C a r S p o t # 7
Widely regarded as the King of the of the Pony Cars. The Mustang was loosened upon the earth circa 1964/5 as an American equivalent sports car or muscle car for US motorists who may otherwise purchase a European equivalent like the Jaguar E-type/XKS. Unlike the E-type/XKS with it's exotic construction & design philosophy, the Mustang was built with affordability sustainability & convenience in mind. The parts would be sourced from existing models reducing overall production costs which in-turn meant mechanics, body-shops & dealerships already possessed the expertise to perform servicing, warranty repairs & other ad-hoc maintenance requirements. As planned this meant Ford & affiliated re-sellers were able to deliver excellent aftermarket care. This & Ford's well oiled marketing methodology led to early sales far exceeding expectations & thus began the age of the classic American muscle car.
Over the following decade numerous competitors sort to replicate Ford's success by establishing their own footholds in this new market for sporty rear wheel drive, long hooded coupes. Chevrolet came with the Camaro, Pontiac released the Firebird & Dodge gave us the Challenger. All worthy competitors both in performance and style, cementing their places in pop culture history with silver screen debuts. The 1977 Firebird was the chariot of the charismatic rogue Smokey from the Smokey & the bandit movies. The 1970 Dodge Challenger was the muscle car of choice for outlaw street racer Dominic Torreto from the Fast & Furious franchise, & Sam Witwicky's Transformers bodyguard 'Bumblebee' took on the form of a 1976 Camaro. However, before them all, the Mustang belonged to the original king of cool Steve McQueen. In the 1968 slueth cult classic "Bullit" (a must-own on blu-ray!) McQueen drove a 1968 Fastback in what is widely respected as the greatest car chase in film history. The Mustang featured again in the 1974 classic 'Gone in 60 Seconds' and returned in the 2000 remake as the coveted & elusive car known as 'Eleanor' a custom 1967 Shelby GT500. If that wasn't enough, the baddest assassin on film Mr John Wick drives a 1969 Mustang BOSS 429 in both the 1st and 2nd films. As the most powerful, rarest & expensive classic Mustang available Mr Wick's car in real life would be priceless to it's owner. In fact most owners of Boss 429s don't even drive them! That & the harm to one's pet arguably warrants Mr Wicks subsequent response. (another must own blu-ray!)
Ford struck gold with their Pony car & certain versions now garner eye watering price tags from anywhere between £50k to £300k to £1m plus (mileage & model dependant).
The design journey of this iconic machine began with John Najjar & Philip T Clark jointly designing the first generation Mustang-1 in 1961 which looked nothing like the Mustang we know today (see above). It wasn't until 1963 that an evolved four seater design championed by Joe Oros based on the Ford Falcon platform was presented to the public to test their reaction. This Mustang took on the form we'd soon become accustomed to. Further changes were made until 1964/5 when the 1st fastback was launched.
Mustang bodies can be split into two categories.
The generic (below)
& the fastback (below)
Notice the fastback features a straight-sloped gradient from the roof to the boot. Where as the generic is angular & drops after the roof like of most cars of the day. By no means ugly, just less appealing than the sportier aerodynamic profile of the fastback. The front remains similar except for the bonnet scoops that typically aid more powerful engines.
M r S h e l b y
It would be 3rd Party automotive developers namely Carrol Shelby & Shelby American that would push the Mustang design to it's full potential building a range of Mustangs over the coming years with signature styling & performance changes. versions truly set the Mustang apart from it's contemporaries and lay foundations for other remarkable examples of the 60s Mustang. Learning the difference between your GT350H & your BOSS 429 only crystalises your appreciation of the most famous American muscle car.
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The 1965 Shelby GT350 was suited to the track, which made it rather rough on regular road users. With comfort being an issue ford produced updated versions less taxing on daily commuters. They came equipped with the famous V8 4.7L Windsor 289 engine otherwise known as the 'Cobra High-Riser' due to the high position of it's intake manifold. The Windsor 289 would output 202kW producing 271bhp. This was then modified with a large 4-barrel Holley 715 CFM carburetor to produce an impressive 306 bhp at 6,000 rpm and 446 N⋅m of torque at 4,200 rpm. In terms of styling these 65 models were shipped in Wimbledon White with optional striking Guardsman Blue Le Mans stripes common on Ford vehicles. It also featured side exit exhausts with glasspack mufflers, Goodyear blue-dot tires, a spare tire mounted where the rear seats would be and signature 15inch silver painted Shelby-Cragar wheels with Chrome center caps. Outstanding!
