Ford blew everyone away in 2005 with the newly-redesigned Mustang, on its first new chassis since 1979. The styling was completely revised, in the ‘retro-modern’ design theory, which spearheaded development of the new Camaro and Challenger.
The engine got an upgrade from 260 to 300hp, making it the most powerful non-SVT variant of the 4.6L Modular V8. They revised the interior heavily, to make it more “retro”, but more user-friendly at the same time. Handling improved thanks to more modern front suspension (the rear remained a live axle, as it is now). And the price still made it available to the average buyer. Ford took the original formula, refined it, and then modernized it, with great results.
As a result, sales went up, and so did the Mustang GT’s reputation. Prices were low when new, and thanks to American depreciation, used ones are attractively priced. A good idea would be to avoid the special edition Bullitt model unless you’re collecting–the performance difference is only small and the price doesn’t justify it. The GT500 still fetches fairly good resale value, so that’s out as well. Avoid the slow, trucklike V6 engine, as its performance doesn’t befit the Mustang’s image. The automatic transmission is one to be avoided also–this car deserves a manual, no matter what the cost.
The GT, with its 300 hp, five-speed transmission, and plethora of aftermarket parts, can be found almost anywhere for a good price. A well-used one can be had for around 11-13K, but for a good one, don’t pay more than 20 grand. Most of them can be found from 14-20K. Convertibles command a higher price than coupes, but one can still get a GT droptop for under $20K. A well-cared-for coupe can be easily found for around 15-16 grand, while a convertible might be around 17-18K. These are great cars for those prices, and with the amount of aftermarket support available, they make a great blank canvas as well.