Greatest Ford Mustangs of all time



There are few automotive icons that may match the historical past and enthusiastic followers of the Ford Mustang. It began approach again in 1964, with a surprising long-hood, short-deck design primarily based on the standard underpinnings of the Ford Falcon compact automotive. It went on to change into virtually impossibly profitable, with greater than 400,000 items offered in its first yr and over one million inside its first two years in the marketplace. The ten millionth Mustang was offered in 2018. No marvel the Mustang would encourage its personal automotive class, appropriately referred to as “pony vehicles.”

With the brand-new seventh-generation Mustang having just debuted at the 2022 Detroit Auto Show (seen above) we thought it will be the right time to return and try the Mustang’s excessive factors all through the years (as opposed to some of its low points). With out additional ado, listed below are the 13 greatest Ford Mustang fashions of all time.


1965 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

We’ll kick off our lists of the most effective Ford Mustang fashions of all time with one of many oldest of the breed. Ford launched its seminal pony automotive in 1964, and it was an on the spot success. Ford hoped to construct 100,000 ‘Stangs within the first yr however ended up quadrupling that determine earlier than its first mannequin yr got here and went … with just a little assist from creating model-year magic, that’s.

The final word model of this primary Mustang, in our minds at the least, is the Shelby GT350 that was offered during the 1965 and 1966 model years. Every of them was powered by a 289 cubic-inch Okay-Code V8 engine. A much bigger carburetor, high-rise consumption manifold and free-flowing exhaust manifolds boosted energy from 271 to 306 horsepower. The Shelby manufacturing unit made a complete host of modifications to the inventory Mustang platform with the intention to make it aggressive on the race observe, and it labored effectively sufficient to win the SCCA racing championship in its class for 3 straight years.

1969 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Cobra Jet

Apparently sufficient, Carroll Shelby canceled his contract with Ford to provide Shelby-branded Mustangs following the 1969 mannequin yr. A number of years had handed for the reason that first GT350, and by 1969, Shelby’s precise involvement in this system was fairly restricted. A lot of the 1969 Shelby GT500 was actually designed by Ford, not Shelby, and it was a far cry from the nimble track-ready competitors automotive that it had been.

Trying again at historical past, nevertheless, these 1969 (and carryover 1970) Shelby GT500s actually stand out from the remainder of the pack with their distinctive styling — get a load of the prolonged hood and entrance fenders with their ram air ductwork — and probably the most highly effective street-ready engine Ford needed to provide. The 428 cubic-inch Cobra Jet V8 engine was rated at 335 hp and 440 pound-feet of torque. 

1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429

Did you discover how we stated “strongest street-ready engine Ford needed to provide” once we seemed on the Shelby above? Nicely, Ford did even have a extra highly effective V8 in its secure, but it surely was designed for race tracks, not the road. However that did not cease the automaker from shoehorning the oversize 429 into the Mustang for the 1969 and carryover 1970 mannequin years.

Ford needed to make use of its new 429 V8 engine in NASCAR racing, however to legally accomplish that, needed to provide the engine to paying clients who needed to personal one for road use. It wasn’t simple to suit this large block engine in between the Mustang’s fenders, requiring a drastically modified entrance suspension setup that was carried out by an outfit in Michigan known as Kar Kraft. The manufacturing unit rated the NASCAR-special engine at 375 hp and 450 lb-ft. It was referred to as a cantankerous beast when it wasn’t being pushed at full throttle, however when it was pushed that approach, it truly made far more energy than its manufacturing unit ranking. It stays one of many coolest Mustang fashions of all time.

1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302

Getting again to the type of racing the small (by Sixties and Seventies American requirements, that’s) Mustang was actually meant for, we now check out the smaller-engined Boss sibling. The Boss 302 first appeared in 1969, aimed squarely on the Chevy Camaro Z/28. The horse automotive wars had been gained each on the gross sales ground and on tracks used for the Trans-Am racing collection, and that is the place Ford seemed to compete with the Boss 302.

