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  Ford Mustang (1964-1999)





From Concept to Reality

1960–1963: Ford Motor Company decides to develop a fun-to-drive "personal car" that will appeal to the post-World War II "baby boom" generation. Ford's still-unnamed personal car is to be derived from the Ford Falcon. The winner of an in-house design competition establishes the classic "pony car" proportion: a long, sweeping hood, short rear deck and sharply sculpted flanks.

The first Mustang – the 1962 Mustang I concept – is a two-seat, mid-engine sports car named after the legendary P51 Mustang fighter plane from World War II. It made its debut in October at the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, New York where race driver Dan Gurney drove it around the circuit.


Generation I: 1964 ½ – 1973

1964: The world debut of Mustang occurred at the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York on April 17, 1964. Standard equipment includes a 170-cubic-inch (cid) six-cylinder engine, three-speed floor-shift transmission, full wheel covers, padded dash, bucket seats and carpeting. It weighed just 2,572 pounds. The price at launch: $2,368.

At the car's launch, the company expected annual sales of about 100,000 units. But 22,000 Mustang orders were taken on the first day, and sales reached an astounding 417,000 in car's first 12 months.

The first regular production Mustang was a Wimbledon White convertible with a 260-cid V-8 that rolled off the assembly line on March 9, 1964. While on a promotional tour of Canada, a Ford dealer in St. John's, Newfoundland "mistakenly" sold the car to Capt. Stanley Tucker, a pilot with Eastern Provincial Airlines. Ford reacquired the car from Capt. Tucker in 1966 in exchange for Mustang number 1,000,001, and the original car is now on display at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich.

1965: The Shelby GT350 is introduced, with its 306-horesepower (hp), 289-cid V-8.

1966: Mustang sales pass the one million mark in March. A 1966 Mustang is the first – and perhaps only car to park on the 86th floor observation deck of New York's Empire State Building. In October 1965, Ford engineers disassembled a 1966 Mustang convertible and took it up in four sections using the building's passenger elevators.

1967: The 1967 model is considered by many to be the high water mark for Mustang design in the 1960s. The 2+2 model goes from a semi-notchback to a sweeping full fastback roofline. Separate triple tail lamps, a longer nose and a bigger grille also are added for a more aggressive stance.

The Shelby GT500 goes on sale, powered by a massive 428-cid V-8 that produces 355 hp.

1968: The 302-cid V-8 replaces the "289" midyear, and a medium-riser version of Ford's premier race engine, the 427-cid V-8 (rated at 390 hp), is offered as a $622 option. On April 1st, the 428 Cobra Jet engine is introduced as part of an option package aimed at enthusiasts.

1969: A "steed for every need" philosophy yields 11 different powertrain combinations. New models added to the lineup include the 290-hp Boss 302, the 375-hp Boss 429, the Mach 1 and the Grande luxury model. Also offered for the first time is the 351-cid "Windsor" V-8 engine, producing 250 hp with a two-barrel carburetor, or 290 hp with a four-barrel.

1970: A ram air "Shaker" hood scoop can be ordered on any Mustang equipped with a 351-cid or larger V-8.

1971: The 1971 cars are the biggest Mustangs ever — nearly a foot longer and some 600 pounds heavier than the originals. Gone from the lineup are the Boss 302, Boss 429, Shelby GT350 and GT500. The Boss 351, with its 351 "Cleveland" V-8 and Cobra Jet heads, debuts. The Mach 1 is available with a variety of powertrains, topped by the 370-hp 429 SCJ (Super Cobra Jet).

1972: Styling is unchanged from 1971, and the only new model offering is the Sprint – a special red, white and blue exterior paint-and-tape package with coordinated interior.

1973: The impact of gasoline shortages, rising insurance premiums and emissions controls brings the muscle-car era to a close. The 1973 model year is the last for the original Falcon-platform Mustang. The convertible is discontinued.


