How has the iconic Ford Mustang improved through time?

by admin | Posted on Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

For many, the Ford Mustang is a car of their dreams. Bursting onto the scene in the 1960s, the iconic car has continued to wow the public all over the globe and is still one of the most popular cars available, selling over 10 million models.A lot of car manufacturers are seeing a decline in their sales of sports coupes and convertibles in the UK, but this isn’t the case for Ford and their American muscle car.

iconic Ford Mustang

Here, with used Ford Mustang dealers, Lookers Ford, we look at the ways the Ford Mustang has been developed throughout the years to suit legal requirements and  the modern day expectation.

The original design

The Ford Mustang’s first concept came out in 1962. Back then, it resembled a rocket ship more than a car thanks to its aerodynamic flair, but still showcased many of the Mustang’s distinctive features.  It was pitched by the then-general manager of Ford, Lee Iacocca, as a fun-to-drive compact car. The mid-engine two-seater roadster earned its name in reference to the P-51 Mustang fighter plane from the Second World War. However, Iacocca wasn’t entirely happy with the original design and quickly set about redesigning his idea.

Evolution in the 1960s

Iacocca was pitched with a new Mustang model which was based on the Ford Falcon and had a long-sweeping hood and high-mounted grill. The two cars were identical in overall length, but the Mustang’s wheelbase was shorter. The inside of the vehicles was considerably different, however, with the Mustang offering lower positioned seats and a lower ride height.

On March 9, 1964, the first Mustang left the assembly line in Michigan, before making its world debut a month later. By 1965, car customizing company, Shelby American, entered the fray, producing a higher-powered version of the popular mobile.

Second Generation (1974 – 1978)

For the Second Generation, the automobile was modeled on Ford Pinto. This was in a bid to compete against imports into America that were growing in popularity due to the on-going fuel crisis at the time. To differentiate from the pony cars of yesteryear, the Mustang II offered a longer Hatchback model. It also marked the – albeit short – end of the Mustang Convertible, with no Second Generation Mustangs coming with the option of driving with your roof down.

Initially, this generation didn’t offer the previously available V8 engine option. However, this didn’t last long and by 1975, the Mustang was slightly redesigned to re-debut the engine.  Due to declining numbers, Ford introduced special-edition Second Generation Mustangs such as the Cobra II in a bid to keep the car current. Unfortunately, this era was not as popular as Ford would have liked and with the oil crisis and emission acts looming large, the company could have quite easily watched the Mustang follow in Fairlane’s footsteps and not last over a decade on the assembly line. To try to avoid this, the Third Generation was unveiled.

Third Generation (1979 – 1993)

In 1979, the Ford Mustang’s Third Generation was a much bigger success. It was sleek and redesigned as the first Mustang to be built on the new Fox platform. The ’79 version was lighter than its predecessor, despite being longer and taller, and was more European visually than ever before. In 1980, Ford tried to make the engine more economical and sporty by dropping the 302-cubic litre V8 engine to a 255-cubic inch V8 engine.

The convertible option was welcomed back to the lineup in 1983 and the V8 engine power was increased to 175hp. To mark its 20th anniversary, 4,058 Mustang SVOs were produced, but its high price tag ruled out many potential buyers. For the five years that followed, the engine kept being altered to try to offer a more environmentally-friendly product. Then, in 1989, all Mustangs featured a new mass air system and all vehicles produced for the 365 days from April 171989 included the words ‘25 years’ on the dashboard to mark its 25th anniversary. Once more, sales began to decline by 1993 and that led to yet another version of the car being produced.

Fourth Generation (1994 – 2004)

Fast forward 30 years from the car’s original arrival and you’ll reach its Fourth Generation. Ford reported that 1,330 parts from the vehicle’s 1,850 total had been changed. 1995 saw the last 5.0L V8 engine used in the car, with 4.6L engines taking over.

Although the 1999 version was substantially changed, with updates to its grilles, hood and lamps, this wasn’t yet the dawn of the next generation. That came about when Ford’s Dearborn Assembly Plant – where the first Mustang was produced – ceased production. It is thought that 6.7 million of the 8.3 million Mustangs ever produced at that time was created at Dearborn.

Fifth Generation (2005 – 2014)

The all-new D2C Mustang platform was introduced by Ford in 2005 and, in the company’s words, it was ‘designed to make the Mustang faster, safe, more agile and better looking than ever’. 2007 saw the first Shelby model be released in 35 years, in what was marked as the most powerful Mustang up to that point thanks to its 5.4L V8 engine. By 2009, there was the option to purchase a model with a glass top roof, as well as special 45th anniversary badging.

Sixth Generation (2015 – present)

After 50 years, the model has since ditched its live axle suspension and opted for an independent rear suspension. The new 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine was also introduced, offering better fuel economy and a more environmentally-conscious way in which to get around quickly while not faltering on style.

There was a bump in horsepower, as has become apparent with every new release. The changes this year, however, went a little deeper. Ford’s efforts to elevate the pony car to new heights are clear, but they’ve also bolstered its environmental and social credentials — a feat worth celebrating.

The latest model released this year offers even more advanced technology,  such as a 12-inch, all-digital, customisable instrument cluster and a host of new derive-assistance features such as pre-collision assist. There’s also a ‘love thy neighbour’ mode in which the vehicle can be programmed to automatically limit the noise output from the exhaust at pre-programmed times of the day.

In an attempt to consistently keep the design current, the Seventh Generation of Ford Mustang is anticipated to be released by 2024.


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