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The car that started the pony car craze.


Ford’s Mustang resulted from a 1960 decision to develop a fun-to-drive personal car aimed at the baby boom generation.

It would be based on the Falcon sedan, and the winner of an in-house competition among Ford’s designers established what would become the classic pony car proportions: a long, sweeping bonnet, short boot and sharply sculpted flanks.
The Mustang debuted at the World’s Fair in New York, on April 17, 1964.

It had a 170 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine, three-speed floor-shift gearbox, full wheel covers, padded dash, bucket seats, carpeting, and a $US2368 price.

Ford had anticipated annual sales of about 100,000, but 22,000 Mustang orders were taken on the fair’s first day, and sales reached 417,000 in the car’s first 12 months.
The Mustang’s second year, 1965, saw the birth of the high-performance Shelby GT350, with its 306bhp, 289 V8.

Mustang sales passed one million in March,1966, and in 1967, the 2+2 model went from a semi-notchback to a sweeping full fastback roofline. Separate triple taillights, a longer nose and a bigger grille added to a more aggressive stance.

That year, the Shelby GT500 debuted. It ran a 428-cid V8 developing 355bhp.

In 1968, the 302 V8 replaced the 289 mid-year, and a medium-riser version of Ford’s most potent race engine, the 390bhp 427-cid V8 was offered as a $US622 option. On April 1, the 428 Cobra Jet engine was introduced as part of an option package aimed at enthusiasts.

In 1969, new models included the 290bhp Boss 302, the 375bhp Boss 429, the Mach 1 and the Grande luxury model. Also offered for the first time was the 351-cid Windsor V8 engine, producing 250bhp with a two-barrel carburettor, or 290 with a four-barrel.
In 1970, a ram air Shaker bonnet scoop could be ordered on any Mustang equipped with a 351-cid or larger V8.

The 1971 cars were the biggest Mustangs ever — nearly 300mm longer and 272kg heavier than the originals. Gone were the Boss 302, Boss 429, Shelby GT350 and GT500.

The Mach 1 was available with several powertrains, topped by the 370bhp 429
Super Cobra Jet.

In 1973 came fuel shortages in the wake of the Egyptian/Israeli war. Combined with rising insurance premiums and emission controls, the fuel crisis rang the death bell on the muscle car era.

The 1973 was the last Mustang on the original Falcon platform, and the convertible was discontinued.

To meet the demands for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, Ford introduced the completely redesigned Mustang II in 1974. It was 475mm shorter and 223kg lighter than the 1973 car, and was sold in notchback and 2+2 fastback variants.
There were only two engines – a 90bhp, 2.3-litre inline four-cylinder or a 100bhp, 2.8-litre V6. For the first time, there was no V8.

The V8 returned in 1975 as the oil shock abated, but it was an emasculated 302, developing only 130bhp and available only with an automatic transmission.

Ford gave the Mustang cosmetic performance appeal with the 1976 Cobra II. It had a non-functional bonnet scoop, along with racing stripes and front and rear spoilers. It was intended to recall the Shelby Mustangs.

In an attempt to appeal to convertible fans, 1977 fastbacks had T-Top removable glass roof panels. A new Sports Performance Package finally added a four-speed manual transmission to the 302 V8.

The Generation III Mustang, based on the new Fox platform, debuted in 1979. It was longer and taller than the Mustang II but 90kg lighter.

Engine choices were a 2.3-litre four (including a 140bhp turbocharged version), a 2.8-litre V6, a 3.3-litre inline six, and a 140bhp 5.0-litre V8. An economy-minded 119bhp, 255 V8 replaced the 302 in 1980, and in 1981, performance was dealt another blow.

The turbo four-cylinder was dropped, and new emission controls cut the 255 V8’s power to 115bhp.

A year later the Mustang GT returned after 12 years. Also back was the 5.0-litre V8, rated at 157bhp. After 10 years, a convertible rejoined the range in 1983, complete with power top and a tempered glass back window. The GT’s V8 now developed a much more respectable 175bhp.

In 1984, Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations created the Mustang SVO. Its turbocharged and intercooled 2.3-litre four developed 175bhp.

The 1985 model’s 5.0-litre HO (high output) V8 developed 210bhp when mated to a manual transmission. A new Quadra-Shock rear suspension boosted acceleration by reducing wheel-hop on hard takeoffs.

In 1986, the V8’s carburettor was replaced by sequential multi-port fuel injection.
Ford retsyled the 1987 Mustang with new aero-look body. The 5.0-litre V8 now produced 225bhp.

Ford’s new Special Vehicle Team (SVT) introduced the limited-production SVT Mustang Cobra in 1993. Developed to be used as a race car, it sold out before Ford had built any.

For the Mustang’s 30th anniversary in 1994, Ford dramatically restyled the car, changing 1330 of its 1850 parts. The Generation IV FOX-4 platform was thoroughly re-engineered and structurally stiffer. The hatchback bodystyle was dropped, leaving the two-door coupe and convertible.

The GT’s 5.0-litre V8 developed 215bhp, SVT Cobra’s 240bhp.

The 5.0-litre V8, which began life as the 260 and later 289 small-block engines, bowed out after the 1995 model. The second SVT Mustang Cobra R was introduced – 250 units, street legal but meant for racing – with a 300bhp, 5.8-litre V8 and five-speed manual transmission.

In 1996, Mustang GTs and SVT Mustang Cobras were equipped for the first time with Ford’s 4.6-litre modular V8 engine, which had overhead cams instead of pushrods to operate the valves. The Cobra’s aluminium V8 developed 305bhp.

The Mustang GT’s 4.6 V8 was uprated to 225bhp for 1998.

A year later, the 320bhp SVT Cobra became the first Mustang with a fully independent
rear suspension.

The third SVT Mustang Cobra R of 2000 ran a 385bhp, 5.4-litre DOHC V8 and the first six-speed manual transmission ever in a Mustang.

The Mustang Bullitt GT, inspired by the 1968 Mustang GT390 driven by Steve McQueen in the classic movie car chase in “Bullitt,” debuted in 2002, with unique side scoops, 17-inch Bullitt-style aluminium wheels and a lowered, specially-tuned suspension.

The Mach 1 returned in 2003 with a 305bhp V8 engine and the signature ram-air Shaker bonnet scoop. It included 17-inch, five-spoke Heritage wheels inspired by the 1969-1973 Mach 1’s.

The 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra got an Eaton supercharger, raising power the
V8’s 390bhp and making it the fastest, best-performing production Mustang to
that time.

The current Mustang, the Generation V, was introduced in 2005. 

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