Historically, some cars are simply blank canvases, ready to tuners to improve upon. In the 1990s, many tuners on a budget worked on Honda hatches, before Holden's millennial switch to imported Chevrolet-sourced V8 engines made the Commodore an excellent platform for modification.
Aussies always missed out on the the real blank canvas though - the Ford Mustang, though that’s changed recently and with the Pony car’s arrival comes a wealth of parts suppliers and performance garages ready to help you make your Mustang your own.
Not wanting to miss out on the party (and the potential income), the blue oval recently introduced its own Ford Performance range of motorsport-inspired parts to help eager Mustang owners create the muscle car of their dreams.
Vehicle Style: Performance coupe
Price: $66,731 as-tested plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 306kW/530Nm 5.0-litre 8cyl petrol | 6spd manual
What can you get to trick up your Stang? Well, in Australia the range of officially sanctioned performance upgrades includes a fruitier exhaust, lower, firmer suspension, a manual short-shifter, plus cosmetic enhancements like coloured rocker covers for the engine bay.
While you can’t build yourself an 800 horsepower quarter-mile slayer from warranty-covered Ford Performance parts just yet, you can alter the demeanour of Ford’s all too friendly Mustang and make it feel more like the icon you’ve always dreamed of.
Of course there are still aftermarket options, and already an array of literally hundreds of performance specialists will jump in to help you tailor your mustang to your needs - be it known names like Tickford and Shelby, through to eBay specialists that may not be worth the time of day.
It's your Mustang and you can damn well build it the way you want it. Ford gets that, and they also get that after dropping around $60k on a new Mustang GT you might want to preserve your pony through factory upgrades.
Check out that eight-ball style gear knob! You like that? Good, because it's the only upgrade Ford offers for the interior of the Mustang.
It’s a cool knob, excellent tactile feel, plenty of retro appeal, and obvious Ford Performance branding and better still it's part of a short shifter package ($805 fitted) that reduces gearshift throw and effort, making the Mustang feel all the more sporty.
There’s no equivalent for auto Mustangs though unfortunately, so three-pedal owners only need apply.
As for the rest of the cabin, nothing changes. You still get cool customisable multi-hue instruments, Ford’s darn good Sync infotainment, and an interior that leaves plenty to be desired for fit, finish, and quality given the price.
Of course if you’ve been waiting 20, 30, or 40 years to get your hands of Ford’s most iconic vehicle you may not notice the low grade materials, shiny leather, weird ergonomics, and panel gap issues - and at the end of the day a Stang is still way cheaper than anything with two doors and a V8 from Europe or Japan.
ON THE ROAD
Other Ford Performance parts that you can buy (and that you see here) include an exhaust that’s louder - essential given how hushed a standard Stang is - and suspension more suited to track use.
You’ll need to decide how you’d like to use your Mustang before taking the plunge though.
The Track Handling Pack suspension may deliver a more aggressive lowered stance, but it also destroys ride quality. Ford suggest the Performance suspension is ideal for track days and after almost losing a filling and having to spend a week with my chiropractor there’s no way a sane person would chose this setup for the road.
The pack is a comprehensive one, as well as the expected lower and stiffer springs there’s also new front struts and rear dampers, performance pack upper strut mounts, a jounce bumper kit, a sway bar kit, performance pack rear toe links, and toe link-to-knuckle bearings. Yours to own for $4130 including fitting.
The handling upgrades quell the V8 Mustang’s propensity for snap oversteer, so if you’d like to keep your pony on a racetrack or would rather not plough into a seas of spectators (as YouTube tells us is so often the case) then this might be the way to go.
As for matters of noise, the available 2.5-inch mandrel-bent stainless steel exhaust helps the 5.0-litre V8 clear its throat a little, though not enough to be considered anti-social.
While a standard Mustang is far too quiet, you’ll be able to hear the upgraded version coming - but if you feel like you’d enjoy waking your neighbours this still won’t be the exhaust for you. Too measured, too subtle.
The cat-back system is priced at $3584, shown fitted here with gloss-black exhaust tips, though chrome tips are also available if you prefer a bit of bling.
Blue rocker cover are also available - purely as a cosmetic upgrade with no effect on performance. Buy them if you spend your spare time with the bonnet up staring lovingly at your engine bay, but don’t buy them expecting anyone else to notice.
Engine upgrades aren’t part of the range at this point in time, meaning you’ll have to make to with the standard 306kW of power and 530Nm of torque from the Coyote 5.0-litre V8. There are no forced induction upgrades available through the Australian genuine upgrade range.
As tested, the array of parts driven here help sharpen the big V8 coupe. It’s still got a strong air of U-S-A cruiser about it, but with a shorter gear throw, more tenacious rear axle grip, and a more enthusiastic bark help create a Mustang that lives up to the model’s hype.
Warranty: Performance Parts are covered by a three year or 100,000km warranty (whichever comes first) just like the rest of the vehicle when fitted at the time of purchase. For parts not fitted from new Ford provides a 12 month/20,000km warranty
If you’d like your Mustang lightly tricked up and still protected by warranty then it's hard to go past the performance upgrades supplied by Ford itself.
If you’re after a red hot fire breather built from a base-model Mustang there are literally hundred of other options - some better, but many worse.
The selection of genuine Ford accessories offered locally don’t drastically change the character of the Mustang, but for discerning buyers there’s appreciable gains available backed by the same Original Equipment Manufacturer seal of approval as the vehicle itself.
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