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Home/News/The History of the Ford Mustang and Why It's Still Going Strong

The History of the Ford Mustang and Why It's Still Going Strong

The first mustang ever built

Many people call the early Mustangs a pony car, but they were actually named for a particular fighter plan in World War II. This concept car was thought up by Henry Ford, and Henry Ford II came up with other names for it, such as the T-Bird II and the Cougar.

It's important to realise the history of the Ford Mustang because it shaped the ways muscle cars and other vehicles were made. In a sense, it's almost shocking how the first Ford Mustang came to be.

If you're looking for a Mustang we can help at Westside Auto Wholesale as it is still a top choice today and one that could look great in your driveway.

Ford Mustang History Tidbits

The Mustang Hits the Road

The original Mustang first debuted in April of 1964 and was only $2,368. Dealers were swamped with requests to buy this new car with its sleek styling. In fact, some people started bidding on the same Ford Mustang within the dealerships, instantly making it one of the most popular in the world.

When Ford launched the vehicle, it initially only forecasted 100,000 units. However, on the first day, dealerships took orders for over 22,000 of them. Once it was introduced, the success became official when it was featured on racetracks as pace cars in America. During the first 12 months of the vehicle being on the market, it sold 417,000 units. Within two years, Ford had sold its one-millionth Mustang.

It even made an appearance on the silver screen, In 1964, in the movie Goldfinger, a Bond film showed off the Mustang Convertible, which was the new sporty car of the era. One of the beautiful assassins drove it everyone in the world wanted one.

Why does Ford Mustang history matter so much? Well, when the pony car was initially unveiled, there was a hugely positive reaction. There was no doubt it had to be a success. Everyone instantly knew that this was a special car because it broke all of the rules at the time.


The Mustang GT Comes in with the 1965 GT350

After the first Mustang was a huge success, Lee Lacocca asked Shelby to make a race car, leading to even more excitement within the Ford Mustang history.

The first Shelby-made Mustang appeared in 1965 with a big block engine. This mass-produced vehicle was ready for the racetrack and even approved for class B Production racing by the Sports Car Club of America. Ken Miles originally drove it to victory, and the GT350 dominated the scene for three years after.

This ford had a K-code engine with 306 horsepower. Since it was lightweight, the car was incredibly fast at accelerating. This model only came with Guardsman Blue and Wimbledon White rocker stripes, though you could opt-out from them. Many people did, too, because local law enforcement targeted such Ford vehicles.

In a sense, Shelby Mustangs were an important and pivotal part of the Mustang's story, and most people talk about them interchangeably.

1967 GT500 Debuts

Carroll Shelby dubbed the GT500 as the first car he was truly proud of, and the 1967 Ford Mustang GT had a Cobra Le Mans engine. This grown-up version of a sports car offered smoother touring. About 2,000 of these Ford vehicles were produced, so they are one of the most legendary and valuable Mustangs on the market today. With that, the GT500 was featured in a popular movie in 1974 and 2000, so it raised its appeal more.

The Boss Hits the Road

Shelby wasn't the only person injecting more performance into the lineup. Larry Shinoda and Hunkie Knudsen left GM in 1968 and went to Ford to create two of the most popular Mustangs in the line - the Boss 429 and Boss 302.

These are truly a pivotal part of the Ford Mustang history because Shinoda was a hot-rodding fiend and car designer. He wanted to ensure that the Boss version appealed to a younger crowd who craved fast cars. Ultimately, he was completely successful.

These are some of the rarest vehicles on the road, making them insanely popular and hard to come by.

V8 Power Comes Back

With the second generation of the Ford Mustang came the Mustang II. All in all, it was a hard period for many enthusiasts of the brand. Because of rising fuel prices and the oil crises, fuel economy was the most important thing. Ultimately, Lacocca claimed that the Mustang II generation was where everyone lost their way.

Fortunately, the V8 returned quickly and became a top-performance option from Ford. In 1975, the V8 returned with the 302 CID V8 engine. It had only 130 horsepower and featured an automatic transmission. There was also a Stallion version created by Ford to be the economy option.

The Cobra II package then joined the Mustang lineup in 1976, and it featured racing stripes and a non-functional hood scoop with front/rear spoilers. You could get racing stripes with the Cobra II: a white vehicle with blue stripes, a blue vehicle with white stripes, or a black vehicle with gold stripes.

