Texas®

The current automotive landscape has way too many vehicles trying too hard to be everything for everyone. And in doing so they compromise on some things, ignore other things, and become identity-challenged bland-mobiles. The Shelby GT500 is none of that, and plenty more.

Words that should never be used to describe this Mustang-based 2011 Shelby GT500:

  • Subtle
  • Reserved
  • Bland
  • Boring

The Arrest Me-red, two-door arrived at the house on Monday, announcing itself a couple of blocks away with a hearty, lion-esque roar. Complete with white Le Mans stripes, flared fender wells, hyper-aggressive aerodynamics, carbon black wheels and a heavenly short throw shift knob at the pleasure point of a manual Six Speed, the Shel had the road presence of a professional wrestler fully engrossed in his “What are you looking at, Punk?” rant.

It almost had an aura around it.

What is a Shelby? Or more appropriately, who is the man that inspired this poke in the face of mediocrity? Carroll Shelby: A failed East Texas chicken rancher, speed merchant, successful racer, one time fighter pilot instructor, longest surviving double-organ transplant recipient, genuine American icon and the best natural salesman the world may have ever seen. That’s all he is.

After becoming a fighter pilot instructor during World War II, Shelby went home, got married, and started raising chickens on a ranch while racing on weekends. The weekend activities revolved around the now ghostly vapors of old race tracks that used to dot the countryside around north Texas and throughout the South. Many of those legendary old tracks have been swallowed up by suburban sprawl or lawyered out of existence, but in the early 1950’s, the racing world revolved around north Texas.

This was a time of legends, time of men like Hap Sharp and Jim Hall, who’s oil fortunes gave them opportunities to race anything, anywhere. There was also Lloyd Ruby, who is considered one of the greatest American racers ever, and AJ Foyt, a man that could drive, break and fix anything with an engine. It was a time of no seatbelts, leather helmets, and no one talked about NASCAR outside of the South East, and Road Racing was king.

In that past world, the foundation of what would later become a formula for success was laid when Carroll Shelby started racing someone’s car for them. It was a MG that had been outfitted with a small block V8 Ford. It was small, light, nimble and had more motor than most could handle. Carroll drove with such abandon and determination he very rarely lost and eventually earned a chance to drive another light, Anglo-American mutt; a Cadillac-powered Allard. It was this car that made him. His success in races around North America in the CadAllard propelled him to drive “Bird Cage” Maserati’s Ferrari’s, and eventually to win the most prestigious race in the world, The 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving for Aston Martin.

At the same time, as he became one of the most famous drivers in the world and was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and pretty much every magazine in America, there was a ticking time-bomb ready to go off. Shelby’s heart was dying. Today, we would probably be able to just take a pill and go on, but in those days, a faulty ticker ended racing careers.

A masterful opportunist, he parlayed his celebrity into Gillette shaving commercials and also joined up with Jim Hall to import European race cars to America via Shelby-Hall Race Cars, located in Dallas. It didn’t last very long as Hall was racing Formula 1 and Endurance racing in Europe, and Shelby wasn’t exactly a man easily given to an office job.

Shelby got hold of a light aluminum British race car called an AC Bristol and found out the company had lost its engine supplier. He managed to convince them to send him rolling chassis of the little race car by telling them Ford was going to supply him engines. Of course, Shelby then had to convince Ford to actually supply the engines to him.

At the time, Lee Iacocca was a rising star at Ford, and as legend has it, the master salesman Iacocca was bulldozed by another like him, and was reported to say, “Someone give this guy an engine before he hurts someone.” The Shelby Cobra was born.

The Cobra formula was a light and nimble British car, big friggin’ engine. It worked (Note: I will explore this later in another article). The Cobra beat all comers and became a legend of its own, spawning the Pete Brock-penned Daytona Coupe Race car, which put Shelby back in the winners circle at Le Mans as a manufacturer, embarrassing the Ford factory team attempting to win the race with their new super car, the GT-40. After the Daytona soundly beat the GT-40 in tests, Ford made a deal with Shelby to take over the GT-40 team. But as a part of the deal to bring him in, the Cobra had to die.

