The 2005 model is the first truly new in twenty-five years, though it looks like the son of a ’68. The exterior design skips three decades of ‘Stangs to pick up where the iconic ’60s models left off, with its forward-canted front end, triple taillights, sloped roofline, and triangular quarter windows. Inside, the ’60s flashback continues, brought up to date with much-improved materials and execution. The cabin also is roomier, thanks to a wheelbase that’s 5.8 inches longer. Overall length is up 4.4 inches, and the new car is fractionally narrower, although the front and rear tracks are wider. The new chassis took the Lincoln LS underpinnings as a starting point, but the Mustang‘s mechanicals are far removed from that car’s. In place of the Lincoln‘s control-arm front suspension and independent rear, for example, the Mustang has struts and a live axle. (The Cobra, which is due in a year, will have an independent rear suspension-and a rumored 400 hp.) The ’05 Mustang offers two powerplants. The base car junks the 3.8-liter, OHV V-6 in favor of a 4.0-liter, SOHC unit good for 202 hp. The GT‘s 4.6-liter, SOHC V-8 has been heavily modified with three-valve heads and variable valve timing, and it makes 300 hp. Both engines offer automatic or manual gearboxes with five speeds. The Mustang launches with only the hardtop body style; the convertible won’t arrive until next spring, forty-one years after the original.
ON SALE: Late fall 2004
PRICE: $20,000-$30,000 (est.)
ENGINE: 202-hp, 4.0-liter V-6; 300-hp, 4.6-liter V-8
BOTTOM LINE: Suddenly, it’s 1968.