Lest we take those special moments from granted, a guy from the hotel garage handed me the keys to this 2017 Mustang GT convertible and said, “I have to admit I am a little jealous you are driving a Mustang.”
Beaming down through clear skies the sun’s rays fill the ebony interior of a 2017 Mustang GT. It’s a beautiful day for sightseeing and what better way to do it than in a droptop pony car?
Darting down a side street seeking our next stop, we whoa the steed and wait for phalanx of traffic to clear. Over the hill a car approaches. It’s another Mustang. In fact, it’s a SN-95 that rumbles in front of our S550. Both cars temporarily held up, it offers an opportunity for to peek our iPhone over the windshield and snap a quick photo.
Some languages are universal. No matter what side of the road you are driving on 435 horsepower from a finely tuned Coyote 5.0-liter engine will make you forget all your troubles.
Knowing we are appreciating his ride, the driver shouts (jokingly?) through his open window, encouraging us to drive a real muscle car, presumably like his. We chuckled as the SN-95 styling was often derided after its debut and its powerplant pales to the 5.0-liter under our hood, but this purist clearly had no time for a Coyote — or at least he had never driven one.
Same But Different
Putting our foot to the floor to let that Coyote eat on foreign pavement took us right back home!
That’s why we were in such an unusual instance. Not driving a Coyote, as that’s old hat by now, but we had never driven a right-hand drive Mustang — and that’s just what we were doing. On a sunny day in Kingston upon Hull in the United Kingdom we sat on the right side of the aircraft-inspired cockpit and we were driving on the left side of the road.
On holiday to take in a music festival in the country’s 2017 city of culture we were finally offered the opportunity to experience music from bands that rarely perform stateside, but see what it was like to drive the latest Mustang in right-hand-drive form.
It is so familiar, yet so different. The interior of the UK-spec 2017 Mustang feels eerily the same. That is until you walk up to the car and plop down into the passenger seat. It’s embarrassing, especially when you are the driver. Seriously though, we quickly found our way around the car. Curiously the hood release remains in the same spot it lives on a US Mustang.
Having previously driven in the UK, we were familiar with the process, but doing so in a Mustang was both challenging and exhilarating. It was a bit more challenging, because a pony car feels like a Clydesdale on the narrow streets of Britain and from the other side of the car it’s hard to see the leading edge of the car, which makes you tentative in tight spaces.
From the outside it’s those elongated license plates and clear taillights that let you know this Mustang runs in another country.
A Little Help
With an automatic in the tunnel some of the pressure is relieved. We had previously driven an manual-trans Ford Kuga SUV from London to Wales and shifting with our left hand added a whole new set of challenges to the unfamiliar driving position. Having the 6R80 six-speed auto do some of the work for us allowed for so much needed concentration while navigating the quirks of UK roads from the left lane.
We never expected to be able to use a convertible to its fullest in the UK, but it was actually warm and sunny for most of our trip, so we had to drop the top.
It was fate that we spotted another Mustang out on the road while driving our convertible. While neither 4.6- or 5.0-powered SN95s are all that muscular in comparison with today’s Mustangs, the driver of this UK Mustang saw us snapping a shot of his ride and vocally encouraged us to “get a real muscle car.” We got a laugh out of that as we drove away.
When those twists and turns lead to a stretch of open pavement, putting our foot to the floor to let that Coyote eat on foreign pavement took us right back home for an instant.
It also reminded us what people around the world have been missing before the Mustang ran wild across the globe in 2015.
Though my time in the Mustang was brief, as the trip was more than just driving, it was fun to scratch an itch that had been with me since the first time I drove overseas. Though driving from the right side of the car in the left lane is disconcerting, you eventually fall into the habit and it’s just driving a Mustang — a Mustang with a big American V8.
In this case, driving on convertible Mustang on vacation in the United Kingdom is just what the doctor ordered. If you have the chance to drive a right-hand-driver car of any kind, we recommend you take the challenge. It’s not something you’ll soon forget, especially if it’s in the world’s favorite pony car.