Out of the ashes of the death of the Cobra and the now legendary friendship between Shelby and Iacocca grew the Shelby Mustang GT350, GT500 Program. When the Mustang was introduced in 1964, Iacocca knew he needed a performance package on what was initially an underpowered grocery-getter, but politics at Ford and an industry wide self-imposed ban on direct involvement in auto racing gave Shelby the ability to become the Ford racing proxy.

Original Cobra production was only around 1,000 cars. Six Daytona Coupes, and 20,000 Shelby Mustangs made it to the track and to the road, but a combination of his sponsor Iacocca being fired by Ford, the spike in oil prices, falling sales and that pesky now-faltering heart forced the end of the Shelby Mustang in the early 1970’s.

The Legend of the Shelby Mustang is a fascinating one, indeed. I can not think of any other car that has become a legend unto itself, blending its own history and that of the man who inspired it, along with some fanciful inaccuracies (some coming from Shelby, himself) into a story all its own. It has become a movie character (Gone in 60 Seconds), an object of desire as well as abuse. At any event where Shelby is present, there are usually dozens of children who have been named after him and people who approach him, as well as the car, with a blending of respect and fear.

There has been more ink devoted to this car and man amalgam than any other I can think of, and I have written for many magazines, and I’ve even consulted on a couple of books on both principals.

A few years ago, that faulty ticker was replaced and Shelby is now one of the longest surviving heart transplant recipients. Later in time, he needed a kidney transplant, as well. He has also founded the Carroll Shelby Children’s Charity, which raises money for kids in need of transplants.

These days, his health is said to be not-so-great, but remember that he is well over 85 now and has been married at least 6 times. This man has jammed more life into one than most could possibly imagine.

When Ford and Shelby decided to get the old band back together with the current Shelby GT500 they had a lot to live up to, some of it even fact-based. The decision was made early on that there would be no muddling of this legend, and Ford came out of the box with a loud, brash, thirsty, powerful, no-compromise car of unequaled, swaggering bravado.

It arrives like Robert Duvall’s Lt. Col Bill Kilgore in Apocalypse Now with a blast of Wagner, and the smell of Napalm in the air. It has a supreme confidence in its stance, letting no one assume it is anything but a serious chunk of car.

The exterior is garish with almost obnoxious sculpted, aerodynamic wings, splitters and curves over big Goodyear racing tires mounted on black powder-coated wheels which give-off a no-nonsense curb appeal. The tail has a high mounted wing, but it’s what is under the other end that counts. The engine. And what an engine it is. A 5.4 liter, four valve V8 lurks under the hood and where most would consider that enough, the Shelby has a SuperCharger to boost an astounding output into the realm of HOLY CRAP! 550 Hp and 510 foot pounds of torque.

All that power results in a snarling beast of aural wonders that make you want to roll the windows down and drive through the Addison Airport Tunnel, over and over again, just to enjoy the roaring sound. The six-speed manual is effortless and really is amazing at dropping all those buckets of power to the ground.

The interior is rather amazing in its own right. Combining “retro” styling that is needed to complete the muscle car redo, combined seamlessly with modern expectations like satellite radio, Sync-integrated GPS, along with every other desirable option in the catalog. One that I personally like is the high-mounted PowerPoint, at the center top of the dashboard, where you can easily plug in a radar detector (yeah, you’re going to want one of those).

This is a far cry from the utilitarian interior one got in the 1960’s Shelbys, but one thing remains – this is not a car for the timid.

On the center console, next to the shifter, there is an understated little button. When pressed, the button turns off the traction control. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T TOUCH THAT BUTTON!

The traction control on the Shelby GT500 overpowers its own tires quite easily, with the happy, little, unassuming button deployed, an average driver is in a whole bunch of trouble where enthusiasm is defeated rather quickly by the reality of kinetics. It is way too powerful for anyone without at least as much high-performance driving training experience as I have.

The old school rear-end on this beastly car gets upset rather easily by bumps inconveniently placed at the apex of corners, and the super-tight suspension makes attempting to drink coffee while driving make you look like an ill-advised, near-sighted epileptic trying to exercise with a shake weight.