The engine bundle mixed a specifically ready model of Ford’s 302 cubic-inch Windsor V8 engine block with the free-flowing Cleveland heads. An aggressive camshaft with strong lifters, sturdy and light-weight engine internals and a bunch of track-spec modifications allowed the racing engine to rev effectively previous the bounds imposed on road engines. It was rated at 290 hp and an equal variety of pound-feet. We went with the 1970 model just because that was the yr it beat Chevy to win the Trans-Am championship. They’re just as cool today as they had been again then.

1985.5 Ford Mustang SVO

We’re graciously skipping over the rest of the Seventies, not completely as a result of there weren’t any cool Mustangs offered — we might go as far as to say even the late-Seventies had just a few fascinating fashions that had been very talked-about and correct vehicles for the period — however as a result of nothing actually stands out as higher than its predecessor in any significant approach. On to the Eighties, then, and particularly to the Ford Mustang SVO. We’re not eager to miss the seminal Ford Mustang GT or its 5.0-liter (actually 4.9, however who’s counting?) V8 engine, however the SVO was actually the extra fascinating machine. It seemed completely different, with a two-tier wing on the again and a ducted hood, but it surely’s beneath the bodywork the place issues get actually cool.

Midway by way of the 1985 mannequin yr, Ford elevated the efficiency of the SVO’s 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, touchdown at a excessive level of 205 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. That was sufficient to make the SVO a worthy competitor to its V8-powered GT sibling. However extra necessary than sheer thrust had been the most important suspension and chassis enhancements that made the SVO deal with higher than any Mustang that had come earlier than.


1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra

Ford unleashed its inside Particular Automobile Workforce (SVT) on the Mustang for the ultimate yr of its now-classic, squared-off Fox Physique years, and the tip outcome was the 1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra. The principle get together piece was a closely modified 302-cubic-inch V8 engine that featured GT-40 “Excessive Circulation” forged iron cylinder heads and curler rocker arms. The consumption manifold was distinctive, the camshaft was aggressive, the gasoline injectors had been enlarged, a brand new laptop system was put in and a high-flow exhaust system was bolted beneath. The top outcome was 235 hp and 280 lb-ft. That does not sound spectacular at the moment, but it surely was glorious for the time interval.

For race obligation, a higher-spec Cobra R was developed with upgraded suspension and driveline elements. The whole lot that wasn’t needed for velocity was stripped out, together with the rear seat and the air-con, dropping 450 kilos of weight from the common Cobra (although some track-ready gear added a few of that again). Not many had been made, and it is a critical collectible at the moment.


2000 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R

Have a look at that brilliant purple Mustang up above. Appears like a race automotive, does not it? There’s good purpose for that. Ford threw all of the go-fast goodies it had out there on the 2000 SVT Cobra R, with main modifications made to the powertrain, suspension, exterior aero bundle and the inside. The truth is, the whole rear seat was gone. So was the air-con, radio and cruise management. This was as shut a Ford buyer may get to a street-legal race automotive within the yr 2000.

Ford put a 5.4-liter V8 engine (initially designed for truck use) within the 2000 Mustang SVT Cobra R that featured dual-overhead-cam heads and a redline of 6,500 rpm. It produced 385 hp and 385 lb-ft, despatched to the rear wheels by way of a short-ratio Tremec T-56 six-speed transmission. The Borla-branded exhaust included an X-pipe and exited in entrance of the rear wheels, necessitating a V6-style rear bumper that lacked exhaust cutouts. The chassis was upgraded with Eibach springs, Bilstein shocks, Brembo brakes and a race-spec fuel cell within the hindquarters.

2004 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra (Mystichrome)

We’re not singling the 2004 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra only for its paint, however we’re not saying it does not play an element on this automotive’s cool issue, both. The 2004 SVT Cobra wasn’t all that completely different from the 2003 version, which launched — sorry, Arnold — the world to the Terminator. The supercharged, 32-valve DOHC, 4.6-liter V8 engine spun out 390 hp and 390 lb-ft, at the least in line with the manufacturing unit. Then house owners began placing them on dynos solely to seek out out they actually made fairly a bit greater than that. Journal testers of the period routinely recorded 0-60 instances of beneath 5 seconds and quarter-mile ETs within the 12s.

