Category Archives: Mustang Adventures

2011 Ford Mustang GT – The 100,000 Mile Owner Review

1229683Wow. It’s been just short of 5 years since I bought my first Ford Mustang, a car I’d been dreaming about for 15 years. I wrote about that day, and did a 60,000 mile review in 2014. Since then, Lucy has definitely gone through some stuff, but she’s continued to be a reliable, fun daily driver, as well as a backroads weekend driving adventure car all-in-one for me.

As I look back at that 60,000 mile review, the Pros and Cons of it still hold true but here’s some updates/additional thoughts:

  • My overall gas mileage is about the same (22.7) in mixed highway/city driving – likely about 75% highway. The car continues to be very efficient – I’ve had multiple tanks this summer of 25+ MPG and one of 27.3 even, going 75-80 MPH on the highway with the A/C blasting. If I went 65-70 with no A/C, 30 is likely! Definitely no complaints about the mileage – one thing I will say is that the gearing seems to make a huge difference. I have the 3.31 (tallest) gears available on this car, and from what I can see on the forums I’m a member of, the guys with 3.55 gears and 3.73, especially, do much worse, frequently struggling to hit 20 mpg.
  • I’ve had a fair amount of body work done to this car, sadly. I was rear-ended in 2013 and that did $8,000 in damage. A co-worker dinged the passenger side pretty badly early this year, which cost me my $500 deductible. And a hailstorm this summer did $3,500 in damage so, while the car looks perfect still thanks to great repair work, every body panel has been worked on at some point and all but the roof/driver front quarter have been repainted so far.
  • The fantastic 5.0 Coyote V8 motor continues to run perfectly, with seemingly as much power as ever, zero problems and continued strong mileage.
  • Same with the Getrag MT82 transmission – it’s not perfect but it hasn’t developed any problems in the least. I’m still on the original clutch as well.
  • I have continued to drive her year-round and am still on the original Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60 winter tires I got when I bought her. The car handles winter weather with no complaint.
  • There’s not a spot of rust on her anywhere either, though there’s not that much road salt down here in Kansas City and I am very good about washing any of it off as soon as it’s practical.
  • The interior has held up extremely well too – there’s little noticeable wear on the leather and everything else still looks and works like new.


As far as maintenance is concerned, here’s what I’ve done, maintenance-wise, beyond normal oil changes/tire rotations:

  • 7/2014: driver’s side power seat track assembly + right side blend door actuator replaced: $700 total cost for parts+labor
  • 5/2015: the stock brakes weren’t squealing and completely toast yet, but I had a track day coming up and wanted to have fresh brakes on, so I put on all new pads/rotors, as well as upgraded brake lines, for a DIY cost of $680.
  • 2/16: 4th set of spring/summer/fall tires bought. The 1st two sets of OEM all-season Pirellis didn’t last more than 25K even with rotations ever 5K, and the 3rd set (Continental ExtremeContact DWS) was awesome, but a nail in the sidewall led me to replacing all four prematurely (around 33K on the tires). For the 4th set, I went to summer only Continentals, rather than the all-seasons I’d had previously – I’m curious to see how well they hold up.
  • 6/15: transmission fluid changed for 2nd time
  • 6/16: the hood of my car was starting to suffer from the infamous Mustang aluminum hood corrosion problem, which is common enough that it’s a trend but not common enough for Ford to do a TSB or recall, sadly, so I purchased a new, pre-painted hood from Cervini’s, which I love, for $1,054.
  • 7/16: the stock struts/shocks were not completely blown yet but given the age of the car and how I drive, I figured it was time and replaced them with new Koni orange (non-adjustable) units. That DIY job cost me about $700.
  • Not fixed yet: faulty SiriusXM antenna that stopped working in the past 3 weeks

Maintenance-wise, that’s it – nothing has gone wrong that wasn’t normal maintenance beyond that power seat. I was annoyed at some of the little problems I was running into back when I wrote the 60k review, but the car has been basically flawless since.

In fact, I just got back from a 2,800 mile road trip adventure with some buddies from Wisconsin; we met in eastern Tennessee to drive Tail of the Dragon and other amazing roads in TN and North Carolina together. The car performed flawlessly throughout the trip and that only made me love it more.


I love this car for all the reasons I always have, but even more now because it’s proven to be a car a normal person can own and drive every day, and not break the bank. The only way I’m ever getting rid of this car is if I get another Mustang to replace her with!

Rental Review: 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium

Last week, I had the chance to travel to Scottsdale, Arizona for a conference and, as is becoming my habit, the weather on the way out of town was terrible – I got up early to snowblow our driveway at 5:30 before heading to the airport and, four hours later, I found myself in 70° weather with the windows down, behind the wheel of a 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost® Premium Fastback.