During the course of week, the $55,000 Shelby GT500 was gulping high-octane like a kid with a garden hose. While running all over north Texas, I came to a couple of conclusions: It’s a brash handful of a car, not for those who fancy themselves in any way environmentally minded, but in a time when so many cars muddle their way to mediocre, the Shelby is one of the most satisfying, over-the-top ways to consume fossil fuels in a multi-sensual, true muscle car experience there is to be had.

And yes, it is just the sort of thing that should have a name like Shelby.

As part of the best-selling vehicle lineup in North America for almost 30 years, the Ford F-Series is without a doubt one of the best choices for a pickup truck in the full-sized market. Now, the question is which one to choose, as they start with the 1/2 ton F-150 and proceed in increments of 100, from F-250 to F-650, for those who simply need a dump truck that only looks like a pickup truck.

I’ve always been one to appreciate a truck for being a truck, rather than a personal car with a big, open trunk. With that being said though, the pickup in Texas is a car, truck, personal expression, external display of one’s DNA, office and even a workbench.

Ford sent over a 6 cylinder F-150 a couple of weeks ago, and it was a very comfortable, competent, and solid performer. I was surprised the considerably smaller power capability didn’t result in any significant fuel economy increase. Obviously, this is something that’s becoming more important as gas prices continue to creep north of $3.50 per gallon. And for a vehicle over 1/2 ton, my personal choice is to go diesel every time.

Even with the recent spike in diesel prices I can always justify the enhanced price of entry (in Ford’s case it is a $7,000 premium) to achieve the long term reliability, durability and fuel-usage economy that comes along with the far more powerful, big diesel engine. It’s amazing how the technology on the power stroke direct injection system has evolved over the years. Most may remember the staccato beat of incoming artillery and black clouds of unspent crud coming out of the tail pipe in the old school diesels. But with the newer, cleaner and quieter systems, you will be hard pressed to actually be aware that you’re driving a diesel from inside the well insulated cabin.

This quiet, but still fantastically powerful, truck with its solid frame and all of the expected cargo and towing capabilities – which put the stamped “SUPER DUTY” across the front grill – makes quite the visual statement, as well. As someone who spends a great deal of time on motorcycles, the front facade of this truck is almost frightening, what with its large swath of chrome glistening in the sun. Simply put: It’s one of the sharpest looking, heavy-duty vehicles ever to bear a big blue oval that I’ve ever seen.

Anyone in the HD pickup market knows it is a very tough room, loyalties in this subset of the market run into warring clans with family dynasties of Ford owners who can’t imagine anyone driving another type of truck. I have to tell you, I learned how to drive on my uncles F100 as the first enclosed vehicle, after lawn mowers, motorcycles and farm tractors when I was 10 or 11 years old. I don’t really know if anyone else in the family was aware that I was out driving around the property in Uncle Charlie’s truck, but I have my own personal bias when I hop into the big Ford: It feels as much like home as the smell of my mother’s Brown Sugar cookies.

The Super Duty 4×4 crew cab 3/4 ton truck has an entry price-point of $44,500, and with the addition of the V8 Turbo Diesel, power everything, cloth interior, shiny wheels and satellite radio, the price as-tested for the “big truck” comes in just north of $60,400.00. But, if you also look at the fact that most who do buy this kind of vehicle almost live in them, as they have morphed into mobile offices that is really not that heavy major of a switch from the real thing.

Both Nissan and Toyota have ventured into the full sized market over the last few years, but have purposely not wandered north into the Heavy Duty Diesel market. If they ever do, they are in for a hell of a fight as the Dodge, GM and Ford competition is very intense, already.

From the high step into the Super Duty, to its large turning radius, there is nothing wimpy about its look or impression on the road. In town or on the highway, the 6.7l v8 single turbo’s dual impellers rocket you unencumbered from a stop and overtakes almost everything on paved or unpaved roads. I didn’t have any opportunity to test out the towing abilities, but it can handle nearly anything from small trailers to mobile homes with not so much as a blush.

