A 'pillar of American automotive lore', the Mustang is the vehicle the brought sporting dash and styling at a price that almost everyone could afford. Always extraordinarily attractive, the Mustang has been capturing the hearts of drivers for nearly 40 years.
Introducing a whole new breed of automobile, the pony car, Ford wasn't content to stand on the sidelines while others jumped ahead. Rather than improving their lackluster intermediate, they designed a small sports car that would be 'the next hot item in the street wars'. Designed originally as a two-seater in the European tradition, the Mustang came with an obligatory back seat and a variety of options that came the buyer an opportunity to customize their purchase. The only class of muscle cars that still exists today, the pony car class originated by Mustang has continued to dominate.
With a long and VERY lucrative background, the Ford Mustang has a history like no other vehicle. There has been a longstanding bit of rivalry between the Ford Motor Company and the Chevy division from GM, since both companies operated on the same market. Ford introduced the Falcon in response to Chevy's release of the Corvair, and fortunately sold much better, similar to what the Thunderbird did to the Corvette in the 1950's.
Chevy's next move was to introduce the Corvair Monza, a sporty, compact vehicle that the public loved. To combat this new threat, Ford had to produce a brand new vehicle with not only a sporty image, but sporty actions that would attract the younger generation. Called the 'Pony Car', the Mustang was unveiled to the public on April 13, 1964 and was advertised as 'the car to be designed by you'. Knowing that baby boomers would be ruling the 1960's, and that they would want a car as vastly different from their parents' as possible, Ford designed a production vehicle that would wow this generation. Except for the Corvette, compared to every other American car then in production, the Mustang was stunning and gorgeously sleek. Wanting it to be an affordable vehicle, much of the Mustang's engineering would be shared with an existing Ford product.
The young vice president at Ford, Lee Iacocca is responsible for this iconic legend. Requests were made to him to bring back the two-seater Thunderbird, and in 1962 he built the Mustang I-prototype; which was a V4 two-seater. What was introduced in 1963 ended up being a four-seater that was met with overwhelming acclaim and the vehicle was taken into production. A variety of the Mustang's components, including the drivetrain, were 'borrowed' from the Falcon to reduce the cost of production. The Ford Mustang was launched at the World Exhibition of NY in the spring of 1964.
During its development, the Ford Mustang was extensively advertised to attract the maximum amount of appeal before it actually hit the streets. Ford ran simultaneous commercials on all three major television networks in 1964 and the response was overwhelming. The Mustang was the hot new thing, and everyone wanted their own. The standard Mustang cost around $2,400, and more than 22,000 Mustang's were sold on the first day. 100,000 Mustangs were sold in the first four months, 418,000 in the first year, and the 1,000,000th Mustang was sold in 1966.
Available in only two models originally, the 1964 ½ as it was dubbed, came as either a coupe or a convertible. Both of these models showcased a lengthened hood, a shortened rear deck, chrome grille with a running horse, full wheel covers and chrome wrap-around bumpers. A characteristic standard on the Mustang for years was the three taillights on both sides. The interior of the Mustang was just as sporty as the exterior, with two seats in the front and a tiny backseat.
The 1965 Mustang debuted as a simple sports vehicle powered by a 170 cid six cylinder and a pair of V8's. The name Mustang was taken from a fighter plane, the P-51 Mustang.
The horse motif quickly became the emblem for the mustang as preliminary allusions were made to the horse. Ford was enjoying its high volume sales and visibility, while buyers loved its low price, short trunk styling, long hood and variety of options. Halfway through 1964 Ford introduced the sporty 2+2 fastback body style that joined the hardtop coupe and convertible.
For the 1965 model year, the Fastback model was introduced and in April of this same year, the GT model was unveiled. For this year alone, over 500,000 Mustangs were produced.
