The Mustang was introduced at the 1965 New York World's Fair, Mustang Mania instantly swept the country, and a new automotive market segment was created - the 2+2 or better known as the 'ponycar.' Though its mechanical underpinnings descended from the Falcon, the Mustang was completely different. It was a compact, tight, clean package weighing in at a modest 2,550 pounds - a departure from the ever-enlarging American cars of the day. The classic long-hood short-rear-deck combined with a forward-leaning grille, elegant blade bumpers, sculptured body sides, fully exposed wheel openings and restrained use of bright trim gave the car a unique look that belied its affordability. Its looks were backed up with power, providing three optional V8 engines with up to 271 horsepower. Other options included automatic transmission, power steering and brakes, styled chrome wheels and air conditioning. Not surprisingly, the entry-level modes were a minority of the production.
To say that the first Mustang was a success is an understatement. Following the introduction, the Mustang was on the cover of both Time and Newsweek. A week before introduction, Ford ran ads with the air times for the first television commercials, which all three networks broadcasted simultaneously. Mustang was selected as the Official Pace Car for the 1964 Indianapolis 500, and more than 22,000 orders were taken the first day. By its first anniversary, over 418,000 Mustangs had been sold, breaking the all-time record for first year sales of a new nameplate.
The original platform was used, with numerous modifications, up to 1973. The Pinto-based Mustang II was built from 1974 until 1978. A new fox body platform began in 1979 and was largely unchanged through 1993. In 1994 the SN-95, a modified version of the Fox body, debuted and was produced until 2004. The 2005 Mustang is built on the first entirely new platform in 25 years.
1964 1/2 - 1973 The Growing Years - In More Ways Than One.Until 1967, Mustang had this new market all to itself. For 1965 a new 2+2 Fastback model added as was the GT Equipment Group. Both performance and aesthetically minded, this group included front disk brakes; grille-mounted fog lights, 5-gauge instrumentation, GT stripes and badges and special dual 'trumpet' exhaust outlets. 1966 brought a huge shot in the arm to the ponycar moniker - the first Shelby GT 350. Built on the 2+2 Fastback by famed racer/car builder Carroll Shelby, these cars featured race-tuned engines and suspensions. By mid-1966, Mustang passed the one-million sales mark.
On the track, the Mustang name was quickly establishing itself in many motorsports arenas. In 1965, Mustang assumed the role as Ford's rally car. Carroll Shelby, famed builder of the Cobra, created race-ready cars for SCCA's production class B competition against the likes of Chevrolet's Corvette and the Jaguar E-Type. Shelby's goal was accomplished when the GT 350 took the B-Production Championship from Corvette. Shelby Mustangs were also successful in the world of drag racing. Ford campaigned several highly modified A/FX altered Mustangs equipped with 427 'Cammer' motors in National Hot Rod Association drag racing events. 1966 brought the creation of the SCCA Trans Am professional racing series for V-8 sedans of 305 cubic inches or less. Mustang took the Trans Am Manufacturers' Cup in 1966. The Shelby GT 350 repeated the previous year's success as B-Production Champion.
With the introduction of Chevy's Camaro, Pontiac's Firebird, and Ford's sister division 2+2, the Mercury Cougar, the rest of the industry both brought serious competition to the Mustang and further legitimized the 2+2 'ponycar' market. Ford foresaw the coming competition, and designed the 1967 Mustang to accommodate its 390 cubic-inch V8. In addition to the mechanical changes, the Mustang was restyled inside and out. This began the era of the growing Mustang, as it gained a couple inches in length and width nearly every year until 1973. A GT 350 H was introduced, a special edition made specifically for Hertz Rent-A-Car outlets. Stories of 'Rent-A-Racers' being returned with telltale signs of racing use are still told today. The options list grew as well, and Ford's largest engine quickly went from the 390 to the 428 Cobra Jet. Shelby also upped the ante with the GT 500 in 1967 and the GT 500 KR ('King of the Road') in 1968. The GT 350 also continued on. In racing, despite new competition from the Camaro, Plymouth Barracuda, and Mercury Cougar, Mustang again won the Trans Am Manufacturers' Cup. Capping the year, Shelby's GT 350 once again took the SCCA B-Production crown. Perhaps the most famous Mustang of the time was the 1968 Highland Green 390 Mustang fastback driven by Steve McQueen in the movie Bullitt. Many still consider the final chase scene to be the best ever filmed.
