LONG-TERM UPDATE 3 | Our Mustang GT CS rocks a matric dance

05 October 2023 - 16:33
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Fefe Mbete making her grand entrance at Emperors Palace.
Fefe Mbete making her grand entrance at Emperors Palace.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

Matric dance season is upon us. Back in my day (ahem, 2001) I feel this night of organised revelry was a far less serious affair than it is in 2023. Do a quick #matricdance search on Instagram and you will see this once innocent farewell to five years of high school has morphed into a social media showdown where guys and girls vie for the most likes. The more designer the dress, steamy the suit or marvellous the makeup, the more likely it is you're going to crack the algorithm and be at the top of the app's trending list. And, hey, if you're a Zoomer, then this is more or equally important as the event itself.

Vehicles are important too. Apparently. Scroll through the results and you'll see ropey old stretched limousines have been replaced with high-calibre weapons from manufacturers such as Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes-AMG and BMW. Even helicopters aren't unheard of. It's a serious eye-opener and, quite frankly, one my Doomer brain struggles to process. 

Be this as it may, I was happy to oblige when BD Motor News senior writer Phuti Mpyane asked me if I could take a family friend's daughter to her matric dance on September 29. “Apparently her first choice was a Bentley,” he told me over the phone. “I can't organise one of those but I know a man who has access to her second choice — a Mustang.” 

It has an exterior that screams money
Fefe Mbete on why she loves the Mustang

It might be nearly 10 years old now, but Ford's sixth-generation pony car still packs a significant amount of visual presence. Particularly in California Special specification, which, as I've said before, bolts on chunky 19-inch alloy wheels, a fixed rear spoiler, gloss black honeycomb radiator grille and extended front air diffuser. Slightly more aggressive than a standard GT but considerably less contrived than a Shelby conversion, I think this iteration hits the aesthetic sweet spot; one that never fails to turn heads daily.  

Even more so when late on Friday afternoon I pull a hard right off Heidelberg Road into the suburb of Leachville, Brakpan, to collect Fefe Mbete for her big night out at Emperors Palace. With its freshly polished paintwork and deep-throated V8 exhaust warble, the Mustang GT CS immediately piques the interest of pedestrians. Some young bucks washing cars shout and whistle with approval, while a group of children momentarily abandon their football game and scramble to the kerb for a closer look.

Arriving at the Mbete household there's no need to announce my presence as a group of giddy women immediately spill out into the street to admire the Ford. Sisters. Aunties. Grandmothers. Neighbours. They all gather around it and take turns to peer inside the cabin and snap selfies with their smartphones. Clearly this is a big deal so I let them do their thing and introduce myself to Fefe's father Wesley. Though he doesn't say it, I can tell he's glad another man has arrived on the scene and we spend 15 minutes or so shooting the breeze while his daughter makes the most of the local makeup artist.

Fefe Mbete all smiles as she meets the Mustang GT CS at her home in Leachville, Brakpan.
Fefe Mbete all smiles as she meets the Mustang GT CS at her home in Leachville, Brakpan.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

Eventually she emerges with much fanfare and the street explodes to life. Neighbourhood teenagers hanging out on the pavement shout and clap while the older women ululate and sing. Dressed to the nines, Miss Mbete catches a first glimpse of the Mustang waiting for her in the soft evening light and a huge smile spreads across her face. It's all happening. After posing for at least 100 photographs from a 100 different angles, the chauffeur in me manages to get her into the Ford's passenger seat and en route to Emperors Palace.

With Leachville disappearing fast in the rear-view mirror I ask Fefe what it is about the Mustang she loves so much. She tells me it has an exterior that screams money. And when impressing people, this is important. She's also a fan of the stylish interior and likes the way you can change the colour of its ambient lighting to match your mood (or outfit). Finally, of course, there's the muscle and sonic might of the 5.0l V8 engine. 

“Since I first saw the Mustang it's been my dream car. One day I plan to own one.”

One day I plan to own one
Fefe Mbete's automotive life goals sorted

I ask if the Ford Mustang is especially popular with people her age. She says no, not really. Prying her eyes away from her phone she tells me most of her peers prefer BMWs and Mercs and Volkswagens with GTI badges. She explains she's the exception rather than the rule. I say she has good taste. She smiles and gets back to her selfies.

We arrive at the Emperors Palace Convention Centre, the excitement is palpable and like jet airliners waiting to land at Frankfurt International Airport, we join a holding pattern of cars waiting to make their drop-off outside the entrance hall where a crowd of students, teachers and photographers have gathered to watch the spectacle. 

Ahead of us there’s a Mercedes C-Class, an E30 BMW 3 Series and a Ronin-spec Audi S8. There are some other notable machines lining up behind us (I think I spot a Jeep Wrangler and Porsche Macan) but none of them can equal the thunderous swagger of the California Special. Our turn to make an entrance, I pull up to the red carpet, blip the throttle and leap out to open the door for our lady of the moment. Cue more fevered clapping, cheering and picture snapping as Fefe exits the cabin with a graceful elegance; at that moment quite possibly the happiest girl in the world. Mission accomplished.

2023 Ford Mustang GT California Special: Update 3





PRAISES: Still cool enough to be considered as matric dance transport.

GRIPES: Not much at the time of writing.

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