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American Muscle Car Legend – Ford Mustang

This week’s “classic cars” article is dedicated to my favorite muscle car of all times, the legendary Ford Mustang. The first generation of the model was launched back in April 17, 1964 and the 1965 Mustang was Ford’s most successful launch since the famous Model A. The “Mustang” nameplate is the third oldest nameplate in production, after the F-Series pickup truck line and the Falcon. The Ford Mustang is considered to be the first “pony car” in the world – a sports car-like coupe that has a long bonnet and short rear decks.

The first production car rolled off the assembly line on March 9, 1964 and it was introduced to the general public on April 17, 1964 at the New York World’s Fair. The name “Mustang” is credit to executive stylist John Najjar, who was a big fan of the P-51 Mustang, a WW II fighter plane. He was involved in the design of the prototype.

The first generation of the model was produced from 1964 until 1973. The overall development of the car lasted only 18 months and the T-5 prototype was a 2-seat, mid-mounted engine roadster. It was powered by a Taunus (Ford Germany) V4 engine. The reason why Ford abandoned the 2-seat design was because of the poor sales of its 1955 Thunderbird model, another 2-seater. For this reason, it was remodeled as a 4-seater. The “Fastback 2+2” model traded the car’s regular trunk for more interior volume, along with adding exterior lines that looked a lot like the one found on the 2nd gen Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray or the iconic Jaguar E-Type. This version was not available as a 1964 1/2 model, but the first car was built on August 17, 1964.

To achieve an affordable $2,368 MSRP and to shave off development costs, Ford used lots of simple and familiar components, many of them borrowed from the company’s other models. The chassis, drivetrain, suspension and the interior were derived from the Fairlane and Falcon models.

1973-1978 Ford Mustang II

The second generation of the Ford Mustang was launched in 1974 and was manufactured until 1978. Lee Iacocca, who worked for the development of the original model, became the president of the company in 1970 and he wanted a more fuel-efficient and smaller Mustang. The first plans were to launch a model based on the company’s Maverick, but Ford changed its mind and opted for the Ford Pinto. Introduced just two months before the oil crisis of 1973, it had a reduced size, making it a worthy rival for the Toyota Celica. During its first year, Ford managed to sell 385,993 units of its Mustang II model in comparison to the first generation that managed 418,812. The model was available in both coupe and hatchback versions, along with a “Ghia” luxury edition.

1985–1986 Ford Mustang GT

The third generation debuted in 1979 and was built until 1993. It was based on Ford’s longer Fox platform that was initially developed for the Fairmont and the Mercury Zephyr models. The cabin was updated in order to accommodate four people in comfort, although it had a smaller back seat. The body styles available for the 3rd gen model were: coupe (aka notchback), hatchback and a cabrio version. It was available in various trim levels: L, GL, GLX, LX, GT, Turbo GT, SVO, Cobra and the Cobra R.

2002 Ford Mustang Convertible

In 1994 Ford launched the fourth generation of the Mustang and produced it until 2004. The entry-level model featured a V6 3.8-liter OHV engine that produced 145 hp for the 1994 and 1995 models and 150 hp for the 1996-1998 models. This power unit was linked to a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic transmission. The design of the car underwent some serious changes and was based on the company’s updated version of the RWD Fox platform, dubbed “Fox-4”.

2007-2009 Ford Mustang GT/CS

The fifth and latest generation of the Ford Mustang was introduced in 2004 at the North American International Auto Show and it was an entirely redesigned model, based on Ford’s all-new D2C platform for the 2005MY. The design reminds us of the late 1960s fastback Mustang and its exterior style was developed by Sid Ramnarace.

The 2005-2009 models had a V6 4.0-liter SOHC engine that produced 210 hp, replacing the old V6 3.8-liter pushrod engine. The “GT” version had a more powerful V8 4.6-liter engine that delivered 300 hp.

The 2010MY was launched in the spring of 2009 and brought changes to the GT version which was updated to similar specifications to that of the 2008-2009 Mustang Bullitt V8 4.6-liter, producing 315 hp @ 6,000 rpm and a peak torque of 325 lb.-ft (441 Nm) @ 4,250 rpm. It also came with new spring rates and dampers for improving control and ride quality, new wheel sizes and it was offered as standard with stability and traction control.

2011 Ford Mustang

For the 2011MY, Ford updated all of the engines in the Mustang lineup. They also replaced the hydraulic power steering pump with an Electronic Power Assist Steering, which doesn’t use belts, making the car more maneuverable at low speeds and providing better grip at higher speeds.

A new addition is the V6 3.7-liter engine that weighs 40 lb less than the previous generation and packs 305 hp, while the peak torque is 280 lb.-ft.

The upcoming generation of the Ford Mustang is expected to be launched sometime in 2014 or early 2015. Rumors say that it will be based on a global platform and it will feature independent suspension.

Source: Wikipedia.org, Motor Authority | Photos: allfordmustangs.com