Really, everything about this truck is spot-on spec, from its handsome exterior to effortless interior, but were I to be in this market, I would have a very difficult time making the decision on what to take home. Personal opinion: The Ram has a better interior, and the Chevy has a quieter drive train, but the Ford has one of the best combinations for the consumer. It’s a really tough choice, regardless.

One thing that may push you into the land of Ford is this new power plant is designed to run up to 300.000 miles before a major service. Judging from talking to owners all over the state in my travels, I have to report that they claim the 6.7 is the best diesel Ford has ever put in a pickup. This is a big deal, as problems with the prior big D had resulted in a bit of a black eye for Ford.

In many ways this truck reminds me a little of the Cattle Barron’s Ball – an annual society must-do every year, here in Dallas where folks get all dressed up in tuxedo’s and cowboy boots – it’s flashy chrome still comes with a whole bunch of real truck.

 

 

My life has always revolved around a Ford Mustang.

Ford’s original Pony car was first introduced as one of the biggest new car projects in history as a 1964 1/2 model. I was introduced as a 1965… born in October. Now, over the last 45 years I am willing to concede the Mustang has had a much greater impact on the world than I have, but it seems like I have never been more than two steps away from one.

My earliest memories revolve around a hunter green Mustang my mom had as her car. My dad was the General Manager at a big Ford store and she always claimed a personal vehicle out of the inventory. Thankfully, her choice was always a Mustang. To this day, she still remembers her cars fondly.

The Sixties were good to the Mustang; the early Seventies were as well, but with the Arab oil embargo of 1973, EPA emissions, changes in safety standards and a general malaise at Ford, a neutered Mustang Cobra II, the Mustang II and other forgettable and anonymous renditions were the result. In 1979 the third generation plopped down on the scene, in our driveway and into the hands of my older sister.

It was the first new car she had ever bought and I remember it fondly, even though it was underpowered and a quality control problem poster-child. At this time, I was just coming of age and into my own automotive desires. A few years later I found myself selling cars at the local Ford dealership where my father had worked decades before, and I managed to get a 5.0 GT as a demo. This was the early 90’s and Ford had just backed away from replacing the Mustang’s Fox chassis with the front wheel drive, Mazda-originated car that eventually reached the market as the Ford Probe.

At the time Robert Van Winkle, a.k.a. Vanilla Ice, had emerged from “the hood” in Carrollton, TX and was “rapping” about cruzin’ in his Five Point-O. In fact, I know there is at least one picture of me with one company car, skinny tie, and a hair cut close to what we would call a mullet. Still, I thought I was pretty cool.

By the time the mid 90’s came around I was back in school and a guy at Ford called Alexander Trotman had risen to the big chair and he was being hailed as the savior of the Mustang, as low sales and build-quality issues had threatened to swallow up the entire rear wheel drive sports car market. The cross-town GM products, Camaro and Firebird, were about to end their production and Dodge had gotten out of the rear wheel drive world completely. While in college Ford recruited a bunch of us as part of a focus group on the then NEW Mustang, so again the car cut a swath through my life.

Years later, after moving to Dallas and being one of the founders of Texas Driver Magazine, there was yet another Mustang being introduced and I got the chance to ride it pretty rough while covering the Great Carrera Pan-American Road Race in Mexico where the newest mustang was the pace car. I wrote an article about the experience racing across Mexico in this newest stallion riding shotgun in the pace car through the mountains.

To be certain: The entire event is still something I consider a high water mark in my Auto-journalistic life.

Arriving back in Dallas I was pulled into the world of Carroll Shelby and the Mustang via some articles of many mutual friends who helped me write articles for TDM, Automobile Quarterly and other publications.

It has been a while since one made its way into my stable, but the original pony car looks pretty good after 45 years. In fact, Ford sent over a 2011 Mustang 5.0 GT,recently and yup, the Five OH is back. When the old 5.0 was replaced, it really was a 4.8l v8 and Ford put its corporate-wide modular 4.6 under the hood of the late 90’s early 00’s.

The newest Mustang continues with the formula of the relatively small car with the pretty big motor, as pioneered back in the 60’s. It’s a well sorted-out rear wheel drive whose evolutionary chassis upgrades and Big Brembo brake package makes for a car with plenty of go and stop.

