This Race Red droptop served as the ideal Mustang Week cruiser
By Steve Turner
Each year we look forward to the gathering that fills the resort town of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with thousands of Mustangs and fans of the Ford’s pony car. When attending a gathering of this immensity, it’s important to consider your mode of transportation. While we are definitely there to observe and report, it’s always fun to do so in a cool ride.
Your author has been fortunate enough to drive everything from a Fiesta ST to a Shelby GT500 to Mustang Week. Not only is it fun to drive a cool car, but the drive into Myrtle Beach also allows us to spend some quality time in one of Ford’s new machines. We get jaded being around mega-power machines, so it’s always great to recalibrate our backside dyno for what a stock Mustang feels like.
For this year we were lucky enough to score a 2016 Mustang GT Premium optioned with the California Special Package. If you are unfamiliar with this option group, it actually packs in a lot of value for its $1,995 price tag.
On the outside it gets stripes on the hood, stripes on the rockers, a black pedestal spoiler, black mirrors, black hood vents, dark taillight accents, a special grille with a tri-bar pony emblem, a faux gas cap, dark taillight accents, a front splitter and 19-inch, ebony-painted machined aluminum wheels. On the inside the Cal Special scores you Ebony leather/Miko suede seat inserts with red contrast stitching; red contrast stitching on the door panel inserts and carpet; and an aluminum dash treatment. Underhood the strut brace wears a Cal Special badge.
With all this goodness added to a Mustang GT Premium convertible makes for quite an upmarket machine. This example also featured the optional navigation, Shaker Pro audio upgrade and an automatic transmission. All of these made for an enjoyable trek from Charlotte, North Carolina, to the Grand Strand.
Upon arriving the auto trans was great in traffic, but after taking the car through the BFG autocross school course, I reaffirmed my preference for manual transmissions. Even manually shifting the car with the paddles, I just couldn’t get comfortable with the application of power out of the turns. Perhaps with more practice it would have come, but in a brief sampling, it just didn’t work for me.
For its intended purpose, however, the automatic convertible was a joy. Criss-crossing Myrtle Beach to take in all the events of Mustang Week in a plush droptop with air-conditioned seats was just want the doctor ordered. It was just starting to feel right at home in the car when it was time to head back to Charlotte and turn over the keys.
If you are more into cruising your Mustang than thrashing it, a well-optioned Mustang GT convertible like this one is a great choice. It rides well, has adequate power and it looks great, especially with all those Cal Special accents. Be warned however, this kind of pony-car luxury comes at a steep price. Our example stickered at $48,575, but if getting there in style your thing, it’s hard to argue with a car like this, especially if you have the funds.
Could there be a more perfect vehicle to travel around Myrtle Beach for Mustang Week 2016? Sure, your own Mustang would be the first choice, but a Race Red California Special convertible has to rank pretty high.
Your scribe was pretty stoked to have a Coyote 5.0-liter engine at his beck and call during Mustang Week. With 435 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque available, it was a lot more fun pulling out into traffic or passing much easier. That said, stock output still feels pretty pedestrian to our jaded backside dyno.
A convertible would never be my first choice, but for a week at the beach, it’s fun to have the option of dropping the top. Of course, given the extreme July temperatures in Myrtle Beach, it’s great that the modern Mustang tops deploy so quickly.
Ordering the $1,995 California Special package gets you special floor mats, leather/Miko suede-trimmed seats, a special decklid spoiler, unique 19-inch wheels and an accent stripe. We’d order it just for those comfy seats.
Our 2016 Mustang GT was equipped with every possible option. In addition to the Premium package it featured voice-activated navigation, the Shaker Pro audio system and the California Special package.
The offset running horse emblem on front grille is your most immediate clue that a Mustang is up-fit with the Cal Special package.