Almost instantly upon being released to the public in 1964, the Ford Mustang became an American classic. Ford has always been a staple of the American automotive industry, so it’s only right that they produced one of the longest-lasting and most beloved cars in the history of automobiles. Since the first batch of Mustangs hit the streets, the car has been undergoing changes. Yet, throughout the Mustang’s various modifications, it has stayed true to the beliefs with which the car was originally built. Now, take a look back in time (and even peek into the future) by looking at the evolution of the Ford Mustang.
The First Generation (1964-1973)
The Ford Mustang was named after a World War II fighter plane. The first generation Mustang was described by Ford as “the working man’s Thunderbird,” with a starting price of around $2,3000 which equates to approximately $19,000 a day. Even before their release, they became instantly popular among the public.
One early Mustang buyer supposedly slept at a Ford showroom while they were waiting for their check to clear. This way, they could drive home their new Mustang as soon as possible. Some things haven’t changed apparently.
The Meaning Behind The Mustang Logo
The Mustang logo was thought up by automobile designer, Philip Thomas Clark.The vehicle’s logo depicts a Mustang horse riding from right to left, sometimes in front of a red, white, and blue banner meant to symbolize the American flag. However, there may be deeper meaning behind the seemingly simplistic logo.
For one, the horse has always had a strong connection with the American West, but that’s not all. According to some, the horse represents the idea of America’s ideology of Manifest Destiny and our expansion West, like how much of our country was founded.
Mustang Number One Was Sold To A Canadian
As it turns out, Mustang Number One was accidentally sold to a Canadian. The “Wimbledon White” Mustang convertible had the serial number 5F08F100001 (AKA Mustang No. 1). It was a pre-production model built in Dearborn, Michigan that was not to be sold and was only to be used for promotional purposes.
However, Canadian Eastern Airline pilot Stanley Tucker talked a dealer in St. John’s Newfoundland into letting him buy it. Ford spent two years trying to get it back and even promised him car number one million which he finally gave in to. The original car can now be seen in the Henry Ford Museum.
Introduction To The Public
The first generation Mustang was manufactured by Ford from March 1964 until 1973. The introduction of the car gave way to a new breed of automobile known as the “pony car.” The Mustang’s look with the long hood and the short deck was wildly appealing to people and created a lot of attention for Ford.
Although it began manufacturing in March, it was released to the public in April as a hardtop as well as a convertible with the fastback version available in August. The car officially first introduced to the public at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964. It was perched in the observation deck, where people could actually drive it!
The First Generation In Popular Culture
Something that helped the first-generation Mustang become so appealing and popular among the masses was how often it was showcased in popular culture. It has even been referred to as a popular culture touchstone. In 1964, the car made one of its first major big-screen appearances in the hit James Bond film Goldfinger.
Everybody knows that if James Bond likes a car, you probably should too. The car was also in Steve McQueen’s Bullit as well as numerous other films of the time. Even today, the car is commonly seen in movies such as the Fast and Furious franchise.
Giving It A Little More Speed
The introduction of the Mustang was the most success launch in Ford’s history. The company wanted to keep the ball rolling, so it began designing larger versions of the vehicle for the 1967 model. Between 1967 and 1973, the Mustang grew in size, except it was losing power since they weren’t increasing the engine along with the extra mass.
The exterior was then lifted up, giving room for big block engines underneath the hood. The car now had a new style including larger engines and a thicker crash pad. The cars released during this period included the GT and Grande options.
The Twister Specials
In 1969, Ford released a limited number of 1970 Twister Specials strictly in Kansas-area dealerships. Only 96 were released, and were based on the super-fast and powerful Mach 1. The Twister Special had drag pack suspension with either a Super Cobra Jet Ram Air engine or the 351 ci Cleveland V8.
The cars were released with a black hood stripe and a tornado decal in order to be easily distinguished from others. Of the Twisters that are still around today, only 18 feature the 351 engine, and the cars are known to go from more than $100,000 at automotive auctions.
The Second Generation (1974-1978)
Lee Iaccoca was one of the leaders of the launch of the first generation and took over the company as president in 1970. In 1974, he told his engineering team that he wanted to build a smaller and more fuel efficient vehicle that was inspired by the Ford Maverick but was then changed to the Ford Pinto subcompact.
