The classic American sports car was designed to combine power with elegance and style. A sleek design coupled with high performance under the hood epitomizes the underlying values that this country was founded on.
It’s long been debated which company created the initial sports car, The New York Times says. Some say Chevrolet’s Corvette of 1953 sparked a revolution, while others argue its was Ford’s 1955 Thunderbird. Whatever the case may be, domestic automotive manufacturers have significantly influenced the car industry for many decades.
Widely-known as the institution that pioneered the first automobile, the Ford Motor Company – which Forbes recently called the most prominent industrial corporation in the history of the United States – designed the first Mustang in 1964 in an effort to push the envelope of a burgeoning class of muscle cars in the the ’60s. These models helped define a new breed of American muscle and were soon dubbed “pony cars” due to their sleek, performance-oriented design.
The Mustang varied from its American-made counterparts, though. Other companies focused on delivering these qualities at a higher price point while Ford delivered a comparable product at an affordable cost. No longer were muscle cars a luxury reserved for the rich; the two-door, high-performance machines were made available to the general public, thus shifting the paradigm in domestic sport vehicles.
Having done well in its first year on the market, the first Ford Mustang saw even greater success in 1965 when the Shelby GT350 was introduced to showroom floors. Only 562 were built that year, MSN says. Its V8 engine, four-speed manual transmission and 306 horsepower were improvements from its predecessor, while larger brakes and quicker steering gave it a performance upgrade unlike any other on the market at the time.
From there Ford continued to make improvements every so often to keep the Mustang near or on top of the sports car market. Similar to its popularity, the Mustang’s performance features kept increasing as years passed, and by 1970, Ford had created a cult classic that consumers have grown to both know and love over the years.
Listed below is our top pick and three runners-up:
After a 30 year hiatus, the Shelby GT Mustangs made a triumphant return to Ford’s sports car lineup. The 2011 version of the GT350 pays homage to its original predecessor of 1965 – which was a beauty in its own right. Unlike its older counterpart, the new-age model was the fastest Shelby ever made, according to Complex Magazine. At 624 horses, this Mustang truly embraced its name in terms of power and grace.
Also, the 1970 Boss 429 Mustang was a slight upgrade from its older counterpart – the 1969 Boss 302 – and included a 360 horsepower, V8 engine with semi-hemispherical heads – an exotic touch for an engine of that time, MSN says. This car was designed as a drag race conqueror, and it had the power to do just that: The 429 could cover a quarter mile in just over 14 seconds.
1967 was a good year for the Mustang: Ford made one of the most iconic models in its history, the Shelby GT500 Super Snake. There’s only one that exists, according to Complex Magazine, and it reached 520 horsepower – an impressive feat for a car made nearly 50 years ago. Moreover, the regular GT500 model will forever be remembered for its pivotal role in “Gone in Sixty Seconds.”
Similar to its older model, the 2012 Boss 302 Ford Mustang was a new breed of car in many ways. The new age Boss focused heavily on performance, but its refined and modern look gives it an element of style that not many sports cars today possess. Its 444 horsepower made it one of the more powerful V8s on the market during its time, and a refined look that combined contemporary features with classic design elements make it easy on the eyes.
There have been stunning, elegant and powerful machines created by Ford over the years. Each Mustang has its own set of characteristics that make it unique, but when people compare each model, there’s always a benchmark that each one must live up to: the original Mustang.
The 1964.5 Mustang as its more commonly known is the gold standard of all Ford sports cars simply because its the point of reference that we all use to gauge the legitimacy of each year’s model. When it was released in 1964 at the New York World’s Fair, it immediately captured the public’s attention. Priced at $2,400, the first model Mustang combined a then new-age look with power and performance. The initial model will always be a gold standard of comparison because it set the bar high and gave all other models something to aspire to.
Let us know what you think of our list! Which year do you think produced the best Ford Mustang?