• SHORT TRACK RACING: HOMAGE TO A FORGOTTEN SERIES!

    SHORT TRACK RACING: HOMAGE TO A FORGOTTEN SERIES!

    Hard to believe it’s been nearly 20 years since the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) ran exciting, wheel to wheel stock car races on short tracks around Indiana. This series was distinct from and should not be confused with today’s southeastern CARS series that descended from the old Hooters ProCup series, blogs Stephen Cox.

    SHORT TRACK RACING: HOMAGE TO A FORGOTTEN SERIES!The original CARS series was Indiana-based, founded by former ARCA driver Morris Coffman. The concept was built around a spec stock car chassis powered by 305 cubic inch Chevrolet small block engines with two-barrel carburetors that produced about 335 horsepower. The hard compound tires were grooved to limit grip. A completed ready to race car was available for about $20,000, while kits could be purchased for half that price and assembled by the race teams.

    The result was a fun, affordable mid-level touring series that frequented premier Midwestern short tracks including Indianapolis Raceway Park (now Lucas Oil Raceway), Winchester Speedway and Ileana Speedway. The crowds were good. The racecars were fun to drive. They had enough power to slide through the turns but not so much grip that engine prices soared into the stratosphere. For a while – a very short while – CARS provided an excellent platform to learn the craft of stock car racing.

    SHORT TRACK RACING: HOMAGE TO A FORGOTTEN SERIES!I competed in the series from early 1999 until August 2000. My record was marginal, winning two of the series’ smaller events, sitting on the pole at Winchester and finishing sixth in the season points championship. But the competition sharpened my driving skills and introduced me to some great people who remain friends nearly two decades later.

    On September 19, 1999, a bright and cool Sunday afternoon, we put on a pretty good show for Winchester Speedway’s race fans. The top five cars broke away from the field and ran nose-to-tail and sometimes side-by-side on Winchester’s extreme, 32-degree banking for most of the 20-lap feature. My father and spotter, Nelson, coached me up to fourth place late in the event. The whirlwind speeds of Winchester’s high groove took your breath away, especially when running in a two or three-wide pack of five cars, all-vying for a win before a huge crowd at a historic track. I finished fourth in one of the best short track races of the year.

    Series front-runners included many outstanding drivers who had already proven themselves winners at other levels of racing. Mark Fesmire could do no wrong in the 1999 season and left us all in the dust on his way to the first CARS championship title. Indiana short track legend Eddie Van Meter won in front of 25,000 fans at Indianapolis in May 2000. Jeff Cannon was so fast he couldn’t keep tires under his car. Bob Dumke, Tim Green, Wes Bullock, Tim Wallen and other fine drivers competed in my era with many more joining after I departed for the Hooters Pro Cup Series in late 2000.

    SHORT TRACK RACING: HOMAGE TO A FORGOTTEN SERIES!Jerome Branscum, who won the 2003 CARS championship title and later purchased the series, said, “It was a series that we could get into for ten grand and get a nice looking car and we could go racing. I was 44 years old and had never driven a racecar before. It was a real thrill for me. It was the excitement of getting to go racing every week, and on a budget.”

    Going through multiple ownership changes, the series was active as late as 2012 although it struggled to draw entries. It eventually faded away, forgotten by all but a handful of former competitors. The Championship Auto Racing Series existed in the era immediately preceding the Internet, so not a trace of its history can be found online. It existed in the earliest era of digital photography, so traditional 35mm photos are scarce and the few available digital pictures are of poor quality. As far as I can tell all records of its races and indeed, the very existence of the series, have been lost.

    “I would like it to be remembered like it was in the early years,” Branscum recalled, “when you could go racing and it wouldn’t cost you a fortune. You could meet friendly people, race hard and have fun.”

    Stephen Cox: Driver, FIA EGT Championship & Super Cup Stock Car Series, CEO, Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions Co-host, Mecum Auctions on NBCSN.

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  • ZAGATO CENTENARY: ASTON MARTIN DB4 GT & DBS GT!

    ASTON MARTIN DB4 GT & DBS GT!

    DBZ Centenary Collection showcases DB4 GT Zagato Continuation and DBS GT Zagato, with production limited to 19 pairs. None sold separately.ASTON MARTIN DB4 GT & DBS GT!ASTON MARTIN DB4 GT & DBS GT!In 2019, legendary Italian design house Zagato celebrates its centenary. For 58 of those hundred years, Aston Martin and Zagato have enjoyed a remarkable creative partnership. One in which these two iconic brands have created some of the world’s most desirable and stimulating cars, from the first DB4 GT Zagato to the latest Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake.

