When the news broke that the Ford Mustang V8 would be available from the factory in right-hand drive, with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and independent rear suspension for the first time, I sat up and took notice. Could an American muscle car at last feel properly at home on winding UK roads?
Ford has a history of producing great rear-wheel-drive performance cars, on both sides of the pond. Back in the 1960s, when the Mustang first appeared, Ford in Europe gained a reputation for affordable rear-wheel drive sporting cars with the Cortina, followed by the Escort Twin Cam and Capri.
They became motorsport legends whose success has been attributed to the fact they were simple, agile packages with the right proportions and a choice of potent engines. For enthusiasts, they hit the bullseye with a resounding thunk. By comparison, the majority of American cars of the day were big, soft and unwieldy.
So having grown up with an enduring addiction for the 850kg Ford Escort, the prospect of driving this new 1720kg Mustang around middle England wasn’t filling me with optimism. I certainly couldn’t imagine any attempt to hustle it down a narrow English B-road being classed as fun. Is it possible, though, that somewhere along the line the new Mustang’s Wild West genes have become mingled with smidgen of Dagenham DNA? Could this be the most tangible proof yet that Ford really is the global company it claims to be?