The car again grew larger and heavier in 1969, and the grille sprouted four headlights. Also introduced in 1969, the Boss 302 - brain child of former GM designer Larry Shinoda - was a special version of Ford's 302 cubic-inch engine with larger canted valve heads for better efficiency and more power. The rarest Mustang by far was the Boss 429, built for the sole purpose of qualifying the new 'Semi-Hemi' engine for NASCAR racing. Only 857 Boss 429 Mustangs were built. More competition arrived in 1970 with the Dodge Challenger and a redesigned Plymouth Barracuda. The Boss 429 was discontinued after only 499 copies were made. 1970 also marked the end of the GT 350 and GT 500.
1970 would be Ford's last year for factory-sponsored racing until the 1980s. The Trans Am series boasted the most competitive field ever in both the driving talent and the cars. Ford's Boss 302 team, led by Parnelli Jones and George Follmer, took on AMC's Mark Donahue, Camaro driver Jim Hall, Pontiac's Jerry Titus, Dan Gurney's All American Racers and their Plymouth Barracuda, Sam Posey in the all-new Dodge Challenger. The competition was fierce and well matched throughout the series. In the end, the Mustang team was triumphant allowing Ford to go out on top.
By 1971, the car had become nearly 8 inches longer and 6 inches wider than the original 1965 model. Mustang was now a full-fledged muscle car, moving beyond the 2+2 market niche it created. The Grande and Mach 1 returned, however, the Boss 302 was replaced by the Boss 351. Engine choices ranged from six cylinder economy to the mighty 429 Super Cobra Jet V-8. Many forces converged by 1973 that signaled a change from the fast-and-furious start of the 2+2. Soaring gas and insurance costs and the addition of emissions and safety equipment brought the muscle car era to an end, and Ford began positioning the Mustang as a luxury car. The end of 1973 would begin a hiatus for both the V-8 engine and the convertible.
1974 - 1978 A Mustang Trapped in a Pinto's Body.
Lee Iacocca, then president of Ford and instrumental in the design of the first Mustang, had long been unhappy wîth Mustang's direction. The car got progressively bigger and sales dipped. Any questions about returning to a smaller Mustang were answered by the first OPEC oil embargo in 1973, which spurred an immediate run on fuel-efficient cars. The Mustang II was introduced mid year in 1973 as a 1974 model. Built on the Pinto platform, the Mustang II was substantially smaller than the prior model and even smaller than the original. Rack and pinion §teering and front disk brakes were made standard. Engine choices were limited to a 2.3 liter four cylinder and a 2.8 V-6. This would be the first year for a four and the only year without an available V-8. The coup and fastback would soldier on without the convertible - which would not return for twelve years. The Mach 1 continued on, but had dropped from nearly 7 robust lines (429 cubic inches) to 2.8 liters and 105 horsepower. The formula seemed to work, however - Mustang II got over 20 MPG and sold 385,000 for the model year.
1975 brought the return of the 302 (5.0 Liter) V-8 however at only 122 horsepower. Other than increasing this to 139 horsepower in the Cobra II, most changes through 1978 were limited to trim and option packages. After its initial year, sales remained consistent at around 150,000 to 190,000 and earned the marque a new lease on life.
1979-1993 The Speed of a Horse wîth the Smarts of a Fox.
