In CU’s Mustang, the 170-cubic-inch engine gave sprightly rather than powerful-feeling performance. But it was quite satisfactory for normal driving use, particularly with the 4-speed transmission (which was not very smooth shifting at the start, but promises improvement when run in). The steering was rather slow, fairly precise, and very easy. No power steering is needed on this model.
In the driving CU’s test staff has done so far, four characteristics stand out: The riding qualities of CU’s Mustang are good. The unit structure is very solid over rough roads (though the convertible model figures to be less so). The interior noise level is very low—obviously the results of careful insulation. And wind noise, with the windows partly opened, is unusually low.
None of CU’s standard brake tests have yet been made on the test car, but the brakes were well-behaved in normal driving, though their size, in relation to the weight of the car, is no better than average.
The Mustang coupe is very low—a little over 51 inches high—hence the seats also are low. The front bucket seats are well designed, but it is questionable whether they will be comfortable for day-long occupancy, because of their lowness. The passenger’s seat is fixed permanently in one position. The two-passenger rear seat is a semi-bucket type, narrow front to back and hard in the middle. There is tolerable headroom for adults, but so little legroom that the seat is comfortable only for moderate distances. The back of this seat, unlike that in the Monza Coupe, does not fold to facilitate luggage accommodation. The Mustang carries its luggage in a conventional, but not large, trunk having a capacity for two 2-suiters and three weekend cases. The trunk of the average compact sedan manages three 2-suiters and five weekend cases.
Owing to its long hood, the Mustang does not give the driver and visual impression that he is handling a small car, and he will gain few impressions from the mechanism that it is a cheap one. Driver vision is very good.
One of the most impressive features of CU’s Mustang is an almost complete absence of poor fit and sloppy workmanship in a car being built at a hell-for-leather pace.
Despite a contrary impression conveyed by Mustang advertising, some items of equipment will be missed. The glove box has no lock. The wipers have only a single speed. And, no windshield washer is provided for, except as part of a package including two-speed wipers (at $20). Also the touted “sports steering wheel” consists of an ordinary wheel sporting faked “lightening holes”—depressions touched up with black paint—in the spokes by which the horn is blown. Also, though Ford stresses the “building block” or “design-it-yourself” aspect of the many basic and accessory options for the Mustang, one item (which would be particularly desirable on the 8-cylinder models) is at present missing from the list: a limited-slip differential.
All in all, however, CU finds the Mustang, on short acquaintance, an agreeable car—one in which an individual appearance is achieved in a compact package with minimum handicaps (except perhaps for the low seating) and without the over-elaboration of detail and “luxury” items that often make this type of car expensive rather than useful and efficient.
But two points should be made. Before CU is through with its testing of the Mustang, faults may appear that will render it less desirable than it now seems. Secondly, the Mustang does not offer the optimum bread-and-butter uses at their lowest prices. A good-performance compact, with full, high seats, front and rear, and a big trunk, can be bought for less—the Valiant or Dodge Dart, for example, or even Ford’s own Comet or Falcon. However, if it’s individuality or flair you are looking for in an American-made vehicle, you can get the genuine article in the Mustang at very nearly the lowest price around.