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Onto 1966, notice the Shelby Mustang front grille no longer donned the Mustang symbol & labelling seen on the Ford built Mustang featured at the beginning & end of this 'Whip Spot' entry. Instead it simply read 'Shelby GT 350' giving the front fascia a cleaner, understated & aggressive appearance. The dual exit exhaust was now seated at the rear of the car and those super cool rear quarter panel vents that sat behind the drivers side windows were aptly replaced with rear windows for better or worst. In my humble opinion more glass looks classier. For those in the market for a 66 Mustang take note of the side labeling GT350-H. The 'H' stands for the 'Hertz Corporation'. A rental car company that purchased quite a few GT350s from Shelby American as a marketing ploy setup via Ford to help boost Mustang sales & increase circulation. These models came in my favourite finish for classic 60s Mustangs, Black with gold racing stripes & all black interior. N.B. the 66 models came in various primary colours red, blue & green unlike the 65 model that only shipped in white. What really sets these models apart from the 65 GT350s is that some came with Paxton Superchargers that brought the car to a blistering 440bhp! As part of the Hertz Corporation deal, when these models reached the end of their rental lifespan they would be shipped back to Ford to be refurbished and sold on to the public. Unfortunately by the time they were returned to Ford for re-selling the Superchargers were often "lost...." This model for me is Mustang Nirvana! The interior dials received a chic face-lift, making them easier to read than the 65 version and accented elegantly with chrome amidst black trim, with Plenty of leg room and a very clean & minimal gear stick.
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1967 saw the intro of one of the most coveted Mustangs of this era, the GT500. In a masterstroke of aesthetic genius Shelby America re-designed the bodywork using fiberglass moulded body panels to add a gorgeous extended tail-end with stunning large rectangular rear headlights, four rear quarter air intakes above and beneath aggressively flared fenders. The hood featured beastly bulge & functional air vents, with the grille sporting two additional driving lights. The interior received a deluxe make over too. Minimalist aluminium panels give the cockpit a solid & polished finish that compliments the dials. Compared to modern cars, classic cars of this era feature far less padding of surfaces for safety against collision, but this luxury interior felt padded enough with plush bucket seats & elbow rests. A very nice place to be! Although the seats barely support an adults upper torso & the steering wheel is extremely thin, you'll agree these are minor prices to pay in context with what this vehicle is & represents. Slip on a pair of driving gloves for grip, and you'll soon appreciate the novelty. The 428 7L Cobra Jet engine puts this model among the most powerful Mustangs of this era, but it would be the 'Eleanor' styled version of the 67 Mustang featured in the 2000 remake of 'Gone in 60 seconds' that would cement this Mustang as 'the' No1 muscle car to experience & one day perhaps own.
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By 1968 The title for Americans No1 Muscle was car wasn't firmly seated with Ford. Big block Camaros, Firebirds, Dodge Darts & Plymouth Barracudas were all taking the fight to the Mustang on the street & beating it. So Ford released a up-rated version of the 1967 428 engine. This version featured larger valve heads, a Ram-Air filter, strengthened front shock towers, 3 different optional gear ratios, front disc brakes & equa-loc differential among other improvements.
This automotive monstrosity essentially urinated on it's competitors at the 68 National Hot Rod Association winternatationals. Thus earning the moniker GT500KR 'King of the Road'. It output 435bhp at 324kW out the box! and featured die-cast aluminium valve headers labelled "Cobra Le Mans" on account of Ford's historic victory over Ferrari at the 1966 & 67 races. I can't say the front fascia is a preference of mine with it's squared off driving lights within the grill. Neither is the shape of the grille & itself. Compared to other models it seams somewhat out-of-place. The Bonnet vents do add an element of charm but what really takes the fun away is the Steering wheel & smear brown pannelling....Ewww! At least it has a central armrest. In a manual car this makes such a difference! For me It's love & hate with the KR.
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1969 may have seen the end of Carroll Shelby's agreement with Ford & the end of the GT Models, but where this door closed another was audaciously set alight by three aesthetically stunning & now rare collectible Mustangs that would replenish the Mustang Saga in the forms of the Mach 1, The Boss 302 & The Boss 429. The Pony car market was essentially the 'young' market & young people drag raced. These three models would be Ford's consumer racing packages & would also see out the end of the Mustang's 60's era in terms of the body styling we've all come to love. Thankfully Ford did so in tremendous style, starting with the Mach 1.