    To commemorate this landmark year, Aston Martin and Zagato are continuing their historic partnership with a truly unique collaboration: The remarkable DBZ Centenary Collection pays tribute to an icon of the past and creates a future classic.

    Andy Palmer, Aston Martin President and Group CEO, added: “The partnership between Aston Martin and Zagato is one of the most fruitful and enduring in the automotive world. With Zagato celebrating its centenary next year, what better way to celebrate this landmark – and the long-standing bond between our two great companies – than creating these 19 pairs of cars. As an engineer I would always say my favorite Aston Martin is the next one, but I have to say I’m struggling to think of a finer two-car garage than this!”

    Andrea Zagato, head of the Milan-based design house, founded by his grandfather in 1919, continued: “Great Britain has always appreciated our work. In particular, I must say I’m honored and very proud that Aston Martin has chosen to celebrate our long-standing partnership with this unique DBZ Centenary Collection.”

    ASTON MARTIN DB4 GT & DBS GT!With a build run strictly limited to just 19 pairs, this exceptional duo comprises a new, track-only DB4 GT Zagato Continuation and a new, road-legal DBS GT Zagato. The DB4 GT Zagato will be built at Aston Martin Works, Newport Pagnell – the original home of the DB4 – while the new DBS GT Zagato will be produced at Gaydon, Aston Martin’s global headquarters. Perfectly bookending Aston Martin and Zagato’s shared history, the DBZ Centenary Collection will be sure to take their place among the most coveted cars in the world.

    Built to race against the might of Ferrari in the 1960s, the DB4 GT Zagato was a thoroughbred machine. Evolved for the rigors of motor racing and blessed with breath taking beauty, just 19 were built. Drawing on Aston Martin Works’ unrivalled knowledge and expertise, DB4 GT Zagato Continuations will be completely authentic and meticulously crafted cars that are true to original Zagato-bodied DB4 GTs produced by Aston Martin and Zagato in 1960.

    ASTON MARTIN DB4 GT & DBS GT!Originally built as an evolution of the short-chassis DB4 GT, the DB4 GT Zagato Continuation follows the same recipe, with thin-gauge aluminum body panels, dressing a lightweight tubular frame. To improve the accuracy and consistency of the panels, the continuation car’s bodywork uses state-of-the-art digital scanning technology, before being hand-finished. Beneath the bonnet sits a version of the celebrated Tadek Marek-designed straight-six cylinder engine with two spark plugs per cylinder, transmitting 380 horsepower to the rear wheels through a four-speed manual transmission and limited-slip differential, for an authentic and unforgettable driving experience.

    Paul Spires, Managing Director at Aston Martin Works, said of the DB4 GT Zagato Continuation: “It has been my pleasure and privilege to oversee many exceptional projects here at Aston Martin Works, but creating nineteen DB4 GT Zagato Continuations as one half of the DBZ Centenary Collection is a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We will bring all our hand-craftsmanship and expertise to bear in building these 19 Continuation cars, sympathetically incorporating the very latest engineering advancements and performance enhancements, but remaining true to the purity and authenticity of the original design.”

    ASTON MARTIN DB4 GT & DBS GT!The second half of the DBZ Centenary Collection is the DBS GT Zagato, which takes Aston Martin’s most potent series production car – the brand new DBS Superleggera – as the starting point for Aston Martin and Zagato’s latest and most exclusive offering. Created to embody the next evolution in Aston Martin Zagato design language, the exterior of the car will be characterized by a new proportion featuring a fresh interpretation of the iconic double-bubble roof. Together with a striking front grille treatment and a dramatically truncated tail the DBS GT Zagato will present an amplified physique and an unmistakable presence that combines classic Zagato hallmarks with spectacular new signatures. Paired to the build run of 19 DB4 GT Zagato Continuations, the DBS GT Zagato will also be the rarest of all the modern-era Aston Martin Zagatos.

    ASTON MARTIN DB4 GT & DBS GT!Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s Chief Creative Officer, said: “Aston Martin and Zagato is a uniquely dynamic union. One that unites the former’s love of proportion and clean, simple forms with the latter’s daring and maverick eye. Never afraid to push the boundaries, the partnership has resulted in some fabulous cars including the quartet of Vanquish Zagatos – Coupe, Roadster, Speedster and Shooting Brake. However, Zagato’s centenary demanded something extra special, and the Zagato Collection is just that: One car that pays tribute to a timeless icon; another that writes a fearless new chapter for future generations to admire.”

