What do Bullitt, Medium Cool, Stroker Ace, Sizzle Beach U.S.A., and Moonshine County Express share beyond being part of the coolest drive-in lineup never projected? Mustangs. Fast, sleek, bad-ass, camera-ready Mustangs. The beloved muscle car, which has appeared in more than 500 movies, reaches middle age when the all-new 40th anniversary edition struts into dealerships next month. Driving a Mustang makes a bold statement at a fair price, and don't forget, anything that's good enough for Steve McQueen is good enough for you -- except for the turtleneck.
Sticker price: TBD, but the 200-hp V-6 coupe will start below $20,000, and the GT V-8 convertible will be the most affordable 300-hp sports car out there.
Vital stats: Industry estimates 18 -- 20 mpg (city), 24 -- 29 mpg (highway); five-speed manual or the new five-speed automatic; 107.1-inch wheelbase adds six inches to the last model; 17-inch aluminum wheels on the GT.
Backstory: The 2005 Mustang was designed by Hau Thai-Tang, who, as a boy in Saigon, saw a 1971 Mustang tour designed to boost U.S. troop morale by showing off some muscle from back home. Thai-Tang, who eventually studied engineering at Carnegie Mellon, says the Mustang embodies everything that is great about America, so it's the ride for CEOs aiming to inject a bit of rebel chic into the parking lot. "It's powerful and anyone can look good driving it," Thai-Tang says. "I've seen Europeans at the U.K. auto show in cowboy boots who love the idea of driving a Mustang on the open roads of America."
Nice touches: Optional red leather interior; a dashboard lighting color palette of more than 125 choices; the best stereo option plays MP3s at 1,000 watts. The classic galloping horse on the grille and steering wheel remains, as well as the signature short back (raised) and a long hood (lowered) that stretches out -- daring you to skip work for an afternoon of cheap beer and soaking up rays.
What you think it says about you: "Forty is the new 30."
What it really says about you: "Fifty is not the new 40." Second opinion: "The new Mustang is for drivers who want style and substance," says Ken Panton, president of eCityofStyle.com, which bestows automotive style awards every year. "Power is universally appealing to drivers, and the Mustang has made horsepower a coveted accessory."
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