50 years of the Ford Mustang

50 years of the Ford Mustang image

Text: Martin Aguilar / Photos: Ford | posted April 15, 2014 18:05

The Mustang Legacy

The Ford Mustang is probably one of the most iconic cars in American automotive history.

With its classic long, sculpted hood and short rear deck, the Mustang has been able to define the standards of what a pony car should be. Even today, it has maintained its status as an iconic car and continues to adapt to the current tastes of the market.

As Ford celebrates the Mustang’s 50 years of heritage, let’s take a step back and look at how the iconic pony car has evolved since 1964.

The First Generation Mustang

The 1964 Ford Mustang

The 64-½ Mustang

Ford built the first-ever Mustang , a Wimbledon White convertible, on March 9, 1964. It debuted a month later on April 17, 1964 at the World’s Fair in New York and was received positively by the people. Here began the era of the Mustang, commonly referred to as the ‘64-½’ model.

It was powered by a 260-cubic-inch (4.3-liter) V8 engine, available with either a four-speed manual or a three-speed automatic transmission. It came either as a coupe or a convertible.  The 64-½ Mustang had full wheel covers, bucket seats, carpeting and a padded dash.

It sold up to 22,000 units during the first day it went on sale. It further made its presence felt by having 417,000 units sold in a year, reaching a million sales in a span of two years.

The 1965 Ford Mustang

The late-1965 Mustang

Lee Iacocca, Ford Motor Company engineer and known as the “Father of Mustangs,” was presented an idea of making the Mustang a perfomer in roads as well as in racetracks. This idea came from Carroll Shelby, who produced the Shelby GT350. This model was a fastback Mustang equipped with a modified, K-code, 289-cubic-inch (4.7-liter) V8 engine capable of 310 PS.

The GT350 featured side exhaust pipes with 2-inch Glasspak mufflers, a hood-mounted air scoop, GT350 rocker-panel stripes, 15-inch wheels and optional Guardsman Blue Le Mans stripes. It also had no rear seat and was only available in Wimbledon White. It was first revealed to the public on Jan. 27, 1965.

During this year, the Mustang made its debut in the ‘silver screen’ by starring in the James Bond film, Goldfinger. This was the first of many movies to showcase Ford’s sporty car.

The 1967 Ford Mustang

The 1967 Mustang

The 1967 Mustang was a new design, replacing the semi-notchback roofline with a full fastback. It also had a longer nose, tri-bar tail lights and a wider chassis. The grille was also changed, giving the Mustang a more powerful look.

In addition, the Shelby GT500 was released this year, equipped with a 428-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) V8 engine producing 360 PS.

The 1968 Ford Mustang

The 1968 Mustang

Following its movie debut in 1965, the Mustang once again invaded the silver screen by starring in Bullitt. A 1968 Mustang GT390 was driven by Steve McQueen – playing police detective Frank Bullitt – in the famous nine-minute, 42-second car chase throughout San Francisco.


1969 Ford Mustang

The 1969 Mustang

During this year, the body of the Mustang underwent another design change. The 1969 Mustang had a longer body and was named the “Sportsroof.” It was powered by a 302-cubic-inch (4.9-liter) V8 engine developing 223 PS. Ford also introduced the 351-cubic-inch (5.8-liter) ‘Windsor’ V8 engine with 253 PS.

It was also during this year that Ford offered special-edition Mustangs, namely the Boss 302 and 429, the Shelby GT350 and GT500, and the Mach 1.

The Second Generation Mustang

The 1974 Ford Mustang

The 1974 Mustang

For this year, Ford downsized the engine of the Mustang because of the nationwide fuel shortage that prompted consumers to look for fuel-efficient vehicles.

With this, Ford introduced the Mustang II, which was available with an 89 PS, 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine or a 106 PS, 2.8-liter V6 engine. The new engines were clearly not as powerful as the first-generation Mustang’s.

In line with the design overhaul, the V8 engine and the convertible top were no longer. Meanwhile, a Mustang was once again featured in a movie – Gone in 60 Seconds.  

The 1976 Ford Mustang

The 1976 Mustang

Ford introduced the Mustang Cobra II, which featured a non-functional hood scoop, front and rear spoilers, and white-and-blue or black-and-gold racing stripes. The design of the Mustang Cobra II is similar to the Shelby Mustang.

The difference, however, lies under the hood because the Mustang Cobra II couldn’t match the power of the Shelby Mustang.

The 1978 Ford Mustang

The 1978 Mustang

Ford introduced the special-edition ‘King Cobra’ Mustang this year. It featured an air dam and a cobra decal on the hood.

The Third Generation Mustang

The 1979 Ford Mustang

The 1979 Mustang

This year marks the third generation of the Mustang, with the introduction of a redesigned model.