19-inch, optional tire package brings both the right look and considerable grip to the short wheel base. Also, 412 horsepower and 390 foot pounds of torque make this pony get up and go in a hurry with considerable growl from the free flowing exhaust. It sounds WONDERFUL when you mash down on the go stick.

The interior is pretty much flawless as long as you take into consideration that the back seats are more ornamental than functional, and realize that the car is really intended for a maximum capacity of two. With subtle tweaks and a proper 6-speed MANUAL transmission, the Mustang is one of the most satisfying go-fast coupes on the market. But, keep in mind, the ads that claim 30+ mpg are based on the 6-cyl driven by the hypothetical little old lady.

Each time you make the ‘Stang growl, and your fuel gets sucked down into the 5.0., the result is grin-inducing but thirsty. Really, complaining about fuel economy in a car like this is kind of silly as there is an expectation of such. If you want mileage out of a gallon of gas, go buy something else.

With the history I’ve had with multiple Mustangs over the years, I would be hard pressed to find one that was better “out of the box.” And knowing how many modifications there are available, you can begin with a really well-handling, fast car like this and start screwing on bit and pieces using the Mustang as a platform for virtually limitless numbers of enhancements.

The Modern 5.0 Mustang GT comes across the checkout at $38,000.00 as tested. For most of the last 15 years there has been no real competition, but recently Chevy brought back the Camaro, and Mopar has stoked up the Challenger. The Challenger is really not direct competition as it is much bulkier and just not the same type of car. The Camaro is really the only natural rival, with Nissan’s 370z being the closest non-domestic option.

If I were in the market for a car like this, I might be tempted to stick with the clean, understated look of the GT, rather than the more attention grabbing Shelby that basically screams at you of its intent. I have always appreciated the “sleepers” that surprise you.

After 45 years in the market the Mustang is still young and vibrant - me not so much. But I did call my mom and tell her I was driving down the road in a new Mustang and at the age of 83, with a brand new aftermarket knee, she told me she still wants her old Mustang back.

Me too, Mom.

Jim Muise is a regular contributor to The Squawker. His Any Driven Sunday column appears regularly here, so keep checking back.

The three-way battle for the Heavy Duty segment of the pick up pruck market just got considerably more interesting.

All three domestic players, Ford, Dodge and GM, have, over the last few months, rolled out their big guns. They are all packing new or updated power from big, stump pulling turbo diesel engines.

This is not the segment of the full sized market the others play in. Both Toyota and Nissan, who offer excellent 1/2 ton options, do not have vehicles in the 3/4 ton market and do not offer diesel alternatives in the North American market. It is one of the few arenas in which the domestics do not have Pacific Rim competition.

It has become a hotly contested segment where each is scratching for advantage touting “Better” towing, “Better” interior, “Better” horsepower and trying to parse the most miniscule advantage into a marketing bonanza.

The most coveted of all potential customers is the convert. The convert is one who has always bought a Ford who decides to go against trend and opt to by a Chevy instead. That doesn’t sound that farfetched to most but this is the most loyal consumer in the most loyal market segment in the automotive business.

Especially in Texas, which is the largest market in North America for trucks, where brand loyalty takes on a near religious fervor in some quarters, I have actually witnessed fist fights that began when one’s truck gets insulted. It is the Texan equivalent of telling ‘Yo’ Momma’ slap downs.

The general more than takes this profitable and competitive market seriously and offer both GMC and Chevy truck labels that are essentially the same rolling stock with slight variations on branding theme. The Chevy Silverado 2500 HD 4WD LT provided to Any Driven Sunday is one of the nicest riding large trucks in the market.

Powered by a wonderfully quiet and powerful DuraMax 6.6 V8 Turbo diesel mated to a strong and seamless Allison 6-speed automatic, the Silverado is a fantastic place to either watch highway miles disappear or slowly slip past trees and turf off road. The interior on the test truck was as it should be LOW maintenance, just simple fabric and vinyl – a no muss, no fuss affair.

