The Evolution of the Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang celebrated its 55th birthday earlier this year, having been introduced in April 1964 at the New York World’s Fair. It launched an entire genre of American sporty coupes, commonly called pony cars. Such cars include the Chevy Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, a revamped Plymouth Barracuda, second generation Dodge Challenger, Olds 442 and many others inspired by the first Mustangs. More than 10 million Mustangs have been produced to date. Lets take a look at the evolution of this American icon.

1st Generation

Those first Mustangs are often referred to as 1964 ½ models by Mustang fans, though they were all VIN coded and titled as 1965. Later that year a couple minor updates tend to distinguish those cars produced earlier in the year as ‘64 ½ compared to true ’65 Mustangs. Its popularity immediately soared, selling more than three times as many cars as Ford had projected in the first year.

Traditionally the first generation of Mustangs were vehicles produced from 1964 to 1973, also known as the “Falcon” Mustangs, designed from the Ford Falcon platform. During this period they got longer, heavier and included more engine options as the years went on. Due to these changes some people think of the 1971 model as being the start of the second generation but they were still built on the Falcon platform through 1973.


2nd Generation

The 1974 model was the first based on the smaller Pinto platform, reflecting the times and consumer desire for more fuel efficiency. This kicked off the second generation, often called the Mustang II which from a marketing standpoint worked well. In hindsight these are some of the least popular Mustangs, but at the time they sold much better than the early 70’s versions, despite lacking many real performance options under the hood. Buyers looking for more power and speed during this time drifted towards the Chevy Camaro, Pontiac Firebird and others.


3rd Generation

In 1979 Ford was ready for another redesign, launching the “Fox” body Mustangs, which lasted through the 1993 model year. The Fox Mustangs were an improvement over the Mustang II in both handling and style and by the 1982 model year, a performance-based engine returned with the GT 5.0L V8. It was lighter and more powerful than Camaros and Firebirds, bringing those consumers looking for speed back to the Mustang. With a 2.3L 4-cylinder base and the 5.0L V8 upgrade (both available as convertibles) the Fox Mustang continued to be very popular right into the 1990s.


4th Generation

Another complete redesign came in 1994, based on an entirely new platform called SN-95. This introduced a new look that some saw as a throwback to the original design. By 1996 the engine options were either a 4.6L V8 or a 3.6L V6 which provided more pep than the 2.3L 4-cylinders of the Fox generation. Ford also introduced a number of special editions during this time, including a Mach 1 throwback in 2003 and the 2001 Bullitt, based on the 1968 Bullitt from the Steve McQueen movie.


5th Generation

By 2005 Ford was ready for another redesign, introducing another new platform called S-197. With this platform Ford offered a sporty new 4.0L V6 engine with 210hp. Performance became a regular theme with the 5th Generation. Though still based on the S-197 platform and therefore still the same generation, 2010 brought a new design with 3.7L V6 engine capable of 300hp. And the 5.0L V8? That became a 412hp monster – one of the most powerful stock Mustangs built to date.


6th Generation

The most recent generation of this iconic pony car debuted in 2015, including a new 4-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine. In 2018 that 4-cylinder engine became the base, along with a 5.0L V8 that was boosted to 460hp. This current generation is said to continue until 2020, at which time Ford is expected to once again bring a new platform to market.

Each generation had its pros and cons, and even the least popular models have their own set of diehard fans. With no signs of retirement, the vehicle that launched the pony car craze is still going strong. What is your favorite year? We have sold a wide variety of Mustangs over the years, including many in stock right now

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