Mustang marvel to Jim Clark Museum11 | 04 | 2022

    The Jim Clark Motorsport Museum in Duns is a pilgrimage that every motorsport fan should make. Veteran Scots motorsport journalist HUGH HUNSTON — who as a young man was delighted to get Jim Clak’s autograph at Ingliston in 1964 — travelled the 400-miles from his home in Oxfordshire behind the wheel of a new Ford Mustang to savour the experience and memory of a sporting legend. This is Hugh’s insight into the modern day Mustang

    DESPITE RACING A WIDE variety of models bearing the blue oval badge or powered by Ford engines, Jim Clark never competed at the wheel of the brand’s iconic Mustang. (Related: Hugh Hunston visits the Jim Clark Museum)

    But in 1965, the year when he stormed the Indianapolis “brickyard” oval by winning the 500-mile classic race in a V8 Ford propelled Lotus 42, Clark was involved in the launch of what was dubbed as the corporation’s pony car, then a radical departure for the Detroit giant, writes Hugh Hunston.

    Publicity shots (below, kind courtesy of The Collections of The Henry Ford) from the New York World Fair show the Scotsman and Lotus’s founder Colin Chapman waving for the cameras on board a convertible Mustang while negotiating the Disney designed Magic Skyway Ride within FoMoCo’s pavilion.



    Other promotional commitments involving the otherwise habitually shy and retiring Clark included driving a Cortina down the bobsleigh run of the same name in 1964, and languishing besuited in a forest posing with supermodel Jean Shrimpton beside the sharp-edged Corsair during 1966.

    So, it seemed fitting to borrow a state-of-the art 5.0-litre V8, 6-speed manual Mach 1 iteration of the Mustang for the trek to and from Duns. (Related: Ford Mustang Fastback 5.0-litre V8 First Drive)


    Finished in sinister optional (£600) shadow black, complete with red bonnet and side skirt stripes detailing, the £57,500 two-door coupe heralds its arrival kerbside with a distinctive V8 muscle car rumble, and rarely fails to turn heads.

    It took an unbelievable half century after the original car’s debut for right-hand-drive ‘Stang’s to reach the UK as an officially Ford endorsed model in 2015, but since then it has consistently been Europe’s best-selling two-door V8 coupe.

    A niche car in a niche market, the Mustang has settled down to annual UK sales of around 1500 units, while its more politically correct electric Mach E counterpart generates around 6000 sales a year.


    When the Mustang made its belated UK market debut it retailed for a shade under £30,000, much the same as the then new Focus RS, arguably the performance bargains of that decade. (Related: Ford Focus RS First Drive)

    Since then, there have been significant safety and equipment upgrades to the Mustang’s specification, prompted partially by initially less than stellar EuroNCap safety ratings.

    The Mach1 comes with a bewildering array of standard cosmetic and dynamic gear, from a unique body kit to offering no less than six selectable driving modes. There’s also a track-only launch control for those wanting to dig themselves further into the Tarmac or attract the local constabulary.


    Ford’s Dearborn R&D engineers and their European marketing colleagues have long since realised that brawn alone was inadequate when taking on the opposition from Munich, Ingolstadt and Stuttgart, aka BMW, Audi and Mercedes. Or Coventry and Jaguar for that matter.

    Short of vertical take-off and an onboard gym, the Mustang lacks for nothing in terms of state-of-the art technical kit and sybaritic aids. Nice touches include puddle lights that project the Mustang logo onto the road and pavement/sidewalk beside driver and passenger doors at night.


    Despite the digitally controlled and monitored systems, the cabin has a reassuringly analogue feel to it with intuitive rotary controls, and easily assimilated instrumentation plus a quaintly retro white ball shaped manual gearshift.

    Two agile small humans could fit in the back, and there is an ample boot, capable of swallowing a golf bag if not its trolley.


    As for ostensibly academic macho bragging rights? How about 460PS, a tree uprooting 529Nm of torque, terminal track only velocity of 166mph and standstill to 62 mph in a whiplash inducing 4.8 seconds?

    This Mustang can be fearsomely fast point to point — but in everyday conditions it is no untamed maverick — with impressive tractability. Its electronically adaptive chassis, while decidedly firm, does not loosen your fillings, except on poorly maintained urban roads or cobbles.


    Normal, My Mode, Snow/Wet, Sport+, Track and Drag Mode? Normal is the most likely pragmatic option and over the 800 miles we covered the under stressed powertrain returned 29mpg. For the second time in my Mustang experiences, it was a nearly 7mpg better than the official consumption figures.

    The six-speed manual gearshift requires a firm hand and deft clutch operation, but such is the Mustang’s inherent flexibility it pulls like a locomotive in the upper gears.


    Come 2030, with the UK ban on buying fossil fuel motors, the Mustang Mach 1 ilk will be absent from brochures. Which is why, given continued availability of gasoline, it could become a collector’s piece.

    And 57 years on from endorsing the original, relative mild Mustang there is no doubt that Jim Clark would have had a hoot on his beloved, sweeping open Borders roads in its outrageous but surprisingly sophisticated successor.


    Black & White images of Jim Clark and Colin Chapman copyright of The Collections of The Henry Ford.

    Other images Peter Nunn and Lewis Hunston.

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