The Ultimate Classic Mustang Models Guide

There’s just something extra special about a classic Ford Mustang. These cars exude muscle, power, and iconic legendary status. The first generation of Mustangs from the mid-60s through the early 70s represent some of the very best Mustang models ever to exist. Today, we’ll spotlight some of the absolute best Mustang models from that era. Learn about the design, specs, and original pricing for the greats like the Shelby Mustang, the Mustang Mach 1, and more. You might even become inspired to go out and find a classic Mustang to buy for yourself. So, which classic Mustang is the best?

1965 Ford Mustang

A 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback model in black and white
A 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback model | Bettmann via Getty Images

The 1965 Ford Mustang was the first, making its debut at the World’s Fair in 1964. These “pony cars” made a huge impression, and today’s enthusiasts usually refer to the first models as “1964 ½ Mustangs.” You could buy one of these sweet rides in coupe or convertible form for around $2,300-$2,500, and boy did Americans buy them. Ford sold 22,000 Mustangs on the first day of availability.

The original 1965 Ford Mustang came equipped with a 170-CID straight-six, 4.3-liter V8 engine. There was also the 289-CID V8 engine version, capable of roaring at 271 horsepower. Later in the year, Ford expanded its options with a 200-CID, 3.3-liter, and a 289 with a beefy two-barrel carburetor, according to MotorTrend.

This pony came to run, and a host of performance extras were available, including a handling package with special shocks and springs, a front sway bar, and a limited-slip differential. You could get a push-button AM radio, wipers with two speeds (which was a big deal back in the day), and a remote control side-view mirror. There were even power steering and power brakes, huge industry upgrades for the time. As popular as this car was, the 1965 Mustang was just the beginning.

1967 Ford Mustang

A couple of years into production and the Ford Mustang continued to impress. The 1967 Mustang is often revered by most collectors and enthusiasts as the best design of the 60s, by far. The semi-notchback, as Live About explains, was replaced by a fastback roof. The car itself grew in length, predominantly by the nose, and it featured a wider chassis. This car was incredibly aggressive looking, with its more prominent grille and triple tail lamps. 

Inside, the cabin saw improvements, as well, including an all-new dashboard. Under the hood, you could feel the rumble of the powerful engine, a 289 high-performance V8. The average price range for the 67 Mustang back then was about $2,500-$2,700, which is the equivalent of about $21,000 in today’s dollars.

1967 Ford Mustang Fastback

The 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback was a fan-favorite for several reasons. The top engine configuration was the 390 cubic-inch 4V, a V8 in its GT form. GT badging was also available, letting everyone around you know you had the gutsiest Mustang. There was a special driveline and suspension, as well, with six-inch rims.

Inside this muscle car, other additions were prevalent in the Ford Mustang 1967 model year, including an AM/FM radio, sliding and tilting steering wheel, and the availability of a deluxe interior aluminum trim upgrade. There was even a cassette tape deck!

That year also introduced a series of special edition Mustangs and limited-availability packages, allowing Mustang owners to customize their cars. These limited production models, because of their rarity, are precious in today’s market. Back in the day, you could have purchased one of these 1967 Mustang Fastback models for around $3,000 in 1967.

1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500

The ultimate Ford Mustang variation in the 1967 model year may be the Shelby Mustang GT500. Made famous among today’s general population, the 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 became immortalized on the big screen as “Eleanor” in the Nicolas Cage movie, Gone in 60 Seconds. It may not jump a line of cars in traffic as it did in the film, but the GT500 did bring serious chops in real life.

The Ford collaboration with Carroll Shelby of then-racing fame produced two Shelby variations. The Shelby GT350 came with a 289 V8 engine. Meanwhile, under the hood of the 1967 Shelby GT500 was a massive 428 FE V8 monster, fine-tuned by Shelby himself.

The Shelby GT500 was easy to spot with its unique exterior design. There was a fiberglass front end and an aggressive grille. As Haggerty points out, there were also rear-facing and roof-mounted air scoops, along with quarter panel inserts designed to accentuate the rear spoiler.

Back then, you could buy a 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 for less than $5,000, which translates to roughly $31,000-$35,000 in today’s currency. However, purchasing an “Eleanor” today will cost much more. In fact, the movie car that Nicolas Cage drove sold at auction for $1 million, according to Ford Authority.

1968 Ford Mustang

By the time the Ford Mustang made it to 1968, only modest additions were made. According to Mustang Specs, the 302 cubic-inch V8 engine replaced the 289 V8, and, come mid-year release, a 427 cubic-inch V8 came out, capable of 390 horsepower. The most noticeable visual distinction for the 1968 Mustang includes “F-O-R-D” lettering across the hood and a new grille design. The fenders also displayed “Mustang” lettering, making the ride pretty easy to spot. 

This Mustang got a little safer, too, at the guidance of federal mandates for automakers. The 1968 Ford Mustang came with three-point seat belts and side marker lights. There was also an impact-absorbing design to the steering column as standard. 

Both Shelby variations returned for the 1968 production year, the GT350 and GT500. However, there was the addition of the GT500KR (King of the Road) model, too. A Cobra Jet Mustang was available with a 428 V8 engine, as well, and it only cost about $622 to add on. You could buy a base hardtop version of this model year for $2,700 back then, which is roughly $20,000-$22,000 today. 

