I’VE PICKED AN ORDERING DATE

I’m getting 60 hours of earned time turned into cash on July 11, 2013. Therefore since a car takes at least 6 weeks to arrive, I’m ordering on May 30. Don’t want it showing up before I have that extra money for a down payment.

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AUTOMATIC V8 TEST DRIVE, MORE FINANCE NEWS

Previously I stated I drove a V8 manual and a V6 automatic. Hard to find a V8 automatic.

A few days back I went to Salem, NH to drive a V8 automatic Mustang. I took it out about 20 minutes and found out what I wanted to find out.

Reviewers who compare the automatic to the manual transmission are pretty much right. Compared to a manual clutch, the grab after changing gears is somewhat “muted” as they put it, but it’s so small as to not make any difference to me, especially at 420 hp.

As far as the speed for changing gears, it’s at least as fast as a manual if you’re pushing hard, in many instances a bit faster, probably always faster. The only YouTube vid I saw where a guy could do really fast manual shifts the way I want to do it, without notches, was the result of a modification they call “faceplating”, which is a modification more suitable to racing and not especially practical for daily driving. I know I’m not modifying any manual transmission.

If I didn’t care about the warranty, I could reprogram the chip for not only better throttle response, but also faster and harder automatic shift response. There’s no way the manual could compete with that.

As far as regular and sport mode selection in the auto, Ford did a good job programming that, no complaints.

This year’s automatic has a button on the knob for manual selection while in Sport mode. It engages the first time you use it. To go back to regular Sport mode auto shifting, I guess you put it in Normal then back to Sport. That worked for me.

What reviewers said about the button is true, you have to anticipate its slowness. I’d say depending on whether or not you’re upshifting or downshifting, and your speed and torque, the lag ranges from 0.8 to 1.8 seconds. Maybe most of the time about a second. During the times you want it to shift fast, figure on 0.9 to 1.1 seconds. That’s my gut feeling, had no opportunity to time that for real.

As I told the salesman, if the manual had no notches like my Olds 442, I would enjoy shifting the manual. A reviewer asked, “Why would you get a car like this and not the manual?” Well, reviewers are used to driving mostly cars that have notches. The enjoyment for me is completing a really fast, solid shift. If I can’t do that, no fun at all. I want to feel like I can shift better than the next guy. With this manual, everybody will be mostly shifting as fast as anybody else.

I noticed in a few vids people doing a technique to give them a bit faster manual shift, but I’d be scared to try it as it looked to me like eventually it would mess up some parts. What they’d do is start pushing on the shifter about a quarter of the distance to the notch before actually doing the shift. They’d start pushing about 1.5 seconds before doing the shift. That has to be putting pressure on something. Yeah, that would be great having the dealership tell me I was shifting it like a clown after taking it in for repairs, thus a voided warranty.

Ford wisely didn’t spend money on paddle shifters and dual clutch setups, which would add a lot of cost to the car. That would make the automatic shift like a supercar, but even the cheapest car with a paddle shift dual clutch usually is at least twice the cost of a Mustang. Makes more sense to just reprogram the chip, would make it just as fast, even if it would be more of a jerk to the seat of your pants.

Conclusion:
I’m totally satisfied with deciding on the automatic over the manual.

Previously I stated what it would cost to trade the Buick or not. My new number for keeping it is $98 a month.

If I didn’t say this previously, I’ve also established that I can get $4000-4200 off MSRP for the Mustang locally, somewhat less from other dealers. Therefore the “sting” for keeping the Buick works out to $41 a month. I still have to decide how the eventual payments impact my lifestyle, and that might still force me to trade the Buick. Won’t think about it again until I’m ready to do a deposit and order.
If I order a month sooner than planned, it comes out to $13 a month extra. Doesn’t sound like much, but all this adds up. Still shooting for the first few weeks of June for the deposit, first few weeks of August for delivery, more likely beginning of September. Don’t want to take delivery in November! I’ll at least wait until I get my next credit report around the beginning of April to see what direction it’s trending. I hope it’s up a little.

STILL THINKING ABOUT TRANSMISSIONS

I’d said I’d committed to the automatic transmission. I’m also slightly nagged by reviewers saying it made the response muted, which is really a very relative thing. It didn’t feel all that muted to me.  I think what they’re really talking about is if you’re cruising and then stomp on it, the leap forward is slightly muted. I’d say barely. Near the end of this post I have a way around that if desired.

I’ve been watching a lot of 0-60 or 0-100 or quarter mile vids comparing the manual and auto. It still seems to me that the auto shifts just as quick as the best shifting guys, and definitely better than the average shifting guy. The final drive ratio and all the transmission gears are quite different than the manual. So it seems like each car pulls faintly better than the other within certain speed ranges, with it all being a wash by the time you get to 100 mph. I’d say the manual is a little better off the line in 1st but the auto does better in 2nd. But the car will still burn a strip of rubber with the automatic in 1st, so being slightly taller there might be a good thing anyway.

There’s also the issue of the console sitting a bit high for easy shifting of the manual. A non-issue with the automatic.