The Mach 1 was a hardtop only coupe. If you come across a Mustang labelled Mach 1 check the door plate for proof. It should read 63C. Other notable identifiers are the wide hoodscoop that shakes as you drive due to being directly mounted atop the motor-head. Hood pins, a chrome pop-open fuel cap, chrome exhaust tips, optional front-chin spoiler & rear window slats/louvers. The Mach 1 featured what was marketed as a 'deluxe' interior finish. Which in my personal experience has split opinions with it's teak wood-grain paneling?? perhaps an attempt to distinguish itself from the metal finish of the GT500E cabin & GT500KR affront. What is quite favourable to motorist's neck muscles are the high back bucket seats! A much needed feature which makes the Mach-1 and subsequent BOSS 301 & 429 models more roadworthy by today's standards. This being a drag package it made sense. Another welcome feature is the sound deadening included to make journeys less tasking on the ears. In terms of performance. The Mach-1 is suitably a track beast with handling upgrades all round. Competition suspension as standard, thick sway bars, heavy shocks & springs plus revised wheels with Goodyear polyglas tires. A standard package would give you a 5.8L Windsor V8 producing 250 bhp at 186 kW with 481 N⋅m @ 2,600rpm. Despite such power out the box, the package every racer wanted was the top-end spec 7L Ram-Air induction kit Super Cobra Jet V8 which produced 335bhp at 250kW with 527 N⋅m of torque at 3,400rpm! pure filth!
During the same year (1969) Ford would release the BOSS 302. Designed by Larry Shinoda, the mastermind behind the 1968 Corvette Sting Ray. The BOSS 302 was named after the secret project for 'the Boss' as described by Larry Himself.
The 302 is on account of the car's CID cubic Inch Displacement, which is incidentally the same as 5L. clearly the BOSS 5 didn't sound as badass as the BOSS 302. Those familiar with psychology and marketing will know larger numbers sound better and evoke greater empowerment. Built specifically for the Trans-Am Racing Series, the 302's regulation 5L engine produced 290bhp @ 216 kW. The 302 could do 0-60mph in 6.9 seconds, and the quarter mile sprint (400m) in 14.6 seconds. This package was Ford's answer to the blistering pace set by the 1968 Championship winning Penske Camaro team. In terms of styling, the 302 featured the first front spoiler on a Mustang which instantly gives the front fascia a far more edgy & gritty look. This plays in well with the same rear spolier as the Mach 1. Also the front grille lost the two extra driving lights from the Shelby models and opted for a sharp looking plain black grille with just two generic headlamps. Another Mustang 1st is the inclusion of two vents into the front fenders either side of the front grille. Larry Shinoda's styling clearly shows an affirmation for marine life. The Mako Shark, The Stingray & now The Boss 302 with it's predatory pointed nose tip & gill-esque like front side vents. The paint work also received an update with hockey-stick side stripes and a large center bonnet stripe. The rear window also featured the same louvers as the Mach 1 & those non-functioning vents typically found at the top/bottom rear quarters are gone entirely. The Ride height was a little lower too, which always presents meaner stance whilst bringing you closer to the road. For an enhanced driver experience you'd get competition suspension, reinforced shocks & disc brakes. All tied in with a four-speed manual transmission, plus you had a central arm rest! Unfortunately the 302 didn't live up to it's promise on track in the US owing more to it's racing team than the car itself, but in terms of sales the 302 proved to be insanely popular with muscle & pony car enthusiasts.
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Again, same year and for similar purposes, the BOSS 429 was the bigger beast of the two siblings with an insurance premium melting 7L engine outputting 375bhp @ 5200rpm, and 280kW with 610 N⋅m of torque. The 'BOSS 9' as they're referred to by the initiated came only with manual transmission & had an evolved 385 V8 engine so large Ford had to bring in their exclusive experimental facility known as Kar Kraft to modify the existing Mustang body to accommodate it's new heart. Hardly a difficult task for the same facility responsible for the GT40 Mark 2 & 4, winners of Le Mans 66 & 67. Like it's younger sibling the 429 was built for pro racing, NASCAR homologation specifically & as a salute each car has a NASCAR Identification number on the inside of the drivers door. The 429 featured two distinctly recognisable features. The 429 labeling on the front-side fender & it's huge bonnet scoop, the largest ever to feature on a Ford production car.
The rest of it's bodywork is understated, stripped of all phaff & theatre. Perhaps in deliberate contrast to the raging power output potential beneath it's panels. The 429 shares a similar front spoiler with the 302, just a little more refined. The same rear window louvers and a very slick rear lip-spoiler that tails the contour of the car perfectly. Inside the cabin you'd find wood warm panelling surrounding modern dials, and all black interior for the 69 models, with additional black & white interior options with the 70 model.
After this era circa 1965-70 Ford did what most car manufacturers do and tried to reinvent the look of the model. For better or worse no design since this era has encapsulated the essence of cool. Simply put, Ford got it right the first time & since then (with the exception of the Ford GT) just haven't made anything as timeless as the 1965 to 1970s Mustang Fastback.
Production - 1966 to 1968
Manufactured - United States Michigan California, Venezuela , New Mexico & Peru
Designed by - Ross Humphries
0-60 in 5.4secs
Top Speed 134mph