Only minor cosmetic updates were made in 1966, while the choice of available interior colors and styles were increased to 34 variety options. To further separate the Mustang from its Falcon roots, the gauge cluster was redone, and the 260 cid V8 was replaced with 2 and 4 barrel version of the 289 cid V8. From 1965 through March 1rst 1966 the Shelby GT-350 Mustang dominated on the racing track. The Shelby was available in 4 different colors and received automatic transmission. Unique examples were prepared for Hertz Rent a Car for rental to weekend drag racers. Through 1968 a Paxton supercharger; which boosted horsepower as much as 40%, was available on the GT-350.
The following year the 1967 Mustang received a larger grille and simulated air-scoops. This year's version was a much more aggressive model that featured much more accurate to the available engines. Much bulkier sheetmetal below the beltline was added, along with a concave tail panel along with a full fastback roofline for the fastback body style. A big block 390 was introduced by Ford to compete with the all new Chevy Camaro SS396. The 390 was slightly detuned, but its popularity sealed the end of the 289 cid engine, which was dropped from the lineup. The GT/CS California Special was introduced in 1968 and received a new dashboard with two large meters, and three little ones. The GT350 continued to be powered by a modified 289 V8, though output dropped to 290bhp. The brand new GT500 was powered by a reworked 428V8. Featuring plenty of luxury options, the 1967 Shelby's were considered to be 'much more civilized', and appealed greatly to buyers. These were the final Shelby Mustangs actually built by Shelby-American, all future models would be built by Ford with little involvement by Shelby.
For the 1968 model year, the Mustang received side trim, a much simpler grille and a limited number of 427 engines. These engines cranked out 390bhp, though they were slightly detuned, they had amazing street popularity. The 428 Cobra Jet engine was introduced on April 1, 1968. Based on the regular 428, the Cobra Jet included larger valve heads, an oil-pan windage tray and the race 427's intake manifold. The output was listed at 335bhp and it featured ram-air induction and breathed through a functional hood scoop. Shelby's remained in the lineup and were joined by an available convertible model that was renamed the Shelby Cobra. The GT350 received a 302 cid 250 bhp engine in place of its 289 cid 306 bhp engine. The GT-500 was deleted and replaced by the GT-500KR ('King of the Road') halfway through the year. This new model came with the new Ram Air 428 Cobra Jet, still underrated at 335 bhp. A total of 249,447 2D Hardtop models were produced this year, 42,581 fastback models, and 25,376 convertibles.
The 1969 Mustang was much larger, longer by nearly 4 inches, and much heavier. A running horse, similar to the one of the front fenders of the first generation appeared in place of the corral, and new inner headlights were introduced. New models introduced this year were the Grande, the Mach 1, the Boss 429 and the Boss 302. The Grande model was based solely on the hardtop coupe and was a luxurious model both inside and out. The Mach 1 was a vehicle with its racing side accentuated, while the Mach 1 featured a plus interior, air scoops, a tough Windsor engine, a matblack hood and heavy striping. Arriving standard with a 351 cid V8, the Mach 1 could also be had with the 428 Cobra Jet, which now came in three states of tune, the first being a non-Ram Air version, the second was the Ram-Air version and the and the Super Cobra Jet which came with the Drag Pack option.
The Boss Mustangs were named after stylist Larry Shinoda's nickname for Ford president Semon 'Bunkie' Knudson. The Boss 302 Mustang was an exclusive model that was introduced to give Ford an opportunity to use the vehicle on the Trans-Am races. Before Ford was allowed to run the Boss 302 on the racing circuit, Ford had to sell a thousand vehicles to the public, according to the Trans-Am regulations. The Boss 302 was Ford's response to Chevy's Camaro Z/28 in Trans Am racing. The Boss 429 package came complete with a race ready 429 cid V8 with ram air induction, an aluminum high riser and header type exhaust manifolds. Unfortunately, the Boss 429s were a complete disappointment on the streets where their dependence on high revs hurt their street starts, and the original batch had incorrect valve springs that would stop winding at 4500rpm rather than 6000rpm. They did featured good handling, and the Boss 429 lasted through 1970. A total of 72,458 Mach 1's were produced this year, along with 14,746 convertibles, 22,182 Grande Hardtop Coupes, 1,934 Boss 302's and 858 of the Boss 429.