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Not a bad day for mid-February…

In case you’ve never read my blog before, I’m the current owner of a 2011 Mustang GT, which I’ve owned for 3.5 years now. I’ve loved Mustangs since I was 14 so, while I’ll do my best to be objective, there’s no doubt I’m biased in favor of this car.

The 2015 (internal code S550) is the Mustang’s first all-new model since 2005 ( the S197). There’s been plenty of coverage about what’s new with it, so I won’t spend a ton of time on it, except to say the most significant things about it, to me, are:

  • It’s a world car, being sold throughout Europe, in China, and in other markets. The styling is more modern than it might have been otherwise, though that was needed regardless, in my opinion. For 10 model years (2005-2014), the best of the classic Mustang styling was evoked and there wasn’t much history left to exploit with another retro model, unless you wanted the  bloated ’71-73 car or the boring Mustang II to be the inspiration. Mustang needed to be more modern, as there aren’t nearly enough people my age buying the current car and Boomers aren’t going to be around forever.
  • The solid rear axle is finally, finally, finally gone. Drag racers and Mustang apologists have tried to pretend like Ford was the only car company on Earth that realized how good a solid rear axle still is, but there’s a reason nobody else had used one for 10+ years, other than a few trucks/SUV’s and the Ford Panther cars (Crown Vic, Lincoln Continental, etc.).

While I didn’t get to take the car on a long drive into the Arizona mountains like I might have wanted, I got the chance to drive it on the highway, in traffic and over a couple days and about 150 miles, and here’s my initial thoughts on it:


  • Styling: I’m still not crazy about the front of it, as the area between the headlights is still too wide & barren (I think the same about the S197 but the GT’s foglights fix that problem for me, which isn’t an option on the S550), but the rest of the car is beautiful. The side profile and the muscular rear flanks are gorgeous, as is the back of the car. It’s classic Mustang, but yet very modern. Considering all the factors that led to the styling, the team did well.
Such a great side profile, but still don't love the front end.
Such a great side profile, but still don’t love the front end.
Love this rear view
Love this rear view
  • The Motor: when news of the EcoBoost 4-cylinder replacing the only-4-years old 3.7 liter V6 came out, I was disappointed, as that V6 was a fantastic engine, making over 300 horsepower and getting 30+ mpg on the highway. It was (and still is) odd that Ford built that motor only to mothball it in less than five years. However, this 2.3 liter turbo four is fan-freaking-tastic. At idle, the sound isn’t much but, once underway, the turbo whistle and the motor’s smooth, quick-revving nature is addictive. (EDIT: I now realize that a lot of that sound was fake, generated through the stereo system as is common on cars from the BMW M3 to the F-150 EcoBoost. I would never have realized that if I hadn’t read about the feature, so it’s definitely well-tuned and subtle.) Anybody that’s driven a high-powered 4-cylinder car previously should immediately embrace the motor, though the sound will take some getting used to for die-hard V8 guys. No, it’s not nearly as good in the aural dept. but the low-end torque, wide powerband and overall 300+ horsepower should make believers out of them too. Even in 6th gear, at 70 MPH, barely putting my foot down accelerates the car quickly, thanks to that torque. Even better, Ford is offering warranty-backed reflashes of this motor to up the power ante! This motor was needed to make the car a legit competitor in Europe and elsewhere, but it’s damn good everywhere. Just as with the old V6, buyers of the entry-level Mustang no longer have to feel slighted. The old rental car low power, lousy gas mileage V6 motors are a distant memory now!
  • The Transmission: paired with that fantastic motor is an equally good 6-speed automatic transmission, finally with true paddle shifters to control it, rather than the silly rocker switch on the last generation cars. It shifts smoothly, quickly and is well-paired with the motor. Even in manual mode, it still downshifts for you, which can be nice at a stoplight but is a bit annoying to me since you never have full control of the shifting. If it were me, I’d still buy the real manual transmission, but this automatic is far, far better than the last gen automatic.
  • Interior Features: I like the interior of my Mustang fine but, again, this car feels more than 4 years newer than mine. It starts with the smaller steering wheel that finally tilts + telescopes, making getting comfortable to drive it easier for me. Then, there’s the MyFordTouch interface, which I’ve used in a Flex, Explorer and Escape without any problems. No, it doesn’t work as well as an Apple CarPlay or Android Auto one would and it’d be nice if it integrated with my device more…but it works fine and the Mustang has enough redundant controls built in for the radio/HVAC that it shouldn’t be an issue for nobody. I love the addition of the customizable screen between the tach and speedometer – you can have probably 20+ different things on that screen, including the traditional stuff and a lot of engine monitoring parameters that will be over the head of 90% of owners. The heated and cooled seats, with three levels for each, are a huge upgrade from the single level heated seats in my ’11.
Love this interior. That big strip of metal-looking stuff on the dash is real aluminum. Love that too.
Love this interior. That big strip of metal-looking stuff on the dash is real aluminum. Love that too.
Great, great seats, making the Recaros probably unnecessary
Great, great seats, making the Recaros probably unnecessary
Love this little detail too.
Love this little detail too.
  • Performance Features: There’s also TrackApps, which lets you record 0-30 and 0-60 acceleration times, braking and handling measures. I can’t believe Ford has those in this litigious world we live in, not to mention warranty claims, but it does! Since this is a rental car with 150 miles, I didn’t use any of them, much as I wanted to! In addition, the three options for steering feel and the four options for driving mode (Comfort, Normal, Sport+ and Snow/Ice) are pretty cool. Having them feels like a definite Premium feature and I could definitely feel the difference when going into Sport+ mode. I imagine the Snow/Ice mode would be really helpful in bad weather too.
  • Interior Comfort: combined with the tilt+telescoping wheel, the seats in the ’15 are fabulous. They’re more comfortable than the old car AND far more supportive, making the $1,600 upgrade to Recaro race seats a waste, especially when you consider you lose power adjustability, memory functionality (important when you’re 6’1″ and your wife is 5’4″!), plus the heat/cool option. At highway speed with the windows up, the car is quiet and rides well – a fantastic road trip car.
  • Mileage: in a pretty even mix of highway and city driving, I averaged almost 27 MPG with the ’15. When I was strictly on the highway, I was hitting 30 with ease going 70 MPH. Considering I was having some fun getting to know the car and it wasn’t even broken in yet, that’s pretty fantastic. I know there are constant complaints across Ford’s lineup right now that EcoBoost motors don’t deliver anywhere near their EPA mileage in the real world, but that’s not my experience. The Escape and the Mustang both got the stated mileage, or better, for me, and I wasn’t driving them like a grandparent.
  • Trunk Space: the trunk seems to be about the same width and length as the old car, but without the solid rear axle taking up space, the load floor is flat instead of having a big hump in the back. Much more usable and easy to fit vacation stuff or a decent shopping excursion too, as long as you weren’t shopping at IKEA for furniture!
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Little tough to see but a good sized trunk, even if the opening is a bit small due to the styling.



