Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
November 24, 2004

When the Mustang debuted 40 years ago on April 17, 1964, it took theworld by storm. Millions of people crammed Ford dealer showrooms to geta look at the new Mustang, with more than 22,000 people buying orordering one on that first day. Thousands more people sat in the newMustang at the 1964 New York World's Fair, riding the Magic Skyway inthe Ford Rotunda display. The new Mustang even graced the covers of Timeand Newsweek and was made the Official Pace Car of the famedIndianapolis 500. Ford sold 417,000 Mustangs that year, making afirst-year sales record that has yet to be surpassed.

The early Mustang's small-block V-8, nimble handling, and light weightmade it a performance car that just about anyone could afford. This hasheld true through the decades of Mustang evolution, from the '67 Hi-Po289 fastback to the '92 5.0 hatchback to the all-new '05 4.6 GT coupe.It's a car that is timeless in its styling, performance, and attitude.The Mustang's heritage can be seen in any model you look at. Dreamtabout by kids and lusted over by adults, the Ford Mustang can beanyone's car for anyone's life.

By 1979, the Mustang had been around for 16 years and through twogenerations, having undergone several styling and performance revisions.But everything changed when Ford debuted the '79 Mustang. With Europeanstyling, lots of options, and a competitive base price, it wasreminiscent of the first model and sold a similar number of units, justshy of 370,000 units. This new third generation of Mustang would end upproducing some of the most popular and sought-after Mustang models.

With the all-new '82 Mustang GT--the first GT model in 13 years--Ford'svenerable 5.0L powerplant became the engine to beat on the street and atthe track. Boasting 157 hp, the '82 GT was the most powerful Mustangproduced since the '73 Mach 1.

The Mustang improved each year, gaining horsepower, options, looks, andhandling. Special models included the '79 Indy Pace Car, the '84 20thAnniversary Model, and the '84-'86 SVO. Ford also reintroduced theconvertible Mustang in 1983, the first drop-top model in 10 years.

In 1987 Ford improved upon the one-year-old,SEFI-fuel-injection-equipped 5.0 by redesigning the intake manifold andchanging the cylinder heads, netting a 225 hp V-8 with 300 lb-ft oftorque. Few domestic performance cars could touch the Mustang on theroad. A freshly designed interior and exterior was also introduced inthe eight-year-old platform. Sporting a stout rear axle; a solid,five-speed gearbox; and more modern aerodynamic styling, the '87 modelcontinued the trend of exhilarating performance, styling, and handlingin a sporty package.

The styling would continue, with minor revisions to the '93 Mustang.Several "Feature" models were built, and the Ford Special Vehicle Teamdivision was born, with the '93 Mustang Cobra and the F-150 Lightningbeing its first products.

In 1994 Ford pulled back the curtains on a major restyling effort forthe Mustang. Going for a "retro" look that would win the hearts ofMustang fans everywhere, the new SN-95 Mustang (so named from theplatform designation) featured many styling cues that harkened back toits roots, including a dual--cockpit-themed dash, stylized C-scoopsides, and a chrome running horse in the grille. The 5.0 engine poweredthis new Mustang, including the Cobra models, for the first two years,but in 1996 Ford began installing its five-year-old 4.6 Modulartwo-valve powerplant. This new engine, in one version or another, iswhat powers the Mustang to this day. The modular engine featuredsingle-overhead cams driven by chains and two valves per cylinder. Atjust 281 ci, it put out the same horsepower as the 5.0 engine it justreplaced. The Four-Valve Cobra version of the modular engine was anengineering marvel. With four valves per cylinder and four cams, theCobra version belted out an astonishing 305 horsepower. The '96-'98models continued with minor changes. But the best was yet to come.

Nineteen-ninety-nine was a banner year for Mustang enthusiasts. The carwas freshened yet again (though still an SN-95, many people refer to the'99-and-later models as the "New Edge") with a major exterior redesign.Ford celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Mustang with a specialAnniversary Package on GT coupes and convertibles, while the 4.6Two-Valve modular engine was enhanced with different cylinder heads tooutput 260 hp, the most horsepower ever in a third-generation GT model.Throughout 2000-2004, the New Edge Mustang changed scoops, wings,wheels, brakes, and other options to offer the buying public suchpopular cars as the '01 Mustang GT Bullitt, the '03-'04 Mach 1, and the'03-'04 supercharged Cobra. With each of these cars sporting specializedversions of the 4.6 Modular at 265, 305, and 390 hp, respectively, therewas never a more accurate time to state that there's a Mustang foreveryone.

For 2005 Ford is releasing the first completely redesigned Mustang in 25years. Everything is new, including the platform, the suspension, thedrivetrain, and the interior. The 4.6 GT engine has been upgraded withnew cylinder heads (featuring three valves per cylinder), tuned exhaust,variable cam timing, and more to raise the horsepower to a robust andexhilarating 300 hp. A torque peak of 315 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm helps theall-new '05 Mustang GT hold its own on the street. The '05 is a newchapter in the Mustang's history book, one we're sure will be full ofowners enjoying the latest in a long line of Mustang heritage andpassion.

So far in its long and glorious life, the Mustang has paced theIndianapolis 500 three times. Chosen models were the '64'/2, the '79,and the '94, with special Pace Cars being offered to the general public.With their replica graphics and special features, they proved quitepopular.
In 1982, advertisements shouted "The Boss is Back," and it was in a bigway. The '82 Mustang GT was a reawakening of the Mustang's performanceheritage and is still sought today as a collectible.
The '87-'93 Mustangs featured an aerodynamic nose with new headlightsand fascia. Inside was an all-new, sporty interior with supportivebucket seats and full console. The '91 Mustang GT and 5.0 LX modelsdebuted the now-famous Pony five-spoke, 16-inch wheels.
The '94 Mustang received a major facelift inside and out. Although thecar featured modern looks, it still paid homage to the originalMustang's styling. The Chrome Yellow paint didn't hurt sales either.
The '99 New Edge Mustang debuted to much fanfare and popularity in thepress and amongst the Mustang faithful, but it was the '00 Mustang CobraR model, with its 5.4 engine, massive brakes, and race car-inspiredstyling that really stirred the crowd into a frenzy. Three hundred luckypeople with competition racing licenses signed their names to thesecars, some of which can still be found in competition today.
The '03-'04 Cobra has been one of the most talked-about Mustangs inrecent memory. With a Four-Valve 4.6 supercharged engine rated at 390hp, this latest iteration of the Cobra lineage is by far considered thebest performing Mustang built to date.
The all-new '05 Mustang GT coupe and V-6 coupe will begin productionthis fall, with convertible models sure to be available in the future.The '05 looks to be one of the best Mustangs for the money. See foryourself at your nearest Ford dealer.