For the 1970 model year, the Boss 302 and 429 continued on, while the 428 Cobra Jet remained as the top engine choice for the Mach 1 Mustang. The 429 Cobra Jet was new for 1970 and standard in the Boss 429. The Super Cobra Jet was rated for 375 bhp while the 429 Cobra Jet was rated at 370 bhp. 1970 was the final year for the Shelby Cobra's. A total of 40,970 Mach 1's were produced, 7,643 convertibles, 13,581 Grande Hardtop Coupes, 6,318 Boss 302's and 498 Boss 429's.
For the 1970 Mustang, Ford went back to just two headlights, replacing the outboard lights with attractive scoops that fed nothing at all. The phony side scoops were also deleted on all models. The 351 V8's were now produced at Ford's Cleveland plant rather than the Windsor, Ontario facility and were of a slightly different design. Sales for the 1970 model year dipped to 190,727 Mustangs.
The 1971 Mustang was extended by 2.1 inches of length, 2.8 inches of width, a 100lbs were added and an additional inch of wheelbase was added. Ford's decade of 'Total Performance' was reaching its end. Taken off of the lineup this year was the Shelby models, the Boss 302 and the Boss 429 models. The remaining engine choices were not great, as the 351 engine was detuned from 300 bhp to 285 bhp while the 429 Cobra Jet dropped 5 bhp down to 370 bhp.
The Mach 1 Mustang and the all-new Boss 351 model was dominated the performance end for Mustang in 1970. The Mach 1 featured the 351 Cleveland V8 as its standard engine and it came with 285bhp though a 330bhp version was also available. The top power choice was the 429 Super Cobra Jet Ram Air, while the 429 Cobra Jet sported 370bhp. The 429 Super Cobra Jet Ram Air had 11.3:1 compression and had 375bhp. This would the Boss 351's only season as Ford's performance was continuously declining. The 351 weighed less, and featured a race bred 351 engine that had a radical solid-lifter cam, 11.0:1 compression, ram-air induction. It also came with a Hurst four-speed transmission and 3.91:1 Traction-Lok differential. Only 149,678 Mustangs were sold in 1971, 41,049 less than the previous year.
1972 led to all power ratings being listed in net ratings which included all accessories. The end of Ford Mustang performance, this led to some drastic drops in power listings, which included the drop of all big block options. The Mach 1 ended up being the only model with any performance, as the Boss 351 was dropped. A total of 27,675 Mach 1's were produced, and 6,401 convertibles. The top engine option for 1972 was a 275bhp 351 Cleveland.
For 1973 emission controls were only tightened more, and all engine choices' power ratings were dropped. Mandatory bumpers that could withstand a 5mph collision were the result of new federal guidelines. These bumpers did not do much to improve the look of the Mustang. Producing just 156bhp, the top engine was a 351 V8. Sales picked up for 1973 and a total of 134,867 Mustangs were sold, Ford realized that it was time to rethink the Mustang.
The fifth generation of the Ford Mustang was introduced in 1974. Unfortunately the Mustang II was considered by many to be too small, underpowered, feature poor handling, but surprisingly, it sold very well. Baby boomers were turning to smaller imported cars, and emissions regulations made the high-compression, high-horsepower V8's rather unstable. Ford decided to make the Mustang a smaller, more fuel-efficient car to keep up with the market.
The 1974 Mustang II was unveiled without the Falcon components that had been a standard from day one. The all-new Mustang was placed atop the basic structure and suspension of its subcompact Pinto. Still a unibody design, the Pinto was smaller than the Falcon, but basically similar, and the front suspension was still a double wishbone design while the rear suspension was still bolted to its solid rear axle to a pair of leaf springs. The chassis of the Pinto did have a rack-and-pinion steering gear instead of the Falcon's re-circulating ball, and the front disc brakes were standard.
With an overall length of only 175 inches, the Mustang II rode on a very small 96.2 inch wheelbase and weighed about 400 lbs less than the previous years version. Though a smaller size, the Mustang II actually featured traditional Mustang styling features like the scalloped sides, the running horses in the grille and the three-piece taillights. The Mustang II was available as either a fastback hatchback or a notchback coupe. Prices ranged from $3,134 for the base coupe and $3,674 for a Mach 1 hatchback.
