Mustang four-cylinder chatter for 2015.

With all this talk about the 2015 Ford Mustang going to have a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, it had me questioning why so many enthusiasts are hating the idea.  This comes into question not because I think it’s a great plan (I’m actually mixed on it), nor is it because of the history of the Mustang SVO which I will discuss later in the blog.  Instead I’d like to focus on the history of the Mustang’s dark years of the 1970’s on into the 1980’s, and make it plain that if the name can survive those times (especially under the circumstances), having a four-pot turbo Mustang now won’t dent the model either.

The only SVO I’ve ever seen, captured at the 2010 San Francisco Giants World Series parade. This is a 1985-86 as the ’84 had recessed headlights.

Of course the 1964 ½ Mustang was a massive revolution to the automotive industry for the time.  Unlike the Pontiac GTO of the same year, which took a Pontiac LeMans body and plopped in a Hurst shifter, 396 cubic inch V8, and an aggressive stance for a factory hot-rod, the Mustang had a distinct look to boot.  Yes, the Mustang was based on the grocery-run Ford Falcon, but the young buyers were loving the sporty new look, the low price and many options to make it theirs.

Fast forward to 1974 when gas and insurance was killing the muscle car, and the Mustang II emerged alongside the very large 1973 Mustang in showrooms.  The recipe of the Mustang II was actually very similar to the 1964 ½ model—a better body placed on a hum-drum vehicle, though in this case the drum was a Ford Pinto.  This was the first of the four-cylinder Mustangs, featuring an 88hp 2.3L SOHC engine in base trim.  Optional engines included a 105hp 2.8L V6 and—in some— a 302 cu.in. V8 pushing the 2,900lb car along with 140hp—which is what some subcompacts are making today (and also weigh the same).  The next year, power would drop for the Mustang II as catalytic converters were installed for smog emission standards.

All the while, General Motors was still pumping out the Camaro and Trans Am, and making a media icon through the 1977 film “Smoky and the Bandit” with Burt Reynolds.  The machismo-ridden black-and-gold T-top with the “screamin’ chicken” hood definitely garnered plenty of attention by keeping close to the muscle car roots.  The Mustang II, however, was a silent best seller, with nearly a million leaving lots—one of the best selling Mustang generations.  There were even Cobra and Mach 1 variations.  Regardless, this was a very dark hour in the Mustang history– an hour that makes you question if one can really say it was a Mustang at all.  To put it another way, was the Ranger-based Bronco II the same as a Ford F-Series based Bronco?

By 1979, the Mustang “II” disappeared for just “Mustang,” as the new Fox body took over.  While still initially offering the same Pinto 2.3L, 2.8L V6, and 302 (4.9L) V8 as the old car, the new Fox Body lost the Pinto stigma.  For the first three years, the engines bounced around due to production speed and yet another fuel shortage, but it did give Ford the chance to try their first turbo-four in the Mustang.  Like most old turbos, though, it wasn’t very reliable, and ended up being taken out of production until the 1984 SVO had worked out some bugs, and had anywhere from 175 to 205 horsepower depending on the year.  The SVO engine departed in 1986, with the V8 putting out 225hp, more torque, and had increased reliability and linearity in power delivery (Car & Driver described the lag as “schizophrenic”).  The price difference was also enough to land most owners in the V8 models, especially since the V8 had now surpassed the SVO’s output.  Pontiac tried the same thing with a limited-production run of the third generation Trans Am TTA (less than 3,000 built), throwing a Buick Grand National turbo V6 into the body, and can be called the fastest production car of 1989.  At least the Mustang was more attainable (just under 10,000 built).

One of the problems with the old SVO was Ford was trying to make the turbo the V8 alternative—the top model.  What the SVO brought to the table was awful turbo lag for the era, marginally faster acceleration, and better handling over the Mustang GT—and that’s comparing the ’84 SVO to the ’83 GT, not even the updated ’86 and ’87 Mustang GT’s that took over the SVO spot.

