A Heritage Preserved In Numbers: The Mustang Since 1962
Just about a week ago, the editor of the Muscle Mustangs and Fast Ford Magazine, Evan J Smith teased a special Mustang on his Instagram account. The rather inconspicuous looking convertible version was painted Wimbledon White, a colour known to be Ford’s way of saying ‘it’s a big one’. Ford had earlier used the same paint in 2015 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary Edition Mustangs.
A day later, Smith posted another photo of the supremo. The 10 millionth Mustang was finally out of the production line at Ford’s Flat Rock manufacturing plant in Michigan.
The inception of the Mustang ‘culture’ dates back to 1962 when Ford launched Project T-5 under the Fairlane Group, a committee of Ford managers that was led by Lee Iacocca.
Here’s a look at the Mustang over the years.
Lee Iacocca spearheaded the operations of Project T-5 while his Assistant General Manager and Chief Engineer Donald N. Frey took over as the head engineer.
The project which kicked off in May 1962 saw chassis engineer Roy Lunn, who was popular for lending a hand in the iconic designs of the GT-40, taking over the design preparation of Ford’s next mechanical beauty.
As a result, a tubular-steel “birdcage” space-frame completed with a roll bar was welded up as a home for a derivative V4 engine. About 18 months later, the T-5 prototype was showcased to the world.
This prototype made its first public debut at the United States Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, New York on October 7, 1962, when F1 racer Dan Gurney lapped the track for the first time with a reported top speed of 120mph (192kmph).
For the next two years, Mustang appeared in several car shows and automotive events but failed to hit the production lines for being too ‘complex’. Additionally, the company also chucked the idea of a two-seater duly because of the increase in sales for the Thunderbird, after converting it to a 4-seater in 1958. Finally, in 1964, the first Mustang sporting the ‘galloping-pony’ emblem was sold to Stanley Tucker.
Production model that hit the markets in the latter half of 1964 had a V6 and a V8 variant which produced 101hp and 164hp respectively. However, in the following years, Mustang saw several upgrades including an increase in the engine displacements of the V6 from 2.8-litre to 3.1-litre and of the V8 variant from 4.3-litre to 4.7-litre. Subsequently, the V6 saw a power gain of 19hp and the V8 saw a push of 46hp.
In spite of Mustang’s remarkable performance in the market after its launch, it designers started working on an upcoming bulkier model with some crucial mechanical modifications. As a result, from 1967 to 1973, the Mustang got bigger and sported new block engines. This was then named as the Cobra Jet.
However, the new block engines were short-lived due to a surge in oil prices. This shifted the market demand from sports cars to cars with better fuel efficiency. This was a big factor for Ford while developing the second-generation Mustang
Iacocca who overtook as the President of Ford Motors in 1970, ordered a smaller Mustang that would cater to the American market which was suffering from the oil crisis of 1973.
Hence, this new Mustang had a better fuel efficiency and lower power. The new model which was supposed to be based on the Ford Maverick was then decided to be built on the platform that underpinned the Pinto.
The new Mustang was small but heavier due to the addition of parts that became mandatory after new safety standards imposed by the US government. Meanwhile, at the back of his mind, Iacocca wanted to return the Mustang back to its glorious 1964 dimensions.
The new Mustang II locked horns with the dominant imported coupes in the market such as the Toyota Celica and the European Ford Capri. Compared to the first-generation Mustang who had reported the sale of 418,812 cars in the first year, the Mustang II sold 385,993.
The 74′ model Mustangs was powered by a 2.3-litre inline-4 engine inherited from the Pinto as well as the 2.8-litre Cologne V6 engine in the Mercury Capri. A year later a 4.8-litre Windsor V8 engine mated to a C-4 automatic transmission added to the car’s lineup. These models were on sale until 1978 when Ford rolled out the King Cobra model with a 5.0-litre engine that produced 102hp of power and 249Nm of torque. With the King Cobra, Ford concluded the second generation of the Mustang.
Onward of 1979, the new Mustang was based on the larger Fox Platform which was earlier seen in the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr. The third generation Mustang was available in three body types including the coupe, hatchback and convertible.
The third-gen Mustang inherited its engine from its predecessor including the 2.3-litre inline-4, the 2.8-litre Cologne V6 and the 5.0-litre V8 engine. Ford, in the initial production startup also introduced a 2.3-litre turbocharged inline-4 engine. This engine, however, faced a lot of flak and was discontinued by the company. The engine was then reworked and introduced again in the 1983 Turbo GT.
After facing a shortage of V6 engines, Ford replaced it with a 3.3-litre inline-6 engine during the 79′ model year. This was, however, possible only due to the new platform which had a wider wheelbase and a bigger body. In 1983, Ford brought back the V6 engine to the Mustang, but this time with a higher displacement of 3.8-litre.
Cosmetically, the third-gen Mustang was sold in two different front-end styles. From 1979 until 1986, the front end of the Mustang was angled back and used four rectangular headlights, popularly known as “Four Eyes” among enthusiasts. Post that, Ford restyled the front-end for a contemporary rounded off “aero” style, similar to that of the Ford Taurus.
