As household a name as Folgers, Marlboro or Kraft Mac 'n Cheese, the Ford Mustang is the longest surviving of the affordable breed of classic American muscle cars. Sold always in coupe and most times in convertible and 2+2 fastback forms as well since its 1964 introduction, the Ford Mustang is the only one of the original pony cars to enjoy an uninterrupted production run. It hasn't been easy either, as oil crises,
tightening emissions standards and corporate budget cuts have put the Ford Mustang's future in doubt on more than one occasion. Ultimately, though, its iconic status within the Ford lineup and popularity with consumers has seen it through.
There have been many great Ford Mustangs over the decades: Most revered as collector cars are the 1965-'70 Shelby Mustangs, the '69 and '70 Boss 302 and 429 and the '69 and '70 Mach 1. Even newer versions are revered, such as the 1984-'86 turbocharged SVOs, 2000 Cobra R and 2003 and '04 supercharged SVT Cobra. Most Ford Mustangs have had far more pedestrian credentials, of course, but the Ford Mustang has long been the choice of consumers seeking power and style in a rear-wheel-drive coupe, fastback or convertible. The current-generation Ford Mustang is easily the best ever from the standpoints of performance, refinement and day-to-day livability.
The Ford Mustang is offered in coupe and convertible body styles. The Ford Mustang V6 model comes standard with a new 3.7-liter V6 that produces 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. The Ford Mustang GT trim level comes with a new 5.0-liter V8 that makes a substantial 412 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. Both are coupled to a standard six-speed manual or an optional six-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment on all models includes a CD player with an auxiliary audio jack, full power accessories, antilock brakes and stability control. The Ford Mustang V6 and GT Premium trim levels can be fitted with high-tech and performance upgrades.
The Ford Mustang continues to be one of the best bang-for-your-buck performance buys. This year's new V6 has brought renewed vigor to the entry-level Ford Mustang while the 5.0-liter V8 GT has more power than even the old SVT Cobra model of a few years ago. The current car's interior is fairly refined, with a soft-touch dash, attractive metallic trim and optional features like the glass roof and Sync system. It is true that muscle car competitors from Chevy and Dodge mean that the Ford Mustang isn't the only pony in town. If history proves anything, though, no competition will be able to defeat the original muscle car in the hearts and minds of the American car buyer.
Completely redesigned for 2005, the Ford Mustang moved to an all-new chassis after a 25-year run on the late-'70s-era Fox-body platform. Ford's pony car still used rear-wheel drive and a fairly basic solid-axle rear suspension, but ride quality and handling were more precisely controlled than on any previous Ford Mustang. The car's styling paid homage to the famed Mustangs of the 1960s. Many materials were low in quality, however, as Ford sought to keep the price tag low as well.
The current-generation Ford Mustang debuted with either a 4.0-liter V6 or a 4.6-liter V8. The underwhelming V6 produced 210 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. It was coupled to a standard five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission. The V8 produced 300 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque.
Key updates included the availability of an auxiliary audio jack, satellite radio and a navigation system for 2007. The following year marked the introduction of the Ford Mustang Bullitt, which added firmer suspension calibrations, high-performance brake pads, 18-inch wheels, mild styling tweaks and Highland Green or black paint. Its V8 produced 315 hp. Other changes for '08 included standard side airbags, while in 2009 the Mustang gained a glass roof option and standard satellite radio, among other items.
Major changes were made for the 2010 Ford Mustang. Along with freshened exterior styling and improved interior materials quality, the Ford Mustang gained larger wheels and standard stability control. Handling was improved across the board, and the GT benefited from the suspension tuning and extra power (315 hp) of the now-discontinued Bullitt edition. Additionally, Ford's voice-activated Sync multimedia integration system became available.
Previously, there were eight previous generations of the Ford Mustang ,and given the car's sustained popularity over the years, older models are relatively easy to find on the used market. The eighth generation was sold from 1999-2004. This is the best of the Fox-body-based Mustangs, and like the current car, it offers a good blend of performance, fun and affordability. Downsides include rather crude handling characteristics (a consequence of the aged platform) and a cheap interior with an awkward driving position.
If you're shopping for an eighth-gen Ford Mustang, our pick would be a GT from any year, as it offered a healthy 260-hp V8. If you're seeking something faster and rarer, consider the limited-edition Mach 1 (305-hp V8) or supercharged SVT Cobra (390-hp V8), which were sold in 2003 and 2004. The Cobra is the only Ford Mustang ever fitted with an independent rear suspension; it was also sold in '99 and 2000 but wasn't supercharged. Even rarer is the 2000 Cobra R, a race-ready, 385-hp Ford Mustang coupe stripped of its rear seats and air-conditioning.
You'll also encounter plenty of seventh-generation Ford Mustang coupes and convertibles, sold from 1994-'98. This car is very similar mechanically to the eighth-gen Mustang; the main difference is exterior styling. If you're thinking of buying one, 1996-'98 GT and SVT Cobra models might be preferable, as the '96 model year brought a new 4.6-liter, SOHC V8 that was much smoother than the outgoing 5.0-liter V8. Although horsepower held steady in the Ford Mustang GT, the Cobra jumped from 240 to 305. The most collectible Ford Mustang of this period is the '95 Cobra R, a 300-hp coupe without a backseat.
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