TFrog, RIP

A note, to anyone who remembers, that I am now out of the Mustang world. For
one of the rare moments in my adult life, I am without a Mustang.
Both of my '93 5.0s have been in maintenance mode for the last 10 years or
so. I really didn't want to sink a lot of money into either one, but tried
to keep them in decent enough running condition to meet my requirements.
Lately, the frequency of calls for tow trucks has accelerated (I have two
different tow truck operators on speed dial), as old parts continued to
fail. In fact, I was having replacement parts replaced.
CFrog, the GT convertible, went into the shop for another fuel pump
replacement. Meanwhile, the right side tailpipe fell off of TFrog, the LX
hatch. When I was crawling underneath to try and wedge the tailpipe into a
drivable position, I saw cancer - a good bit of rust in spots I never
normally look at. For the first time, both Mustangs were in the shop at the
same time.
There had been days when I asked myself why I was hanging onto these cars.
Normally, as soon as I got one back from the shop, I knew full well why I
kept them. Especially TFrog, with its 5-speed manual, the car that never
failed to make me grin. But the long, slow decline made me go in a
completely different direction.
On November 10, 2012, I dumped BOTH Mustangs at the local Ford dealership
and picked up a 2013 Focus S sedan. Some would say that I took a beating on
the trade-ins, I would say that I instantly saved a boatload of money.
There were three overriding factors in killing off the Mustangs:
1. Winter was coming, and any snow usually meant that the Mustangs stayed
home.
2. Gas was $3.75/gallon. When it was $2.00 or maybe even $3.00, my 17mpg
wasn't a problem.
3. Money was needed for both Mustangs, probably more than the book value of
either. I could no longer justify the expense.
After two months, this new Focus has given me a lifetime average of 30mpg.
And, even though I have a clean driving record, I had been paying a V8
penalty in auto insurance for the Mustangs. With the savings at the pump and
the savings on insurance, the Focus amounts to a "free car." Also, it's a
three-year lease*, which means no repair bills, no tow trucks, and I
probably don't have to worry about tires or brakes (until possibly the third
year).
For Patrick - I wanted a black Focus, base model, no options. The dealership
actually had two, but both had one option - Ford SYNC. I took one, anyway.
Immediately, I had to modify - the car came with 15" wheels and plastic
wheel covers; I ordered a set of actual wheels to replace them (even though
it's a lease, I couldn't live with plastic wheel covers). The car has no
cruise control (an option), and although it has power windows up front, it
has window cranks in the back.
I'm in a whole new world. The torque steer of the FWD at launch threw me, at
first, but I'm getting used to it. Instead of the raw power and push of the
RWD V8, this Focus drives very "European," very tight and assured. The
5-speed manual is... uh... "cute," a short-throw and precise shifter, and a
clutch pedal that takes almost no effort (my left leg may atrophy). The car
red-lines at 7K. First gear doesn't have much punch, but second gear makes
up for it when the revs top 4K. Unlike the 5.0 (1700RPM at 70mph in 5th
gear), the Focus really doesn't like to go much over 65mph, although I've
had it at 90mph many times (and watched the mpg drop). It could use a 6th
gear. My only complaint, really, is that the dashboard has two display
screens - one showing MPG and trip meters, the other for the SYNC system,
and I find no way to turn either one off.
I can see why the Focus is now the best-selling car in the U.S., and a
leader globally. It is a well-built, fun to drive automobile. And, while
I've driven many cars since, this is the first new car built since 1993 that
is mine, all mine. Two months in, and I'm still getting used to that. It's
still weird when I open the garage door and see a Focus sitting there.
I have to point out that my wife, having had three successive leased
Escapes, traded in her 2010 Escape for a 2013 Focus SE (with all the
trimmings) at the end of October. Playing with her SE helped make my
decision easier. The only change I would make today is in the wheels - where
she has the 17" wheel/tire combo, my base model sedan has 15" (my John Deere
has bigger tires) wheels with general "touring" tires. I don't want to
spring for a new wheel/tire combo on a leased car, but I'm trying to burn up
those tires, so I can order a somewhat better performance set.
Absolutely, there are many times that I really miss my 5.0s. In this case, I
think I made the right decision. I'm taking three years off with some
carefree driving. When I leave work and walk to my car, I no longer have to
wonder whether it will start. I haven't yet deleted those tow truck numbers
from my cellphone, but I sincerely doubt that I'll ever need them.