Not that the Chevy was devoid of options. With the “On the Job” package, it came equipped with bed mounted tie down hooks, rail liner protectors, a slip resistant bed liner, and 18” polished aluminum wheels brightening up the exterior. It is as it should be: a work truck that looks great.

The premium uptick on the diesel for any of these HD trucks is usually a $5-7 grand ticket inflator that keeps all but those who need the power of this tool from experiencing how wonderful going to the pump with the green handle can be. A regular Silverado HD 4×4 with a big gas motor will hit you squarely in the 10-14 MPG area, where the diesel was consistently pulling 18-22 MPG numbers regardless of how hard I was throttling it down the road.

In my mind, the greater fuel economy and more efficient power delivery afforded by a diesel engine is worth the increased price. I know there are ways via tax incentives for Commercial vehicles and especially for “Alternative” fuel vehicles that can help take the sting out of that price jump. However you do it the diesel it the way to go, hands down, in the large truck market.

After all, with a Heavy Duty truck it is not about the show it is about the go and this Chevy goes very well, it handles far more like a car and has a very comfortable and well laid out interior. This is the kind of truck that owners keep for a long time and use the hell out of.

While driving around the Melissa area of North Texas, where the pictures were shot, it became obvious the simple but elegant lines of the Silverado carried well down side roads with minimal drama. The steering is light and the handling, braking and road manners Chevy brings to the table are second to none.

I really liked the Dodge HD 2500 we had a couple of weeks ago it was a great truck, but for the option of heavy duty I found my preference started to shift to Chevy, but alas it had to go home.

Thankfully, my truck fetish will be sated by the Ford Super Duty that has taken its place outside the front door of my home.

Something has happened to Ford lately that I didn’t think would, or could happen. Ever.

A few years ago, Ford was in turmoil, the kind that can only happen when family is involved. It was in some ways like watching, from a distance, reruns of ‘Dynasty’ or ‘Dallas,’ where the bickering wealthy family members are at each other’s throats.

The great grandson of the founding Ford, Henry, had ascended to the big corner office of his birthright, only to find the glass tower was a little wobbly. For a generation or so, people not named Ford had led the company across some of the hardest days in American business.

The last family boss was Henry Ford II, or “Hank the Duce,” who took over as CEO of the company in 1960 and was at the helm during the introduction of the Mustang, the roaring 60s market, into the OPEC oil embargo and market crash, and watched the company head near the brink of disaster by the end of the 1970s.

Ford was, at the dawn of the 1980s, the world’s fourth largest industrial powerhouse, but aging product, inefficiencies in production and planning, and a global economy about to take a cyclical dip, the Ford Motor Company fell hard. So hard it almost went bankrupt. But in great crisis comes opportunity. Ford literally bet the future of the entire company on what became one of the most successful car launches in history, the Taurus.

The Duce had first come to the company during WWII, after the death of his father Edsel, and his grandfather Henry Sr., had erratically been tossing the company into and out of problems as a result of his own late life battles with what now is presumed to be Alzheimer’s. The federal government was on the brink of taking over Ford to ensure the reliability of war supplies generated by the company when The Duce was released early from his commission in the US Navy.

While leading the company, The Duce took the family business public and in part created both its greatest strength and greatest weakness. The company structure would place the “REAL” power in the hands of shareholders who held Class A stock, and virtually all of that stock was owned by Ford and Firestone family and the trusts they set up to perpetuate their wealth.

During the cycle of crisis and tremendous profits, it seems automobile companies make the mistake of believing their own press and take their eyes off the ball only to fall back into crisis. Ford did this with enthusiasm, spending billions on buying Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, and a great big chunk of Mazda.

Really the only one that has had enduring effect has been the relationship with Mazda. The Japanese company has become the de facto small car and truck division for Ford. Shared platforms and development costs have finally resulted in what is truly the first Global product for the blue oval, the Fiesta.

Ford used to claim “World Car” status because they sold the same name plate, the Escort, across multiple markets, but any car enthusiast could tell you the Escort they sold in Europe was head and shoulders above the anemic one we got on this side of the pond.

