By: Joey Redmond

Unlike the Chevrolet Camaro, the Ford Mustang has never disappeared in years past and has maintained its position as the benchmark of American Muscle for quite some time. Ford did an amazing job with the 2011 model Mustang GT and really went all out with the exclusive RTR package.

This RTR package is the brainchild of Vaughn Gittin Jr., who currently leads the 2010 Formula Drift championship in points with his 2011 Mustang. This RTR Mustang can be purchased as a dealer optional extra for $7,895 over the factory price of the Mustang GT. Here is why the RTR is well worth the extra change once you waltz into the Ford dealership with that cashiers check.

On the performance side, the RTR package replaces the factory air box with a Ford Racing tuned K&N Filter, which results in a nine-wheel horsepower increase. The quiet and muffled factory exhaust is swapped with a throaty, almost old school muscle sounding, muffler system that is 50 state legal. Driving this car down the street you feel all 421 horses connecting you to the ground through a smooth shifting and fluid transmission. It’s a car you almost don’t want to take out on public streets because the last thing on your mind is letting off the throttle while you’re cruising around town.

While you hammer down on the 5.0L engine, you’ll be able to convert all those horses to road gripping power with help from some high performance Falken FK-452 tires (255/40/19 for the front and 275/40/19 for the rear). To compliment these Falken Tires, the RTR package supplies you with some custom-made 19×9.5 inch wheels to give you more width and height than a factory setup. The aggressive stance on these wheels assures you that your Mustang won’t be mistaken for the V6 your neighbor’s daughter drives to high school everyday. Not to be left off the package are the handling elements, which start with an upgraded rear sway bar to boost handling and control.  Next, a 1.5-inch lowering kit is applied to the car to compliment the aesthetics and new wheel size. To assure a smooth OEM style ride, the lowering springs are put together with Ford Racing shocks for upgraded suspension performance while maintaining that factory smooth feel.

If you’re not  yet convinced that the 2011 RTR package is worth a few extra thousand dollars, then let’s move on to the appearance portion of the kit which should win over your heart instantly. A front chin spoiler fitted with an aerodynamic splitter gives the front end an aggressive stance. The rear end is altered with an aluminum wing and rear diffuser. To top all that off, the car comes with the option of a limited selection of graphics packages which allows you customize your individual build. The sample car in these images is a Kona Blue Mustang running a grabber blue graphics package. I personally recommend the Grabber Blue Mustang running a black graphics page.

Right now the package is only available for a Mustang GT, so all the V6 owners out there will have to wait until they release a unique package for it. The six speed manual transmission will score you 17 city/26 hwy in the gas mileage department, but can this car be driven daily? The answer I can provide you without hesitation is an absolute yes! With so much horsepower and so many aftermarket modifications to the package you would think the ride has been compromised, but quite frankly I couldn’t find a single place where the car became anything but enjoyable.

A nice cruise down the Pacific Coastal Highway with some turn offs into the winding Malibu mountain roads left me just a tad short of “aroused”. This car is so far removed from the Mustang of yesterday that they might not even recognize each other at a stoplight without a proper introduction. When you lay into the throttle it’s like the world is coming to an end as the pavement screams for your mercy. When you let off of the throttle the car is tame and quiet. The car only allows you to hear sounds and noises when you want, at wide-open throttle, and leaves wind noise and plastic rattling parts off the checklist.

Of course a Southern California cruise in this car wouldn’t be complete without some traffic. This is where the car got a true test of its daily driving abilities, as my left foot engaged and disengaged the clutch probably 300 times in a 8 mile span of the 405 highway. My left shin and ankle were glad they didn’t source a racecar clutch for the 5.0L engine, instead opting for a softer engagement factory clutch that minimizes the pain of stop and go traffic. Luckily the car we were given came equipped with the factory navigation and SYNC system, which got us past the rush hour jam in no time. Well, in looking back on it, it may have taken an hour or two get through that traffic but when in the seat of this car, time didn’t seem matter to me. Traffic also struck us while on our way to put the Mustang back into Ford’s possession, which really made me feel like “getting lost” or programming the navigation to lead me into Mexico’s open highways for one last open run, but sadly logic and reality snapped me back into the real world, a world where Ford gets their vehicles back.

A few years ago I never would have imagined having nice things to say about the Ford Mustang, but the facts are the facts and this is a sports car of epic proportions for under $40,000. Remember in the early 1990’s when Ferrari constructed the F40 that produced an amazing 471 horsepower out of a twin turbo V8 engine? This Mustang RTR makes exactly 50 less horsepower naturally aspirated, which you can purchase for far less US dollars. By no means will I try and tell you the Mustang has the looks, style, or performance features of a Ferrari F40, nor is the Mustang RTR a substitute for someone in the Ferarri F40 market, but the fact that an off the dealership lot Ford Mustang and Ferrari F40 even have numbers that are on the same spread sheet makes a huge statement for how far the V8 American muscle car has come in the new decade. With all the wars going on around the world, you can truly take advantage of this war going on in Midwestern America. That is, the horsepower wars of the American muscle cars in Detroit, Michigan.