The 20th Anniversary

Within Ford Mustang history, the Mustang turned 20 years old in 1984. This was a special time, so it warranted a signature and commemorative vehicle. Therefore, a special Mustang GT (V8) was created with an Oxford white body and a Canyon Red interior.

The Public Only Wants the Mustang!

When the Mustang's legacy appeared to be in jeopardy, the public stepped in with a loud outcry. Though it continued to burn brightly until the mid-1980s, the production development team from Ford was focused on alternatives to the popular body style.

By 1987, it was time for the Ford Mustang to evolve with the market. Therefore, the designers took the Fox body and gave it a facelift to include an aerodynamic design and a V8, 5.0L engine with 225 horsepower.

Some people thought that this new Mustang might cause the entire brand to die. Sluggish sales made it impossible to believe that anything else could happen. The front-wheel-drive phenomenon seemed more modern and part of the future. Therefore, Ford signed with another brand to build different vehicles to use the front-wheel-drive platforms for a newer Mustang.

When the news came out that this all-American Mustang looked like a Japanese car and was built by a Japanese carmaker, the legion of fans was crushed. When the story hit newsstands in 1987, the conglomerate of vehicles was already being shunned by dealerships and fans everywhere.

The public screamed for it to be removed from the lineup, and Ford listened. It changed the front-wheel-drive version to the Ford Probe, so the iconic vision of the Mustang lived on into the third generation.

With it came the rear-wheel-drive that everyone loved, and it still had the rear-quarter windows that made the vehicle iconic in the first place.

Racier options for the Mustang

The low-volume Cobra R was produced in 1993 and originally developed to be a race car. It was so popular that it sold out before production.

Within the Ford Mustang history, you may have seen racy options. The early 1990s was huge for performance enthusiasts, and the company chose to build a Mustang with even more of it using Ford Motorsports parts. Based on the lessons from the previous program, the goal here was to attract more enthusiasts to the brand.

Each person in the company was part of the confederation, with Engineering, Marketing, and Product Planning members available. They all worked together and talked about the activities they wanted to do for the SVT Cobra (Special Vehicle Team).

Many of the projects that the team focused on, including the Cobra, weren't approved by the upper management. Ultimately, the developers found the money somewhere and believed that if it was good for the company, it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission. They never had to do that, though, because the cars was a success.

A Major Makeover with the Fourth Generation

The fourth-generation Mustang started with a new design in 1994, and it was immediately popular. This model was the beginning of that generation. After 15 years of using the Fox platform, enthusiasts craved a new feel and look. Ford was anxious to provide them with what they needed. In a sense, it was a do-or-die situation for the Ford Mustang. Most of the people at the plant thought there couldn't be enough money to continue with the brand and believed that it should be killed. However, this was the carmaker's chance to prove everyone wrong, and they did it with flying colours.

Salute to the Mustang on Its 35th Anniversary

Remember earlier when Ford celebrated the 20th birthday of the Mustang? Well, within Ford Mustang history, there was another huge celebration in 1999 in North Carolina, USA, at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Everyone saluted the 35th anniversary of this icon vehicle. Ultimately, the Mustang Club in America (with over 70,000 members) hosted the show over the weekend. During that time, Ford Motor Co. unveiled its special edition with a prototype version of the 2000 Cobra R.

Cobra R

Right from the gate, the Cobra R was the most powerful factory Mustang off the lot, which was noticed immediately when the version was debuted. It boasted a powerful DOHC V8, 5.4L engine with 385 horsepower. Ultimately, the R had to be stripped of stock features that could add extra weight and weren't necessary for track use.

Therefore, it had no air conditioning or radio, though this Ford Mustang did include power steering. This version was only available in red with a dark charcoal interior, and only 300 units were ever made. It's truly a rare find. Even if you can't get it at your local dealership, there are plenty of other Mustangs available!

The SVT team had tons of issues for the rest of this generation. Still, they finished the year with the Terminator Cobra, which was also highly popular at the time.

Fifth Generation with the 2005 Mustang

Continuing on with the Ford Mustang history, you have the fifth-generation Mustang, which was introduced at the North American International Auto Show in 2004. The 2005 had styling that nodded to the fastback model shown in the 1960s and was considered a retro-futuristic version by Ford's senior vice president at the time.