For right now, the official word isn’t clear as to whether the U.S. will even get the turbo engine in the 2015 Mustang (it is guaranteed in Europe, though).  If the turbo is sold in the U.S., the V8 engine will still be the top-dog variant for a little while longer.  All the turbo is there for is keeping the fuel-economy average down for the company, and little else.  Just remember, the worst Mustang was one of the best selling.  You may very well know someone with a four-pot Mustang in the coming years.

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Small car-shirt company needs our “Likes.”

UPDATE: Gearhead Shirts has now become Gearheart, after the article.

Today one of the three car-shirt companies I like, Gearhead Shirts, was blasted with a copyright-infringement charge on their Facebook page, so Facebook dropped their page with no questions asked.  The cause of all this?  The record company Gearhead Records says they have the rights to the term.  However, the term “gearhead” isn’t really anybodies word to own.

Regardless, these two very different companies with different demographics and products are suddenly in a power struggle for something so petty as a word.  According to the notice from the lawyers at Gearhead Records.

“…Thank you for reaching out for clarification. Your company uses the term “Gearhead Shirts” My company, Gearhead Productions, Inc, holds the registered trademark under Class 9 (all types of sound recordings and other media featuring music), Class 16 (various types of printed matter) and Class 25 (clothing) for the GEARHEAD mark.

This means no one can use GEARHEAD in connection with anything clothing, printed matter or music related without infringing on my company’s registered trademark. In order to avoid legal action, you will need to amend your company information to no longer include the term GEARHEAD anywhere in your business dealings or description. Your company may not manufacture, sell or display merchandise in the above categories, or in any related categories in order to be in compliance.

Note that Gearhead Magazine functions as a legally licensed entity that retains permission to use my company’s trademark for clothing and printed matter. At this time they are the only legally licensed entity to do so. Your company is currently infringing on the rights we have granted under that license.”

The thing is, looking at their actual licenses, they don’t have anything about apparel mentioned.  Only records, CD’s, DVD’s, and the like.  Nothing of shirts or even stickers (alright, fine… I didn’t see it originally).  The tactics of infringement, so far, seem up for criticism.  Why only this one “Gearheads” page while many others get to stay on Facebook?  Why was it not brought to the attention of Gearhead Shirts before the Facebook page was shutdown?  Why wasn’t the Gearheads Store contested when that’s indeed the actual money-maker of the business (which is what trademarks are all about– money)?

Ask yourself: does this seem like the record company is actually threatened by the car-shirt company?  They have absolutely nothing in common, from logo to products.

What do you think?

If you are on the side of Gearhead Shirts, show your support and send some Facebook love their way, and forward this to anyone else you know.

Some of the products I’ve bought from Gearhead Shirts:
“Save the Stick: stickers…

Matching shirt:

OIO (Outside Inside Outside) racing line shirt…

PetroSexual, though sans “suck-squish-bang-blow” and tilted con-rod/piston… I have the Petrosexual classic.

Aside

Just for putting it out for sharing, I took to the road for some pictures and video on Friday because it’s been a while since I’ve gone somewhere new.

My outing ended up being a worthwhile trip for me, finding new roads and interesting locales and routes to take later on.  This was the premise in which I based Manually Shifted Soul to begin with– going out and having fun with three pedals, getting excited not so much about raw power as enjoying the experience and sights.  I’d been doing this since around 2005 with Pheobe, and the tagline to the blog (“When life throws you a curve, downshift and take it vigorously”) has been around about as long.  I’ve seen it elsewhere much to my chagrin (on car sites where the owner has an automatic… for shame).  Nonetheless, it’s mine first to my knowledge, and I’ll stick to it.  Anyway!  The drive!

It first started by heading out one of my more local country roads.  I’ve done a video with a camera mounted to the front before on this stretch, but never stopped for photos.  While I wish there was less grain and lighting issues, some showed up fine.


^Really makes me want to widen the track some, especially the rear.  Ever notice how pinched in the rear tires look on a Scion xA?  Yeah, same thing as an Echo underneath, and I see that same bit of “eeeckh” there.

