptu Jackson Pollock on my windscreen

If you answered A: Boy has Harley got an answer for you! Because being a real Harley rider means wearing no helmet, or an open-face helmet (only pansies like your writer wear full-face helmets), you’ll eat more than your fair share of confused bug life riding the Sportster.

If you answered B: The Ford Mustang has an enormous, raked windscreen with which to devastate entire swarms of locusts, sand flies and mosquitos. It is perfectly suited for noisily blasting through the countryside, where such creatures congregate.

2. Do you like tunnels?

    A: No, because they are dark, claustrophobic and a little bit scary
    B: No, because they are boring

If you answered A: But what if you were a Harley rider? Then you’d be tough and bold and tunnels would no longer frighten you.  Buy your way into newfound toughness with a Harley. Besides, tunnels don’t feel as claustrophobic when you’re taking up a third of the space of a car – more air around you = more space.

If you answered B: Correction: they used to be boring – but now there is a sweet sounding V8 under your bonnet, and when in tunnels, the loud pedal evokes a guttural scream that makes even the stoniest of people grin like an idiot. Some people say the Harley sounds good, but in a tunnel is where you learn it’s the Mustang that really sings.

Harley Sportster 12002014 Ford Mustang GT
Pop Quiz: 2014 Ford Mustang GT vs Harley Sportster 1200. Click image to enlarge

3. I am…

    A: Solid and dependable, always tracking true
    B: Spontaneous and impulsive, going where the mood takes me

If you answered A: Perhaps surprisingly, you will enjoy the Harley Sportster.  You might expect a motorbike to be more nimble than a big heavy car but Harley’s are built for cruising, not corner carving. The result is a planted, secure ride that tracks evenly through long sweeping bends; think of the Harley as a loping pleasure craft offering comfortable and confident road holding – without any of the frolicking and fuss.

If you answered B: It’s the Mustang for you! Ford has engineered plenty of “virility” into this edition of the Mustang. It will bump-steer, buck and kick its way through many a mountain pass. It’s fun to drive, and gives excellent feedback to the driver – even if every rut sends it jumping half a car width wide of your trajectory.

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