Car Corner
How to get a screaming deal on a 2005 Mustang Convertible

February 1, 2006
By Scott Lewis

My youngest brother-in-law was shopping for a car. He was mostly looking at Mustang convertibles and the Infiniti G35 Coupes. Before we went out shopping I told him to get it in his head how much he REALLY can spend. He decided he only wanted to finance $22,000, but he was pre-approved through his credit union for $30,000.

My wife and I went looking at cars with him, complete with three children in tow (my sons and one niece). We checked out a 2005 Mustang Convertible on a Chevrolet user car lot. It has less than 400 miles. Unfortunately, the asking price was $28,000. Ouch!

When my brother-in-law told the salesman he wanted to keep payments between $400-$430 the salesman tried to get him to go to the finance office and work something out. I reminded him on the way there (it was a really big lot and we where driving back to the finance office from where the car was) that he already knew this was far above his budget, and it would cost him at least a $100 a month more to get into this car. We left.

Off to some other dealer's lots. We looked at a coupe of G35s, but all were priced above $27,000. My brother-in-law made the decision to stick with used Mustangs. He found one on a Ford lot that had 11,000 miles and the price was $24,000. This was getting close. The salesman said the price was negotiable.

We grabbed some lunch and headed back home to re-group and do a little research online. We looked online for 2005 Mustangs Convertibles with manual transmissions (like the last car we looked at) on Autotrader and found 4 in the area. One was the car we just saw with 11,000 miles. It was listed at $22,015. I guess that's what they meant by negotiable. We didn't find any other cars online that would be a better deal. We were close to going back to that dealer when my other brother-in-law (I have 4 of them) was looking through the newspaper and asked, "Why are you looking at used cars when we could get this..." he showed us an ad for a NEW 2005 Mustang Convertible for $22,995. The ad said they had 18 of them.

When we got there they only had 1 that matched the ad. They said it was the last one. Yea, right. Would this one car be good enough? What's the catch? We were looking at a price $4,800 below MSRP. That's a huge discount for a car that is very popular.

Catch number one... you could get the car in the ad (remember, the last one) if you wanted a manual transmission. Fortunately, my brother-in-law wanted a manual tranny. Of course you had to want the car bright red with tan roof and tan leather interior. There were no other choices.

Catch number two... they claimed he had to buy some vehicle identity thing. I didn't get the exact details, but something about it being require for a convertible. It sounded like they had him paying $349 for the VIN to be put on the glass and stuff. I didn't sweat it.

Catch number three... he HAD to finance the car through Ford. This was the biggest catch, as they would not even tell him the interest rate he was getting. All the dealer cared about was making a monthly payment target. They some how managed to get him to about $450 a month. I stopped worrying about it when the salesman (not the finance officer) told us to take the deal and refinance the car with the credit union after a minimum 90 days.

This seemed reasonable. The interest rate was somewhere over 10.5%. I didn't see the final paperwork but we were calling my sister-in-law to get her to plug numbers into Microsoft Money to calculate payments and interest. His credit union had him pre-approved at 6.1%.

Of course they tried to stick my brother-in-law with an extended warrantee, and any number of other things. I left my wife to protect her younger brother from being ripped off, while I drove back to my in-laws to get our kids to go out for dinner.

My brother-in-law managed to buy the car for a financed amount of $24,000 will all TT&L stuff. He put $1,000 down and it was just slightly over his budget. But over his budget with a brand new car, which was better than way over his budget with a used car.

So that's how you get a screaming deal on a new car. You get the exact one in the paper... and hope it is what you WANT!

How Does It Drive

I drove the Mustang, both with the top up and with it down. It is very nice. It feels a bit too soft for a sporty car. I am sure the GT version is not as soft. But it was just a little softer than I would prefer. The power of the 210 hp V-6 was excellent with the 5 speed manual. The transmission was a little rubbery, and you had to work it to get it into reverse. I did miss a shift once in my short time behind the wheel. Overall it was not too bad. I could live with it.

I was really impressed with the power. No, it is not faster than my aging 93 Camaro. But it is fast enough to be a lot of fun. I am going to take a lot of flak for this, but... the engine actually sounds and feels like a nice little V-8. It has plenty of grunt at any RPM, and will spin the tires easily. The tires did squeal a lot. An upgrade should be considered when the originals need replacing.

The top is vinyl, and I don't know how easy it would be to keep it looking good. It does have a glass rear window. Speaking of windows the drivers and passengers windows are power with one down and up. Finally!

Overall I really liked the car. After driving it the first time (from the dealer's lot) I said I would buy it myself if my brother-in-law didn't. It was that good. Certainly at the deep discount it was a steal.

My Mustang

Now, I have not made up my mid yet on my next car. I don't know if I want a convertible or not. I have some reservations about the Mustang Convertible. Is the top going to stand up to the miles I drive and being parked in the sun every day?

The point is that I was so impressed with the Mustang in V-6 form that I would seriously consider a Mustang Fastback with the V-6. I saw a new 2006 Mustang while we were looking. It was a V-6 coupe, with the new V6 Pony package that added a 65-66 style grill and fog lights. I really liked the look. The color also impressed me. It was a really nice dark blue. It was perfect. With a manual transmission, the optional gauges and the Shaker 500 stereo I am there.

I could definitely see myself with one. I have just under two years left before I get to go shopping for myself.

Pony Car Wars

As a special note I need to mention that the Challenger and the Camaro look to be making a return. Both were at the Detroit Auto Show in January. Next month I am going to take a look at the new Camaro, Challenger and Mustang. Has the Pony Car returned? We'll see.

Until next month.