    The DBZ Century Collection will be priced at £6m (approximately $7.9m USD) plus taxes. First deliveries to customers will commence QTR 4 2019 for the DB4 GT Zagato Continuation and QTR 4 2020 for the DBS GT Zagato.

    For the latest luxury-performance vehicles from Aston Martin, please visit https://global.astonmartin.com/en-us/

    https://global.astonmartin.com/en-us/For more information about Zagato products and services, check out https://www.zagato.it/

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  • MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!

    The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering is not your average 16-year-old. Yes, the swagger is there but it’s less arrogant, more confident. And if she exhibits any aggressive behavior it’s in the way she is determined to please all within her intoxicating embrace, blogs photojournalist Jim Palam.

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!So how did I get so lucky to gather here in the manicured splendor of the Quail Lodge & Golf Course in Carmel, floating among the magnificent motorcars, bounteous buffets and beautiful people? Ah yes, I am here to shoot the pictures and tell the stories of the event, now in its 16th year, that many consider the Crown Jewel of all Monterey Car Week events.

    So grab a glass of champagne and come-along with me for Part II of my three-part Monterey Car Week report – a peek into the pomp, polish and pleasure that is The Quail. The Rolex Circle of Champions – Best of Show 1953 Lancia Aurelia PF200C, above, was the first car I photographed, not because I’m a predictor of outcomes, but because it truly has magnetic appeal – and it was parked close to the entry point of the show!

    You know you’re about to experience something special when it’s not even 8 AM and they’re handing out champagne under the towering entrance gate to The Gathering.

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!A feature of the show-winning Lancia that first caught my eye was the chrome bumpers where rear lights would normally be. With seating and controls far forward one appears to be piloting the Lancia rather than driving it.

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!“Everything Else Just Became Transportation.” The folks behind the Genesis Essentia Concept Car know how to write a good tagline – and how to dazzle the Quail crowd with a big-screen video backdrop that looped stunning high-definition black & white graphics and cityscapes behind their sleek and sinister showstopper.

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this icy-blue Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic Coupe – other than it’s more Pacific on display at The Quail – and a galactic gem wherever it dazzles!

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!Porsche hopes to flip the Sizzle-Switch again in 2020 with it’s all-electric Mission E Taycan, which sat book-ended with ‘48 Porsche No. 1 Type 356 on the heavenly white 70 Years of Porsche stage.

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!Jose Fernandez of Mexico City had a dream – to build a traditional, handcrafted, coach-built ‘Speciale’ as an homage to the Michelloti-designed, Vignale-bodied racing Ferraris of the early-1950s. With deep pockets, determination and the skills of The Creative Workshop, his Custom Coachworks 1966 Ferrari 330 GT Speciale was unveiled at The Quail. Simply WOW!

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!The heart of Mr. Fernandez’s dream car – a matching numbers, modified Ferrari 330 Columbo 60-degree V12, 3,967cc, SOHC, 24 valve motor. It’s a treat for the ears and eyes.

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!Ever been too early for something – like the unveiling of the custom-built Hennessey 7.6 Liter Twin-Turbo V8 engine capable of achieving more than 1,600 horsepower at 7,200 rpm? Me neither, until The Quail. I did get to photograph the awesome Supercar she’ll be powering though. I’m good with that.

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!You’re looking at Zora’s #58053, the first L88 Corvette prototype development car and Ken Kayser, the insider, one of its owners, and author who has written the definitive story (http://www.tachometerpublishing.com/order/zoras-58053) of this legendary build. It’s believed to be the first St. Louis assembled Corvette with the big-block Mark IV 427 RPO-L72 engine.

     http://www.tachometerpublishing.com/order/zoras-58053 This impressive lineup of legendary Lancias sat ready to rally in front of the winner’s ramp at The Quail. The successful Martini Racing sponsorship with the works Lancia team lasted for over a decade, starting in 1982.

     http://www.tachometerpublishing.com/order/zoras-58053 Chasing Classic Car’s Wayne Carini describes the size a wad of car restoration cash needs to be to bring a classic to The Quail in show-winning condition!

     http://www.tachometerpublishing.com/order/zoras-58053 The gent representing the Jim Glickenhaus SCG 003S Supercar was somewhat tight-lipped about details. There’s nothing sleepy about this Sleepy Hollow, NY- based, 800-Horsepower, 2,700-pound Stradale.