Generation II: 1974 – 1978

1974: The completely redesigned Mustang II is introduced. Compared with the 1973 model, the Mustang II is 19 inches shorter and 490 pounds lighter. It is available as a notchback, including a luxury Ghia model, and a 2+2 fastback. There are only two engine choices – a 90-hp, 2.3-liter inline four cylinder or a 100-hp, 2.8-liter V-6. For the first time, there is no V-8 engine and no Mustang convertible. Read more on the 1974 Mustang II From Sketch to Production, also The Mustang Story, the Case study that looks at the development of the original 1965 Mustang and 1974 Mustang II

1975: V-8 power returns to Mustang. But the 302-cid V-8 engine produces only 130 hp and comes only with an automatic transmission.

1976: The Cobra II package joins the lineup, replete with non-functional hood scoop, racing stripes and front and rear spoilers. Available in white with blue stripes, blue with white stripes, and black with gold stripes, the Cobra II is intended to recall the looks of the famed Shelby Mustangs.

1977: In an attempt to appeal to convertible fans, fastback models are now available with T-Top removable glass roof panels. A new Sports Performance Package finally adds a four-speed manual transmission to the 302-cid V-8.

1978: The new King Cobra model is the first Mustang to wear a "5.0" badge – the metric equivalent of 302 cubic inches.


Generation III: 1979 -- 1994

1979: The new "Fox" platform Mustang makes its debut. The new model is longer and taller than Mustang II, yet is 200 pounds lighter. A sleek, "Euro" design replaces many traditional Mustang styling cues. Engine choices are a 2.3-liter four-cylinder (including a 140-hp turbo version), a 2.8-liter V-6, a 3.3-liter inline six-cylinder and a 140-hp 5.0-liter V-8.

1980: The 302-cid V-8 engine is dropped and is replaced by an economy-minded 119-hp, 255-cid V-8 derivative.

1981: Performance heads to the back burner, as the turbo four-cylinder is dropped from the Mustang engine lineup, and new emissions controls drop the 255-cid V-8's power to 115 hp.

1982: The Mustang GT returns after a 12-year absence. Also back is the 5.0-liter V-8, rated at 157 hp. Optional T-Tops return.

1983: After 10 years, Mustang again has a convertible model, complete with power top and a tempered glass back window. The Mustang GT's 5.0-liter V-8 is now rated at a healthy 175 hp.

1984: Ford's Special Vehicle Operations creates the Mustang SVO. It features a front fascia with integral fog lamps, an off-center functional scoop and a polycarbonate dual-wing rear spoiler. Power is from a turbocharged and air-to-air intercooled 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder producing 175 hp and 210 foot-pounds (lb.-ft.) of torque. Also available is the 20th Anniversary Edition Mustang, a special V-8 powered GT model painted in Oxford White with Canyon Red interior. It can be had in coupe or convertible form.

1985: Mustang gets a revised 5.0-liter HO (high output) V-8 that makes 210 hp when mated to a manual transmission. A new Quadra-Shock rear suspension helps provide better acceleration by reducing wheel-hop on hard takeoffs.

1986: Mustang's V-8 trades its carburetor for new sequential multi-port fuel injection.

1987: Mustang is heavily restyled, with a new "aero-look" body. The 5.0-liter V-8 now produces 225 hp.

1989: For Mustang's 25th anniversary, all cars produced between April 17, 1989, and April 17, 1990, sport the familiar running horse on the dashboard with "25 years" inscribed underneath.

1990: Mustang now sports a driver's-side airbag as standard equipment.

1991: Entry-level Mustangs receive an improved 105-hp, twin-plug 2.3-liter four-cylinder with distributorless ignition. All V-8 models now come with new, five-spoke 16x7-inch cast aluminum wheels.

1992: The stealthy Mustang LX 5.0 develops a cult following and outsells all other models combined. Wire-style wheel covers and whitewall tires disappear from the options list.

1993: Ford's new Special Vehicle Team (SVT) introduces the limited-production SVT Mustang Cobra with subtle but distinctive styling cues and performance upgrades. The low-volume 1993 Cobra R, developed to be used as a race car, sells out prior to production.


Generation IV: 1994 – 2004

1994: For its 30th anniversary, Mustang is dramatically restyled to evoke the car's heritage and performance tradition. Fully 1,330 of the vehicle's 1,850 parts are changed. The new FOX-4 platform is thoroughly re-engineered and structurally stiffer. The hatchback bodystyle is dropped, leaving the two-door coupe and convertible. The GT's 5.0-liter V-8 engine produces 215 hp. An SVT Mustang Cobra is launched mid-year, producing 240 hp from its upgraded 5.0-liter V-8.

