Category Archives: Mustang Adventures

2011 Ford Mustang GT – the 60,000 mile review

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 945 days (a little over 2.5 years) since I fulfilled a dream I’d had since age 14. That dream was to own a Ford Mustang and I fulfilled that dream on September 2, 2011. Appropriately, I started that day by hearing a fantastic presentation by Ford’s social media maestro, Scott Monty, at a Social Media Club of Kansas City event at Union Station. Just after lunch, I flew out of KCI up to Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Int’l Airport where I met two guys from B&B Ford to pick up my dream car.

I’ve already posted a long entry about that day so I’ll leave it there. However, having driven Lucy a ton and being almost to 60,000 miles, I figured it was time to do a review from an ownership perspective. So, here we go:

The Pros

  • You’re part of something: by that, I mean you’re joining a massive group of enthusiasts, as the Mustang is probably the world’s most-loved car. Because of that, there’s awesome clubs like the Mustang Club of Greater Kansas City and shows, events, cruises, etc. going on every weekend all over the country. If you truly love cars and didn’t just buy a Mustang for the style, being part of a community like the Mustang one is a fun perk. I’ve been in three St. Patrick’s Day parades with this thing and the smiles, the kids screaming “rev the engine” and the envious looks from some are such fun. Or little moments like a five-year-old kid walking by the car holding hands with his Dad and hearing him ask “Daddy, can I have a Mustang like that someday?” You will never have that happen in your Accord or Camry.
Pretty cool to see this many kids crowded around my car - makes you remember what it was like to be in their shoes.

Pretty cool to see this many kids crowded around my car – makes you remember what it was like to be in their shoes.

  • The Attention: when you own a Mustang, it’s hard to be shy. No, it’s not like owning an exotic but for a car that’s as affordable as a Mustang, there’s nothing like it. So many people have stories to share about their experience with a Mustang in their youth, or questions to ask like “how’s that five liter run??” It’s fun to feel special even though you’re driving something that frequently costs less than the car the person you’re talking to is driving.
  • The Style: I still find myself looking back at Lucy as I walk away. I get compliments constantly. And even though the completely redesigned 2015 Mustang is coming soon, I don’t think my car will look dated too quickly, which you definitely couldn’t say about the ’87-’93 or ’94-98 cars when their replacements came along.
  • The Power: having 412 horsepower at your disposal in a daily-driven car that runs on 87 octane and gets good mileage was nothing but a fantasy 20 years ago but it’s reality with this car.
  • The Transmission/Shifter/Pedals: for anyone that drove a pre-2005 Mustang, this shifter and pedal setup is a revelation. Short, direct throws. Pedals set up well for heel & toeing. The only negative is that the stock shifter works terribly in cold weather, even after the TSB Ford issued to try and fix the problem. I want a MGW shifter but just haven’t saved the money to do it yet.
  • The Mileage: no, you don’t buy a Mustang for its practicality, but mileage doesn’t have to be the reason you don’t. My previous car, a 2003 Mazda6s, got 22 MPG average over the 90,000 miles I owned it. Not great, but pretty normal for a V6 4-door sedan from that era. In almost 50,000 miles of driving this car, I’m averaging 21.7 MPG. And I have 200 more horsepower and two more cylinders under the hood than I had in that Mazda. On the highway, it’ll do 25-28 MPG.
  • The Noise: it was ok stock, but when I added a Borla S-Type axle-back system to it, wow. Start at 3:09 of the clip below:


The great thing about the Borlas is that they’re loud when you want them to be, but on the highway cruising, they’re no louder than the stock mufflers and there is zero drone. None. Not a bit. That’s why they cost twice as much as some other aftermarket systems and that’s why they’re worth every penny.