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!This ‘78 Dome ‘Zero’ was one of the road-going Supercars developed in Japan by racing aficionado Minoru Hayashi. Dome prototypes were intended to offer an alternative to exotic European Supercars.

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!When Curtiss Motorcycles CEO Matt Chambers unveiled the unpainted, all electric Zeus motorcycle at The Quail Motorcycle Gathering back in May he was wearing a suit, albeit without a tie. Just three months later he has added color and performance enhancements to the Zeus and ditched the suit. I like your style, Matt!

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!Even though there were only 435 Kaiser Darrins produced, many of you car guys are familiar with its quirky exterior design and sliding channel doors. So I thought you might enjoy this look at this ’54 K-D’s soothing Seafoam interior. Designed by Howard “Dutch” Darrin, power came from 161-inch Six.

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!The Senna is the most track-focused McLaren ever built, delivering a power-to-weight ratio of 668 PS-per-tonne (659 bhp). Impressive – but not to the two ‘Twenty-Somethings’ standing next to it at The Quail. “Yeah, it’s fast but this one is just boring looking.” Apparently, the monotone color scheme left them wanting!

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!How to standout in a field of Porsches: Go small. This stunning ½-scale, gas-powered 356 ‘Speedster’ is a highly-detailed, fully-functional driver!

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!Croatian EV manufacturer Rimac Automobili brought its beautiful blue California Edition C–Two to The Quail. With a sticker price of over $2 million this hyper-EV delivers 1,888 horsepower, goes from 0 to 60 in 1.85 seconds and has an advertised top speed of 258 mph!

    MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2018: THE QUAIL!Well guys, I was hoping to finish this report with a cool shot of this wicked ’65 GT350 Mustang. But darn it, this visitor from Belarus walked into the picture. I’m sorry. Stay tuned for the final installment of my Monterey Car  Week coverage – coming soon!

    Words & Photos: Jim Palam, https://www.jimpalam.com/

    For more information about The Quail Motorsports Gathering and details about next year’s event, please visit https://whatsupmonterey.com/events/monterey-car-week/the-quail-a-motorsports-gathering/457

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  • OPEN ROADS, PART 1: COLORADO TO CALIFORNIA ON US ROUTE 50!

    OPEN ROADS, PART 1

    The Loneliest Road isn’t quite as lonely as it once was, but it should still be on the bucket list of every automobile enthusiast, blogs racer, TV personality, Stephen Cox.

    OPEN ROADS, PART 1I drove more than 1,200 miles this summer on America’s “Loneliest Road,” US Route 50 West, as part of  https://www.rallynorthamerica.com/ The event itself was remarkable, featuring incredible scenery, a family-like atmosphere with friendly people and a week of immersion in the automotive lifestyle. The rally started in Pueblo, Colorado and traveled west through Grand Junction to Salina, Utah, then continued across the Great Basin desert on Route 50 to Reno, Nevada.

    Now hear this. When one thinks of North American deserts, they are generally regarded as inferior and/or somewhat less threatening than legendary whoppers like the African Sahara. Having now crossed Death Valley, the American Mojave, Sonora and Great Basin deserts as well as spending a full month in the Sahara a few years back, I can say from personal experience that the desert you will cross on US Route 50 West is on par with any in the world.

    OPEN ROADS, PART 1It is just as dry and hot. Just as beautiful and deadly. And, in many places almost as remote. If your radiator lets go along the 120-mile stretch between Mt. Callaghan and Fallon Station in Nevada, you’re going to have a rough day. It’s like a scene from an apocalypse movie without the popcorn!

    On the bright side, Route 50 is a speed demon’s paradise. There’s not much traffic, which makes issuing citations a less profitable enterprise. And “confiscating” the cars of independent-minded motorists is challenging when the nearest tow truck is 100 miles away. I honestly don’t remember what the speed limit was because in over 1,000 miles of driving I never saw anyone abiding by it. The scenery is some of the most striking in all of North America. The route winds up into desert mountains, then back down into the dry valley below. You drive a hundred miles through the most desolate country imaginable and then repeat the process. You pass no one. The desert valleys are pancake flat and you can see 20-30 miles distant. Not a soul in sight. It’s just you and the rhythmic purr of your engine. At any speed you care to drive.

    OPEN ROADS, PART 1The towns are small and few. But occasionally you run across a real gem, like the Hot Spot drive-in restaurant in Salina, Utah or The Cup coffee shop in downtown Ely, Nevada. There are also many historic sites along this route, but two really stood out.