1995: The final model year for the venerable 5.0-liter V-8, which began life as the 260- and later 289-cid small-block engines. The second SVT Mustang Cobra R is introduced – 250 units, street legal but meant for racing – with a 300-hp, 5.8-liter V-8 and five-speed manual transmission.

Mustang 1 Concept Unveiled In 1962

World's Fair - 1964

Mustang Photo Gallery (1964 to 1999)

Ford Mustang 1964 to 1999

  • Production:
    • 1964–present
    • unveiled at New York World's Fair on April 17, 1964
  • Mustang Generations:
    • (1964–1973) First generation
    • (1974–1978) Second generation
    • (1979–1993) Third generation
    • (1994–2004) Fourth generation
    • (2005–____) Fifth generation


Ever since the debut of the original Ford Mustang, there has been an ongoing debate about what to call the pony cars built between April and August of 1964. Are they "1964½" Mustangs or 1965 models?

Technically, all of the original Ford Mustangs are 1965 models because all carry a 1965 model year Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

But the majority of Mustang enthusiasts throughout the world are purists at heart, and they know very well that the vehicles produced from April to August of 1964 were different enough from those manufactured during the remainder of the model year to warrant giving them another name.

"An entire generation has grown up calling these vehicles '1964½.' It is part of the lexicon of Mustang history," said John Clor, author of The Mustang Dynasty. "Technically, all of the original Mustangs are 1965 models, but true enthusiasts know that production of the car ran for a year and a half and that the car changed after the first six months."

The biggest change was in the electrical system. The so-called 1964½ Mustangs used generators while those made during the standard 12-month 1965 model year used alternators. Also, the V-8 option was different. The 1964½ models used the 260-cubic inch V-8 engine, while the 1965 models employed a 289-cubic inch V-8 engine.

"People like to say there is no such thing as a 1964½ Mustang, and in theory they are correct," said Charles Turner, national head judge for the Mustang Club of America (MCA). "But there is a wide range of little differences between the cars built before and after August of 1964 that make them very unique. The MCA accepts the 1964½ as a model year because we view it as a different car."

Those lucky enough to own a Mustang built between April and August of 1964 view their pony cars as a totally different breed of the steed.

"We take exception to someone calling them 1965 Mustangs because the '64½ was a unique car when it was introduced, and it is a very special thing to own one," said Fred Glazier, who bought his Rangoon Red Mustang coupe in May of 1964. "When you tell someone you have a 1964½ Mustang, people who understand Mustangs know what you're talking about."