If I didn’t mention it previously, the auto this year has a manual overide. You put the auto in D and it has a “normal” behavior. Sport mode has earlier and more aggressive shifts, works pretty well. While in Sport mode you can also use a little button on the side for manually shifting up and down. No critic likes that button and they all want paddle shifters, but that’s hardly realistic considering Ford is smart to keep the price down. I don’t personally see that as being a problem for the way I’ll use the car. It just adds a bit of flexibility.

Plus I also have the option (mentioned previously) of switching the chip after the warranty is up. It can be mild or wild. Even mild, the auto would shift faster than the world’s best driver with the manual and grab more firmly. The chip can simultaneously control the engine and transmission for mild or aggressive (within a reasonable range without blowing up something).

I’m still going to go with the automatic.

CLOSE TO BUYING, PROGRESS REPORT

When I went in to check the Shelby Recaro seats, I was told by salesman Scott that my regular salesman Rob had a new job as a Delivery Specialist. The guy had a reputation for knowing everything about all the models (Ford and Mazda) and everyone was going to him for answers anyway. That was one of the reasons I liked him as a salesman.

So now he doesn’t do sales. While I was waiting for Scott to get the Shelby keys, Rob came through the door and by Scott’s desk. I talked to him and it’s clear he likes his new gig. I told him my concerns about him getting a square deal since he spent so much time with me before. He said he was cool with all that and only cared I stayed with Grappone to do my deal. He also said he was trying to get more info from Ford about their plans for the current model year and they’re wishy washy, but I should be okay for ordering early or mid June. Scott later told me he has another customer doing the same thing as me who will be also ordering around the same time.

My bank will probably be able to do a loan between 2 and 4% depending on my credit rating. If I switch to a credit union I may be able to do 1.5% better. I’ll have to figure later how much money that represents. My credit rating is pretty good right now, though I’ve had it 15 points higher a few years ago where almost all 3 agencies had me over 800. Experian and all those others are goofy, though. I just had two go up 10 points and one went down 2 points! First time I’ve ever seen that.

I’ve figured out that I COULD keep the Buick for winter driving after factoring in losing part of a down payment and paying extra for insurance. It’s just a matter of whether it would leave me with enough financial headroom. I’ll wait on that decision until June when I see what I’ll really have for a loan interest rate and what I’ll have saved up. Trading in the Buick would save me about $85 a month over 72 months, not counting at least $45 a month extra for storage insurance and $85 extra for the fact that the Mustang driving insurance will be double the Buick’s. In other words, trading in the Buick would be as if I wasn’t paying any extra for insurance compared to now (at least for 72 months), and I’d never have to pay for storage insurance for the coverage that was off season and off road. But I’d have to get a $400 cover as part of the options and also spend $1700 for snow tires and rims. All that would work out to $30 a month.

The most likely thing now is that I try to keep the Buick and if it doesn’t work out, sell it privately in a year or three years. I’d really like to keep the Mustang salt free in spite of putting special chemicals on the bottom.

Registration the first year will be $700, insurance about $170 a month. Off season insurance $45 a month for any second car kept. I figure my salt season will be November 20 to April 10, give or take a few weeks.

MUSTANG RECARO SEATS, PASS OR FAIL?

I was on the lookout as it’s very rare to have Recaro’s at Grappone. Kept seeing how people said they were not only supportive but comfortable. My test drives were the regular cloth 4 way manual seats. Today I sat in the leather 6 way heated power seats, then the Recaro as they got a Shelby in yesterday.

6 way were nicer than the 4 way manual cloth. Acceptable comfort, won’t be a problem. Good support. Up, down, forward, back, bottom tilt, inflatable lumbar. Lumbar not as radical as my Buick, but felt good to me at full inflation.

The Recaro was even more supportive, side bolster more obvious, seat bottom sides a tad more. Wouldn’t be good for a fatty. Padding was comfortable to about the same extent as the 6 way, but in a slightly different way. Foam was slightly different density. I can’t say the one foam was better than the other. If anything, maybe the 6 way foam was a tad nicer. I told the salesman I have a bony ass and the bottom padding is important.

So the padding was a wash, both good.

As I already knew, the Recaro’s are manual 4 way. The seat bottom tilt is not adjustable, but the angle was okay. You raise the seat straight up or down by pumping one handle up or down. Of course another lever for forward and backward. They don’t have heat like can be had on the 6 way.

So at this point, the extra $1600 to lose heat and extra adjustment weren’t worth it to me personally unless I was going to be flogging it on back roads 90% of the time.

Now, even if I was going to flog it on back roads all the time, I still wouldn’t get it. Why? I didn’t like the head rest which is built into the seat as one entire structure. Good for racing but it keeps my head just a little too forward.

The tilt of the seat back is crucial in a Mustang as the steering wheel has tilt but no telescope, and they have the steering wheel about an inch too far forward. Therefore I can’t have the seat tilted back as much as I’ve had in some other cars, though I can be perfectly comfortable with the tilt. With the seat tilted about right, that headrest was bothering me. So I’m gonna save $1600 and have more adjustable seats with heat. I still hope to keep the Buick but I may wind up driving it in the winter, who knows.