    The ruins of the Cold Springs Pony Express Station, below, were stunning. It was like going back in time. I’d tell you how to get there, but it’s not near anything. In twenty years of travel across fourteen countries, this is one of the most remote historic sites I’ve ever seen. Perhaps that’s why the stone ruins are still in near perfect condition after more than 150 years. Start in Reno, drive 90 miles west on Route 50 and look for a historic marker. It’s worth the trip. Bring drinking water, a hat and hiking shoes. You’ll walk nearly two miles into the desert to see this site, but you’ll be glad you did.

    OPEN ROADS, PART 1The second must-see site is the Museum of the Mountain West in Montrose, Colorado. Tens of thousands of old west artifacts are housed in historic buildings that were saved from the ravages of time and moved to Montrose where they now form a miniature western town from the late-1800s. The founder and his wife will greet you in the parking lot. Their passion for all things old west is contagious. The museum is only a few minutes detour from Route 50 and very rewarding.

    OPEN ROADS, PART 1Save up your pennies and prepare your favorite sports car. The thousand-mile trek across US Route 50 West is a bucket list experience for any motoring enthusiast.

    Stephen Cox: Driver, FIA EGT Championship & Super Cup Stock Car Series, CEO, Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions Co-host, Mecum Auctions on NBCSN.

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  • ’18 MUSTANG GT TEST: PREMIUM W/PERFORMANCE!

    '18 MUSTANG GT TEST: PREMIUM W/PERFORMANCE!

    Read this carefully – here’s a modern muscle car with a 5-liter V-8 pumping out 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, you can shift for yourself, blogs Dan Scanlan.

    '18 MUSTANG GT TEST: PREMIUM W/PERFORMANCE!'18 MUSTANG GT TEST: PREMIUM W/PERFORMANCE!Yes, a 6-speed manual transmission. In an all-black ’18 Mustang GT with the Performance Package that gives it an extra 25 ponies. Oh yeah, there’s active exhaust that tunes the sound from mild to deep-throated, echoed-off-the-walls wild, that’s great to hear from its red leather Recaro bucket seats.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve had American iron, or any sports car worth its salt, with a manual gearbox. But our Mustang tester, with 5,400 miles, had a revised engine – new dual-fuel, high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port fuel injection, revised cylinder head, additional knock sensors, and new crankshaft and connecting rod bearings. The 6-speed manual has a twin-disc clutch and dual-mass flywheel. And there’s a strut bar spanning the engine from shock tower to shock tower.

    So, set the drivetrain to “Normal,” and the Mustang GT launched cleanly with a hint of wheelspin to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds – quick. The twin-disc clutch pedal had great bite where it should, the stumpy lever precise and fairly short throw in action. The alloy-clad brake and gas pedals are so nicely aligned I could blip the throttle with the right side of my foot while braking.

    '18 MUSTANG GT TEST: PREMIUM W/PERFORMANCE!To compare, the 3,712-pound. Mustang convertible I tested recently with 2.3 liter EcoBoost four (310 horsepower with 320 pound-feet of torque) took 6.6 seconds to 60 with its 6-speed automatic. A ‘16 GT I tested with a 435-horsepower 5-liter V-8 hit 60-mph in 4.1 seconds with launch control. FYI – Mustang also offers a 3.7-liter V-6 with 300 horsepower.

    Back in black, I set drivetrain to “Race,” which allowed wheelspin at launch, and our fastback hit 60 mph in 4 seconds, and 100 mph in 11.3 seconds, rear rubber hissing in the 1-2 shift. The GT has launch control, so I set an rpm limit, then dumped the clutch and let traction control handle wheelspin. The adjustable exhaust, set to “Sport,” bellowed off walls nearby – it’s addictive as the car just hooked and launched clean after time. The GT also has Line Lock, which locks front brakes so you can spin the rears. Use both and we got a very satisfying launch with some short but sweet black stripes behind us, the Mustang staying straight and true as we roared to the horizon. We averaged 17-mpg on premium.

    '18 MUSTANG GT TEST: PREMIUM W/PERFORMANCE!Going straight is fine, but how’s it handle? The GT has 4-wheel independent suspension with stabilizer bars, plus optional MagneRide and some very sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S summer tires aided by a Torsen limited-slip differential. Active damping can be fine-tuned for “Normal” or “Sport,” while sensors adjust the ride and handling. Set to Normal, the ride was firm but fairly forgiving over bumps. Set to Sport, – my favorite – ride motions were quickly but nicely handled, bumps quick to fade after a firm but buffered rebound.

