2005-2006 Ford Mustang S197 Partial History: GT, GT500, Pony Package, Engine, and Performance
The 2005 S197 Ford Mustang Concept debuted at the Detroit Auto Show in 2004 to a commotion the American Automotive market had not seen in decades. Throughout the late 1990's and early 2000's, Ford Motor Company added various "cues" to the Mustang that were taken from the original, but those cues proved vague at best. Starting with the 1994-2004 SN95 Ford Mustangs, talks of a "retro Mustang" kept enthusiasts hoping for a sort of rounded, futuristic pony car, but little things like the 'pony in the corral' and the stripes packages just were not accomplishing what they intended. However, this new model was truly retro in just about every respect, from the 1964-like front end, to the trim design along the sides, to the classic styled badge on the rear end. In the eyes of both vintage car enthusiasts and Mustang fans alike there was a feeling that finally, Ford had got it right. Instantly, people could not wait to get their hands on this new Mustang.
While there was a retro look to this new Mustang, named the S197, they came packed with the cutting edge of automotive technology and with that, a pair of powerful new engines. The base model V6 Mustang proved to be the most powerful entry level ever, packing 210hp, and was offered with either a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. The GT model also got a jump in power, from 260 in 2004 to 300 in 2005, and the GT had similar transmission offerings. New buyers who were more concerned with luxury than power could get the V6 Deluxe, and that package came standard with four wheel disc brakes, remote entry, power mirrors, power windows, power locks, aluminum wheels, and cruise control. Also, the V6 Premium package offered all of the amenities of the V6 Deluxe but added a premium sound system, premium aluminum "spinner" wheels, and leather power seats. These packages offered all of the features of the GT model, but were a little easier on the pocketbook, whether at the insurance office or at the gas station. However, for those who wanted as much "go" as "show", the new Mustang GT had the new all aluminum, 4.6L 3-valve per cylinder V8 putting out 300 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque, which will yank this new GT down the quarter mile in thirteen and a half seconds. Like the base model, the GT model offered both a Deluxe and Premium package. The Deluxe package added ABS and traction control, stainless steel dual exhaust, massive grille mounted fog lights, race-inspired bucket seats, and performance tires wrapped around 17 inch aluminum wheels. The GT Premium takes the Deluxe package and lumps in leather seats and the Shaker 500 Sound System. There was no "high performance" model offered by FMC, but Saleen and Roush both responded to the new model with versions of their own. The Saleen lineup consisted of the 325 horsepower S-281 and the 400 horsepower S-281SC. Roush still offered stages 1 and 2, with the stage 1 and 2 being appearance and handling packages, but there are minor performance upgrades offered, such as the Roush high performance exhaust system. Even without the presence of a "high performance model", this new S197 Mustang was a phenomenal success.
The 2006 model had no huge changes, subtle changes helped to entice new buyers. The V6 models got the new option of the "pony package". This package was available on any new base model Mustang and it included a 1965-like grille with the 'pony in the corral' and the small grille mounted fog lights. The Pony Package also comes with the 17" wheels that were standard on the 2005 GT models, as well as a suspension package similar to that found on the GT as well as ABS and traction control. The GT received no big changes, with the exception of the option of two different styles of 18" wheels, either the 'fan blade' wheel or the Bullitt. Some big news for the Mustang lineup was the addition of the GT-350H. In 1966 Hertz Rent-A-Car had a program titled the "rent-a-racer program" where you could rent a high performance GT350 Mustang, and this new model is no different. Offered in only black with gold stripes, these new GT350H models were limited to 500 units, and were not available for sale, as they were only produced for Hertz, and are only available on a rental basis. These GT350H models have an increased power output, of 325 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque, which comes from the new high performance exhaust system, designed by Ford. The GT350H also receives a 3.55 gear set in place of the standard 3.31 gearing, and the suspension is improved all around for better cornering. The Saleen models got an increase in power with the S-281SC, up to 435 horsepower, while the "base model" S-281 went from 325 to 330 horsepower. The big news for 2006 out of the Saleen stable was the expected release of the S-281E, which boasts an amazing 550 horsepower. Roush also cleared their throat a bit for 2006 with the introduction of their new Roush Stage 3, which offers the appearance and handling upgrades of stage 2, but includes a Roush Tuned 4.6L engine making 415 horsepower. While the Saleen and Roush models, as well as a plethora of aftermarket support could quench even the most demanding performance enthusiasts thirst for power, there was big news: the official announcement for the release of the long-awaited GT500. Styled after the vintage Shelby GT-500 of the 1960's, this 500 horsepower monster came fitted with a supercharged 5.4L V8, similar to the one found in the Ford GT Supercar.