The car that was produced was the second generation, or Mustang II. The car was released just months after the 1973 oil crisis which made its size and fuel efficiency able to compete with imported cars like the Capri and Celica.
The Car Wasn’t As Well-Received
While this new model was smaller, it was actually heavier with all of the new equipment needed in order to achieve more gas mileage and meet the new U.S. emission and safety regulations. Unsurprisingly, this reduced the vehicle’s speed and performance which turned customers away who were looking for a muscle car.
In the picture above, we can see a 1975 Mustang II with an MPG insignia on the fender to prove its efficiency. The device in the window was used in test drives to prove that this model could achieve 34 miles per gallon on the highway .
The Third Generation (1979-1993)
In 1979, Ford began producing its third generation of Mustangs on the “Fox Platform,” giving this generation the nickname of “Fox” or “Foxbody” Mustangs. Changes were made to create an even longer car in order to fit more passengers. The styles that were released included hatchback, convertible, coupe, and notchback.
The front of the car also varied depending on the year as well as the trim levels. In the different variations of the third generation, the headlights also changed from four separate headlights to the “aero” style which had a rounded shape and were flush with each other.
Decline In Sales
Unfortunately, during the 1980s, Ford saw a decrease in their sales on Mustangs for a few reasons. One of the main was increasing fuel prices. With declining sales not being an option, Ford worked hard to fix the issue that might have been the undoing of the age of the Mustang.
They decided to develop a new Mustang from the Mazda MX-6. Mustang lovers revolved at the notion of this, complaining that taking away the V8 option for new models would be a disgrace to the car. This new tactic led to some major changes to the front of the models in 1987.
The Fourth Generation (1994-2004)
In November 1993, Ford introduced their first versions for the fourth generation of the Mustang. This model exhibited some major design changes, although it was based on the rear-wheel drive of the Fox platform. The new body was based on designs from past models.
Then, in 1999, an even sleeker variation was released with “Edge” styling, which allowed for larger wheel arches and even sharper contours in the body. While it may have taken on a totally different look from the models in previous decades, it was still one of the most popular cars of the 1990s and early 2000s.
First Model To Be Sold In Australia
The fourth generation Mustang was also the first-ever to be sold in Australia between 2001 and 2002. While being sold in Australia its main competition was against the Pontiac GTO. One of the main reasons it was never sold in Australia was because the Mustang had never been designed or created for right-hand-driving, and to mass produce them in such a way would be a waste of manpower and materials.
So, in order to at least get a few of them on the Australian roads, Ford Australia contacted Tickford Vehicle Engineering to convert 250 versions of the model to meet Australian design rules.
The Fifth Generation (2005-2014)
In 2004, Ford introduced the 2005, fifth generation Mustang at the 2004 North American International Car Show. What was interesting about the fifth generation was that it went back to its roots, taking many of its design aspects from older models going all the way back to the 1960s.
The re-design of this new model of Mustang was dubbed as “retro-futurism” by Ford’s Senior Vice President of Design, J. Mays. It was the perfect design strategy as
Fifth Generation Specs
While the design may have been inspired by more retro models, that was not the case for the cars’ technology and mechanics. Between 2005 and 2010, the base model had a 210 HP cast-iron block 4.0 L V6 engine and the GT added an aluminum block with a 4.6 L V8 engine with variable camshaft timing.
In 2010, another different exterior design was released in order to decrease drag coefficient. Ford also added LED taillights, control systems, new dampers, and spring rates, although the engine remained more or less the same.
The Ford Mustang Is Fighting For A Cure
In 2007, Ford showed their dedication to finding a cure for breast cancer when they released their special “Warriors in Pink” Mustang with pink highlights. It was designed to raise money to help fight breast cancer. Ford donated the proceeds to Susan G. Komen for the Cure as well as other charities.
Other special edition Mustangs followed as well as a clothing line. Altogether, Ford has raised over $120 million. So, if you ever see someone driving this 2007 model, know they made a donation for charity and didn’t choose a bad color scheme.