Driving farther up the hills on Highway 4, I pulled onto Telegraph Road (which really only takes me three minutes to take, but of course I stretched it for drama).  It’s a slower course to the top of the 65-zoned hill that Highway 4 ascends, but Telegraph Road a fun stage, regardless.  It’s the site of Telegraph City, or the ruins thereof.  A beautifully eery place, especially when the wind mill creaks into motion with a ghostly tone.

Into California’s historic gold country I pushed (aptly named Highway 49), I headed to the small town of Mokelumne Hill, and headed into its historic area, loaded with old building and rusting artifacts– not a bad thing all the time.

Finally I had to head back through the Calaveras county hub of San Andreas, to the south, as my mystery road lie between it and Angels Camp.

I don’t plan to do too many of these “adventure blogs,” but they’ll come up from time to time.  After all, what’s a manually shifted soul to do sitting on those manually shifted adventures if not sharing the joys?

If you “Like” what you see on the Manually Shifted Soul blog, there’s a Facebook page here to go and prove it to your friends.  It’ll update you automatically when a new blog shifts onto the page.

Toyota GT86 drops cred with roof.

For 20 years, the craving to have a proper hard-top Mada Miata has been an interesting prospect for the enthusiast.  Given, there’s a certain thrill to having the open cloth roof– loads of headroom, fresh air, and far less diluted engine note.  For me, I still like the idea of a hard-top.  There’s added security (and strength) to the car with a fixed roof– both in a roll over, and for the fact it’s not as simple as a buck-knife to ruin.

The Toyota/Subaru/Scion gibberish that I’ll simply state as the BRZ (since it lacks the ugly front fascia of the Scion/Toyota) offers that hard-top practicality, while giving round-about Miata/MX5 goodness to drive… probably.  If someone would allow some seat time in either, I’d be glad to confirm it myself.

In any case, Toyota had a recent “leak” for the upcoming drop-top BRZ-ish cars, to further remove differences between the Mazda and BRZ.  Where I see this going horribly wrong is that this concept was still geared toward driving enthusiasts, stating the platform was designed with a soft-top already planned for it– that’s good news, as weight and rigidity won’t be as affected.  Looking at the concept, though, I see two major problems with this enthusiast-first recipe

Traditionally, a list starts with one: the car in concept form is an automatic.  To make matters worse, the BRZ cars have an automatic shifter that purposefully tries to make it look like a manual, so they aren’t seen as lesser enthusiasts.  Given, the manual is a dying breed thanks to automatics and dual-clutch systems meeting or exceeding manual-tranny shift times, efficiency, and performance stats.  The BRZ isn’t one of these cars with such an automatic– one must have a manual to make the best of the car.  Having the convertible be an automatic brings the whole poser-car attitude full circle, which brings me to the second point: the cellphone.|

In the concept, there is the cars’ signature opposed-piston logo adorning the passenger-side dash.  A smartphone squeezes neatly between the piston skirts– a cool detail, I’ll admit… like car-part furniture.  However, while I realize the average buyer is prone to having smartphones, and wanting to play their MP4’s over the stereo, you already know how I feel about technology and the car.  This feature seems more like a fashion tool than a drivers tool.

The BRZ convertible, then, is the worst thing to come from the line.  It strays from the implied lineage of sporting character, and instead swaths the interior with white perforated leather, a slush-box transmission, and a handy little toy for ones smart-phone of the month.  But it won’t be the car the MX5 is.

Even if you bought the BRZ convertible with the manual transmission, and the seats were still black cloth, and the dash is still plain plastic, that’s not the point.  The fact that the concept– the basis of first impressions among the enthusiast public– is a European man bag, it doesn’t help the image at all.  What do you think?

Image source:
Motor Trend Car News: Wide Open Throttle

If you “Like” what you see on the Manually Shifted Soul blog, there’s a Facebook page here to go and prove it to your friends.  It’ll update you automatically when a new blog shifts onto the page.