The 1974 Mustang II was the first Mustang to ever be offered with a four-cylinder engine and without a V8. Rated at a lowly 88 horsepower, the base engine was a single-overhead cam four that displaced 2.3 liters. The German-built 'Cologne' 2.8 liter OHV V6 was the only optional engine and it only produced a disappointing 105 horsepower. The first Mustang II was considered to be very underpowered. The standard four-speed manual or a three-speed automatic were the only two transmissions available.
For this year, a 'Ghia' notchback and Mach 1 fastback were made available. The Ghia featured a vinyl top and special interior trim that was 'fancy'. The Mach 1 came with the V6. Despite being an unpopular vehicle today, this more economical Mustang II was sold an amazingly 385,993 units for 1974.
For 1975 the V8 was returned to the Mustang lineup. Achieving 122 horsepower, the 5.0-liter V8 had only a two-barrel carb and exhaled through a cataylic converter. The automatic transmission was the only transmission available behind the V8. A new 'MPG' coupe was added to the 1975 model lineup. Unfortunately the Mustang II wasn't as popular as its predecessors and production dipped to 188,586.
The following year not many changes were made, and all the variations from the 1975 model year followed along with the addition of a new 'Stallion' appearance package that was available on the fastback. The Cobra II package was also introduced this year and added a large rear spoiler, a fake hood scoop and blue stripes across white paint to a V8-powered fastback. It looked impressive, though the Cobra II wasn't any faster than other similarly powered Mustang II's. Also new this year was the now 134-horsepower V8 made available with a four-speed manual transmission, with an output of the standard four surging to 92 horsepower while the V6's rating jumped to 102 horsepower. Sales for 1976 peaked at 187,567 units.
The 1977 Mustang II was only featured minor trim changes from the previous year. The Cobra II did receive a variety of new colors available. The options list now included T-top removable glass roof panels and simulated wire wheel covers. The V6 power dropped to 93 hp, and the four down to 89hp. Production was dropped down to 153,117 units for 1977.
The extreme 'King Cobra' version was introduced in 1978 and featured some snazzy graphics along with a hood scoop turned backward. The only changes for the Mustang II for this year were minor updates to the trim. Production for 1978 surprisingly peaked at 192,410 units.
The sixth generation of the Ford Mustang was unveiled in 1979 and was built atop the shortened chassis of the Ford Fairmont 'Fox' body that had been introduced the year before. The Pinto parts were replaced with the unibody structure of the Fox platform, but that's where the similarities ended. A modified MacPherson strut system was the new front suspension that mounted a spring separate from the strut itself, while a new link and coil spring rear suspension held up the back of the car. This basic suspension system would remain in use on the Ford Mustang until the 2003 mode lyear.
The 1979 Mustang could be purchased as a coupe or a fastback hatchback. Measuring at 179.1 inches, the new Mustang rode on a 100.4-inch wheelbase. This model featured much more room than previous Mustangs due to a more upright-oriented cockpit and flatter doors that allowed for more shoulder and hip room. Not really recognizable as previous models, the new Mustang was attractive, angular and handsome. Four square headlights appeared, but no running horse in the shovel nose grille, and the sides also no longer featured the signature side scallop. The taillights were also divided into six segments instead of three.
The same three engines from the 1978 Mustang II could be found on the 1979 model. Rated at 88 hp was the 2.3-liter SOHC, the 4.9-liter V8 achieved 140 horsepower, while the 2.8-liter Cologne V6 made 109 HP. New this year was a turbocharged version of the four that was capable of 140 hp, but unfortunately this version had epic boost lag and very bad reliability. The previous 200-cubic-inch; 3.3-liter OHV straight six was reintroduced and achieved 94 hp. Three-speed automatic was optional, while four-speed manual transmissions were standard behind all engines.
