A highly successful, segment-creating American sports car, the Mustang was originally a rebodied Falcon. Low price, clever marketing as well as tapping in to the baby boomer mentality allowed Ford to sell a million Mustangs within 18 months of launch. The “pony car” segment was born.
The Mustang grew as interest in performance cars did in the 1960s, and by the early 1970s it was a fat pig—a car that had lost the simplicity and purity of its original design. Ford, under Lee Iacocca, tried to return to basics with the Mustang II, a car related to the Ford Pinto, with even a four-cylinder option. While successful, the new car didn’t match the old in sales, but historically Iacocca was to be commended for bringing in a smaller car just as the fuel crisis hit.
Switching to the Fox platform (shared with the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr) for the 1979 model year, the Mustang was progressively improved though there was no all-new model till the 1990s. The ’94 (SN95) was a retro interpretation of the original ’64½ (more accurately the ’65), and the ’99s evolved the theme with a more purposeful, strong look.
An all-new Mustang (S197) débuted for 2005, recalling the 1967–8 models. While on a new platform, the live rear axle was primitive, though Ford defended its choice on cost (a $5,000 sticker price saving) and space grounds, arguing that customizers preferred a simpler car. A 2010 model had new sheetmetal but the same platform.
The Mustang’s reputation has continued thanks to film appearances, from Goldfinger in its first year, Un homme et une femme and, famously, Bullitt. Television appearances have included Charlie’s Angels for the Mustang II. For many years, it was called the Ford T-5 (the development code for the original model) in Germany, due to a trade mark conflict.
Ford announced in 2019 that an electric crossover would also bear the Mustang name, the Mach-E.