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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.

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