  • The Comfort: I’ve daily driven this car since I bought it. I’ve driven it from Kansas City to Silverthorne, Colorado in a single day, comfortably. No, it doesn’t ride like a Lexus and yes, I have minor quibbles I’ll mention later but, overall, it’s a great car to drive every day.
  • The Cargo Room: for what it is, the Mustang has a pretty darn big trunk. With the fold-down rear seats, you can take home 8′¬†stuff from the hardware store if you need to. Yeah, the trunk opening is a bit small but that’s the tradeoff for the styling.
  • The Tech: I purposely found a car without the dual climate control, built-in navigation touchscreen version of this car. Didn’t want it. The most advanced tech this car has is electric power steering, heated seats, auto up & down windows, stability/traction control and the base Sync system, which I love. Yeah, I’m a bit bummed Ford hasn’t upgraded it one bit even though they keep promising to, but it works great with my iPhone via Bluetooth and my iPod via USB connection. And that’s all I need.
  • The Winter Driving: yes, I’m complimenting a Mustang on its performance in the snow…with the caveat that I have a set of dedicated winter tires (Bridgestone Blizzaks). For anybody that lives in an area with regular snowfall, they’re a great investment to make. With those tires and the traction/stability control, I’ve driven through three winters now without a problem. Handling and braking are excellent on snow and, as long as you’re gentle with the go pedal, acceleration is not an issue either.
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Yes, this car does just fine in the white stuff.

The Cons

    • The Solid Rear Axle: lots of Mustang guys are lamenting the fact that Ford is finally dumping the outdated solid rear axle (SRA) for the 2015 car. For non-gearheads, the only non-pickup truck you can still buy with a SRA is the Mustang. That’s it and there’s a reason for that; it’s an outdated technology kept alive in this car to save a few bucks and placate the tiny percentage of owners that drag race their cars. Not a drive in my car goes by that I don’t notice the SRA in a negative way. Whether the noise it makes going over bumps or the way your head gets jarred from side to side, it’s noticeable.
    • No telescoping steering wheel: my 2003 Mazda6 had it. My wife’s 2008 Mazda3 has it. For a car that cost $37,000 new to not have one is a bit ridiculous, in 2011. It would make the comfort level perfect for me.
    • Little Problems: here’s what’s gone wrong with my car so far. It’s not a ton but I wouldn’t call it bulletproof either.

19,967 miles: Check Engine Light (P0446) came on – Vapor Wire Circuit at Cannister Vent Solenoid corroded in two pieces. Replaced pigtail at the cannister vent. ($0)
25,014 miles: squealing noise from under the hood happened. Water pump replaced along with thermostat seal and clamp. ($0)
43,457 miles: Air bag light was on – Found B0028:13 in RCM hard fault. PP Test G found high resistance in airbag 4.780HM (passenger seat side airbag). Replaced RF seat side airbag and RF seat trim. ($0 cost but would have been $800+ if out of warranty)
51,653 miles: inconsistent starting problem diagnosed with two fixes – replacement of original battery and PCM programming update (TSB 11-3-32) ($350)
Unrepaired yet but broken since last fall: driver side power seat track in need of replacing. ($750 quoted cost)
Unrepaired as of yet: one of the blend door actuators in the dash is going bad. (Will fix myself for <$50>)
Unrepaired as of yet: Ford has had a ton of problems with lower control arms on these cars, to the point where they’ve created new part #’s for replacements three times so far, I think. I’m fairly certain the squeaking under braking I get from them means I’ve got bad ones too, but since I’m out of warranty, I’m avoiding that $800 repair as long as possible.

  • Cheap Details: one of the reasons this car is affordable is that savings have to be found somewhere. In this car, a lot of that is in interior trim. The stock floormats barely qualify as carpet. The carpet doesn’t go up high enough on the passenger footwell. The trunk carpet’s fit borders on laughable. It’s a $37,000 car with a hood prop. Minor things and not a big deal, but still.
  • Lack of Interior Storage: one thing I loved about my Mazda6 was the interior storage. The doors could hold bottles. The dashboard had a door that opened up to hold a ton of stuff at the top. The glovebox was big. The Mustang has a small center console that holds a lot but beyond that, there’s a small glovebox and that’s it. The storage in the doors is useless beyond holding trash and the cupholders work but only if you don’t need to shift the manual transmission much.

