hi there - another newbie from the UK
I was in your position back in september and having owned a number of Irocs (and a Y2K SS) in the past probably have similar tastes to you in cars as well!
The first point I'd make is that the S197 (I've got an 05 GT Legend Lime) is a country mile away from the old f-body and is a really pleasant place to be spending time (although the head-restraints could be a little more comfortable - but that's a whole other story!). It is a bigger car too and not as good on juice as my old SS (about on a par with the Irocs IIRC) though waaaay better built. I was thinking of looking for a '99+ WS6 transam but they are r.a.r.e. over here (and again the build quality thing). On the whole size thing they are (IMO) quite a nice size for our roads over here but as I mentioned earlier there is no denying they are not small. Now that spring is around the corner there are going to be more coming out for sale and they do seem to be easing off in price a little - it will be interesting to see what the S550 does for prices here in the UK, and indeed in the US (might make importing a 2nd hand one a little cheaper?)
for UK specific information (pricing etc) pop over to:
s197.co.uk • Index page
Mustang Owners Club of Great Britain
in terms of mechanical problems faced by S197 owners the US forums are where it's at for info - but again the UK forums will point you in the direction of who can actually repair your car over here (let's be honest would you trust your local Furd stealership with an S197... or indeed ANY Mustang?)
Good luck - they are worth it!