* Three year lease? Yep. I was really considering a V6 Mustang, not a Focus.
Problem is, I would want to BUY that V6, then I'd bond with it, then I'd
want to keep it for the next 20 years. That's my history. But I'm looking
ahead to 2014 1/2 with great anticipation! I'm hoping that Ford really does
put out an all-new Mustang, dropping the whole retro thing, a Mustang that
looks forward, not back. I have a hunch that I'm really really really going
to want to get back into a Mustang at that point.
dwight
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- the next generation
Reply to
dwight
On Sun, 13 Jan 2013 10:13:35 -0500, "dwight" wrote:
I can understand your pain at losing the Fox bodies. I had a terrific 88 5-speed LX 5.0 Notch till it got totaled. I had planned on keeping it forever (a possibility here in AZ). On an open road it was such a blast to drive.
Reply to
Ashton Crusher
The V6 offers little increased mileage over the 400hp V8. No point. Better idea, drive a V8 on weekends, a 4-cyl on weekdays/work. You'll use less gas that some soccer mom in her SUV.
Reply to
RichA
Sorry to hear them go. I know the feeling, it is strange how one gets split on keep or sell, keep cause it is so much fun, sell because you have to fix it again. I had a 93 supercharged #8 Keene Bell, that I let go, every squeek or bump made me cringe that I had to fix the car again. I must have had about $20k total into it, car was $6,700 at a police auction in '95, supercharger was $1,700 from a wrecked stang, but add in rebuilt engine ($3,500) about 10 years later, heater core (twice) breaks, tires, AC, rebuilt supercharger, and on, must have had $20 into it, had a small fire once, the altinator connector started burning on the freeway. Lots of fun, but... I sold it, too cheap, but had it for 16(?) years, always had cheap blue paint that would come off. anyhow 400 HP in the newer stangs beats the 93 with 330 hp (supercharged) Just need to save the money up. Wish I kept the 93, na, glad I sold it, no, I should have kept it, it was really fast no, ..... Thanks for Tfrog and Cfrog......
Reply to
fasnsto
Sorry to hear about the Mustangs... completely understandable though! As fo= r the Focus... did you look at the ST? I picked one up in October... OMG! = This thing is a blast! While not as fast as our Flex is on the straight aw= ays, the ST is great in the corners! =20
Glad you are digging your new Focus though... they are a lot cooler than wh= en they were first introduced so many years ago... LOL
Reply to
John S.
All of the reviews said that the Focus was the best handling car in its class. I understand that the ST is a hoot - again, every reviewer had nothing but raves about that version. I specifically picked out a no-option base model for a reason - I didn't want to marry the thing, just "rent" it for three years. I believe that if I'd bought an ST, I'd want to keep it for a good while longer!
While the Focus S is a good bit of fun, the 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine, the FWD, and the lack of scary-fast acceleration make it a car I will gladly trade in in three years. I'm enjoying it, sure, and enjoying the savings on gasoline, absolutely. In the 2 months I've had it, I've saved a bit more than $300.00 at the pump.
The 2013 looks WAY better than the plain-Jane 1st generation, and (hope my daughter doesn't read this) even looks much better than daughter's 2008 SES. But I think Ford has done wonders with the drivability of the car. It's just a completely different environment than I've been used to.
I have no illusions or delusions about the Focus - it is what it is. But after seeing what Ford has done with the Focus and the Fusion, I am really looking forward to the next generation Mustang.
dwight
Reply to
dwight
My friends at MRT built up a 2013 2.0 Ecoboost Fusion for SEMA this year. Love the looks of the new Fusion! What a fantastic car!
And hear you on the "renting". Sounds like an ideal situation for you. And yes, eager to see what 2015 brings!
Reply to
John S.
I never thought I'd see the day. ;) TFrog was an extension of yourself, it seemed. Life goes on...
Can't beat a "free" car. 30 mpg isn't too shabby, but those new 5.0's get 25. (if ya keep your foot out of it)
While I don't share your joy at the prospect of a less-retro-'stang, I do hope to hear that you get back in the saddle, someday. dwight without a Mustang, is like a day without sunshine!
If they drop the retro, maybe *I'll* have to keep *mine* for 20 years. Haha!
-- John C. '11 GT
Reply to
John C.
