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The Ultimate Ford Mustang Page

Ask any car enthusiast or casual admirer about American muscle cars and chances are good that they'll mention the Ford Mustang. Since its debut in the 1960s, the Mustang has symbolized America's love of fast cars and the open road. These cars have famously inspired songs such as "Mustang Sally" by Wilson Pickett and "My Ford Mustang" by Chuck Berry. They have also been featured in high-action major films such as the James Bond movies Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever. Both classic and newer models of the Mustang have appealed to people of all ages and genders for more than 50 years.

The Ford Mustang was named not for horses, as one might expect, but for World War II fighter jets. The first official unveiling of the production Mustang was in New York on April 17, 1964, at the World's Fair. This was not the first glimpse of the Mustang, however, as two concept cars were shown in advance. The first showing came in 1962 and the second in 1963, only four months before the World's Fair debut. The grand unveiling of the two-seat "pony" car was made by Henry Ford II, and that same day, at Ford showrooms nationwide, consumers were able to view and even purchase one of the new cars for themselves. In fact, 22,000 were sold that day, more than 100,000 in the shortened first year, and as many as 500,000 in 1965. The interest in and demand for the car was partially due to the interest created by major media outlets.

First Generation: "1964"-73

The first Mustangs were made so they could be sold at an extremely low cost. In fact, the list price of the Mustang released in 1964 was as low as $2,368 for a standard coupe. To accomplish this, components from a relatively small car already in production, the Ford Falcon, were used. The first Mustang is commonly referred to as the 1964 model. Although they were technically 1965-model vehicles, they had unique features that made them stand apart from Mustangs manufactured after them. These first Mustangs had three engine options: a 170-cubic-inch V6 engine with 101 horsepower, a 260-cubic-inch V8 with 164 horsepower, and a 289-cubic-inch V8 engine with 210 horsepower. Differences included a generator charging system, a large horn that was mounted behind the radiator, and a hood with a sharp and uncrimped lip and beveled edge. Eye bolts were used to hold the seat belts of the 1964 in place, and spring clips were used to hold window cranks and the inside door handles. These issues were all remedied in the 1965 Mustang. Instead of a large horn behind the radiator, smaller versions were used and mounted in front of the core support of the radiator. Hex-head machine bolts and Allen-head screws were used to support and secure seat belts, door handles, and cranks.

The body of the 1965 Mustang also differed from that of the 1964. This first offering came as a convertible or notchback coupe. It was approximately 181.6 inches long on a 108-inch wheelbase, the same as the Falcon. The Mustang's cockpit, however, was situated farther back, making the hood longer and the trunk shorter. The 1965 Mustang discontinued the 260-cubic-inch V8 engine, and it had a 2+2 fastback body design. The car also came with optional power front disc brakes and an optional GT package. It also offered a K-code 289-cubic-inch V8 engine with 271 horsepower that provided greater performance than the standard options. Race car driver Carroll Shelby also worked with Ford to create the 1965 Shelby GT-350 Mustang fastback, which had no back seat and only came in white. The Shelby GT-350 was designed for racing and increased the 271 horsepower to 306.

There were many versions of the Mustang during this first generation. In 1967, the Mustang received a larger engine compartment, and a 390-cubic-inch engine became the standard for performance. Also in 1967, the Shelby GT-500 was released with a 428-cubic-inch V8 engine. In 1969, the Mustang Mach 1 was released to compete with rival pony cars such as the Chevy Camaro and the Plymouth Barracuda. The Mach 1 had a longer and more sleek and powerful-looking body. The car featured stripes along the sides and a black hood. Its engine was a 428 Super Cobra Jet V8 engine with 335 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque.

Second Generation: 1974-78

The second-generation Mustang, called the Mustang II, was based on the Ford Pinto. Released for the 1974 model year, it was lighter, by nearly 500 pounds, and smaller, with a four-cylinder engine to help counter rising gas prices. In addition, production of convertibles came to an end. In 1975, a Ford Mustang II was released with a 302-cubic-inch V8 engine, followed by the new Cobra II package the next model year. The Ford Mustang II with the Cobra II package featured front and rear spoilers, a hood scoop, and body stripes down the center for a sporty appearance.

Third Generation: 1979-93

For the 1979 Mustang, Ford used the Ford Fairmont sedan as its platform, which made it larger than the previous generations. In 1980, a hardtop was released for a convertible feel, but in 1983, after a nine-year absence, the convertible Mustang made a comeback. One of the most notable models introduced in the third generation of Mustangs was the Special Vehicle Team (SVT) Cobra, a special-edition Mustang released in 1993. This attractive vehicle had a 5-liter engine and 235 horsepower. Featuring higher-performing wheels, improved suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes, the vehicle was only produced in limited numbers. The 1993 SVT Cobra R, a special model made for racing, had no radio, air conditioner, or even back seat, and it came with no power options except for power steering. Only 107 of these cars were made, all of them red.

Fourth Generation: 1994-2004

Classic styling returned in the 1994 model year with features such as the traditional pony grill emblem and side scoops. The Cobra R got an update and limited re-release in 1995, this time only in white, and in 2000, an updated Cobra R was released, again in limited amounts and again in red. It featured a 5.4-liter V8 engine with 385 horsepower and five-spoke alloy wheels. This racing Mustang also did not include cruise control, a radio, a back seat, or air conditioning, but it did include a body kit that featured side skirts, a spoiler, and a power dome hood. Also during the fourth generation of the Mustang, Ford introduced its more conventional models in a variety of striking colors, such as bright yellow, bright green, purple, and metallic hues. Inspired by the 1968 film Bullitt featuring Steve McQueen and the 1968 Mustang GT, Ford released the Bullitt GT in 2001, which gave a nod to the classic car's style and the green color of the Mustang in the film.

Fifth Generation: 2005-Present

The fifth-generation Mustangs come in sporty styles that capture the essence of the car's look and spirit. The 2009 Mustang features a glass roof option. The GT-500 comes with a powerful 500-horsepower engine, and the limited-edition GT500KR offered a 5.4-liter (330-cubic-inch) engine with up to 540 horsepower. It seated four and was featured on the television show Knight Rider in 2008. The 2010 model year came with an optional Track Pack performance package and technological features such as SYNC and on-board navigation. And a new Shelby GT350 made its way on the streets in the 2016 model year, with a six-speed manual transmission and a 5.2-liter V8 engine, more than 500 horsepower, and 400 pound-feet of torque.

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