You are here

A brief history of the Ford Mustang

  1. The all-new, tenth-generation Ford Mustang is here, and it’s finally coming to the UK in right-hand drive flavour. It’s been a long wait: very nearly 50 years, in fact.

    When the reasonably priced , four-seat ‘pony car’ debuted in New York in 1964, it instantly, dramatically shifted the American car market about its axis. The ‘Stang racked up a ridiculous 22,000 sales on its first day, effectively birthing the muscle car genre and kicking off a generation of tyre-smoking street wars.

    Since then, we’ve seen a further nine generations of Mustang: some good, some great, some bloody awful. Here’s your bluffers guide to the lot:

  2. First Generation (1964-1966)

    The one that started it all. Launched April 17, 1964 in New York, it sold over a million units in its first 18 months, securing the Mustang’s place in history was assured. Carroll Shelby raced the ‘65 model as the GT350.

  3. Second Generation (1967-1968)

    Wider, longer and with bigger engines, this is the Bullitt era Mustang that cemented the Mustang as the bad boy car of the Sixties. But it faced competition: the Camaro had just appeared, along with the Barracuda and Firebird.

  4. Third Generation (1969-1970)

    In true US fashion, the third gen car grew in size and weight even more, even though it was still on basically the same Falcon-based chassis as the gen 1. For the first time, you could have a ‘Mach 1’ edition of the pony car.

  5. Fourth Generation (1971-1973)

    Even more lard was added for this revision which, combined with the ‘73 Oil Crisis strangling of the engine - the six cylinder car made just 88bhp - wasn’t the Mustang’s finest hour. But there was worse to come.

  6. Fifth Generation (1974-1978)

    Switching to the smaller Pinto chassis, this was known as the Mustang II. Ugly, badly built, shabby handling were all leveled at the II, but it outsold the gen 4 car. Everything that was bad about the Seventies in one car.

  7. Sixth Generation (1979-1993)

    The ugly Fox-bodied cars. Just how the model survived through this 14-year assault shows what an icon the Mustang name had become. A 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine was offered in 1979. Here’s hoping the new 2.3 is rather better.

  8. Seventh Generation (1994-1998)

    Still based on the Fox platform, but starting to get better visually and performance wise. With a beefed up chassis and Ford’s SVT tuning division getting heavily involved, the Cobra became the ‘Stang to have.

  9. Eighth Generation (1999-2004)

    Even though its shape, chassis and interior remained the same, the exterior was made over in Ford’s ‘New Edge styling language’. A Bullitt version was added to the range in 2001 and the 2003 Cobra got a 390bhp supercharged 4.6-litre V8 engine, making the fastest ‘Stang ever.

  10. Ninth Generation (2005-Present)

    A return to the original proportions and design of the ‘67-‘69 Mustangs, the retro-futuristic ninth gen cars switched a much more modern platform, shared with the Thunderbird and Lincoln LS. Handling and performance were transformed. The loony tunes 202mph, 662bhp Shelby GT500 is a suitably smoky sign-off.

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear’s code of conduct (link below) before posting.

Promoted content