You could always have the Focus tweaked a bit:
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Designed in the Shelby skunkworks and tested extensively at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the front wheel drive Shelby Focus ST is a driver-focused masterpiece of performance with a budget minded price.
Reply to
Debbie
Yeah, all of us on the ST forums are getting a good laugh out of the Shelby ST... $15K for basically a few appearance mods... yeah, budget-minded... LOL!
Reply to
John S.
ST... $15K for basically a few appearance mods... yeah, budget-minded... LOL!
I got quite a kick out of the budget minded, also!
Reply to
Debbie
guess they wax the car to go faster (?)
anyhow like to see what happens with 600 HP in a Focus, just stuffing the motor in would flat all the tires
Reply to
fasnsto
It's been over 10 years since I last owned a Mustang (New NoOp for those th= at remember), and I've been looking for just the right one ever since. I do= n't know if I'll find it, but it wouldn't be my primary car any longer. And= considering my daily driver has had 8000 miles/yr since I bought it 3 year= s ago, a second car wouldn't rack up many either.=20
But I'm always still looking.
Steve Had a 71 GS455 and a few 5.0 Notches
Reply to
A Guy Named Steve
Hey, Steve.
This Focus amounts to a "clean break" from a string of six different Mustangs. Like I've said, I haven't had a new car to myself since 1993, my history says that I keep cars too long, and I'm now rebooting my automotive environment.
Don't want another older car. Don't want another pre-owned car. Don't really want another second car. You know me - I don't wrench. Not allowed to pick up power tools. I tend to break things.
Didn't want to be the guy who bought a 2011 Fusion (if you know what I mean). The new Fusion is gorgeous, by the way. Tried to get my wife into one, but she decided to go Focus, herself. Damn. Didn't want a 2013 Mustang, when an all-new Mustang will be out shortly.
I find that I really like having a new car. I also find that I really, really prefer a V8 and rear wheel drive - the Fast and Furious thing just isn't me. But I'll drive this Focus for three years, sock away all of the bucks I would have been spending on repairs and maintenance (and GAS), and then pick out a new Mustang when the complete redesign comes out. I'll be 61 years old at that point, so I doubt I'll be holding onto the next Mustang for 19 years!
Also, while the standard lease allows for 10,500 miles/year, I'm paying a bit more for 18,000/year. And I'm pretty much on track. My wife's Focus ("the nice one") has 12,000/year, and she won't even be close to that. Any time we need to take a road trip, we'll be taking her car.
Meanwhile, I've just added my second modification to the new car - black, carpeted floor mats with the Focus logo. I have to check to make sure that doesn't void my warranty. They don't add any horsepower, but sometimes mods aren't just about speed. Besides, I've already put new wheels on the thing, so the performance mod has already been done.
dwight
Reply to
dwight
Can't say I blame you. At some point either you go into full restoration mode or you cut your losses. Your decision was easy -- you need to use the car on a daily basis, so you cut your losses and bought new.
I would have done the same with the wheels, and needless to say the [lack of] options.
SYNC, from what I've read, is out of sync. As for the Focus, it's a sharp car. I like it! I want to test drive an ST version, perhaps with my son when he visits again.
I found it odd too to be out of the Fox world. But, life goes on.
Or, one day when she's not paying attention, swap her wheels and tires onto yours.
Not a bad plan.
You know I'm locked into the S197 for the next couple decades, it'll be nice if you pick up a new one -- you can give us/me a full report.
Patrick
Reply to
patrick.mckenzie84
Ooo, I didn't realize when you got that you had traded both Mustangs. Eeek. :p Torque steer, you havn't lived until you've tried to keep a 426CID Eldorado with loose joints in between the lines while nailing it from a sitting position. Heh. I'll also note the tire thing may come around sooner than you think. I've had FWD cars before and with combining the turning and power on the same set of tires it tends to make those two wear quicker. More so driving like you do...
Reply to
WindsorFo
the looks of the new Fusion! What a fantastic car!
yes, eager to see what 2015 brings!
A friend of mine does a company thing and he just got a new one. I thought it looked very Astin Martin-ish from the front.
Reply to
WindsorFo
I hope you can find one, the only one I've seen was on the showroom floor. A buddy of mine who has a modded Mustang or two and a bike was looking at the ST and a GTI for his wife. She finally put her foot on the GTI because it was an 8 week wait to order the Focus. If you do, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
Reply to
WindsorFo

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