    The result was a 3,700-pound fastback that’s light on its feet but well planted. It loved curves with little body roll and plenty of driver involvement, letting me push harder as the limited-slip differential helped keep the tail in line. Switch to Sport and we could get the tail to work under throttle on curves, allowing a pinch of throttle oversteer before the safety stuff kicked in. I’d snap around a corner and apply some throttle and the GT would break its tail for a second, then counter-steer and throttle play would catch it – no stability control needed with the sticky Michelins. Really pushed on the skidpad, some understeer showed, but a touch of throttle would let the rears work.

    Brembo six-piston calipers visible inside those gloss black alloy wheel’s spokes offered quick bite and a progressive pedal as the fastback stopped short and straight with minimal nose dive. Plus, those with the manual and hills will like a two-second hill-holder system when going from brake, to gas and clutch.

    '18 MUSTANG GT TEST: PREMIUM W/PERFORMANCE!As the first and longest-living (54 years) Ponycar, our sixth-generation model lives on its 2014 platform with some simple, but leaner, meaner looks on top of the traditional long nose/short tail design. The 2018 grille’s upper edge sticks out further and lower, black mesh deep inside with twin side lines to break up the menacing maw. The longer hood gets a subtle center spine and two fake vents. The bumper is slimmer, with a more aggressive lower GT air dam with side wings, fog lights moved to corner slits. The flanks remain untouched, flared fenders neatly framing new-for-2018 P255/40 front/P275/40 rear 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport rubber on gloss black wheels. There’s prominent “5.0” badges on front fenders, a wide flared lower sill between.

    '18 MUSTANG GT TEST: PREMIUM W/PERFORMANCE!The fastback flows to a new center-mounted rear wing, loved by Mustang fans. Under that, what a Mustang-loving friend called “boomerang” taillights, the 2018 freshening curving their triple-bars. Quad pipes for the GT are in an aero panel with flared wings at outer edges.

    '18 MUSTANG GT TEST: PREMIUM W/PERFORMANCE!Inside, the classic dashboard of past Mustangs remains, black faux leather with red stitching atop dual cowls, plus more on doors and center console that looked great and softened many hard plastic pieces. The bolstered red leather Recaro bucket seats were supportive without need for power adjustments, the perfect driving position easy to set.

    '18 MUSTANG GT TEST: PREMIUM W/PERFORMANCE!'18 MUSTANG GT TEST: PREMIUM W/PERFORMANCE!The GT had a button to access acceleration timer, brake performance, Line Lock, lap timer and active exhaust. With a new, customizable 12-inch LCD digital instrument display, you can display an 8,000-rpm tach and 160-mph speedometer in multiple layouts, or a full strip tach with digital rpm and speed for Dragstrip mode, red stripes at 7,000-rpm so you see how close you are to redline. In some modes, LED strips race toward each other at the display’s top to show when to upshift.

    New and appreciated by neighbors are redesigned exhaust valves that can be set for quiet, normal, sport or track sound. Dashboard center gets oil pressure and vacuum gauges between air vents. The 12-speaker Shaker audio system with big sub-woofer in the trunk vibrates the rear-view mirror with good sound. That said, plastic controls for stereo and dual-zone climate control look and feel a bit cheap. The rear seats are barely usable, but flip to enlarge a usable trunk that loses space to that subwoofer.

    The base Mustang fastback with 2.3-liter EcoBoost four with 310-horsepower starts at $25,680 and goes all the way to the 526-horsepower Shelby GT350 at $57,000. Our GT’s base price was $39,095. The $3,995 GT Performance Package had Michelin rubber, black alloy wheels, 3.73 Torsen rear axle and rear wing; $2,200 premium trim added navigation and stitched interior trim; $1,595 was for the Recaro bucket seats; $1,495 for adaptive cruise control; $1,695 for MagneRide suspension, plus $895 Shaker speaker system, $895 active exhaust and $395 security system – in total, $52,260, closing in on GT350.

    Make mine black. And don’t forget, a Performance Package 2 is coming that adds more to this fun!

    Words & Photos: Dan Scanlan

    '18 MUSTANG GT TEST: PREMIUM W/PERFORMANCE!For more information about the latest Mustangs, please visit  https://www.ford.com/cars/mustang/2018/models/

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