1979 was a very popular year for the Mustang! Around 369,936 models were built this year and the most desirable of all models this year ended up being the 6,000 Indy pace car replica fastbacks. This model came with a unique hood scoop, a snazzy rear spoiler, a unique front air dam, Recaro front seats and black and silver paint with orange graphics. This car could be purchased with either turbo four or V8 power that came with the TRX wheel and tire package. A 'Cobra' package was available on the hatchback and featured a fake hood scoop, though no pillars and the Gria trim returned to the coupe.
Though very few visual changes were made for the 1980 model year for the Mustang, several options were changed that affected this years lineup that made this year a bad year for Mustang. The 2.8-liter V6 and the 5.0-liter V8 were both deleted from the line, while the only six available was the pathetic 3.3-liter straight six. The only V8 was a new version of Ford's small-block that displaced 255 cubic inches, and could only shrug out 119 hp. This was considered to be the worst V8 engine ever offered in a Mustang. The Turbo four became the most powerful engine available in 1980.
The 1980 Cobra package included all of the spoilers and scoops used on the previous year's pace car, along with a gaudy oversized cobra hood decal. A total of 271,322 units were sold.
In 1981 a five-speed manual transmission finally became available for the Ford Mustang as an option behind the regular and turbocharged fours. The T-Top roof returned to the options list for the Mustang this year. Sale dipped down to 182,552 vehicles.
Finally in 1982 things started to improve for the Ford Mustang. A new 'High Output' version of the 5.0-liter V8 was unveiled and could achieve an impressive 157 hp with 2-barrel carburetion in a revived Mustang GT hatchback. The 1982 Mustang GT was backed be a four-speed manual transmission. Three progressively more luxurious series were introduced also this year, the L, GL and GLX. For a brief time, the turbo four was deleted, while the base four, iron lump straight six and the 4.2-liter V8 all continued on through 1982. A 'Special Service Package' notchback coupe was introduced (though not sold to the public) and was equipped with the Mustang GT's 157-horsepower V8 and four-speed transmission. This was a pursuit vehicle for the California Highway Patrol, and the CHP purchased 400 of these vehicles. These models continued in production until 1993 when Ford ended production.
In 1983 an all-new grille with Ford's Blue Oval logo placed at its center. The Mustang convertible returned to the lineup in the form of a conversion performed by ASC, Inc. on coupe bodies. This convertible was available in either GLX or GT trim and came with power operation, rear-quarter windows that rolled down and a real glass rear window.
Also in this year, the Mustang drivetrain was revamped. The straight six the 4.2 liter V8 were completely deleted while an updated version of the turbocharged 2.3-liter SOHC four was reintroduced to the lineup, this time with electronic fuel injection that improved the turbo lag and increased engine longevity. The 5.0-liter HO V8 now came with a four-barrel carburetor and was rated at 175 hp. The V8 engine was now available with the fabulous Borg-Warner T5 five-speed manual transmission. The six-cylinder option was the new 'Essex' 3.8-liter V6 that achieved 112 horsepower. Despite all of these modifications, 1983 wasn't the greatest year for the Ford Mustang, and only a total of 120,873 Mustangs were sold, and this included 23,428 convertibles.
Not too many changes were made for the 1984 model year, as most was a carryover. With 165 hp, a fuel-injected version of the HO V8 was available with the automatic transmission. Back for one final year, the turbo four was now rated at 145 horsepower in the Mustang GT. The suspension tuning was revised a bit, and halfway through the 1984 model year, Ford introduced a GT-350 20th anniversary package for convertibles and hatchbacks.
The big news for this year was introduction of the sophisticated SVO Mustang. Showcasing a very unique look, the SVO didn't have a grille on its front end and it featured single square headlamps. Powered by an inter-cooled version of the turbocharged 2.3-liter four, it was rated at a very impressive175 hp. The SVO was equipped nicely and featured 16-inch wheels on five-lug hubs with four-wheel disc brakes. Unfortunately it was priced very high at $15,596 and it was no match in speed to the V8-powered Mustang GT. Sales were not impressive.
