The Mustang is lucky to have survived Ford's model purge that ousted the Thunderbird, Probe, Aspire and Aerostar last spring. Lucky, because it has a huge following, an even bigger aftermarket, and a legend that none of those other now-dead (model) brands can match. The Mustang is an icon that, having escaped the axe in 1988, has lasted another 10 years by following a simple formula: cheap, quick, fast, and cute. The changes made to the car for 1998 are minimal, including the attractive pricing. The Mustang has only two true competitors, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird - the other two members of the ponycar segment. Like the two GM ponycars, the Ford Mustang comes in many guises. There are V6 and V8 versions in both coupe and convertible body styles along with the Cobra, a super-performance model that competes against the Camaro SS and the Firebird Ram Air. There are Japanese and Korean coupes that compete with the Mustang on price, but certainly not on performance. The Mustang offers a 3.8-liter V6 with 150 horsepower and 215 foot-pounds of torque, for $17,020, and a V6 convertible for $21,520. The GT, powered by a 4.6-liter, single overhead-cam V8 rated at 225 hp and 290 lbs.-ft. for 1998, starts at $21,020 for the coupe and $25,020 for the convertible. A 32-valve, double overhead-cam 305-hp V8 is exclusive to the $26,680 Cobra and $29,480 Cobra convertible. The engines are backed by either a standard 5-speed manual or an optional 4-speed automatic overdrive transmission, except for the Cobra, which only comes with a manual gearbox. Air conditioning is now standard on GT models. Tires on the GT now carry an H-speed rating, a step down from the Z-rated tires last year. Another change is the leather interior package that includes front bucket seats only, a change made in the name of affordability.