Ford’s 50th Anniversary
In 2014, to honor 50 years of the Mustang, Ford placed the new sleek 2015 Mustang GT on the top of the Empire State Building. This was done as a tribute to when the first-ever Mustang was introduced to the public on the observatory deck at the 1964 World Fair.
Much like how it was done in 1964, the car was taken up to the top in individual pieces and then assembled up there. However, unlike the World Fair, nobody was driving this car around on the top of the Empire State Building.
The Sixth Generation (2015-Present)
The sixth generation Mustang was introduced on December 5, 2016, but this time in several locations including the United States, Spain, China, and Australia. This generation, with the codename S-550, has new design features such as a widened and lowered body, a trapezoid grill, and even a new selection of colors.
In addition, the engine selection for the vehicles included 2.3 L EcoBoost four-cylinder, 3.7 L 300 HP V6 and the 5.0 L Coyote 435HP V8 in either automatic or manual transmissions.
New Strides For The Fourth Generation
In 2015, a new version also added an independent rear suspension system and was the first model to be created with right-hand-driving abilities so that it could now be sold in countries where people drive on the left side of the street. That same year, the Mustang also earned a 5-star crash protection rating from the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration.
This was appealing to many people who were reluctant to buy a sports car for their lack of safety. It’s likely that a few lucky 16-year-old boys finally got the Mustang they’d been wanting for their birthday.
An Ode To The 1968 Film Bullit
In 2018, Ford combined the future with past when they introduced its latest car, the 2018 Ford Mustang Bullit. The car is inspired by the same green car that Steve McQueen drove in the 1968 film Bullit. Ford made this car to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the film, with the vehicle being unveiled at the 2018 North American international Auto Show.
The car was presented by Molly McQueen, Steve McQueen’s granddaughter. The Mustang includes custom instrument panel graphics, seat patterns, and dashboard stitching. Of course, a six-speed transmission is the only kind available for this model.
1965 Shelby GT350 SC Sold For $528,000
A 1965 Shelby GT350 SC is quite a sight. There are very few of these cars around and what makes them special is the potent Paxton Supercharger that enables the car to attain unthinkable speeds. In 2007, one of these bad boys went up for auction at Ameila Island, Florida.
An original model of the GT350 SC is not exactly rare, but it’s extremely unique, which is why it is deserving of only the most die-hard fans who’d know how to appreciate it. Because of this, it’s no surprise that it sold in 2007 for $528,000.
Virtually Unused 1969 Mustang Boss 429 Sells For $550,000
It’s extremely rare to find a car from yesteryear in near mint condition. But that’s exactly what came around in 2013 when an original and unrestored 1969 Mustang Boss 429 went under the gavel at a Monterey auction.
Surprisingly, this car had many of its original hardware intact, including the 429/375 HP engine, paint and interior, and even the original window sticker! This car was hardly ever used, evidenced by the fact that the factory plastic wrap was still on the seats and that it only had 902 miles on the odometer. Even more surprising, it sold for just $550,000!
The First Ever 2008 Shelby GT500 KR Was Sold For Charity
Ford Motor Company and Shelby Automobiles reunited in 2008 to build the Shelby GT500 KR, the first of its kind in 40 years. The very first model of this car went up for sale to the public on the auction block at Barrett-Jackson’s 2008 Scottsdale auction.
This Shelby GT500 KR was the first of only 1,000 that were built and it sold also for $550,000, all of which went to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. When this car was unveiled at the 2007 New York Autoshow, it reignited a love for Shelby cars both old and new.
Someone Paid $600,000 To Have Their 2007 Shelby GT500 Made
In 2006, a first production 2007 Shelby GT500 Fastback sold for $600,000 at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was the first of its kind in the new millennium that was designed in the image of the original Shelby Mustangs of the 1960’s.
The highest bidder had this Mustang produced exactly to their specifications, including color and factory available options at the time. This car was also sold to benefit charity. This time the proceeds appropriately went to the Carroll Shelby Children’s Foundation.
A Boss 429 Sold For $605K Because It Was Handmade
Another 1969 Mustang Boss 429 sold for $605,000 in 2007 at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale. But what makes this Boss 429 any more special than the previous one? Aside from the fact that all of the Boss 429’s in the world are pretty rare, the one that sold for $605k is one of the first 50 that were built by hand!
