When it debuted in 1964, the Ford Mustang was unlike any car we’d seen before, and it’s evolved from there over the years. Even with all the racecars and heavy-duty pickup trucks, some iterations of the Mustang are the most powerful Ford models on the road.
Let’s take a look at how the iconic Ford Mustang has continued evolving since its debut in 1964 (No. 14 reveals the surprising name the Mustang almost received).
The first year of the Ford Mustang offered three engine sizes:
- 2.8-liter inline six-cylinder
- 4.3-liter V8
- 4.7-liter V8
The first one rolled off the assembly line on March 9, 1964, and the car officially debuted at the World’s Fair in New York on April 17, 1964, with a $2,368 price tag
Next: Ford quickly went to work making changes.
On the surface, the 1965 version of the Mustang wasn’t drastically different than the debut version in 1964. The front end, headlights, and bumpers changed, and customers had two engines to choose from: A 3.3-liter inline six-cylinder or a 4.7-liter V8.
Next: Putting the muscle in the term muscle car.
3. 1965 GT 350 Shelby
Even by 21st century standards, the first Ford Mustang GT holds its own in the performance department. Its 4.7-liter V8 produced 310 horsepower, went zero to 6- mph in less than seven seconds, and hit 134 mph, according to AutoEvolution.
Next: A monster of a car.
The 1966 Ford Mustang didn’t look drastically different on the outside (a new grille, side detailing, and wheels covers were the main changes), but under the hood, it was a different story. Ford introduced a huge 6.4-liter engine that provided 325 horsepower.
Next: Now that’s a facelift.
The 1968 edition of the Ford Mustang brought the first major redesign, including side scoops, chrome trim, and new tail lights. The base model came with a 3.3-liter inline-six engine, but two 7.0-liter options produced 340 and 406 horsepower, respectively. The 1968 GT 390 Fastback from the movie Bullitt is one of the famous cars from Steve McQueen’s collection.
Next: Minor tweaks one year later.
The 1969 Mustang was slightly longer and was the first to use four headlights, two within the grille and two to the outside. Things were different under the hood with four engine choices topped off by a 5.8-liter V8 that produced 294 horsepower.
Next: The year the Mustang got a little bit bigger.
The Mustang is an American classic, but it’s now the world’s car. A 1970 Mustang competed in a 2015 Singapore to Myanmar endurance race.
In 1970, the Ford Mustang grew longer by two inches and featured a 7.0-liter V8 engine. Even though the changes weren’t major, sales increased thanks to the version of the car we’re about to meet.
Next: Who’s the Boss?
8. 1970 Boss 302
A limited edition of the 1970 Ford Mustang, the Boss 302, went head-to-head with the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 and beat it. The Mustang Boss won the Sports Car Club of America Trans-am series.
Next: One version of this next Mustang is among the fastest ever.
Customers could choose from 5.8- and 7.0-liter V8 engines on the base models and 1971 brought another milestone for the Ford Mustang. The Boss 351 version was one of the fastest Mustangs ever made. It went from zero to 60 in just 5.8 seconds and completed the quarter-mile in just 14.1 seconds at 100 mph.
Next: All the choices car enthusiasts could want.
The 1972 Ford Mustang provided all the choices car enthusiasts could want. Base models had either 4.1- or 4.9-liter engines, and different iterations, such as the Mach 1 351 HO and 351 Cobra Jet, were some of the most powerful cars you saw on the road.
Next: Doing less with more:
When the Environmental Protection Agency started enforcing strict emissions rules, subsequent Ford Mustangs had to do more with less. The engines in 1973 were smaller and more fuel efficient, but the Mustang didn’t sacrifice performance.
Next: The end of an era.
Even though Ford Mustangs have been on the road for more than 60 years, have been just six generations of the car. The second generation ended in 1978, and it was shorter with a smaller engine (4.9-liter) than its predecessors.
Next: Big change one year later.
The 1979 Ford Mustang was the first year of the third generation, and there was one big change. Ford introduced a new design platform named Fox. The 100-inch wheelbase actually provided more interior room, but the design of some of the third generation cars wasn’t as sleek as the ones that came before or after.
Next: A few Ford Mustang facts for your memory bank
Here are a few facts you might not know about the Ford Mustang:
- A Canadian pilot bought the very first Mustang. Ford had to promise to give the pilot Mustang No. 1 million in exchange for car No. 1.