In 1985 an all-new grille design was introduced and it featured a single large slit between the two pairs of headlights. The Mustang GT received a new set of 15-inch cast-aluminum wheels with P225/60VR15 Goodyear Eagle 'Gatorback' tires. The 5.0 HO engine now could achieve 210 hp in four-barrel carbureted form. The turbocharged four was taken off the Mustang GT options list, meanwhile the SVO continued in the lineup.
The only induction system on the 1986 5.0 HO was fuel injection, output was 200 hp in the Mustang GT with both the five-speed manual and four-speed automatic. This year real dual exhaust was introduced and now there where two catalytic converters so each engine bank featured its own exhaust right to the tail pipes. The SVO had an output of 200 hp and its turbo four was recalibrated.
The V6 engine option was deleted in 1987, which resulted in the deletion of the expensive SVO. Trim levels were down to just LX and GT, the coupe in LX was only the hatchback and convertible available in both trims. The GT received its own grille-less face, specific taillights, rear spoiler, turbine wheels and urethane side skirts. The LX and GT models also received a new interior that included an improved dashboard that placed all of the instruments in a pod directly in front of the driver. Now even the 2.3-liter, SOHC four-cylinder engine now featured fuel injection and could get 90 hp. The 5.0-liter HO was now updated and could achieve 225 hp regardless of transmission. The 1988 and '89 Mustangs remained basically unchanged from 1987, while the '5.0 Mustang' also remained mechanically unchanged through 1993.
For the 1990 model year Ford was seriously contemplating re-engineering the vehicle to accept a driver-side airbag, but they chose to spend the money and installed the airbag, meanwhile eliminating the tilt steering column in the process. The following year an all-new five-spoke, 16-inch wheel was available on both LX and GT 5.0-liter Mustangs. This model continued on the next year, with only a few 'limited edition' models offered.
In 1993 the Mustang GT and basic Mustang LX remained virtually unchanged. The 5.0-liter engine's output was updated to 205 horsepower and an all-new special-edition Mustang, the SVT Cobra was introduced! Extremely attractive, the SVT Cobra featured 1983 Mustang taillights, the front air dam from the GT, 17-inch wheels and a new grille with the running horse emblem prominently displayed. The 5.0-liter inside the Cobra was updated to achieve 235 horsepower, while the larger wheels, tires and four-wheel disc brakes 'all expanded the other parameters of performance'. Ford was able to sell 114,228 Fox-based Mustangs during this year, even after 15 years in production. A total of 4,993 Cobra's were produced during the '93 model year, while an additional 107 'Cobra R's' were produced. These models were track ready versions of the Cobra that were built without normal luxuries like a backseat or even a radio.
The seventh generation of the Ford Mustang was introduced in 1994 and continued on until 1998. This new Mustang was very obviously influenced by the styling themes of previous Mustangs. The galloping horse was once again placed in the grille, and the side scallop was returned while the taillights were split into three segments, horizontally rather than vertically. The interior featured a twin-pod dashboard that utilized the dashes between '64 ½ and '73. A two-door coupe with a semi-fastback roof and a convertible where the only two body styles offered.
For this year, the Fox platform was thoroughly reinforced, but the basic modified MacPherson strut front and coil sprung solid rear axle remained the same. ABS was optional and four-wheel disc brakes were now used throughout the line. The new convertible featured the drop top, and this was the first Mustang convertible since 1973 that was actually conceived as a convertible and not a conversion. The structure was much stiffer and the car now handled than the previous year's model.
Only two engine options were available for 1994, Base Mustangs received a fuel-injected development of the 3.8-liter Essex V6 rated at 145 horsepower. The GT received an updated version of 5.0-liter V8 with a flatter intake manifold that was rated at 215 horsepower. Both of these engines could be joined to either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions. The 1994 Mustang GT could be purchased with either 16-inch or 17-inch wheels and tires, and it was found to be the most dependable and best handling Mustang.
