Ford Mustang: What Is an S550 and What’s Next?

For nearly sixty years, the Ford Mustang has been America’s sweetheart muscle car. During that time, the pony car has undergone changes in almost every aspect. Each redesign and refresh typically enjoys a few years of tenure before stepping aside. The S550 is the most recent Mustang, and it will soon be bowing out for what’s next. 

What does S550 mean for Mustangs? 

Ford Mustang what is an S550 and what's next?
Shelby GT500 with racing stripes | Ford

The S550 is the sixth generation of the Ford Mustang. It first went on sale in 2015 and has enjoyed success following the S197 generation. The S550 retained the beloved Coyote V8 engine, kept a V6 in the lineup, and added a progressive turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder variant. 

Furthermore, the S550 platform has played host to many Ford fans’ favorite editions. At the top of the food chain, there are Shelby S550 cars in the track-ready GT350 and the raucous 760 horsepower Shelby GT500. Both of these cars have additional special editions, like the GT350R and GT500KR. Additionally, Ford has released S550 iterations of the Bullitt, the Mach 1, and the California Special, to name a few. 

What’s the difference between an S197 and an S550? 

While the S550 was the sixth generation, the car it replaced was the fifth-generation Mustang or S197. When the fifth-generation muscle car hit the North American market in 2005, people were excited. Not only was it a new Mustang, but it also changed the mold. Instead of trying to take the styling of the beloved pony car into the distant future, Ford leaned on the legacy of past Mustangs. An angular, charming, retro-inspired S197 Mustang was the new norm. After 10 years of S197, though, the market was ready for the next step. 

The S550 brought a handful of noteworthy changes to the muscle car. First, Road & Track says Moray Callum of the accomplished Callum brothers had a hand in designing it. Fortunately, Callum brought an almost-grand-tourer design element to the S550. In addition to the more futuristic styling, the new generation brought fuel economy into the mix. The revolutionary EcoBoost Mustang featured a 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Next, and perhaps most importantly, the sixth-generation car is the first to feature independent rear suspension. In addition to sharper handling credentials, the S550 got higher horsepower figures, a redesigned interior, and updated lighting, to name a few changes.  

Is there a new Mustang coming out? 

Ford Mustang what is an S550 and what's next
2022 Mustang GT California Special is an S550 | Ford

Ford has confirmed the seventh generation of Mustang. The S650 will likely replace the S550 in the 2024 model year. Also, the S650 will probably be the last Mustang to follow the muscle car formula of a gas-powered engine up front, rear-wheel drive (RWD), and optional manual transmission. Spy photos confirm that the S650 will share many design features with the outgoing S550. In addition to the swan-song S650, the Mach-E electrified the car. Although the Mach-E is a remarkable EV, it is a Mustang in badge alone.

The introduction of the S550 was controversial. The dramatic new styling of the sixth generation left the retro-inspiration in the dust. Love it or not, the S550 brought a lot to the Mustang name. 

Scroll down to the following article to read more about the seventh generation S650 Mustang.

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