2021 2022 2023 Ford Mustang Day Mach 1 Mach-E 1400 Vaughn Gittin Jr

What Is The Ford Mustang?

The Mustang is an Icon vehicle from Ford Motor Company, and has been on the market since the early 1960s. The Ford Mustang holds claim to being the first “pony car” ever sold, followed by the its chief rival, the Chevrolet Camaro. As the muscle car market has evaporated over the years, the lines between the pony car and muscle car have since blurred, and the Ford Mustang today is colloquially known as a “muscle car“.

The Mustang is also part of Ford’s “Icon” portfolio, which also includes the Ford Bronco. This is because of the halo effect the Mustang has on the Ford brand, which attracts a group of enthusiast customers that are both loyal and vocal about the product they drive. In short, the Ford Mustang is a cultural icon, and is the epitome of Automotive Americana. From songs like “Mustang Sally” to movies like “Bullitt”, “Gone In 60 Seconds”, and “Drive”, the ethos of the Ford Mustang has transcended generations.

Ford Mustang
Photo copyright MuscleCarsandTrucks.com

Characteristically, the Ford Mustang can be identified by its low-slung, two-door bodystyle, a long hood, and a V8 engine in higher level trims like the Mustang GT. Above that have been special and limited-run, high-performance models such as the Mustang Boss 302, Mach 1, and Shelby GT500. Third party companies that are closely affiliated with Ford, such as Shelby American and Roush Performance often take the capabilities of the Mustang beyond the levels of the factory, revealing special packages and upgrades frequently. The most powerful of which exceed 1,000 horsepower.

Ford Motor Company has long entered the Mustang nameplate in various motorsports, proving its capabilities in everything from grueling endurance racing (Mustang GT3) to split-second drag racing (Mustang Cobra Jet).

Starting with the sixth-generation Mustang, Ford began to take a more global approach to the muscle car, offering it in both right-hand and left-hand drive configurations, as well as exporting it to markets like Australia, Middle East, European Union, and South America. There is currently a Ford Mustang Club in every continent in the world except for Antartica, but at one point that was actually considered.

After achieving global success, Ford has turned to expand the Mustang into a family of vehicles. This started with the all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV, which has also been referred to as the “Mustang truck.” The Mach-E is a departure from the halo muscle car due to its electric powertrain, four doors, and utility vehicle body style, and as such has drawn the ire of some enthusiasts in the Mustang community. For the most part, however, Mustang fans understand why the Mach-E exists, as it looks to fulfill a regulatory requirements set forth by the EPA’s “CAFE” fuel economy standards.

Further expansion of the Mustang brand has been rumored, with an electric sedan also said to be considered.

2021 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 S550
Image copyright Steven Pham, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Ford Mustang History

The genesis of the Ford Mustang program can be traced back to an executive summary note that described the “Special Falcon Program”, and carries a date of December 11, 1962. The name of the program came from the desire to use the existing Ford Falcon platform as a basis for the upcoming sports car that could compete with the Chevrolet Corvair Monza. By using a platform that is already in production, Ford was able to maximize profits for the new car and cut down dramatically on research and development.

The second letter is simply titled “SPORTY CAR” and focuses on the name of the forthcoming automobile. Early ideas for the car involved using some sort of bird as a base to go along with the Thunderbird or Falcon theme, including the name “Thunderbird II.” However, they pretty much nailed the name right away with Mustang and had also begun to think about the sister car to Mustang, the Mercury Cougar.

1963 Ford Mustang Special Falcon Project
Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks

The original Ford Mustang program was proposed to be two different body styles (coupe and convertible) and be available with six and eight-cylinder engines. It’s a formula that carried through six-generations of Mustang thus far. Originally, the Ford brand supposed it would be able to sell 150,000 units per year of the Ford Mustang, bringing in profits in the neighborhood of $14 million annually. They severely underestimated its appeal.

With a base retail price of $2,320 in 1964, an astounding 22,000 Mustangs were ordered on the first day of sale. And despite not being on the market for a full calendar year, roughly 121,000 units were sold for the 1964.5 model year – the first year the Mustang came to market. In calendar year 1965, Ford accrued 559,500 sales of the Mustang, with 1966 breaking that record with 607,586 sales. The competition eventually showed up, with the Chevrolet Camaro arriving in the 1967 model year.

Ford Mustang Special Falcon Project
Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks

Ford Mustang Generations

First-Generation Mustang

Second-Generation Mustang (Mustang II)

Third-Generation Mustang (Fox Body)

Fourth-Generation Mustang (SN95)

Fifth-Generation Mustang (S197)

Sixth-Generation Mustang (S550)

Seventh-Generation Mustang (S650)

Mustang Mach-E SUV

Ford Mustang Fox Body
Image copyright Steven Pham, Muscle Cars & Trucks

Special Mustang Variants

Mustang Shelby GT350

Mustang Shelby GT500

Mustang Boss 302

Mustang Boss 429

Mustang Mach-1

Mustang Bullitt

Mustang CS

Mustang SVO

Mustang SVT Cobra

Mustang Cobra Jet

Ford Mustang Day Stampede
Image copyright Steven Pham, Muscle Cars & Trucks

Notable Ford Mustang People

Larry Shinoda

Carroll Shelby

Lee Iococca

Semon Emil “Bunkie” Knudsen,

Daver Piericak

Jim Farley

Jim Owens


(coming soon)

Ford Mustang Sales

(coming soon)

Image copyright Steven Pham, Muscle Cars & Trucks