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
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
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
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.
- the next generation
- posted 7 years ago