What also makes this Boss 429 extra special is that it carries a rare 820-S NASCAR engine and Ford C9AE-A heavy-duty one half inch bold rods, forged pistons, and steel crank, among other awesome technical features.
Carroll Shelby Actually Owned The GT500 Convertible Sold For $742K
At a 2008 Scottsdale auction for Barrett-Jackson, they sold an original 1969 Shelby GT500 Convertible for $742,500. This was an especially desirable car for Mustang enthusiasts primarily for the fact that Carroll Shelby himself was the previous owner.
Shelby owned the car since new in 1960 when it was a Cobra Mustang. Over the course of five years, famed Mustang restorer Jim Cowles refurbished the entire thing and made it look brand new. The only other original Shelby from the ’60s that Carroll Shelby owns is a Shelby AC Cobra, CSX2000.
One Of The 34 Orignal GT350 R’s Sold For $990K
Only 34 Original Shelby Mustang GT350 R’s were made ever and one of them cruised across the auction block at RM Sotheby’s in Monterey in 2012. The GT350 R sold for $990,000 and it’s not hard to see why.
The model that sold at the auction was actually driven and raced by its original owner, Richard Jordan. Over the 21 years that it was in Jordan’s possession, it has maintained exceptional quality and much of its original features – down to the Plexigras windows and racing wheels – were still in tact.
This Shelby GT500 Eleanor Is A Hollywood Star
In 2013, a 1967 Shelby GT500 Eleanor sold for $1 million at an Mecum auction in Indianapolis. For all the rare Mustangs we’ve seen so far, it’s a wonder that none of them have come close to this price. Perhaps the only reason the GT500 Eleanor garnered $1 million is due to its Hollywood history.
The $1 million 1967 Shelby GT500 Eleanor was the same hero car that Nicholas Cage drove in 2000’s Gone in 60 Seconds. It was because of this film that the GT500 Eleanor became the most recreated car since the Shelby Cobra.
The Only GT500 Super Snake In Existence Sold For $1.3 Million
The only car to sell for more than $1 million is the 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake. This car is the only one of its kind in the world and in 2013 it sold for a whopping $1.3 million at the Mecum auction in Indianapolis.
Only one of these cars exist because the projected retail price was so high, it was never mass produced. This GT500 Super Snake was built for the sole purpose of testing Goodyear Thunderbold tires and was driven for over 500 miles at an average of 142 MPH. Still, it retained 97% of its tire tread.
Remember James Bond’s Mach 1?
The 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 made its movie debut the same year in Diamonds Are Forever. If you recall, 007 narrowly escapes the bad guys in one of these bad boys, swiftly making it out of a narrow alleyway on two wheels. Unfortunately, thanks to a movie goof, you’ll see that Bond starts driving on the right-side tires, but the scene ends with him on the left-side tires.
Either way, this iconic cars is one of the most popular of its time. A muscle car built for performance, it’s only right that it was Bond’s escape method of choice when trying to evade the Las Vegas PD.
Ford Made A Mustang To Help Find A Cure
As you already might have guessed, Ford isn’t shy about giving back to the community. This is evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to charity from the Mustang auctions. In 2007, Ford decided to do more and support the fight against breast cancer by unveiling the “Warriors in Pink” Mustang.
Complete with pink stripe detailing, this special edition Mustang raised money to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure and other breast cancer-related charities. Along with other special edition Mustangs and Ford brand clothing, the company has raised over $120 million for the fight against breast cancer.
Will Smith’s Car Of Choice In The Apocalypse Is A Shelby GT500
If you were somehow the last person on Earth, you’d be free to do anything. That includes hi-jacking a 2008 Shelby GT500 and roaming the deserted streets of New York City. After all, that’s what Will Smith’s character does for most of 2007’sI Am Legend.
Modeled after the 1960’s versions, the 2008 Shelby GT500 was built with performance in mind and that’s certainly obvious as Smith careens through the abandoned streets of Manhattan, with desolate cars and overgrown foliage as his obstacles. The 500 horsepower car was perhaps the only one strong enough to outrun those infected mutants.
