5 of the most important Mustangs throughout history
Very few cars have generation-wide recognition – the Ford Mustang is one of them
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What’s in a name? It takes a while for a car’s name to get such a level of mainstream recognition that even your average-Joe on the street will know what you’re talking about.
How many cars do you think you could mention to your Nan and see a flicker of recognition in her eyes?
Very few cars have generation-wide recognition. But there’s one car that has been around a long time, but has also been attainable enough that most families will have had one at some point in their lives. The Ford Mustang.
The Mustang’s been with us in one shape or another for 55 years, which is an absolute age in car years. Its lifespan has been punctuated by some real highlights – five of which we’re going to look at here.
The first Mustang ever sold
If you’re a big Mustang fan then there’s a chance you’ll remember that the Mustang was unveiled and went on sale on 17 April 1964. This gorgeous convertible, however, was driven home from a Ford dealership by its excited new owner two days prior to the unveiling.
The very first Mustang ever sold, now beautifully restored to its original glory
The car’s owner had just qualified as a teacher and went out to buy a convertible – the dealer had stock of the Mustang but clearly wasn’t meant to alert anyone to its presence until the unveiling. Somehow the teacher managed to buy the car early, drive it home – and then hold on to it until today. It’s now worth around $450,000.
The first Shelby
The Mustang had only been on sale for a year when Carroll Shelby’s tuning house used the car as a base for a high-performance version. In 1965 he gave the world the Shelby GT350, which used Ford’s 271hp V8 but added larger Holley carbs to take power up to 306hp.
The GT350 – complete with the classic racing stripes
Given that the car was designed primarily for competition use, Shelby American also added front disk brakes and larger rear drum brakes to improve stopping power. The GT350 started a rich tradition of Shelby Mustangs that continues to this day.
Fun fact – the iconic twin racing stripes were only added to 28 per cent of 1965 GT350s, but try to find one without them today…
If there’s one Mustang that cemented the Pony car in the cultural zeitgeist it has to be this. A debadged Ford Mustang Fastback GT 390 in gorgeous Highland Green was the undoubted star of 1968 film Bullitt.
Although not initially a hit, the film’s central car chase has gone down in cinema and car history as one of the best of its type. You may not have seen the film, but you’ll almost certainly know the scene: a detective in a Mustang chasing a villain in a Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco.
The sixth-generation Mustang
From the silver screen of the 60s to the European roads of the mid 2010s – the sixth-generation Mustang was a hugely important car for Ford. Not only did it come with independent rear suspension for proper sports car handling, but the Mustang finally broke out of America and into new markets thanks to being the first right-hand drive model.
The Mustang: Six generations in and still going strong
It was the first Mustang to really dominate sports car sales rankings across Europe as well – outselling the likes of the Porsche Cayman by a huge amount.
The Mustang Mach-E
While the sixth-generation Mustang may have taken the petrol-powered version of the car to new levels of handling and performance, in 2019 we’ve seen perhaps the biggest leap in the Mustang’s history.
The Mustang Mach-E has swapped the traditional V8 recipe in favour of torquey electric motors and added a zero-emission option to the existing Mustang family. It also brings a scorching mid-three-second 0-60mph* time – with the GTP version – and will let owners tap into America’s largest public charging network**.
With a targeted EPA-estimated range of 300 miles☥ in the premium and standard California Route 1 versions of the Mustang Mach-E, it will be as viable to daily drive as petrol-powered Mustangs. It also brings a seriously high-tech interior to the Mustang name: you can unlock the Mach-E using your smartphone as a key, and the next-generation 15.5-inch Sync(R) 4A infotainment system includes cloud-connected navigation and even learns your most frequent routes.
Have we missed one?
It’s tricky to pick just five Mustangs – we’ve not covered any motorsport specials, for example. What have we missed? Let us know in the comments!
BULLITT and all related characters and elements © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s19)
*Based on manufacture testing using computer engineering simulations. Your results may vary.
**Based on original equipment manufacturers (OEM)/automotive manufacturers that sell all-electric vehicles and have publicly announced charging networks. Department of Energy data used.
☥Based on full charge. Actual range varies with conditions such as external elements, driving behaviours, vehicle maintenance, and lithium-ion battery age. Final EPA-estimated ratings available in 2020.