When Ford introduced the fifth-generation Mustang, it was dubbed the S197 generation. It appealed to those who grew up with the first generation Mustang models and the younger ones who enjoyed the retro appearance with all of the newer safety features, such as airbags.

This time, though, the Mustang was being manufactured in the Flat Rock assembly plant.

The Snake Returns (2007 GT500)

Ultimately, Ford chose to use the Cobra name in the 70s without discussing it with Carroll Shelby. He was so upset, he severed ties with the carmaker and ended the line of his mustangs that had injected performance into the brand from the beginning. However, in 2007, he accepted Ford's apologies and returned to work on the Ford Mustang.

There had been no Shelby Mustang since that first year, but they finally returned. The 2007 GT500 used the S197 platform and had a 500-horsepower supercharged engine (5.4L, V8.) It was introduced back in 2005, and it had a six-speed manual transmission from Tremec, 18-inch wheels, a body kit, and suspension tuning. With that, the owner could opt for the Le Mans striping, but many people didn't do so because of the police-target issue.

Coyote Engine Reigns with the 2011

Ford debuted a V8 engine that was all its own, called Coyote, which was designed to compete with other brands at the time.

The Coyote engine is a big part of the Ford Mustang history because it was built and designed to be a performance engine that could produce 412 horsepower in the Mustang GT of 2011. Along with the powerful and new Coyote engine, the 2011 replaced the standard engine with a 3.7L aluminium-block V6. It weighed less than the others. Plus, the new engine featured dual exhaust and better KPG performances.

Ultimately, the engine design allowed enthusiasts to get great performance without hurting their fuel economy. With that, it was the start of something beautiful.

Then, in 2013, the Mustang continued building on its excellence by offering a new exterior design, better driving tools, and updated technology. In a sense, it takes the greatness of the V6 and 5.0L engine and pushes the refinement to the next level.

Beginning of the Sixth Generation

Almost every single inch of the 2015 Ford Mustang was completely new. In a sense, it looked European and sleeker than other options. This was fitting since it was only to be sold overseas in Australia, Japan, and Europe. However, it still gave that Mustang appearance, which was inspired by the last 50 years of styling. For the sixth-generation Mustang, Ford brought back its fastback styling from the 1960s and 1970s for this new Mustang.

However, the EcoBoost engine was not Mustang-like. It had a four-cylinder, turbocharged engine with other performance packages available. Therefore, it was competitive with bigger engines. Ultimately, Ford expanded on new ideas to help fuel the economy and keep performance to benefit everyone.

Included in that premium package were dual-zone climate control, aluminium foot pedals, an aluminium dash panel accent, illuminated door-sill plates, unique door trims, ambient lighting, and heated/cooled leather seats.

People raved about the independent rear suspension, and the nine-speaker system worked well too. In fact, you could control it with your voice, steering wheel buttons, or the 8-inch touchscreen.

The Voodoo Engine Makes It Pop (2016)

Within the Ford Mustang history, the Voodoo engine came to play. The new 2016 GT350 had a 5.2L flat-plane V8 engine with 429 lb-ft of torque and 526 horsepower. In addition to that, Ford released the GT350R to include the same engine. However, it didn't have a backup camera, rear seats, carpet, trunk floorboard, stereo, or air conditioning.

Ultimately, this vehicle got rid of the rear seat to make it more lightweight and suitable for drag racing, which the brand did not condone. Still, the goal was to stick with the original GT350/GT350R, both of which were considered racing or track cars.

The Revamp of 2018

Throughout the Ford Mustang history, you learned that it kept much of the same styling throughout its many decades. However, the 2018 version received a huge makeover and many exciting changes, including a revised rear bumper complete with quad-exhaust tips, an aggressive front end, more interior space, a 10-speed transmission, and many others.


What's Next?

Understand the Ford Mustang history is a good thing. From there, you can get a better idea of what might happen next with the Mustang name. The history of the Ford model tells you everything you need to know!

These pony cars, as they were called, were highly popular throughout the ages and continue to be today. If you're not a fan of the earlier Mustangs because of the safety concerns, don't fear. Ford Mustangs are more evolved and can be found at your local dealership right now. Consider getting a Mustang Mach-1 model, which has been revamped for 2021.

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