You Couldn’t Find A Mustang Convertible For Much Of The ’70s
Nothing captures the essence of carefree living than a Mustang convertible. There are luxury cars out there, but none are more classic or more accessible than this one. But did you know that for a brief moment in history, there was a time you couldn’t get one?
No, it’s not because they weren’t invented yet. But in 1973, Ford just decided to stop producing the convertible versions of the Mustang for some unknown reason. Perhaps growing demand for the convertible reached a fever pitch, because Ford started making them again in 1983.
There Was More Than One Thing To Ogle In Basic Instinct
There’s nothing more thrilling than seeing a fast car work its magic on the silver screen – especially when its involved in a car chase! 1992’sBasic Instinct is perhaps known for its other luxury car features, but there is a brief Mustang appearance worth noting.
Michael Douglas plays Detective Nick Curran, who finds himself behind the wheel of a 1991 Mustang GT5.0 automatic convertible. The entire car chase even takes Douglas’s character up a flight of stairs and it even performs a jump, just like in Dukes of Hazzard!
Carroll Shelby Never Worked For Ford
His name may be on all of the most popular models, but it’s a surprise that Carroll Shelby never actually worked for Ford. Shelby merely used the Mustang V8 to construct his famous Cobra that he built in his own shop.
But seeing how popular the car was, Ford decided to team up with Shelby to create the Mustang GT350 and the Cobra version, which inevitably spawned later iterations as well. But for all that work, Shelby never received an actual paycheck from Ford Motor Company. He has always only ever worked for his own, Shelby American, Inc.
Mustang Makes Its Fast And The Furious Debut In Tokyo
The Fast and the Furious movies feature some pretty stellar cars, but it wasn’t until Fast and Furious 3 Tokyo Drift that we saw a Mustang that really blew our minds. In the third installment, young American teen Sean is sent to Japan to live with his father. It is there that he is introduced to the wild world of drift racing in Japan.
His poison in the movie is a 1967 Mustang Fastback, but what made this car incredibly unique from other Fastbacks was the fact that it was equipped with a Nissan RB26DETT engine from an R34 Skyline.
Ford’s 300 Millionth Car Was A Mustang
In 2004, Ford made a special edition Mustang not only to commemorate the car’s 40th anniversary, but also because it was the 300 millionth Ford car ever produced. The special edition Mustang had Crimson Red paint, a Tan top, and Tan leather seats.
Then CEO and chairman Bill Ford actually drove this car off the production line, telling his employees, “It’s no secret to any of you that this is my favorite car in the world.” Equipped with a V8 with dual exhaust and automatic transmission, this car is truly something special.
This Ford Mustang Was Made Under A New Name To Be The Bad Guy
Most of the cars in 2007’s Transformers are inherently pretty awesome because they turn into alien robots, but one car in particular is a sexy nod to Mustang. Barricade is an evil Decepticon in the movie that takes the form of the only Mustang in a movie wrought with GM vehicles.
Barricade is actually a 2007 Saleen S281 Extreme, a modified version of a 2007 Mustang that doesn’t technically have the Ford name on it. Rumor has it that Ford declined from having the tradition Mustang featured in the movie because they didn’t want their car to be the bad guy.
The Pony Car Wars Have Blessed Car Enthusiasts
The Ford Mustang’s biggest competitors are the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird. Each car engaged in the race to the top of their class has been unofficially dubbed as the Pony Car Wars.
In 2002, it seemed that Mustang prevailed with Camaros and Firebirds ceased production, but that came to an end when Camaros reentered production in 2009. Since then Ford and Chevy have been neck and neck trying to create the dominant car. But the real benefactors from this competition are car enthusiasts whose rewards are the ever changing models that only kept getting faster and more powerful.
The Other Reason People Were Tuning Into Charlie’s Angels
In the ’70s, people ostensibly loved watching Charlie’s Angels for Farrah Fawcett, but maybe they also loved watching the show for her 1976 Cobra II. It’s a wonder whatever happened to the car sported by Jill Munroe and later, her sister Kris.
There are many arguments over whether the television studios had more than one on hand, but it’s more than likely they reused shots of the car for driving scenes and the interior of the different car for others. Either way, this was just one of many elements that had men in the ’70s ogling over Charlie’s Angels.