The 1968 Mustang Fastback was also made famous at the time on the big screen. The Steve McQueen movie Bullitt showed the hero racing through the hilly streets of San Francisco in a modified GT-390 version of the Mustang. That car became so popular that a special edition Mustang was released as recently as 2001 to commemorate the legendary car.

1969 Ford Mustang Fastback

In 1969, the Ford Mustang Fastback became a boss, literally a BOSS. The car itself grew about 3.8 inches in length and about 0.5 inches wider. Under the hood, the Mustang received a 351-CID 5.8-liter engine, capable of producing 250 horsepower or 290 horsepower. New models were introduced, including the Mach and the Boss nameplates.

The Boss 302 intended to meet the Trans-Am racing production guidelines of the time. Meanwhile, the Boss 429 brought a 7.0-liter, 375-hp, 429-CID engine to the street. The performance engines came back for another round of Shelby models for the Ford Mustang 1969 model year, too. However, this was the year that Carroll Shelby and Ford parted ways. 

A Grande Luxury model was introduced in 1969, bringing a few luxury extras to the popular muscle car. The Mustang came with a vinyl-covered roof, wire wheel covers, and a much softer suspension element. As Live About points out, Ford began adopting the term “Sportsroof” to replace the former title of “Fastback.” Traveling back to 1969, you could buy a Ford Mustang Boss 302 for $3,958.43, according to Car and Driver

1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1

There is something a little special about the 1969 Mustang Mach 1. The GT option was still commendable, but the Mach 1 package added flair, including chrome exhaust and hood lock pins. There was an available handling package and a few V8 engine configurations, too. Inside, this classic Mustang felt a little more refined, as well, with its imitation wood trims.

The Ford Mustang Mach 1 came with a 5.8-liter Windsor V8 engine capable of producing 250 horsepower at 4,600 RPMs. Equally impressive was its 355 lb-ft of torque rating. The 69 Mustang could reach top speeds of 128 mph and punch a 0-60 mph time of 8 seconds. 

This Mustang Mach 1 intended to challenge GM’s Chevrolet Camaro at the time, as Top Speed points out in a review of this classic muscle car. Many say it’s the meanest-looking Mustang ever built. Regardless, Americans swarmed it in sales so much that the GT took some time off, leaving the Mach 1 to dominate.

Consumers in 1969 could buy a Ford Mustang Mach 1 for $3,125. For an extra $26, you could increase your horsepower by 40 with a four-barrel intake upgrade. That’s $.65 per horse!

1970 Ford Mustang

When 1970 rolled around, Ford was still hot and heavy with Mustang production. You could buy a hardtop, a convertible, a fastback (now called a ‘Sportsroof’), a Grande hardtop, a Boss 302, a Boss 429, and the Mach 1. However, sales were beginning to dip, with 300,000 units sold in 1969 compared to 200,000 units sold in 1970.

A few distinctions for the Ford Mustang 1970 model year from others included the “Shaker” hood scoop, available with any model featuring a 351 cubic-inch sized engine. From behind, a new flat fascia and three-bar taillights were prominent. Additionally, there were high-back bucket seats now as a standard feature for the 1970 Mustangs. Another amenity upgrade for the time was the optional rear window defrost function. Emission regulations forced a few carburetor and ignition enhancements, as well. 

Unsold 1969 models were provided 1970 VINs, with a few hood stripe and front spoiler additions. Not much else changed for these various Mustang models under the hood, option-wise or even in pricing. Depending on the engine size and variation, buying one of these classic Mustangs would set you back anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000.

How much does a classic Ford Mustang cost?

We’ve gone over the old costs of these classic Mustang models, but how much is a classic Mustang if you bought one today? Browsing the auction sites, it’s clear the first-generation Ford Mustang models continue to be highly sought after and valuable. Buying that original 1965 Mustang back then pales in comparison to today’s values. As the website Classic reports, the average cost to buy one today is $47,592. In fact, many original models have sold for even more.

The 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback on average lists for $17,000 to $45,000. A “non-Eleanor” version of the 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 is a little higher in price today, as Hot Cars suggests the average price to be anywhere from $100,000 to $219,000. 

If you want to buy a 1968 model Mustang, you’ll spend between $17,000 and $82,000, depending on the nameplate, engine, and variation for that year. Buying a 1969 Ford Mustang Fastback today will likely cost you anywhere between $50,000 and $70,000, depending on the version and condition of the model. 

Browsing the auction lanes today, you’ll be lucky to buy one of those legendary Mustang Mach 1 models for less than $70,000. A 1970 Mustang with a 429-CID engine and 375 horsepower can sell for more than $200,000. The smaller 351-CID version, with 300 horsepower, according to ConceptCarz, has a median sale amount of $35,000.

If you have a special place in your garage reserved for a classic Mustang, these first-generation models are certainly worth your consideration. Of course, you’ll pay far more in today’s value for those originals. However, as the Mustang continues to evolve and be popular, it only means those classic pony cars will continue to increase in value.

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