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null 1997 Ford Mustang

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If there is one car that could be called America's Sweetheart, it would be the Ford Mustang, now in its 33rd year on the market. Born in the crazy cultural upheaval of the mid-'60s, it has survived Vietnam, two gas crunches, the war on emissions and the safety blitz to carry on as this country's favorite pony car. Extensively redesigned in 1993, the Mustang has only two direct competitors, the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird. There simply aren't any other rear-wheel drive V8-powered sporty coupes out there in the same price class as the three Americans that make up the pony car class. Indirectly, of course, it competes with a host of smaller sport coupes. Like the two General Motors entries, the Mustang comes in both V6 and V8 versions, in coupe and convertible body styles, with a super-performance model--in this case, the Cobra--on the top of the heap. The Mustang offers a pretty good 3.8-liter V6 with 150 horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque as its basic engine, although the GM V6 engines have more muscle. The GT is equipped with a 4.6-liter single overhead cam V8, rated at 215 hp and 285 lb.-ft. of torque, while the Cobra gets a twin cam 32-valve version of the V8 capable of producing 305 hp. The Cobra is available only with a five-speed manual transmission. The other Mustangs offer the option of a four-speed automatic.

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