12.23.2016

California Screamin': The 2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible

Front 3/4 view of the 2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible
The 2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible.
Mustang fans know the story of the California Special...the 1968 Mustang that was a limited-edition (4,118 cars) run of Mustang Coupes with '65 T-bird taillights, a decklid spoiler, fake side scoops, badging and tape stripes.  Although they were badged "GT/CS", not all were Mustang GTs...and some had the Ford Falcon 200 cubic inch six-cylinder engine under the hood. That engine made 115 horsepower.

The good news is that we're seeing one of Ford's periodic revivals of the California Special for the 2016 Mustang (it's been back in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014).  The extra good news is that this year, if you get a California Special, you get a Mustang GT Premium Convertible.




5.0-liter V8 in 2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible
2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible 5.0-liter V8.
And what makes that good news is that the engine (what you can see of it under the cladding and the GT California Special strut tower brace) is the 5.0-liter, 435-horsepower V8.  Zero to 60 in 4.6 seconds, a full second less than the most powerful '68 California Special...nine-tenths of a second less than the '68 Shelby GT500KR.

Put simply, and lost somewhat in a world where there are such things as 707 horsepower Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcats, is that the 2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible is a fearsome beast, faster and better than any of the "good old days" Mustangs of the past 52 years.

Above right view of 2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible
2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible.
$41,895 gets you the 2016 Ford Mustang GT Premium Convertible.  And in addition to the aforementioned 5.0-liter V8 and a six-speed manual transmission, there's a lengthy list of standard equipment.

Rear badge of 2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible
2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible rear badge.
Say yes to the California Special package (a $1,995 choice), and you get a special gas-cap shaped rear badge proclaiming your choice.

2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible hood-mounted turn indicators.
You also get accent stripes, a decklid spoiler, California Special floormats and 19-inch ebony black-painted machined alloy wheels. The hood-mounted turn indicators won't be back on 2017 models.  If you like them, you need to see if your dealer can find a '16.

Interior badge of 2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible
2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible interior badge.
And a nice final touch---a "California Special" on the passenger side dash padding.

Interior view of 2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special
2016 Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible interior.
Our tester also had a voice-activated navigation system ($795) and the 12-speaker Shaker Pro audio system ($1,795), which was astonishing.  Top down, 65 miles per hour on the freeway and the Shaker Pro makes the music sound like you're in a closed car.

As I mentioned in our review of the 2015 Ford Mustang Convertible with EcoBoost last fall, I've been around long enough to have seen the arrival of the first Mustang, to have wanted many, to have owned one (well, a Mustang II, which was all the Mustang you could buy new in 1975), and since 1997, when I began reviewing cars professionally, I've probably driven 40 of them.  This is, hands down, the best.  Even at 15 miles per gallon city/25 highway.  Even at $47,380 including destination and delivery charges.  It's an old friend that's learned a lot of new things.

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