The Mustang was picked to pace the Indianapolis 500 for the third time in its history. Ford used its SVT; Special Vehicle Team to create another Cobra version of the Mustang. The end result of the teams effort was a slightly modified GT that featured 17-inch wheels, and due to a set of Ford's 'GT40' cylinder heads and a different intake, a 5.0-liter V8 that produced 240 horsepower. The Cobra was easily recognized by its blistered hood, front fascia with round foglamps, rear spoiler and snake logos on the fenders and in their grilles. The Cobra used to pace the 500 was a convertible, while the Cobra coupe was much more common. In 1994 alone 1,000 Cobra convertibles were sold, while 5,009 Cobra coupes were sold this year.
A big hit, the new Mustang was sold into a market that wasn't the same as it had been in 1965. A total of 123,198 Mustangs were sold during the 1994 model year.
Not many changes were made in 1995 as the concept was basically very fresh and quite popular. A new GTS model was introduced this year, and was basically the Mustang GT's drivetrain in a very plain Mustang shell. Sales were increased to 190,994 units for this year and that included 48,264 convertibles along with another 5,006 SVT Cobras.
For 1996 the 5.0-liter V8 was replaced with Ford's 4.6 liter, SOHC V8 in the Mustang GT. This engine was rated at the same 215 horsepower as the outgoing 5.0. The 4.6 started a whole new trend in Mustang history as the old small-block Ford V8 engine was deleted after 31 years of faithful service. The 3.8-liter V6 was re-rated to 150 horsepower and transmission choices remained the five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.
For 1995 several 250 Cobra R models were introduced, powered by a 5.8-liter version of the Ford small-block V8 that achieved 300 horsepower. Unfortunately they weren't very popular due to the lack of creature comforts like AC, radio and a rear seat.
The following year Ford added new taillights for the Mustang that were divided vertically into three segments. The only other minor update was revised front fender badges on the GT heralding the 4.6 engine. A majorly updated version of the SVT Cobra was introduced in this same year and it came complete with an all-aluminum, DOHC, 32-valve version of the 4.6-liter engine. The hood featured a new bulge to accommodate the tall engine. This SVT Cobra came with 305 horsepower and performed so much better than the previous model, this was the most powerful V8 in a Mustang since the Boss 351 back in 1971. In 1996 Cobra production peaked at 7,496 coupes and 2,510 convertibles.
For the 1997 model year, the Mustang was available in a variety of new colors, and it sported new upholstery and a new security system. A total of 108,344 Mustangs were produced this year, 6,961 of them were Cobra coupes, and 3,088 Cobra convertibles. The Cobra received updated five-spoke wheels, revisions to the 4.6-liter V8 that increased output to 225 horsepower.
The 1998 Mustang was basically a carryover, and sales increased nicely to a total of 175,522 produced for the year. Out of that amount, 5,174 of those were Cobra coupes and 3,480 Cobra convertibles.
For 1999 the Mustang entered into its eighth generation of production and to celebrate, received an updated front and rear fascia along with new sharply creased fenders. A new 'corral' was also added around the galloping horse in the Mustang's grille. The interior and chassis basically remained the same; the only big change for this year was that all 1999 Mustangs received special 35th anniversary badges on their front fenders. Horsepower ratings were largely increased though for this year as significant revisions were made to both the base Mustang's 3.8-liter V6 and the GT's 4.6-liter V8. The V6 was now capable of 190 horsepower while the V8 was at an impressive 260. The five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission options remained the same.
The updated Cobra was intended to be the pride and joy for the Mustang in 1999. The first independent rear suspension was utilized for the first time on a Mustang, and it was basically a trailing arm system that incorporated lightweight aluminum control arms that rode in its individual cradle, which bolted in place of the solid rear axle still used on other Mustangs. The rear suspension was now in great shape, but unfortunately the updated 4.6-liter, DOHC, 32-valve V8 was originally rated at 320 hp but many owners found that their engines often made less than 300 hp. Cobra owners posted a class-action suit and demanded refunds or new engines, and Ford scrambled desperately to satisfy their customers. Cobra production was suspended during the 2000 model year, only a total of 8.095 Cobra's were produced in 1999 and only 454 for 2000.
