The trouble with being an icon (no, not me) is that everyone wants a piece of you. Take the Ford Mustang. The classic American muscle car has been around for over half a century. It’s a legend.
So what happens when you drive one in Jo’burg? Annoying bedlam. You pull into the middle lane on the highway to let a car behind you pass. Only it doesn’t, it drives alongside so the occupants can stare at the Mustang, wave and take pictures. Then they overtake, but only to pull in front, to see the car from a different angle.
Or you halt at a traffic light on the way home from dinner. People in the next car signal you to roll down the driver window. "Please oom, rev the engine so we can listen. Please, oom. Pleeeeeease!" So you hit the accelerator as the lights turn green, but only to escape the irritants.
And maybe to avoid disappointing them. Mustang engines are meant to roar and intimidate. The 2.3l Ecoboost turbo in the convertible I drove merely spits and threatens. It’s a little disappointing, though the pain may be assuaged by the R140,000 to be saved by not buying the more powerful GT with its 5l V8 engine.
It’s only recently that Ford’s engineers have realised there’s a world outside the US and begun building Mustangs with the steering-wheel on the correct side of the car. So have the five decades of waiting been worth it?
The sixth-generation Mustang looks good. It’s smoothed down from previous versions but it still means business. I love that when you press the remote unlock, lights in the side-mirrors shine the wild-horse logo on the ground beside the car.
The Mustang is nominally a four-seater though I don’t know how anyone with legs will fit in the back. However, it’s not as if this is a family car. It’s a cruiser, a racer, a successor to the GT390 fastback with which Steve McQueen set the standard for Hollywood car-chases in the 1968 movie Bullitt.
These days, or course, it’s also sensible, hence Ecoboost engines and talk of fuel economy.
That doesn’t mean it’s completely tame. The drive is more refined but acceleration is good and there’s still a sense of anticipation as you settle into the cabin. It feels like a muscle car, even if you’re not encouraged to drive it like one. Actually, you can try, and there is an edginess when cornering at speed, but the car’s dynamics are always one step ahead. It’s muscle without the steroids.