  • Interior Room: the overall seating room feels similar, but the roof height seems smaller than the old car. I’m 6’1 and, with the seat all the way down, it felt not quite as roomy inside from a headroom perspective. Not a big deal but something I noticed.
  • Interior Storage: one of the more annoying things about the old car really hasn’t been fixed that well. The cupholders are moved back so they get in the way of manual shifting less, but the center console is still just one big hole. The glovebox seems about the same, as do the too-small door storage pockets. If you want people to buy a 2-door car as a daily driver, not just a weekend toy, in today’s marketplace, it’s got to be as practical as possible and this feels like a missed opportunity to do that.
  • Visibility: though still overall pretty good for a coupe, the blind spot on the ’15 is bigger than my ’11. It’s still difficult to judge distances when parking in the front and out back, though the back is negated by the rearview camera that comes up immediately after shifting into reverse and works flawlessly.
Pony Projector Lamps became an option in '13 - can't decide if they're silly/cheesy or if I like 'em...
Pony Projector Lamps became an option in ’13 – can’t decide if they’re silly/cheesy or if I like ’em…
The key itself is pretty cool too, if a bit bigger and chunkier than I'd like.
The key itself is pretty cool too, if a bit bigger and chunkier than I’d like.


In late December, I happened to be at Baron BMW, Kansas City’s only BMW dealer, and they had a just-traded-in 2015 50th Anniversary Mustang GT. The previous owner traded it in with 160 miles on it (1/2 a tank of gas!!) because his girlfriend apparently didn’t like it, so he took a likely $6-8,000 bath on it and got a new BMW M4 instead. The $42,000 pricetag on that almost-new Mustang had me tempted to try and talk my wife into trading in my current Mustang.

After driving this ’15 EcoBoost, I’m kind of glad that 50th anniversary GT is no longer available because I’m even more impressed with the ’15 than I expected to be. It’s a fantastic redesign of an already-great car. It’s more refined, more comfortable, more modern and yet hasn’t lost any of its Mustang essence or appeal, to me. Again, I don’t love the front-end styling but I don’t dislike it enough that it offsets the fantastic total package of car. I can’t wait to see the GT-350 in person, and I can’t wait to hear how well it sells all over the globe. It needs no excuses based on price, heritage or being American – it’s worthy of its pricetag and the tough competition it’ll be up against all over the world. Can’t wait until I can buy another!

Note: my company bought me a cheap rental car and I paid the upgrade cost personally – thanks for having it available, Budget Rent-a-Car! I received nothing from Ford in exchange for this review, though I wish they’d give me something!