For 2000, the Mustang remained mostly the same except for the addition of new fender badges. Powered by a 5.4-liter, iron-block version of the DOHC, 32-valve engine that rated at an incredible 385 hp, a very small number (300) of 'Cobra R' models were introduced this year. They came very basic, and very pricey, with a hefty pricetag of $55,845, and lacking any comforts like AC, or a backseat, surprisingly, these models sold out immediately. 2000 was a great year for the Mustang, and a total of 215,393 units were sold.
2001, the Cobra returned! Also new this year was Mustang's attempt at a bit of nostalgia with its special 'Bullitt' edition Mustang GT coupe that was designed to evoke memories of the 1968 Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in the film of the same name. Based on the regular GT, the Bullitt featured a lowered suspension, new five-spoke wheels, and a fuel-filler door designed to look similar to an aircraft's. The interior of the Bullitt featured special upholstery and unique graphics on the instrumentation, an aluminum ball shift knob and aluminum-finished pedals, all reminiscent of the '68 GT. The engine could achieve 265 hp and featured a large throttle body. The Bullitt could be purchased in blue, black or dark green. A fabulous success, all 5,000 models were sold immediately.
For 2002 the popular wheels from the Bullitt made its way to the options list for the regular Mustang, but this was the only change for this year. The following year, a much more powerful Cobra was introduced, along with an all-new limited edition Mach 1 model. Pumping out an astonishing 390 hp, the new Cobra utilized a supercharged version of the 4.6-liter, DOHC, 32-valve V8. This baby was the quickest and fastest Mustang EVER built by Ford.
The new Mach 1 introduced in 2002 was basically mechanically identical to the '98 Cobra in specification. It did use a normally aspirated version of the 4.6-liter, DOHC engine that was now rated at 305 hp, a solid rear axle and five-speed manual transmission. The 'Shaker' hood scoop returned on the Mach 1. Other features were a flat, black painted hood and 17-inch versions of the Magnum 500 wheels from the 1960's.
For 2004 the Mustang celebrated 40 years of production and placed a 40th anniversary badge on each '04 Mustang. An Anniversary package could be bought, and it included beige stripes, crimson paint, beige wheels and monogrammed floor mats. Ford introduced a completely redesigned Mustang at the 2004 North American International Auto Show, dubbed 'S-197'. Based on an all-new D2C platform, the 'S-197' was developed under the direction of Chief Engineer Hau Thai-Tang and exterior styling designer Sid Ramnarace.
2005 heralded the ninth generation of the Ford Mustang, and the all-new Mustang debuted first as a concept. Finally the Fox platform was put to bed and replaced with the DEW98 platform that was already being used for the Lincoln LS and the Thunderbird. Wanting to pay tribute to the many classic models in its history, the new Mustang featured the side sculpting, the fastback roofline and taillights, reminiscent of the '65 Mustang, while the canted nose with its large grille and round headlights was much like the '67 to '69 Mustangs.
The interior of the '05 Mustang was also very similar to the old model, with a dual-hooded dash with optional aluminum accent panels it was much like the '67-'68 Mustang. The big speedo and tach, round steering wheel hub and circular air vents were also reminiscent to old models. The backlighting was changeable and at the simple press of a button could be changed from white, blue, green to orange hues. The seating in the Mustang was now switched up, going from the 'sitting on an ottoman' seating position, was replaced with a seat where one sits more in, rather than on the seats. The manual gearshifter of the past was now replaced with a remote-linkage setup that puts the stick within easy reach.
The GT featured 300 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque, along the 4.6-liter, all aluminum V8 sports three valves per cylinder along with variable valve timing. The V6 six-shooter can achieve 200 hp, featured 235 lb-ft of torque and came with the option of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. The GT came with five gears, and the option of either automatic or manual gearbox. The newest Mustang is quite sprightly, mostly due to the new suspension and lighter-weight components, along with repositioned and lighter coil springs. Larger brakes were also added, along with a more stout rear axle with more effective control arms.
This current generation is manufactured at the AutoAlliance International plan in Flat Rock, Michigan.
By Jessica Donaldson