Rockin’ in the Free World
Taking a rock ’n roll road trip from the Windy City into the heartland
By Steve Turner
As I sit typing feverishly, the glow of the computer screen is the only light I see for hours. The world of Ford performance moves almost as fast as a Shelby GT350 at 8,250 rpm in Fifth gear. Keeping up with it can be all consuming. As such, I yearn for those moments where I can escape to my other loves—family, rock ’n roll, and travel.
Of course I can never quite leave cars behind, so whenever I can work it out, I try to squeeze a road trip into my semi-off-duty adventures. When my wife and I decamped for the Midwest for three days of rock ’n roll, our first stop was Chicago, Illinois. It was there we picked up a 2015 EcoBoost Mustang Convertible Premium.
Before hitting the open road we had to rest up with an overnight stay in the big city before hitting a few of the culinary hot spots on the way out of town. The next morning we hit the Original Pancake House. The Dutch Treat was solid, but the pumpkin pancakes were life altering.
With a full belly, our next stop was a quick run-in to the Hard Rock Café to procure a pin for her burgeoning collection. Parking is brutal downtown, but fortunately the Café lets you park for 15 minutes to run into the gift shop, and that let us snap a couple of quick photos of our Triple Yellow chariot.
If you are going to cruise around Chicago on a beautiful fall day, it’s hard to beat a 2015+ Mustang convertible. However, we did notice some of the typical convertible flex and buzzes over the irregular downtown pavement. It’s difficult to keep the chassis as stiff when you remove the top, but even the independent rear suspension didn’t soak up the bumps like we thought it might.
Full disclosure, I’m not a convertible guy. I wouldn’t want one as a daily, but when you are on vacation, it’s tough to beat a droptop. And, when you are on vacation, the calories don’t count, so our next stop was for a mega-calorie burger lunch at Kuma’s Too. If you love big burgers with myriad topping possibilities server on a pretzel bun, this spot is for you. For us the ambience of blasting death metal is tough to beat. If you go, share the mac and cheese with someone. You won’t be sorry.
We had one last stop before heading into the heartland. While we were too full to eat, we still had a bit of room in the convertible for a few cupcakes to go. That meant a pilgrimage to Molly’s Cupcakes. Filled cupcakes are the specialty here, and there are many to choose from, but the best of the bunch is the Ron Bennington, named after the SiriusXM radio host. An homage to the Tastykakes Krimpet, this chocolate cupcake features a peanut butter filling, a chocolate ganache, and butterscotch sprinkles. You might regret the calories, but you wont regret the taste.
Sadly the SiriusXM subscription had lapsed in our 9,800-plus mile media machine, but the Sync still works, and we’d need a distraction surviving the early rush hour out of the city on a Friday afternoon. Once we broke free, we could finally lay into the EcoBoost engine. Foot to the floor and, meh. With the extra weight of the convertible, passenger, suitcases and cupcakes, the power seemed lackluster, but we are jaded from years of power-adder V-8s.
The convertible had adequate power to pass when we needed it, but once we started cruising into Southern Illinois, we had a chance to appreciate the modern Mustang for what it is—a smooth, quiet, comfortable ride that can deliver performance. We managed 24.6 mpg in mixed spirited driving, and we enjoyed the style of the modern Mustang and all the creature comforts offered by the Premium package.
That said, our maxed-out droptop stickered at $41,790, which is about what your scribe’s GT500 cost back in the day. For that kind of cash, I’d much prefer a GT coupe, but for a weekend getaway with my lady, the EcoBoost convertible did the trick. As our weekend of rock ’n roll came to a close, it was kind of hard to give the keys back and say goodbye, but there’s always another road trip to look forward to.
2015 EcoBoost Mustang Convertible Gallery