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Exterior Design: *****
You either love the new Mustang, or you're European. Actually, that's not fair. Most Euros I've talked to fall into the love camp (there's this one prick in Dublin...). So, you either love it, or you're blind. The California Special edition increases the hotness with a blacked out front air dam that makes the Mustang look less bulky. A similarly dark diffuser surrounding the pipes does the same trick out back. The side profile is the least attractive aspect of the GT/CS, as there was nowhere to add black. Furthermore, the chrome GT badge has been dumped in favor of a stripe surrounding the painted-on GT/CS lettering. But no matter. There are only a handful of cars on the road better looking than this guy.


Interior Design: ***
The Mustang's interior is bi-polar. There's a horizontal line running across the center of it. Everything above that line is great: nice-looking aluminum plastic, custom vents and a gauge cluster that not only looks the part, it also changes color to suit your mood (I chose pink). Everything below this line, however, is craptacular Ford binnage. Much of what makes the CS's interior different from lesser 'Stangs was underneath my wide ass, so I didn't notice. Speaking of wide, check the transmission tunnel. This is one of the very worst cars on the market today for making out in. And the back seat is just as useless.

Acceleration: ****
This is a compared-to-what? proposition. Hitting sixty in five and a half seconds is fast, no matter you slice it. Unfortunately for the GT/CS's fifth star, I'd just driven the Shelby GT. And $30,000 will also net an EVO or an STI, both of which will do the deed a second quicker.

Braking: **
Recently, I downed three Churchill-style gin martinis and loudly inquired to a FoMoCoBro, "Why it is that Ford can't finish a product." My example? The Shelby GT's brakes, which are the same fade-a-rific, not-ready-for-prime-time stoppers found on the GT, and also found here on the GT/CS. Come on, Ford.

Ride: ***
At low speeds, the massive torque thrust of a firmly kicked pedal seems to overload both the driveline and the rear wheels, resulting in lots and lots of sick-sounding clunk. It feels bad, too. I'm blaming a not-up-to-snuff driveshaft and the archaic live rear axle. The Mustang is no pothole lover, either. However, once you get your motor running and head out on the highway, the 18" plates make the car a joy. A real joy. Like, if I woke up tomorrow and found the car fairy had stolen my WRX and replaced it a GT/CS, it would be cool.


Handling: ****
While still not a viable track-day implement, the GT/CS is not far off. The Kansas-flat torque curve and manual transmission means even if the Mustang prefers slopping into a corner, you can Saturn V your way out. And the GT/CS is not all that sloppy. The larger wheels add stability, and the rear's fine if the road's good. At speed, steering is responsive and meaty. If you take time to set up a corner the right way, you'll be rewarded. And while the car is too heavy for snap-oversteer, throttle-induced oversteer is a cop-attracting certainty. (Plus, as all cops are pistonheads at heart.)

Gearbox: *
Boo. First of all, $30,000 rides get six speeds; that's how it works. Second, I've driven both the Shelby GT with its short huckin' Hurst and the GT500 with its six-speed Tremec, and the Tremec is the best answer. Third, and most important, the shifter in the GT/CS sucks it. Fourth - the go-to gear — is hard to get into and easy to miss. Moreover, shifting into any gear is a two-stage affair. You think it is going to go, then you reach the halfway point and it puts up a fight.


Audio/Video: *****
There's no video, but so what? Our tester came optioned with the awesome Shaker 1000 stereo. Two 500-watt subwoofers take up a quarter of the trunk. Simply epic sounds. I recommend the final four minutes of Opeth's Deliverance. Wendy Buggati's cover of Killdozer's A Man's Got To Be A Man from the tribute record "We Will Bury You" also rocks the light fantastic.

Toys: ***
All you get is the ability to dial up various RGB colors with which to light the instrument cluster. But that is seriously, fantastically cool.


Trunk: **
A fourth of the space is taken up by the Shaker's shakers. And the trunk is not very large to begin with.

Value: ****
Our tester came in just shy of $30,000, which is a hell of a lot of car for a modest amount of scratch. Still, all you really get for $5,000 over the standard GT is larger wheels, a better looking front and a diffuser out back. All that should be standard fare, anyhow.


Overall: ****
Like its own interior, the Mustang GT/CS is half crap, half totally fantastic. Kill the tranny, the brakes, the interior and the live rear-end, and Ford has a bona fide winner. I can't stress this last part enough; off the top of my head, I can think of three, maybe four times I've experienced motoring nirvana in modern cars. Two times were in V8 Mustangs, one of which was in this blue beauty. Ford: Sweat the small stuff. You're so close.

Jalopnik Reviews: 2007 Ford Mustang GT California Special, Part 1, Part 3 [internal]


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