Based on the Ford Fairmont, the 'Fox' body would be the longest running platform in Mustang history. As an example, the doors of a 1979 can be interchanged with those of a 1993. The Fox body also brought modern design and a renewed commitment to performance. A 2.3 Liter four cylinder was again standard with upgrades of a turbocharged four, 2.8 Liter V6 and 5.0 Liter V8. Mustang paced the 1979 Indianapolis 500 and nearly 370,000 units were sold.
1981 saw the addition of the T-Roof Convertible and 1982 brought the return of the GT with a revised 5.0 High-Output V-8 rated at 157 horsepower. Ford's resurgent racing program blasted out of the gates with International MotorSports Association (IMSA) GT racing, where the turbocharged Miller Mustang, driven by Klaus Ludwig, came within a 10th of a second of winning its first race over the dominant Porsche 935 Turbos. Ludwig was only getting started. He handed the vaunted Porsches defeat with back-to-back victories at Brainerd and Sears Point. Elsewhere, Tom Gloy put a Mustang in the Trans-Am winner's circle for the first time in a decade when he won the 1981 season finale at Sears Point. In SCCA road racing, Mustang became the first domestic car ever to win the Showroom Stock national championship when Ron Smaldone drove his turbo Mustang to victory at Road Atlanta.
The big news for 1983 was the mid-year introduction of the first true Mustang convertible in a decade, which accounted for 20,000 sales in the short 6 month season. On the performance front, the 5.0 V8 bumped up to 205 horsepower. For Mustang's 20th Anniversary, in 1984, Ford offered the most interesting line up in years. The GT was back in hatchback and convertible, and a new European-inspired Mustang SVO debuted. Developed by the Special Vehicle Operations department, the limited edition model was powered by a fuel injected intercooled 175 horsepower four cylinder engine. The SVO also featured unique exterior appointments, an upgraded interior, and was also the most expensive model.
By 1984, Ford had staked out the IMSA GTO series as Mustang turf. Jack Roush, the Carroll Shelby of the eighties, came on the scene wîth hot racers. A Roush-prepared Mustang won the GTO class in the three-hour IMSA 1984 season finale at Daytona. It was the beginning of Mustangs reign as the king of GTO. The following February, Mustang won the GTO classes at Daytona 24 Hours - the first of three consecutive victories in the season-opening marathon.
Mustang received a facelift for 1985, and horsepower continued to climb. The 5.0 H.O V-8 was increased to 210, and the SVO squeezed 205 horsepower out of a 2.3 liter engine. This would be the rarest SVO model as only 1,954 were built. The V-8 switched to fuel injection in 1986, the year that restyling of both the interior and exterior, and a bump in the GT horsepower to 255. The Roush Mustangs carried on the winning tradition in 1986 with eight more GTO wins and another manufacturers' title. In drag racing, Rickie Smith drove his Motorcraft Mustangs to the semifinals or better at all 11 races on the International Hot Rod Association schedule, and took the IHRA Pro Stock world championship.
1998 was a pivotal year in Mustang history. Ford planned to change the Mustang to a front wheel drive derivative of the Mazda MX-6. An uprising in the Mustang enthusiast community ensued, as did some pointed questions from the automotive press. Thousands of letters decrying the idea of a 'Maztang' or 'Musda' beseiged Ford's product planners and the new car went on to be the Probe. Ford scrapped the idea at the last minute, cementing the Mustang heritage for the future. The decision however locked in the Fox platform for the next five years.
From 1989 to 1992 changes were limited to wheel and tire combinations and the introduction of 'Special Edition' models in non-standard colors. 1993 would be the final year of the original Fox body Mustang. Ford re-introduced the Cobra, rated at 235 horsepower and distinguished by unique front and rear bodywork. 107 Cobra R models were built which included track tuned suspension and deleted the rear seat, radio, fog lights and other components to reduce weight.
1994-2004 Refining the Breed.
