2011 Ford Mustang GT California Special
2011 Ford Mustang GT California Special. Click image to enlarge

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Ford Motor Company of Canada

Review and photos by Haney Louka

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2011 Ford Mustang

I must admit: I’ve always been a Mustang fan even though I’m not exactly a muscle car kind of guy. My admiration for the Mustang really began when I was in high school and a friend of mine owned a ’67 Fastback (he still has it) and later when the LX 5.0 coupe of the late ‘80s made its debut. To me, the Mustang represented both high style and cheap performance. Since then it has been the only survivor in the muscle car game, despite the fact that Chevy and Dodge have re-introduced their renditions in recent years. But in Canada, at least, the Mustang is still the only one that sells in serious numbers (our neighbours to the south have a larger appetite for Camaros). And right now, Ford has the most desirable Mustang in recent history.

Our tester came in the form of a white GT “California Special” convertible. Regardless of trim, what makes the current Mustang line-up so good is a selection of engines that allows the car to finally live up to its performance heritage. The antiquated 2-valve V6, which mustered a lousy 210 hp from 4.0 litres, has been replaced for 2011 by the company’s new 3.7-litre unit that takes advantage of all manner of modern technology to grind out 305 horses.

And 2011 GT models see the return of the famous 5.0-litre V-8, which displaces 2 cubic centimetres more than the 5.0 of yore, so that its 4,951-cc displacement properly rounds up to legitimize its famous moniker. The new 5.0 replaces the 4.6-litre unit which has been around in various states of tune since 1996. It too sees a major bump in power, from 315 to 412 hp.

2011 Ford Mustang GT California Special
2011 Ford Mustang GT California Special. Click image to enlarge

All Mustang models can be had with either a manual or automatic transmission, each of which has six forward gears. And significantly, both new powertrains consume less fuel than their predecessors despite their added grunt.

Styling of this current generation (which dates back to 2005) also pays homage to the Mustang’s heritage; even more so since the tasteful update that was brought about in 2010 with its more aggressive stance. That update brought about a meaner-looking front end and the recognizable sequentially-firing rear signal lamps.

But the Mustang isn’t quite the bargain it once was: the 2011 GT coupe starts at $38,499, with the GT convertible starting the bidding at $42,899. Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloys, air conditioning, power one-touch windows, auto-dimming mirror, power-adjustable heated front seats (dressed in leather), SYNC multimedia interface, premium audio with 10 GB of storage, a trip computer, and traction and stability control. The convertible adds a power-operated soft top to the list.

The $2,000 California Special package adds some special badging, a chrome billet grille (without question the coolest part of the package), 19-inch alloys with summer rubber, sport bucket seats, faux carbon fibre interior trim, and some excessive ornamentation in the form of an oversized spoiler and fake side scoops. Even my seven-year-old son questioned the purpose of those scoops.

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