“By golly, they ruined the Mustang!”

Those are the first words out of the mouth of Bill Faulkner, a man who eats, sleeps, and breathes Mustang. Faulkner has owned the same Ford Mustang for 45 years and has three more in his stable. What we want to find out from him is if the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, an electric crossover, can win over a Mustang owner who bleeds Blue Oval and knows all too well the entrancing powers of a thumping V8.

Faulkner has owned his 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 since 1976. He’s driven it ever since, apart from time off the road in the 1990s when he completed a full restoration of the car. This is clearly a cherished Mustang. It has white-letter tires, rear window louvres, and an overbored 351 Windsor V8 fitted with a cam so lumpy it feels like there is a nearly 360-degree lobe separation. It’s exactly what a pony car should look and sound like.

He’s also got another Mustang in the garage. A 1982 Mustang GT with T-Tops, and Faulkner chuckles when we mention that this new SUV wasn’t the first Mustang with a hatchback after all. Another 1971 model sits in storage, while out in the driveway is a 2006 convertible. That one is for sunny days. He owns even more Fords, though, including a 1980s F-150 and a brand-new Explorer. Still not convinced this is a tough Mustang critic? His dogs are named Carroll and Shelby.

Faulkner sounded curious when I first called him to talk about the Ford Mustang Mach-E, and that might have been just what the electric crossover needed: an open mind.

“Where the hell is the motor?” Faulkner asks when I pop the hood. I explain that since this is rear-drive, the motor is in the back. No driveshaft, just a motor. So instead of an engine under the hood, you get a cooler with a drain and extra storage.

Range is still the biggest worry when it comes to EVs. We’re in one of the more rural parts of Nova Scotia, and there’s a 50-kW fast charger about a 10-minute drive away, but it’s still a concern.

“So what happens, you’re going down the highway, you can’t find a gas station and you’re getting pretty close to running out of power, then what?” he asks. I say that if you can coast it to the side of the road, you can just ask someone for a plug. Or call a tow truck, which is probably what you’d do with your gas car.

The Mach-E gets strange door handles. There’s a button release on the outside and then you pull a fixed handle to open the door. Faulkner’s not quite sold on the idea, but at least the shifter is the same one in his Explorer.

We head out for a drive and I explain how one-pedal driving works and show him just how much the Mach-E will decelerate using regenerative braking, even when driving downhill.

But it’s acceleration that matters, right? So I get on the accelerator pedal in the Mach-E. “Usually in the older cars, you hear the motor. Make it work. This is just ‘zing!’” I turn on the propulsion noise generator that Ford has included and I hear a sarcastic “oh yeah” from the passenger seat. Ford has tried to make the Mustang Mach-E sound like it has an engine, but I don’t think it’s landed with this pony car fan.

The performance has, though, even if the noise hasn’t. This is the least powerful of the Mach-E versions with 266 hp, but 317 lb-ft still impresses. “When he stepped on it, it was just going!” Faulkner exclaims, slapping his palm with his fist and making a gesture like a rocket flying into orbit.

I ask him for his first impressions. “Quiet. And peppy,” he says.

“I always wondered what it costs to charge these up. Like [the charging station] here, you could plug it in, go into Tim Hortons, get coffee and a sandwich or something, and come back out. How long does it take to charge and how much [does] it cost?” Faulkner asks. I say that a 200-km charge at a faster station in the city cost $5.20 and took 21 minutes. The same charge time would later add around 100 km of range at a Flo charging station.

At this point, a neighbour (and die-hard GM fan driving a Pontiac Solstice) has come over, and Faulkner is starting to show his excitement. He starts showing off the front trunk (frunk) and the door handles to his neighbour and his wife and explaining how there’s no driveshaft because the motor is in the back.

About the styling? “It’s not bad, it’s not a bad shape, but it sure isn’t a Mustang.”

“I don’t like the way they made the back,” one of them says, referring to the hatch shape. “It should be like a Mustang,” I hear, seeing them reference the Mach 1. “To me, this is a Ford Escape.”

Mach-E is winning fans, though. “The more you look at it, the better it is. It grows on you, you’ve just got to get it in your head.”

He mentions again how he enjoys the quiet drive. “That’s what I like about the vehicle, when it’s quiet. I don’t like hearing road noise.” We agree that when you’re in the classic car and cruising, you need to hear that unmistakable rumble. But in daily driving? “I want it to be quiet, no road noise. Just do what it’s supposed to do.” There, the Mach-E delivers.

Even in rural Nova Scotia, the electric car isn’t the rarity it was just a few years ago, and the Faulkners have experience with other EVs. “One of the girls I work with, her brother has [a Tesla]. She was talking all about it... I didn’t even like it, I told him to go buy a [real] vehicle.”

What about the Mach-E then? “Pretty interesting. When you first see them on the commercials, you say no, no, no, no. But this is not bad at all.”

So, can Faulkner see himself getting something like this Mach-E? “You know what, after being for a drive in it? It would be our family car. It’s taking the place of this thing, right?” he says, gesturing at the Explorer in the driveway.

“It’d be ideal for just the wife and I,” he said. “If I was to look at the car, I would say that’s an everyday-driving Mustang. It’s not one that you’re just driving in the summer.”

The final verdict from this longtime gas-engine Mustang fanatic? “I could see myself in one of them.”

That makes it official. Is this going to replace his V8 Mustang? Probably not. Will it give him enough Mustang feel to be his daily driver and complement the Mach 1 beside it in the driveway? This Blue Oval fanatic says yes.