The Mustang: A Legend reaches 50.
The year was 1964, and the introduction of a small coupe took the automotive world by storm. The demand for this car was so great the manufacturer sold 417,000 units of this model in the first year. This vehicle served as the pace car for the 1964 Indianapolis 500 and appeared in the 1964 James Bond film, Gold finger.
The car was the Ford Mustang.
The Early Years
The 1964 Mustang was available with a hard top or convertible. A fastback design was added to the lineup. Buyers could select from an assortment of V6 or V8 engines to power their Mustang. 1974 saw significant changes to the lineup as the convertible was dropped from production and the fastback transformed into a hatchback. Ford called this new version of the pony car Mustang II. This was also the first year Ford did not offer a V8 engine in the lineup. The company reconsidered this decision and the V8 engine returned in 1975.
The Rise of Cobra
Ford wanted to build a car capable of racing the Chevrolet Corvette in 1965. They joined forces with Carroll Shelby and built the Shelby Mustang. The model was produced until 1970 and is considered an icon in muscle car history. Ford introduced the Cobra II in 1976 as a tribute to the Shelby Mustang.
15 Years Later
1979 saw another re-design of the Mustang. This model year was slightly larger than the Mustang II with a wheelbase and length 4 inches longer. The popular Mustang convertible returned to the lineup in 1983 and was available in GLX and GT trim. The convertible featured a power roof, a real glass rear window and roll-down windows in the rear seat. The revived convertible was a hit.
The Legend Continues
The 7th generation Mustang was introduced in 1994. There was the base Mustang with a 3.8L V6 and the GT with a 5.0L V8. The engines produced 145 horsepower and 215 horsepower respectively. Both models could be equipped with a 5 speed manual transmission or a 4 speed automatic. Four wheel disc brakes were standard and ABS was optional.
Horsepower was increased for the 1999 Mustangs with the V6 delivering 190 HP and V8 generating 260 HP. A redesigned Cobra was reintroduced in 1999 and was rated to generate 320 HP. However, many owners complained their Cobra actually produced less than 300 HP and Ford stopped production of this version of Cobra.
The 1968 film Bullitt featured a car chase involving a Mustang Bullitt driven by Steve McQueen. Ford commemorated this car by issuing a Bullitt edition Mustang GT on 2001. The limited edition was immensely popular and 5000 units were sold very quickly.
The 9th generation Mustang appeared in 2005 and features exterior and interior styling that are similar to early Mustangs of the 1960s. The V6 delivers 200 HP while the 4.6L V8 moves with 300 HP. The V8 has variable value timing and 3 valves per cylinder. Handling has been improved for the Mustang with new suspension system.
The Mustang was been on American roads for 50 years and is sure to continue as an icon of the automotive world.