There was extra to the automotive than its engine, in fact, however that was clearly the star of the present. The 2004 version added non-compulsory Mystichrome paint, seen above, that modifications colors relying on the angle and lighting. It was purple, it was blue, it was inexperienced, and, effectively, it was superior. Ford charged clients $3,650 for the paint job, and a grand complete of 1,010 Mystichrome SVT Cobras had been produced, 515 of them coupes and 495 of them convertibles.

2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca version

Jim Farley, now CEO however again then Ford’s head honcho of promoting, told us that the 2012 Mustang Boss 302 was “a lot greater than a nostalgia mission to deliver again the Boss.” He continued, “If we needed to try this, we may take a 5.0-liter, put some stripes and spoilers and different upgrades on it and that will be it. It was not a method to an finish. The Boss 302 was initially a method to an finish. It was a manufacturing automotive to go racing. This can be a utterly completely different mission. We weren’t going to do that mission until we may beat an M3 at this observe.” This observe being the famed Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The limited-edition Laguna Seca took the identical 444-hp 5.0-liter V8 with its 7,500-rpm redline because the common Boss 302 version and added track-ready bits like an aerodynamics bundle with a entrance splitter so aggressive it needed to be put in post-title resulting from crash rules, plus light-weight wheels, Pirelli R-compound tires, an air scoop on the transmission for extra cooling, an air duct package for the entrance brakes, a dash-mounted gauge pack and a nifty looking cross brace that replaces the rear seats. Recaro seats and Torsen differential additionally got here customary.

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

With a 5.8-liter supercharged V8 spinning out 662 ponies and 661 lb-ft, the 2013 GT500 may hit a high velocity of 202 miles per hour. When we got the chance to drive the beast on the street, we known as it “Silly, stinking, earth-shatteringly quick. Ignorantly quick, even.” With Launch Management set correctly and on the best asphalt, the 2013 GT500 can hustle from 0-60 in a scant 3.7 seconds and on by way of the quarter mile in 11.7 seconds. That made the GT500 faster than the up to date Porsche 911 Carrera, Ferrari California and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Regardless of all that, it was a pleasure to drive on the road.

2015 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

Ford did one thing sudden with the 2015 Shelby GT350. In contrast to the GT500 and its 5.8-liter supercharged engine, the GT350’s V8 displaced 5.2 liters and was naturally aspirated. Its large declare to fame, although, was its flat-plane crankshaft, which allowed for a mind-blowing redline at 8,250 rpm and a sound not like any heard in a Mustang earlier than. At 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque, some 102-hp per liter, there was sufficient energy on faucet for staggering acceleration everytime you requested for it.

We so love this Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 that we eulogized it once we discovered it was leaving the market after the 2020 mannequin yr. As we stated then, “So lengthy, GT350. Your roaring and yowling will likely be missed.”

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt

The Mustang Bullitt did not do something higher or worse than a equally specced Efficiency Bundle 1 automotive. What the Bullitt delivered to the desk is taking the totally pleasurable character of the 2019 Mustang, and utilizing its further refinements and distinctive bits as a lens to focus it into an extra feeling of specialness. It succeeds. It might, mechanically, simply be a GT with a gentle energy bump — 480 hp and 420 lb-ft — and a few well-tuned manufacturing unit dealing with elements. However there is a refined however perceptible magnifying impact: Driving the Bullitt is, McQueen connection however, a cooler expertise.

When we first tested it, we said, “That is, fairly merely, the best-looking, best-sounding Mustang round – and if the GT350’s flat-plane character leaves you flat, that is the most effective Mustang, interval.”

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Contemplating how we felt in regards to the far much less highly effective GT350 and GT350R — contemplating them among the many most partaking, succesful, and rewarding sports cars you can purchase — we had one main query in regards to the 760-hp (!) 2020 GT500: Can this factor be wherever practically nearly as good?

Our conclusion after driving it? “When you’re on a race observe, your thoughts will likely be blown.”

Regardless of being seemingly constructed particularly to go round a race observe as shortly as potential, the massively overpowered 2020 GT500 is a peach on the road.

To date, the 2020 Shelby GT500 is the final word Mustang that Ford has ever constructed. We can’t wait to find out what’s next.

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