Mustang celebrated its 30th Anniversary with an all new body and interior for 1994, calling on design cues from the Mustang's first decade. The 2.3 liter four was retired and the 3.8 V-6 became the base engine. The GT retained the 5.0 V-8 and the SVT Cobra returned, now with 240 horsepower. The Mustang Cobra served as pace car for the 1994 Indianapolis 500 and a limited series of the Rio Red pace car replicas were sold.
Mustang was an immediate hit and remained unchanged while Ford continued to fill orders. Another Cobra R was released, this time with a 300 horsepower 351 cubic inch (5.4 liter) V-8 and Tremec 5 speed manual transmission The R model was sold nearly race-ready wîth a revised suspension and fuel cell. The rear seat, radio, air-conditioning, power windows and seats were deleted to save weight. Only 250 units were built which became instant collector's items.
In 1989 the Trans-Am series was again attractive to American muscle, though the cars only look like a Mustang - the underpinnings were that of a purpose-built race chassis built to modern motorsports standards. ( posted on conceptcarz.com) The Mustang dominated in 1995, 1996, 1997 and again in 1999. Ironically, the 1999 driver, who had switched to a Jaguar, kept the classic Ford pushrod V-8 underfoot and kept winning.
1996 ushered in Ford's long-anticipated modular engine program, which saw replacement of the venerable 5.0 with a 4.6 liter overhead cam V8 with 225 horsepower on tap. The Cobra utilized a dual overhead cam aluminum block version rated at 305 horsepower. A limited edition 'Mystic Cobra' was built with color shifting paint that changed from black to green to purple to gold as the light hit the car. The paint alone cost about $2,000.00 per car. The Mustang carried over basically unchanged from 1997 and 1998.
Mustang's 35th year was marked with a new sharp-edged body. The base V-6 was now rated at 195 horsepower (more than the original 5.0 H.O. of 1982). The GT's 4.6 was upgraded to 260 horsepower, while the dual cam Cobra was now pumping out 320. One of the benefits of the redesign was the inclusion of a fully independent rear suspension on the Cobra, the first for a production model. The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix marked the occasion by making Mustang the spotlight car of the America car show.
For 2000, the only Cobra for the year was a new R model. Wilder than any previous Mustang, the R featured a dual overhead cam 5.4 liter monster rated at 385 horsepower. A six-speed gearbox and 18-inch wheels and tires moved the power to the ground. Outside, the R was immediately recognizable by its domed hood, front air dam and rear wing spoiler. Only 300 Cobra Rs were built. The remaining Mustangs carried over from the prior year.
SVT was back with a new Cobra in the spring of 2002. Once again SVT topped their previous efforts with a supercharged dual cam 4.6 that Ford rated at 390 horsepower. Testers found this number to be greatly understated, as the actual output was closer to 425. The Cobra models also carried a SVT 10th anniversary badge.
The Mach 1 returned as a special edition for 2003 for the first time since 1978, and featured a functional ram air 'shaker' hood scoop and a modern interpretation of the Magnum 500 wheels used on the original 1969 models. The GT and base models continued unchanged.
2005 A new beginning with a nod to the past.
Engine : 8-cylinder
Power: 550 hp
Built on its own platform which borrows slightly from the Lincoln LS, the body shape combines styling cues from some of the most memorable Mustangs of the past. From the front, 1967-1969 Mustangs come to mind. The side quarter windows recall the 1966 Shelby GT 350 and the rear retains the tri-part tail lights and faux gas filler which was a Mustang trademark from 1964-1/2 to 1973. On the performance side, the GT now comes wîth a three valve per cylinder 4.6 wîth 300 horsepower. The base motor is now a 4.0 rated at 210 horsepower. Ford has previewed the 2007 Shelby Cobra GT 500 which is slated for late 2006. As shown, the GT 500 includes a supercharged 5.4 liter engine rated at 450 horsepower making it the most powerful Mustang ever built.41 years have passed since April 17, 1964. As in the beginning, Mustang stands alone having outlived all of the challengers created in its wake, and have revolutionized an entire segmènt of the American automotive market. Its fans can expect many more happy years for the original ponycar.