- You couldn’t buy a convertible for 10 years. Ford stopped making convertibles in 1973 and didn’t start again until 1983.
- It was almost named the Ford Cougar.
- Ford sold 22,000 Mustangs the first day.
This isn’t trivia, but it’s worth noting: The turbo 4-cylinder engine was a new option for the first time in 1981.
Next: We need to borrow a phrase from Han Solo.
15. 1982 GT 302 HO
To borrow a phrase from Star Wars’ character Han Solo, the 1982 Ford Mustang may not look like much, but it had it where it counts. The 5-liter engine on GT 302 HO helped the car go from zero to 60 in just 6.9 seconds, according to MotorTrend.
Next: The model that saved the Mustang.
16. 1984 SVO
The mid-1980s will never be the golden era for Mustangs, and the model was in so much trouble that Ford thought about discontinuing the model. Until the 1984 SVO came out, that is. The powerful car with pinpoint handling put the Mustang back on the map. You could say it’s the model that saved the Mustang.
Next: Bridging the 80s and the 90s.
The 1987 Ford Mustang was the first year of a big redesign on both the inside and outside of the car. Ford stuck with the design until the 1994 model year.
Next: One small but noticeable change for the fourth generation.
It took 15 years, but the fourth generation Mustangs finally came out for there 1994 model year. The 1994 version had one small but noticeable change. Instead of the oval Ford logo, the galloping pony logo returned to the front grille. The model that returned Ford’s muscle car to prominence is considered one of the Mustang’s greatest hits.
Next: A small step backward.
19. 1996 GT
The GT versions of the Ford Mustang are supposed to provide more punch under the hood and suck you back in your seat when you step on the gas. Unfortunately, the 4.6-liter V8 engine didn’t do anything more than previous GT versions. Still, the ’96 GT received positive reviews from Car and Driver even though it didn’t pack as much punch as expected.
Next: A horsepower boost.
The low-level V8 engine in the 1998 Mustang saw its horsepower jump from 215 to 225. Several other V8 engine options produced up to 390 horsepower.
Next: Time for a throwback.
Ford rolled out a new-look 2005 model in January of 2004, and die-hard Mustang fans had to be pleased. A bold redesign brought back a bull-nosed front grille, the four separate headlights, and overall outside design that recalled the late 1960s and early 70s look.
Next: Are you ready for a thrill ride?
22. 2009 Shelby GT500
Two engine options provided 540 and 650 horsepower on the Shelby GT500 starting in 2009, but if you could even bigger if you really needed a thrill ride. A twin turbo GT500 nicknamed Code Red churned out 1,200 horsepower when properly tuned.
Next: More Mustang facts.
The 2010 Ford Mustang was slightly redesigned to reduce drag. Things didn’t change much aside from that, so here are a few more Mustang facts from Mustang Maniac:
- President Bill Clinton owned a Mustang (a 1967 convertible), and it’s one of the best presidential rides ever.
- Mustangs have been pace cars at the Indianapolis 500 three times, but just once at the Daytona 500 (in 2010).
- Red is historically the most popular color.
Next: Limited edition.
24. 2013 Shelby GT350
The third year of the Shelby GT350 in 2013 offered more options, but not more cars. Boutique car design house Shelby produced just 350 models capable of anywhere from 430 to 624 horsepower.
Next: Wanna race?
25. 2015 Shelby GT350R
Ford and Chevy pitted high-performance Mustangs and Camaros, respectively, against each other in 2015. The 2015 Shelby GT350R won the horsepower wars with a faster time on Germany’s famed Nürburgring, but consumers were the big winners no matter which model they preferred.
Next: Fast forward.
The sixth generation of the Ford Mustang debuted for the 2015 model year, but 2017 saw some design modifications and better-performing engines. Ford offered 2.3- and 5.0-liter engines with either automatic or manual transmissions.
Next: What a milestone.
Aug. 8, 2018, saw Ford reach a monumental milestone. The 10 millionth Mustang rolled off the assembly line, cementing it as one of America’s most popular cars.
Next: Let us refresh your memory real quick.
28. 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt
A few minutes ago, we discussed the 1968 GT390 Fastback from the movie Bullitt. You can buy the modern version for 2019. Ford is bringing back the Mustang Bullitt, and it’s one of the most fun Fords to drive, which is really saying something.