We take two very different Ford’s and put them together to see if we can bridge a 50-year gap.
2013 has a lot of significance for Ford. 150 years ago, in 1863, a man who would change the face of the world by making the automobile affordable for the middle class was born – his name, as you ought to have guessed, was Henry Ford. He initiated this transformation exactly a century ago, in 1913, by inventing the moving assembly line as we know it today – which first saw operation at Ford’s Highland Park plant in Michigan that built the famous Model T.
Fast forward to half a decade ago, 1964 to be precise, and Ford introduced another model that possibly supersedes the Model T for folklore and fan following – the Mustang. The Mustang was the brainchild of another iconic figure in the automotive world – Lee Iacocca. In his autobiography, Iacocca proudly recounts the launch of the Mustang, which heralded the ‘Pony Car’ wars that continue to this day. The Mustang was the original fastback – a coupe with an elongated hood that provides the impression of power and a compact rear deck. The huge success of the Mustang meant that Chevrolet and Dodge soon joined the game with the Camaro and Challenger respectively. These behemoths had epic battles on both road and track, as the Trans Am series in the US attracted some of the best drivers in the world at the time. The Mustang-Camaro-Challenger war continues to this very day.
The modern day has seen another auto exec emerge who will certainly go down as one of the greats – Alan Mulally. He managed to steer Ford clear of bankruptcy by taking some bold decisions while restructuring the entire organization. He’s the architect of the ‘One Ford Plan,’ which has spawned vehicles like the EcoSport – a sub-four meter SUV that hits the sweet spot in emerging markets like India. Not only does it carry the new face of Ford globally, but it also carries some of the most advanced technology in the Ford line-up at the moment – i.e. the EcoBoost engine, which features direct injection and turbocharging for a new range of smaller and more efficient (yet still powerful) petrol engines. This particular EcoSport features the 1 litre, 3 cylinder motor that has won the prestigious International Engine of the Year award two years in a row now.
In stark contrast, the Mustang has a stonking V8 muscle car motor. The Americans refer to it in cubic inches, so this is a 302 – which equates to just under 5 litres of old school, reverberating thunder. America may have given us McDonalds and Coke, but a far more vital contribution has been the muscle car with a thumping heart and its signature V8 soundtrack.
A soundtrack that this 1971 Mach 1 Mustang sang to perfection thanks to the deft touch of Delhi based restorer and automotive expert, Tutu Dhawan. Tutu has ensured that this in-your-face blue behemoth relives the pony car glory days every time the ignition key is turned. Even at idle, this baby is all about the monster that lurks under the rather substantial hood. While it turns over perfectly when standing still, you can feel the Ford 302 reverberate ever so slightly from within its enclosure. Give the accelerator pedal a proper shove, though, and the hair on the back of your neck stands on end, as the twin exhausts let out a wail that’s purposeful enough to send the EcoSport scurrying to find the nearest hiding place.
On second thought, though, while the EcoBoost engine in the EcoSport may come across as being quite small and timid on paper (despite the stated 120bhp) it’s actually quite a meaty engine on the road. Since it’s a three-pot, it’s not the most refined powerplant in the world – but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it unrefined either. In fact, the three cylinders lend it a unique character and soundtrack that’s almost a reflection of the V8 muscle car that it faces. I kid you not, I’m not saying this to draw parallels where there aren’t any – I genuinely found a lot of character in this 1.0 litre, 3 cylinder motor. It’s got a very linear power delivery, a chunky mid-range that gives you a proper shove in the back, and a willingness to rev that you just don’t expect. And all of this is topped off by an accompanying soundtrack that’s actually quite enjoyable – one that encourages you to wring its neck with each up-shift.
But back to the Mustang, because there’s very little that matches this Mach 1 for presence on our roads. I’ve had the good fortune of piloting everything from a Rolls-Royce Phantom to an Audi R8 on many occasions on the streets of Delhi and nothing’s drawn quite as much attention as this Mustang. There’s a romance about these old cars that just draws you in – whether you’re seated in it, or even if it just drives past you on the street.
In the drivers seat, you sit facing a wide expanse of dashboard that overlooks an even wider expanse of metal in front of you. The low seating position, louvered rear window, and minute aerodynamically shaped wing mirrors mean that outward visibility is negligible. But that doesn’t really matter because everyone else on the road takes note of your presence and takes avoiding action. And that’s a little disappointing frankly, because there’s just something about this car – I don’t know if it’s just folklore – but you’re simply itching for someone to challenge you to a drag race. There’s just something about sitting on this vinyl sport bucket seat, holding this thin-rimmed wooden steering, facing these deep-set gauges that makes you feel invincible – belligerent even!
But, really, you’re just pleased to be able to experience this extraordinary piece of history – and also to give people around you the opportunity to experience it as well. And, for that, we tip our proverbial hats to loving owners and restorers of machines like these. I’m happy too that I did actually find a vague spirit that connects these two very different machines. The contribution of Ford to the automotive world can’t be overstated, so it’s good to see them back at their fighting best.
Also read- 2016 Ford Mustang Review : First Drive
- Ford Mustang Mach 1
- Ford Ecosport
Engine: 4,950cc / V8 / 16 Valves / Carbureted
Transmission: 3-Speed Automatic / Rear-wheel Drive
Power: 210 Bhp @ 4600 Rpm
Torque: 400 Nm @ 2600Rpm
Engine: 999cc / 3 Cylinders / 12 Valves / Turbocharged/ Direct Injection
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual / Front-wheel Drive
Power: 123 Bhp @ 6000 Rpm
Torque: 170 Nm @ 1400-4500 Rpm
Price: Rs. 8.66 lakhs (ex-showroom, delhi)