Built on the Fox platform, the 1979 Mustang was longer and taller than the Mustang II. Due to the new platform, the third-generation model did not resemble the classic look of the iconic pony.

It also came with several engines, such as a 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine (with an optional turbocharger) or a 2.8-liter V6 engine. It was also available with a 3.3-liter straight-six or a 5.0-liter V8 engine.

The 1982 Ford Mustang

The 1982 Mustang

Ford announced the return of the Mustang GT, powered by a 5.0-liter V8 engine with 159 PS. It was also during this year that Ford once again released a Mustang with a targa-top (or T-top) option. Ford then brought back the Mustang convertible the following year.

The 1984 Mustang

During this year, Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) introduced the Mustang SVO, which was powered by a 2.3-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine producing 177 PS and 284 Newton-meters of torque.

Ford also released a special, ‘20th Anniversary’ edition Mustang GT, equipped with a V8 engine, an Oxford White exterior and a Canyon Red interior.

The Fourth Generation Mustang

The 1994 Ford Mustang

The 1994 Mustang

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Mustang. With this, the 1994 Mustang underwent another design overhaul by incorporating Ford’s new ‘SN-95’ or ‘Fox4’ platform concept.

This platform made the Mustang wider and stiffer, and almost all of its parts were changed.

It was powered by either a 3.8-liter V6 engine or a 5.0-liter V8 engine. It was also during this year that Ford released the new SVT Mustang Cobra, with a 243-PS, 5.0-liter V8 engine.

The 1999 Ford Mustang

The 1999 Mustang

The 1999 Mustang was once again redesigned, but the SN-95 platform concept was still used.

It had sharp lines and a powerful expression, with a new grille, hood and lights.

It was equipped with either a 3.8-liter V6 engine, capable of producing 193 PS, or a 4.6-liter DOHC V8 engine with 324 PS.

The 2001 Ford Mustang

The 2001 Mustang

Riding on the Mustang’s stardom on the silver screen, Ford introduced the Mustang Bullitt GT.

It was based on the Mustang that Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt. It had dark green paint, lowered suspension, a brushed-aluminum gas cap and a Bullitt badge on the rear.

It was received positively by Mustang enthusiasts and Bullitt fans, with many ordering the Bullitt GT ahead of its scheduled sale date.

The 2004 Ford Mustang

The 2004 Mustang

Ford released the 2004 Mustang GT ‘40th Anniversary’ edition package, which was available with V6 and GT models. It had a Crimson Red exterior with Arizona Beige Metallic stripes on the hood.

The Fifth Generation Mustang

The 2005 Ford Mustang

The 2005 Mustang

Ford introduced the new D2C Mustang platform that made another change in its design concept.

Ford said the new platform is designed to make the Mustang faster, safer, more agile and better looking than the previous models.

The 2005 Mustang had C-shaped side scoops, a 152-mm wider wheelbase and tri-bar tail lights.

It was powered by a 4.0-liter SOHC V6 engine capable of 213 PS.

The 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt

The 2008 Mustang

During this year, the Mustang was equipped with  High Intensity Discharge (HID) head lights. It also had 18-inch wheels. This year also marked the release of the Shelby GT and the Shelby GT500KR.

The Shelby GT was powered by a 4.6-liter V8 engine capable of producing 323 PS, while the Shelby GT500KR had a 5.4-liter V8 engine that produces 548 PS. Ford also resurrected the Shelby GT500, powered by a 5.4L V8 engine capable of 507 PS.

Also making its comeback was the Bullitt Mustang, with a limited number of units produced.

The 2010 Ford Mustang GT

The 2010 Mustang

The 2010 Mustang was also based on the D2C Mustang platform, though it had a new interior and exterior design.

It also included a voice-activated navigation system and 19-inch wheels.

It was equipped with a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produced 319 PS and 440 Newton-meters of torque.

The 2014 Ford Mustang

The 2014 Mustang

Ford recently revealed the sixth-generation Mustang at the 2014 North American International Auto Show. Inspired by the Mustang’s 50years of heritage, Ford said the new iconic model comes with sleek design, innovative technologies and world-class performance.

The new Ford Mustang fastback and convertible maintains the essential character of the model, retaining key elements like the long, sculpted hood and the short rear deck, while combining it with contemporary design.

The new Mustang has a lower and wider stance, with a reduction in roof height. The rear fenders and track are wider. The Mustang’s tail lights are three-dimensional, tri-bar taillamps with sequential turn signals.

It also comes with a push-button start, Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.  

The new Ford Mustang is now available with three engines – a 5.0-liter V8, a 3.7-liter V6 and an all-new, 2.3-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine.

Ford says the Mustang EcoBoost engine uses direct injection, variable cam timing and turbocharging to deliver plenty of usable performance. With the EcoBoost engine, Mustang has the power of 309 PS and 400 Newton-meters of torque.