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Sixty Years On: The 2024 Ford Mustang GT

2024 Ford Mustang GT front 3/4 view

It's 2024---the first year of a new generation of Ford Mustang and the 60th anniversary of the first Mustang.

1964 Time Magazine cover-Lee Iacocca and the Mustang

Ford executive Lee Iacocca is the guy who came up with the idea of putting a sexy body on the Ford Falcon economy car chassis and making it available in coupe, fastback and convertible form.

1964 Ford Mustang print ad

The Iacocca vision was one car that could be something to all people. Lee put Mustang on the map.

But the men who put Mustang on the path to what it is now were not named Lee Iacocca.

Caroll Shelby and the first GT 350

The first was Carroll Shelby, self-described "failed chicken farmer" turned race driver turned builder of race cars, who, after stuffing first a 289 and then a 427 into a British roadster, thus inventing the Cobra, took a 1965 Mustang fastback, made several structural and performance mods, and called it the GT 350. The world noticed, but the GT 350 was really just a (barely) street-legal race car that very few wanted (or had the skills) to drive on the daily. Ford sold way more six-cylinder automatic Mustangs in any given year---hell, in any given month--- than Shelby did GT 350s or the later GT 500 in their entire production runs.

Still, Shelby proved the Mustang had the bones of a serious performance car.

Steve McQueen and the Mustang in "BULLITT"

The second was a fictional San Francisco Police Homicide Lieutenant, Frank Bullitt, played by Steve McQueen. Bullitt drove a lightly modified '68 Mustang fastback with a 390 V8. And the film ("BULLITT") features what is generally regarded as perhaps the best chase scene in movie history:

At the end of that movie, the Mustang was as big a star as McQueen. Not the six-cylinder Mustang. Not the vinyl-roof Mustang with wheel covers. From that moment on, for a Mustang to matter, it had to be badass.

Ford acknowledged as much, with BULLITT edition Mustangs in 2002, 2009 and 2020.

2024 Ford Mustang GT rear 3/4 view

Which brings us to 2024 and the seventh-generation Mustang.

We are now at a point where the EcoBoost model---the entry-level Mustang---pumps out 315 horsepower and can get to 60 from a standing start in 4.5 seconds (a review of that one coming soon).

From there, the step up is to the GT, which is our tester (beyond that is the Dark Horse, a track-focused monster).

2024 Ford Mustang hood vents

2024 Ford Mustang GT hood up

2024 Ford Mustang GT engine

The GT's power comes, as Mustang die-hards will tell you God intended, from a 5.0-liter V8. No turbos, no mild hybrids, just gasoline, fire and air. The dual air intake boxes and dual throttle body design boosts airflow, minimizes induction loss and delivers 480 horsepower. With a Getrag six-speed manual, an independent rear suspension, a limited-slip rear axle, selectable drive modes and track apps, this Mustang is built to put that power to better use than any previous generation.

Our test vehicle also had the GT Performance Package (a $4,995 option)---summer tires, 19-inch Brembo brakes with black calipers and a white logo, a 3.73 Torsen rear axle, active valve exhaust and a raised wing spoiler.

On a 60-mile loop of winding Sierra foothill roads, the Mustang GT's composure was stellar---always planted, never confidence-challenging. In Sport and even Sport+ mode, the ride is firm, but not harsh.

The power was always on tap. There's so much there that you can leave it in third gear, let the revs drop to where you might think you need to downshift and then just punch it instead. And the sound---good Lord, that sound. Zero to 60 happens in 4.2 seconds and the track apps will time it for you.

The EPA fuel economy average (combined city/highway) is 18.5. Good luck. This car whispers "drive me like you stole me". On that 60-mile loop, I saw 13.8.

2024 Ford Mustang GT trunk open

2024 Ford Mustang GT trunk

Trunk space? A little less than last year---13 cubic feet instead of 13.5.

2024 Ford Mustang GT rear seat

Rear seat legroom? The front passenger's seat is all the way back. The driver's seat is set for my 5'11" frame. The specs say 29.2 inches of rear seat legroom.

2024 Ford Mustang GT front seats

2024 Ford Mustang GT front seat detail

The front seats are supremely comfortable---a great reminder that cloth seats add grip and are breathable. I could do an all-day drive in these seats and not be unhappy.

2024 Ford Mustang GT instrument panel

2024 Ford Mustang GT instrument panel

Where the purists will most likely be unhappy is the dashboard. The signature Mustang dual-cowl look is gone, as are actual gauges---replaced by two tablet-style screens.

Even with the change, you're unlikely to think you're in anything but a Mustang, and the new setup is so configurable and capable of delivering so much information, that it's hard to consider it anything but an improvement once you get familiar with it.

The base price of the 2024 Ford Mustang GT is $44,305 including destination. The aforementioned GT Performance Package is $4,995 and ours also had the Mustang Nite Pony Package---which blacks out all the trim. That's $1,195.

Adding $2,000 to the tab gets you the GT High package, with a nine-speaker audio system, ambient lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver's seat and heated front seats. Ours went without, so the bottom line of the window sticker reads $50,495.

2024 Ford Mustang GT front view

2024 Ford Mustang GT side view

2024 Ford Mustang GT rear view

In eleven years, California, several other states, and the European Union are set to enact stringent rules that will ban the sale of new vehicles with gasoline engines apart from those in plug-in hybrids with at least 50 miles pure electric range per charge. If there are no postponements, this could be the last generation of the Ford Mustang as an internal combustion vehicle. If so, it's going out on top.


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