With the Fiesta, Ford has finally given us a car that is just as good in Mesquite as it is in Manchester, Marrakech or Madagascar.

It took a while for Ford to figure out that the American marketplace really is no different than Japan and Europe, at least when it comes to small cars. As long as you can meet the basic needs of the consumer with a high quality, good looking, responsive product you don’t need to load it down with chrome and bits of boy racer bravado.

The four door Fiesta featured here was a neat and proper Euro-Asiatic four door economy car with quality on par with any other maker in the world.

The purchase of any economy car is a need-centric buy. The Fiesta satisfies every need and then some.

The interior is nicely laid out with a minimalist approach with manual everything except the windows. The one enthusiastic accessory is the Ford/Microsoft developed Sync System. It works very well and is one of the best combination information/phone integration systems in the marketplace.

With the super economy class, you almost come to expect a lack of refinement, plastic that feels cheep and seats that feel like you are sitting on a milk crate. Nothing could be further from the truth in the Fiesta. The manual adjustments of the driver’s seat take a little fine-tuning, but once dialed in are quite comfortable. The manual clutch and 5-speed tranny is very Mazda-ish, which is high praise.

You are never going to set any speed records with the Fiesta, unless you drive off the top deck of a parking garage, but sticking the revs into their upper quadrant and keeping them there makes for a fun little point and squirt car. It’s only limitations come from the inherent performance issues that are typical for any front wheel drive car.

There is surprisingly efficient trunk space under the rear hatch, but the Fiesta’s rear seat might not be the ideal place for a long journey. As a point of reference: after adjusting the driver’s seat to my ideal position (I am 6’1”), I noticed the seat back was well behind the B pillar, fully visible through the outside rear door.

As a need-satisfying option, the Fiesta competes with products from all over the world and does so with an observed fuel economy of +35MPG. Cashing out (as tested) at just a tick over $17,500, the Fiesta is a very good option that should be considered.

The metallic ‘Lime Twist’ car provided to Any Driven Sunday was taken up around the back roads by Celina High School for the accompanying images, and it really is a fun and efficient way of getting around. The color kind of gave me the feeling that I was driving a lime in search of a colossal margarita, but a little car like this can handle the flamboyance.

Ford’s greatest PR win in years came during the depth of crisis, as former Boeing CEO and current Ford Chief, Alan Mulally, sat in Washington alongside his Chrysler and GM counterparts. They sat in one of the most hostile meetings before congress, as GM and Chrysler were seeking help from the federal government as their companies teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. When asked what Ford wanted from these bailouts he quietly answered, “Nothing, we are just here to support our friends at General Motors and Chrysler.”

Two years before Ford had again bet the farm, literally mortgaging the entire empire including the Intellectual Property of the Blue Oval’s iconic brands to again rework the company. This time they did it just before credit dried up and the bottom fell out of the economy.

To many observers of all things automotive, it was a shocking whisper. It would be something like hearing the Detroit Lions (also owned by the Ford family) had just won the Super Bowl. Those words and the fact that Ford didn’t need to accept federal bailout money has turned into a marketing an PR boon for Ford, along with the positive ink suddenly shining on Dearborn, the perennial halo of infallibility on Toyota was tarnished by the gas pedal fiasco, and damn if Ford didn’t manage to look good on that one, too.

Come Saturday October 2, beginning at 11 am, Mustang Fest will kick off on the Gulf Coast’s Mustang Island. One of the goals of the event is to make to mile long line of Mustangs on Mustang Island in an attempt to set a state record. So, how, exactly, do you get that many Mustangs in one place?

A road trip, of course!

Aptly called Cruise to Mustang Fest, Mustang enthusiasts will descend upon Wild Horse Park in Mustang, Oklahoma on September 30 to make the drive to Mustang Island. Leaving at 8 a.m., drivers will stop in West, Texas for lunch and overnight in San, Antonio. The following morning, the Mustangs will complete their journey by rolling onto Mustang Island. Any and all drivers, classic and modern day Mustangs – event rented ones! – are welcome to take part in the drive. Join them at the beginning, or anywhere along the route.

Check out the web site to learn more, see the route and to check out all of MustangFest’s events.