I’m off this week testing the hot California Special edition of the ’16 Ford Mustang GT on some roads north of Fallbrook for my next San Diego Union-Tribune Weekend Driver day-trip column.

First impressions are that this is a cool trim package on top of a beast of a modern pony car. The huge power and mean looks of the late ’60s California Special combined with 21st century driveability, safety and comfort. It’s a bit noisy inside, but cruising around the twisting mountain roads was fun.

It’s not a Mazda Miata (or even a Saturn Sky) but a big, brawny car that can turn and stop quite nicely. A definite head-turner, my test car has bright red with black trim here and there, such as rocker cladding, spoilers and hood vents. Inside there are more unique trim bits and comfy leather-trimmed seats.

Under the hood is the 5.0 liter, 435 hp V-8 that did get me about 23 mpg on the highway. The original California Special had every Mustang engine available, but nothing even got close to 400 hp; even the 6-cylinder probably got under 20 mpg. How times have changed.

As for the road, I’m tracing a historic route a bit north of Fallbrook, then winding around the avocado ranches. De Luz Road has been a subject of the Weekend Driver column a few times in the past, but I’m taking a different route this time.

I’ve gone from Temecula to Fallbrook in the past; this time I’m doing a loop around the mountains, starting and ending in Fallbrook. It’s scheduled to run August 20, so I’d better get busy.


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