20 month update: 1996 Ford Mustang GT

It’s been almost two years since I bought my 1996 Ford Mustang GT (20 months to be exact), and I thought now would be a good time to jot down a few thoughts regarding the experience so far. To be honest, time has literally flown by, and I still consider this car to be a “recent” purchase – even though it’s been in my possession for nearly two years. Strange how that happens…

filling the mustang up with gas

Gas mileage is pretty good as long as I don’t get on it too hard. I only drive it enough to have to fill it up about once a month though.

In a nutshell, I couldn’t be happier with this damn thing. Yeah, it’s got that old car smell, the paint is fading fast from being left out in the southern California sun, and I’ve never been a big fan of the awkward driving position. On top of that, this old ’Stang’s front seats are far too spongy, it groans and creaks louder than an old man, and I’m always worried about it leaving me stranded somewhere along the side of the road. But you know what? This car has been dead reliable and I’m really come to appreciate it for what it is: a fun cruiser. The loud V8 and heavy clutch provides a raw / visceral driving experience that you just can’t get in a newer car, and that makes me smile every time I start it up.

top down view of my 1996 ford mustang gt

It’s hard to tell from this picture, but the paint is starting to fade fairly noticeably.

1996 ford mustang gt tail light

Here’s a slightly better view of the fading paint. Yeah, it’s still not so bad yet but it’s only going to get worse from here

1996 ford mustang gt interior

The interior still looks brand new – even though it has that old car smell…

1996 ford mustang gt interior door handle

The door panels are holding up well

ford mustang interior door panel

The drivers side door panel looks brand new as well, though the finish is starting to wear off on the arm rest a bit

It’s been treating me so well that I almost feel guilty for the way I’ve been treating it in return. I don’t currently have a garage, so that means that this car has to sit outside in the harsh California sun most of the time. On top of that, it’s not uncommon for me to get a bit lazy and go two months (or more) between washes. This car deserves better than that, but I’m trying not to be too emotional about it – after all, it’s just a car and it’s pretty darn far from being a pristine garage queen. But I do treat it well when I can. I only drive it to work three days a week, and there is a parking garage there where I can park it inside and away from the blistering sun. On top of that, I don’t beat on it at a all. Ok, yeah, I’ve lit ‘em up a time or two, but 99% of the time I drive normally. This Mustang is far from abused.

mustang parked outside

I don’t have a garage, so this is where the Mustang lives most of the time

mustang parked in a parking garage

Luckily there is a parking garage at work where it can get some relief from the sun.

my mustang in the parking garage

Slightly wider view of the parking garage – not a bad place to keep it during the day, eh?

1996 ford mustang gt gauges

I bought the car with a broken odometer, so I really have no clue how many miles are actually on this thing.

As of this time, the only thing that needs attention is the passenger side front tire. It’s got a very slow leak, but it’s so slow that it’s not that much of an inconvenience (yet). The front tires are becoming worn out anyway, and will need replacing at some point, so I’m probably not going to do anything until then.

I’m also a bit concerned about the function of the driver’s side power seat function. I think that it will only go forward – but not back. And I’m not about to test that to be certain.

Oh – and the air conditioning has officially stopped blowing cold air. I discovered that last summer actually, but AC isn’t really necessary here in San Diego along the coast.

But other than that – this Mustang just keeps on going. It runs flawlessly, and I haven’t noticed anything that would suggest that trouble is looming. It’s been so reliable, as a matter of fact, that the thought of taking this car on my planned cross-country drive this summer is something that keeps popping into my mind. That would be the ultimate bonding experience with it, but I’m really not excited about the possibility of dealing with a broken car somewhere along the way. I want to drive – not sit around and wait for repairs. It would be a ton of fun but I’m not sure I want to take that chance.

Front 3/4 view of my red Mustang GT

Front 3/4 view of my red Mustang GT

Rear 3/4 view of my red Mustang GT

Rear 3/4 view of my red Mustang GT

So yeah. I’ve grown to like this car quite a bit, and that’s easily proven by the fact that I had only intended to hold onto this car for a year before trading it on something else. It’s just been so darn good to me, not giving me an ounce of significant trouble, and I don’t have any immediate plans to sell it. I just can’t (yet). Even if I won the lottery and could afford to have a huge car collection of my own filled with any cars I want, I’d hold on to this Mustang and give it a proper restoration. I’ve come to like it that much.