The Kansas City Auto Museum

Kansas City was one of the biggest markets in the country without an automotive museum, but that’s now been rectified thanks to the staff of the new Kansas City Auto Museum!  (Technically, there is the Armacost Museum in Grandview but it’s a private thing only open to selected people/groups.)

The museum just opened earlier in May and it’s current location is just north of 119th & Strang Line Road in Olathe. Yes, the location is not the most “Kansas City” of spots but the museum is clear that this is a temporary home and they have plans to be in a much larger facility in the next 4-5 years. I’d love to see it as part of Union Station but have no idea if there’s the kind of space available there that’s needed.

The Kansas City Auto Museum
Just north of 119th & Strang Line at 116th Street

Anyway, the Museum partnered with the Mustang Club of Greater Kansas City for an only-a-month-late 50th birthday party for the Mustang, so about 30 of us brought our cars out to display in the parking lot today, and we also got to check out the museum.

A WWII Jeep (built by Ford though) along with a gorgeous 1963 Buick
A WWII Jeep (built by Ford though) along with a gorgeous 1963 Buick

The museum houses approximately 30 cars on loan from private collectors, as well as from KC Vintage Cars. They don’t appear to own any of the cars, which is probably an advantage for them as this stage since they can easily switch out displays, etc. without having to worry about all the details of ownership at this point. The collection ranges in age from a Ford Model T, Stanley steam-powered car and a Hupmobile all the way up to a first-gen Dodge Viper.

But, to be frank, the collection isn’t much better than you can see at a lot of the different cruise nights found throughout the warm months here in KC. The coolest part about the Museum, to me, is all the Kansas City history they’ve collected and presented really, really well.

Just some of the great history
Just some of the great history

Above are just a few examples – the 2nd one from left is about KC’s earliest racetrack, a wooden oval on the site of what’s now the Bannister Federal Complex. The one on the far right is all about Greenlease Cadillac, one of the city’s earliest dealers (and the building is part of Union Hill today – seen here today and occupied by something far less interesting (a gym):

Greenlease Cadillac building
Right up McGee Trafficway from Hallmark/Crown Center is this cool old building

These boards are filled with fascinating KC automotive history, much of which I didn’t know. They’ve done a tremendous job researching and creating a compelling story, which is what they needed to do to get the Museum off the ground.

A wall full of ads for cars that were built in KC
A wall full of ads for cars that were built in KC

Above is another of my favorite parts of the museum – a large wall filled with ads for cars that were built right here in KC.

More of the museum collection, including a 1991 Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette
More of the museum collection, including a 1991 Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette

The museum also includes a kid’s interactive area, though adults are just as apt to play, considering they have four full racing wheel/seat/pedals setups running Forza Motorsport 4 for XBox 360. (I spent about 45 minutes running laps at Road America!) Plus there are some fun photo opportunities like this one:

Me "behind the wheel" of the #21 Ferrari driven by KC's own Masten Gregory to victory at LeMans in 1965, the last time a Ferrari visited Victory Lane at the famed racetrack.
Me “behind the wheel” of the #21 Ferrari driven by KC’s own Masten Gregory to victory at LeMans in 1965, the last time a Ferrari visited Victory Lane at the famed racetrack.

Maybe my favorite history lesson, however, was about the Ford Winchester Avenue plant. Opened in 1913, it was the first Ford plant built outside of Detroit, which is kind of a cool badge of honor for KC, considering how many other places in the country and the world have/had Ford plants. It was located at 1025 Winchester Avenue, on the east side of town, right off of 435 & Truman Road near the Truman Sports Complex. It was open until 1957, when Ford opened the newer, even bigger Claycomo plant that is still thriving today. What’s really cool though, is that the original smokestacks from the Winchester plant are still up, which inspired me to drive by there on the way home.

You can't get too close to 'em anymore; I couldn't even tell if this whole complex is still really in use.
You can’t get too close to ’em anymore; I couldn’t even tell if this whole complex is still really in use.
2014-05-17 15.28.35-1
But there they are – still with “Ford” clearly visible on ’em.

Final Thoughts

I’ve got to give huge credit to all the people involved in the Museum’s creation. It is not easy to raise funding for a museum like this, especially in the financial conditions of the past few years. But they’ve done it and the museum, in its current state, is a great start. There’s enough history for even car geeks like me, and enough different cars to look at to maintain the interest of almost anyone. I hope they can bring in enough business that the expansion plans continue, as I can imagine how cool the entire experience could be in the future.

If you’re at all interested in KC history, it’s well worth an hour or two of your time, plus it’s right up the street from Oklahoma Joe’s so there’s your lunch afterwards. If you’re passionate about cars, please go check it out and consider supporting the museum through a donation and/or volunteering. Cars are so important to the last 100 years of our history and I hope that story can keep being told!

The museum is open 10-5 every day of the week, except some holidays. Admission is $11 for adults, $9 for seniors/military and $8 for kids.