Final Thoughts

My boss asked me the other day if I still love this car like I thought I would and the answer is unequivocally yes. Every time I drive it, I smile. When I get it on an open road with the windows down and hear the motor roaring, I giggle like a little kid still. When I drive down the street, I still feel a little special. The few cons I listed above are so incredibly outweighed by the pros that they’re hardly worth quibbling over.

At some point, my wife and I are going to have kids. Yes, I’ll be able to fit a rear-facing child seat in on the passenger side, but it’ll be almost impossible for someone to sit in that front passenger seat. Forward-facing seats will be ok but still, it ain’t a family car. I’m already dreading that day and just hoping I’m financially able to keep the Mustang when I buy the Ford Flex I’m already eyeing for family duties.

I love my Mustang. It was worth the wait.

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Here’s that fun history part of it. This is my car next to my cousin-in-law’s 1967 Mustang GT – siblings separated by 44 years of history, but still with the same soul.

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Below the 12th Street bridge in KC

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Track touring at Road America – heading through turn 6 with a 911 and an Exige on my tail!

My uncle and I with our fast red cars - 2011 Mustang GT and 2001 Ferrari 360 Modena

My uncle and I with our fast red cars – 2011 Mustang GT and 2001 Ferrari 360 Modena – waiting to cross the Wisconsin River via the Merrimac Ferry.

Credit for this shot goes to Digo Rajbhandari (digoraj AT gmail.com)

In the midst of a Sports Car Club of America road rally. Credit for this shot goes to Digo Rajbhandari

Death of my 2nd Mazda and My Dream Car Finally Coming True

About six weeks ago, my Grandmother passed away and I went home to Wisconsin for the funeral. When I went to Kansas City International Airport, I parked my car at an offsite parking facility named Park Air Express. It’s similar to The Parking Spot and other offsite airport parking facilities, except Park Air Express is cheaper and your car is parked by a valet and when you come back, it’s waiting for you at the door instead of having to go find it. I’ve always parked there because I figured there was less chance of anything ever happening to my car, being the slightly obsessed car guy I am.

On Sunday, August 14, I was getting ready to head to the airport when I got a call from Park Air Express, telling me there had been an accident at their facility involving my car. One of their valets, driving a Ford Escape, got out of control and slammed into my car, pushing me into two other cars too. They claimed that the accelerator stuck and he was unable to control it, which is not the truth (remember – all the Toyota “unintended acceleration” lawsuits were thrown out due to driver error – same thing here). And here’s the fun result:

Yep...everything from the driver's door forward was absolutely destroyed.

And there's the sad death of my 2003 Mazda6.

However, the Park Air Express people handled the entire thing very well, meeting me immediately after I arrived at the airport and working through the incident report before letting me know everything would be handled through their insurance company, Aon. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re one of the biggest insurance companies on Earth and the brand seen on the jerseys of Manchester United.

I was taken to the rental car facility to pick up a car, and was allowed to get whatever I wanted within reason, so I chose a 2012 Mustang V6 coupe, which I’d also been driving in Wisconsin as a rental while I’d been there too. From there, I needed to just be patient and let the insurance machine do its work.

In less than three days, the Mazda was declared totaled, meaning for the 2nd time, I was now going to be replacing a 2003 blue Mazda that was wrecked through no fault of my own – my 2003 Mazda Protege5 was totaled on 7/2/2006 (see below!).

My Wrecked '03 Mazda Protege5

So, now I just had to wait and see what the insurance company was going to give me for the Mazda before I could decide what I was going to get next. I love car shopping, and I dove right in, looking at used BMW 3-Series, Pontiac Solstice, Mazda RX-8, Mazdaspeed3, Nissan 350Z and more. But I kept coming back to Ford Mustangs, and for good reason. When I was about 13, my uncle took me for a ride in a friend of his’ ’97 Mustang Cobra convertible, telling me “if you tell your mother how fast we go, I’ll kill you” (with a smile on his face). And I’ve been hooked since – that was one of the reasons I became so passionate about cars.