In 1993 Mustang underwent a major redesign in fifteen years. The new Mustang was based on an updated version of the Fox Platform and was called the Fox-4. Codenamed as the “SN-95”, the new car was styled by Patrick Schiavone who incorporated several styling cues of the 64′ Mustang. The base model of the fourth-gen Mustang came with a 3.8-litre OHV V6 engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission that put out 145hp. The car was, however, alternatively available with a 4-speed manual transmission also.
Nearly after 30 years of its use, Ford retired its 5.0-litre V8 engine that was initially seen on the 1994 and 1995 Mustang GTS, GT and Cobra and replaced it with the new Modular 4.6-litre SOHC V8 in the 1996 Mustang GT. Ford initially capped the max output of the V4 to 215hp. However, in the year 1998, it was brought up to 225hp.
For the 99′ model, Ford introduced its iconic ‘New Edge’ styling on the Mustang with sharper contours, larger wheel arches, and creases in its bodywork. However, its basic proportions, interior design, and chassis remained the same as the previous model.
From 1999 onwards, the Mustang enjoyed 3.8-litre V6 engine which had a new split-port induction system and clocked a max output of 190hp. Meanwhile, the V8 variant too saw a surge in power to 265hp.
In 2004, the on-sale 3.8-litre engine was replaced with the new 3.9-litre Essex engine which increased the torque by 4Nm.
Ford commenced the 5th generation Mustang from the year 2005 and built it on the new D2C platform. The new model was created under the supervision of Chief Engineer Hau Thai-Tang, a veteran engineer for Ford’s IndyCar programme.
The 2005 base model had a 4.0-litre SOHC V6 engine mated to a Tremec T5 5-speed manual transmission that churned out 210hp of power with Ford’s 5R55S 5-speed automatic as an option.
Meanwhile, the top-spec GT sported a 4.6-litre SOHC 3-valve modular V8 engine that produced 300hp. While the GT shared the same automatic transmission with the base variant, its manual transmission consisted of the Tremec TR-3650 5-speed transmission.
In 2010, the Mustang underwent a facelift with a redesigned exterior and lesser drag coefficient on both the models. While the base derived its previous engine, the V8 on the new model got a hike in power to 315hp and 441Nm of torque.
In the consecutive year, Ford revised the engine on the car with a new transmission system that included the Getrag-Ford MT82 6-speed manual or the 6R80 6-speed automatic based on the ZF 6HP26 transmission. The base models got a new 3.7-litre engine which was 18kg lighter than the previous one due to its aluminium built and churned out 305hp of power and 380 Nm of torque. The new dual exhaust on the lighter engine increased the fuel-efficiency of the Mustang which yielded 8kmpl in the city and 13kmpl on highways. The new GT engine included a 5.0-litre 32-valve engine that produced 412hp of power.
Then came the Shelby GT 500 which had an aluminium build, 5.4-litre, supercharged V8 engine that produced 550hp and 690Nm. However, in 2012 Ford revamped the Shelby GT 500 with a new 5.8-litre supercharged V8 engine that produced 662hp.
Current (Sixth) Generation
The current generation Mustang which was first unveiled in December 2013 rolled out of the production plants in 2015.
This generation of the Mustang witnessed the addition of a newly developed 2.3-litre four-cylinder eco-boost engine which produced 310hp of power. The new engine was introduced to extend Mustang’s reach into high tariff global markets such as China.
Apart from that, the new gen Mustang inherited the V6 and the V8 engine from its previous version. However, the new engines got an option of the new Getrag six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
In the most recent update this year, the car saw a minor redesign to the exterior. Mechanically, the company decided to drop the V6 variant reducing the line-up to the existing 2.3-litre eco-boost engine and the amped up 5.0-litre V8 engine which now produced a power of 460hp and 569Nm of torque. Both the current engines are mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission that was co-developed by Ford and General Motors.
Timeline of Mustang Development
1965 Shelby GT350 introduced; Mustang 2+2 with full fastback roof debuts
1968 Mustang 390 GT stars with Steve McQueen in “Bullitt,” 428 Cobra Jet engine debuts
1969 High-performance Boss 302 and Boss 429 introduced
1974 Mustang II debuts
1979 Euro-styled “Fox” platform Mustang debuts – without traditional styling
1982 Mustang GT returns after 12-year absence
1984 Mustang SVO debuts
1993 Limited production SVT Mustang Cobra debuts
1996 4.6-litre Modular V8 replaces 5.0-litre engine in GT and SVT Cobras
2000 Third SVT Mustang Cobra R
2003 Mustang Mach 1 model returns with ram-air “Shaker” hood scoop
2011 All-new 412-horsepower 5.0-litre Coyote V8 Mustang GT debuts
2012 First Boss 302 since 1971 returns with 440 horsepower V8
2015 All-new 6th generation Mustang, first with independent rear suspension
2016 Shelby350/GT350R with flat-plane crank 5.2-litre V8
2018 Gen. 3 5.0-litre Coyote engine and new Performance Package I and II
2019 Limited-edition Bullitt Mustang capable of 262 km/h