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How the Mustang has Remained the Top Muscle Car Since 1965

December 6, 2017

How the Mustang has Remained the Top Muscle Car Since 1965

When we say American culture, what springs to mind?

We know the usual answers—democracy, the American dream, etc.  But would it be any stretch of the imagination to add muscle cars to that list? 

Most gearheads would agree that muscle cars are part of what shaped modern America. And how would it all have started without the Ford Mustang?  

It might not have been the first ever muscle car, but there’s no denying that this car changed the automotive world when it was released.  Since that time, Ford has only continued innovating the automotive market with its famous muscle car.

Even now—visit any classic or modern car show and what will you find?  Certainly no shortage of Mustangs.

Are you curious as to how it all started?  The Ford Mustang harbors a rich history that continues through today.  So if you’re curious to see how this world famous muscle car rose to the top, continue reading with us.



Surely, you can imagine the scene now. Everything began on April 17, 1964.  At the New York World’s fair, a new car branded as the Mustang rolls out for the public. 

But this wasn’t just any typical sports car.  Instead, the design closely followed that of Ford vice president Lee Iacocca’s vision: a four-seat car with a floor mounted shifter, costing less than $2,500. 

Affordable sports cars really weren’t something most buyers imagined at that time, but that’s exactly what the Mustang brought.

In order to cut costs, Ford simply borrowed parts from its Falcon. 

Ford really set expectations low for this vehicle—only projecting 100,000 units sold.  But the Ford Mustang certainly clicked in the minds of Americans better than expected. 

Really, the car innovated on all levels.  With different engine options, it really felt as though the Mustang offered something special for them. 

Even with the base model only offering 105 hp and 156 lb-ft torque—this car boasted performance and speed like none other at the time for the price. 

On a fun side note, the first generation of Mustangs would not provide those impressive power specs until the release of the Boss 429 in 1969.  Altogether, that model offered 375 hp.

But jumping back to 1964, the Mustang did leave a gigantic imprint on the car market.  Remember that 100,000 units projection from earlier? 

Well, turns out people liked the Ford far more than expected.  By the end of the year, Ford sold a total of 418,812 Mustangs.  This number ensured the Mustang would not be leaving production any time soon.


Getting to the Present Mustang

It’s no surprise that 1964 was a historic year for the automotive market.  And from then, Ford only continued to slowly innovate the Mustang. 

The second generation of Mustangs only expanded upon what made the first series great.  Only for these, Ford focused more on fuel economy with V6 and 4-cylinder engines. 

It wouldn’t be until 1978 that Ford would finally place a growling V8 Engine in the powerful King Cobra Mustang.  This is the moment that Ford further became known as a powerhouse in the muscle car market. 

During the third generation of the Mustang, Ford added even more to its iconic car. This Mustang combined the frame of the Fairmont with some hefty performance.  At the end of the day, not many other upgrades occurred during this time.  But Ford did offer some stellar V8 and turbocharged four-cylinder engines to keep its muscle car relevant.

 Thankfully, the fourth generation of Mustangs in the early 1990s would make a sizable impact in the auto-market once again. 

The Mustang received a new SN95 chassis, which was based on an update to the Ford Fox. 

The result worked pretty well with a base V6 engine.  For those wanting some more power, the Cobra model would allow for a hefty 390 hp for some boosted performance.


The Mustang Today

All of this history leads to the Ford Mustang that we all know and love today.  And with the recent announcements of the 2018 Mustang, we already know to expect some big and great things from Ford.

In fact, it looks as if Ford is only trying to further expand upon its stellar performance.  With the top Coyote V8 engine allowing for 460 horsepower, the Mustang looks to bring some incredible power to the streets. 

The top trim also promises to allow for a 0-60mph time in less than 4-seconds.  That’s faster than a handful of supercars on the market!  Just to reiterate how the recent Mustang is full of promise.

Of course, the Mustang’s lower trims seem to stay true to Ford’s original purpose with a sports car.  Starting just above $25,000 the Mustang remains just as affordable as ever before—proving that some things never do change.  And this is a good thing.  Who would ever argue against an affordable sports car?

Either way you look at it, the Ford Mustang is a car that knows how to evolve and innovate with the times.  But Ford also remembers the drivers who make the Mustang what it is.  And thus, after all these years, we still have plenty of customizations and prices to tailor the Mustang to any driver out there.

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