It had always kind of been my goal to get my Mustang by the time I turned 30, and it was going to be a bright yellow convertible like this one. With my 29th birthday approaching on the 30th, it was nice to think I could accomplish that goal a little early, thanks to these circumstances. I was pretty certain I wanted a 2010 or newer Mustang, since the exterior and interior had both been redesigned that year, but I wasn’t 100% sure yet. Then, in 2011, Ford came out with two all-new engines – a 3.7 liter 305 horsepower V6 that also got 31 MPG highway (which I’d been experiencing in the rental car) and a 5.0 liter 412 horsepower V8 that was still good for 26 MPG highway. Those engines were replacing a 4.0 liter V6 with 210 horsepower and a 4.6 liter V8 with 315 horsepower, both with worse gas mileage than the new engines too. So, I started by going to Zeck Ford in Leavenworth, Kansas because they had a 2011 Mustang GT convertible for sale, in Grabber Blue (check out the color here if you’d like). I worked with an awesome salesperson named Gene Sirabella, and he treated me right, which I really appreciated. After driving that car with the new 5.0 V8, I knew I couldn’t get anything older than a 2011. The V6 in my rental car was more powerful and got better mileage than the older V8, and I didn’t want to go “back” like that.

So my search was now on for a 2011 Mustang GT – it had to have a manual transmission and heated seats. Beyond that, I was pretty open. Since I was looking for a used 2011, there weren’t a ton of options out there (less than 100 nationwide). I had communications with Ford dealers in Texas, Virginia, Louisiana and here in KC. Finally, I found just what I wanted, ironically enough, back home in Wisconsin – in Sheboygan Falls at B&B Ford. I talked with the salesperson at B&B, Michael Kennedy, and got everything figured out. While all this was going on, I still didn’t know what I was going to get for the wrecked Mazda, though I knew within probably $1,000 what I would get.

Finally, after two weeks of waiting, I decided I wasn’t going to wait around any longer and I booked a one-way flight to Milwaukee for Friday, September 2nd. A couple guys from B&B Ford were waiting for me at the airport, and took me over to a McDonald’s not far from the airport where they’d parked my car. After signing some papers, I finally had my Mustang!

15 years later - it's mine. What a great birthday present!

It’s a 2011 Mustang GT coupe premium. The color is Race Red and it has heated seats and the Interior Upgrade Package. Standard features include 18″ wheels, the Sync in-car connectivity system, and the usual amenities. Most importantly, it has 412 horsepower and three pedals/six gears to put that horsepower to good use. Not the yellow convertible I always imagined, but I love where I ended up.

The only problem with my flying up to get the car was that I was supposed to be at the Lake of the Ozarks all weekend for my buddy Corey Cassaw‘s bachelor party. So, I took off from Milwaukee back south towards Missouri, with my destination for the night being Hannibal, MO (the home of Mark Twain), before driving the final 150 miles to Osage Beach, MO on Saturday morning. My route for the night looked like this:


View Larger Map

368 miles in a night was a great way to get to know my new car. I had a blast and made it to the Lake in time for an incredible weekend of fun.

It’s now been just over three weeks since I got the car and I love it as much as I always knew I would. I’ve gone a little crazy buying things to go with it, including:

  • A complete set of winter floormats from Husky Liners (BTW, if you want a great set of floormats to protect your car’s interior – these rock. Had ‘em on my Explorer and have ‘em again now.
  • 18″ Ford Racing wheels with Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires from The Tire Rack, which will let me get through KC winter with little to no problem.

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Looks good and helps with stability and handling a bit too

Thankfully, I live with a girlfriend that loves driving it and, most importantly, knows how much I’ve always wanted one and, therefore, has more patience than could be reasonably expected! We’re driving it back to Wisconsin this coming weekend for the Wisconsin vs. Nebraska game on Saturday and the Packers vs. Broncos game on Sunday. On Saturday morning, we’re going to take a drive in the Mustang with my uncle and aunt in their 2001 Ferrari 360 Modena. Two gorgeous, fast, red cars and a lot of fun, gas prices be damned. With that, I’ll end this marathon post with a slideshow of my ‘Stang: