What is the sound of one piston slapping?
What is the sound of one piston slapping?

It seems like the prevailing attitude is the pre-“New Edge” SN95 Mustang is the worst Mustang of all aside from the infamous Mustang II and maybe the ‘72-’73 model where it grew to such a degree it became almost strictly a personal luxury coupe/poor man’s Thunderbird. It dumped the Fox Body’s 5.0 (a great block, but anemic by standards even a few years later according to their original late 70s/early 80s specifications) for the 4.6 (again, a great block, but again anemic by more modern standards and seemingly routinely passed over for crate engine swaps) and the angular, contemporary styling of the Fox Body (a shape that has managed to grow in appreciation and merit after the 90s) in favor of the first overtly retro cues that would morph into greater degrees of retro-recall simulacrum, reaching a crescendo in the previous generation and still very much present today. Although still biased towards second-generation “aero” styling Ford was pioneering from 1992-1998 the SN95 grew a grille more reminiscient of the 1964 1/2 original, along with fake air scoops that scalloped down the entire side and plastic bits in a lazy attempt to say, yeah, these are the exact same tail lights your uncle had while cruising down Route 66.

The aero-styling of the late 80s and all through the 90s were an immense hit at the time and is probably the greatest styling legacy since Harley Earl passed into retirement, but the super-aerodynamic styling trend (which turned out to have little or even detrimental effect as wind tunnel CAD-testing improved, which allowed stylists more freeway without expense towards fuel mileage) seems to have aged as well as rainbow suspenders and faux wood paneling on absolutely everything. The new-for-92 F-150 just seems, somehow...muted compared to the previous generation in today’s eyes with its soft-cornered, wide-toothed grin, to say nothing of the F-150 after that which, to me, looks like a middle-vintage NFL helmet on wheels. The ‘96 Explorer was almost downright gorgeous back in, well, ‘96, but today it just seems small and meek, as if it’s ashamed of its BOF construction (heck it probably was). As much as The Truth About Cars’ Jack Baruth waxes poetics about the Panther’s “agressive stance,” it’s pretty much a soft-spoken well-used soap bar that has less in common with Darth Vader’s TIE Fighters and Kylo Ren’s suped-up Star Destroyers as it does Admiral “IT’S A TRAP!” “Allah” Ackbar’s bizarrely lumpen and motted, uh, ships I guess that seems to have taken more inspiration from what George Lucas found in a dill pickle jar (or elsewhere, if you’re the type to have your mind in the gutter).

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But if there’s one car that can best stand the test of time I think it’s the SN95. Though even then I have my reservations. The incrongruity of how the roof is placed onto the rest of the car - a stark arch glued on top of a sloping aerodynamic brick - creates a jarring aesthetic effect and to me makes the car look like an athletic shoe especially sans spoiler (I think in some ways I’d prefer the clown version). Like the Bimmer (and certain other things, if again you’re of the type to have your mind in the gutter), it does end up looking best with its top off. Even then, the thick plastic bumpers might not necessarily work the best, at least with the undersized rubber these cars usually came with. Maybe a little coil spring chop, bigger rims and a nice black finish and the SN95 convertible is finally done justice.

Illustration for article titled SN95 Hate? (Yes that question mark is supposed to be there)
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Image from Urambo Tauro’s Paper Jam

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