MUSTANG FACTS: 1964 – 1973

  • The original Ford Mustang debuted on April 17, 1964 at a price of $2,368 – a bargain even at that time.
  • Dealers were inundated with requests for the vehicle. In Garland, Texas, 15 customers bid on the same Mustang, and the winner insisted on sleeping in the car overnight to guarantee that it wouldn't get sold from under him before his check cleared the next day.
  • Ford expected annual sales of about 100,000 units, but 22,000 Mustang orders were taken on the first day, and sales reached an astounding 417,000 in the car's first 12 months on the market.
  • Not much more than a month after its introduction, Ford's new Mustang was on the racetrack as the pace car for the 1964 Indianapolis 500 race.
  • The early Mustangs have figured prominently in hundreds of notable films to date, beginning in 1964 with the James Bond movie Goldfinger, in which Bond's Aston Martin DB5 chased a white Mustang convertible.
  • Mustang-crazed parents bought 93,000 pedal-powered children's Mustangs during the 1964 Christmas season.
  • In 1965, the Shelby GT350 was introduced, with a 306 horsepower V-8 engine, giving the Mustang performance credibility.
  • Mustang sales passed the one million mark in March of 1966. The 1966 Mustang was the first – and perhaps the only – car to park on the 86th floor observation deck of New York's Empire State Building. Ford engineers disassembled a 1966 Mustang convertible and took it up in four sections using the building's passenger elevators.
  • Mustang-mania hit full force. The 289-cid V-8 "Hi-Po" engine became available. Carroll Shelby adapted the Shelby GT350 for Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) competition, and the GT350 went on to win three straight SCCA national championships.
  • The 1967 Mustang was considered by many to be the high water mark for Mustang design in the 1960s. The 2+2 model went from a semi-notchback to a sweeping full fastback roofline. Separate triple tail lamps, a longer nose and a bigger grille made for a more aggressive stance.
  • In 1968, the 428 Cobra Jet engine was introduced as part of an option package aimed at enthusiasts, and it helped make the Shelby GT500 become King of the Road – KR.
  • A "steed for every need" philosophy yielded 11 different powertrain combinations in 1969. New models added to the lineup included hot rods like the 290 horsepower Boss 302, the 375 horsepower Boss 429 and the Mach 1, giving the Mustang its muscle car heritage. The Grande luxury model also was introduced.
  • In 1970, a ram air "Shaker" hood scoop could be ordered on any Mustang equipped with a 351-cid or larger V-8.
  • The 1971 Mustangs were the biggest Mustangs ever – nearly a foot longer and some 600 pounds heavier than the originals. The Boss 351, with its 351 "Cleveland" V-8 and Cobra Jet heads, debuted. The Mach 1 was available with a variety of powertrains, topped by the 370 horsepower 429 Super Cobra Jet.
  • In 1973, the impact of gasoline shortages, rising insurance premiums and emissions controls brought the muscle car era to a close. The 1973 model was the last original Falcon-platform Mustang, and the convertible model was discontinued.


1996: Mustang GTs and SVT Mustang Cobras are for the first time equipped with Ford's 4.6-liter modular V-8 engine, which uses overhead cams to open the intake and exhaust valves. The Cobra's 4.6-liter dual-overhead cam (DOHC) aluminum V-8 produces 305 hp.

1997: Ford's Passive Anti-Theft System (PATS) becomes standard on all models.

1998: Output of the Mustang GT's 4.6-liter V-8 is increased to 225 hp.

1999: A redesign gives Mustang sharply creased lines and pronounced wheel arch flares, plus a new hood, grille, fascias and lamps. The base 3.8-liter V-6 gets a 27 percent increase in horsepower, to 190 hp, and comes with 35th Anniversary badging. The SVT Mustang Cobra becomes the first Mustang with a fully independent rear suspension. The car's 4.6-liter DOHC V-8 now produces 320 hp.

2000: The third SVT Mustang Cobra R is produced. This lightweight, street-legal racing model has a 385-hp, 5.4-liter DOHC V-8 and features the first six-speed manual transmission ever in a Mustang. Production is 300 units.

2001: Inspired by the 1968 Mustang GT390 driven by Steve McQueen in the movie classic "Bullitt," the Mustang Bullitt GT makes its debut. It has unique side scoops, 17-inch Bullitt-style aluminum wheels and a lowered, specially-tuned suspension.

2002: Mustang stands alone as its two closest competitors – the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird – end production.

2003: The Mustang Mach 1 returns with a 305-hp V-8 engine and the signature ram-air "Shaker" hood scoop. It includes 17-inch, five-spoke Heritage wheels inspired by the 1969-1973 Mustang's Mach 1 wheels and 1960s-style "comfort weave" seats trimmed in black leather.

The SVT Mustang Cobra gets an Eaton supercharger for its 4.6-liter V-8, which ups the power output to 390 hp and 390 lb.-ft. of torque. This made the 2003 Cobra the fastest, best-performing regular production Mustang to date.

2004: Ford Motor Company produces its 300 millionth car – a 2004 Mustang GT convertible 40th Anniversary edition. The Anniversary package, available on all V-6 and GT models, including convertibles, includes an exclusive Crimson Red exterior with Arizona Beige Metallic performance stripes on the hood, lower rocker panels and decklid.

The 2004 models will be the last cars built at Ford's fabled Dearborn Assembly Plant, which has produced Mustangs every model year since the car's inception.

Mustang Photo Gallery (1964 to 1999)

for Fifth Generation Mustangs (2005-2012) click here

Three different generations of Ford Mustang convertibles from 1965, 1994 and 1999

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