heritage edition package available on 2020 mustang shelby gt350 and gt350r models features a unique throwback livery with wimbledon white paint and guardsman blue side and over the top racing stripes

Car and Driver

As the seventh-generation Mustang seems on the horizon, nearly to make its debut in Detroit, our editors could not assist having a look again at 57 years and 6 Mustang generations to commemorate their favourite and least favourite variations. Read on for the Worst and Best:

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Gen 1 (1965–1973) Worst: Base Model

We do not like poser vehicles. Sorry, however the early-production base mannequin of the first-generation Mustang was one. Sporty-looking but meek, it was little greater than the Falcon economic system automobile that it was based mostly on. The entry-level Mustang slow-walked by means of life courtesy of a sleepy 170-cubic-inch, 101-hp inline-six and a three-speed handbook transmission that lacked the comfort of synchromesh on first gear—making for a gear-crunching wince fest when driving in the town. Its tender suspension, gradual and heavy steering, and weak drum brakes had been finest fitted to trundling down to the native A&W for burgers relatively carving up again roads or difficult Pontiac GTOs at stoplights. But a minimum of it regarded cool. —Rich Ceppos

It can be straightforward to say that each first-generation Mustang was the most effective Mustang as a result of America fell onerous for the unique pony automobile the second it was launched on April 17, 1964, on the New York World’s Fair. More than 418,000 Mustangs had been bought in the primary 12 months of manufacturing. Two variations, nevertheless, reared again and bucked their method into the hearts of fans. The first was the high-performance mannequin outfitted with the Okay-code hi-po 289-cubic-inch V-8, which made 271 horsepower at a lofty 6000 rpm. It got here solely with a four-speed handbook transmission, a particular dealing with bundle, and 15-inch wheels—which had been method cool as a result of they had been painted black and had been freed from hubcaps. Beyond the hi-po, there was the opposite finest first-gen Mustang: the close-to-a-race car GT350 (pictured), a fastback Stang muscled up by Shelby American with a stiff suspension, sticky tires, alloy wheels, and a model of the 289 that bellowed out a claimed 306 horsepower.—Rich Ceppos

Gen 2 (1974–1978) Worst: Mustang II

I wrote this over Labor Day weekend, with a gaggle of car-loving associates ingesting beer in the room whereas I labored. When requested, “What’s the worst Mustang II?” a number of shouted out, “All of them.” One mentioned, “What’s a Mustang II?” after which, on trying it up, mentioned, “Oh man, that is a horrible automobile.” I’ll try to mount a protection once we get to Best, however for worst, let’s say, the 1974 four-cylinder coupe, picked due to its mixture of poor highway presence—actually, the coupes appear to be they’re sagging straight off the dealership ground, Ghia designed or not—and tacky 87-hp efficiency. Mostly, although, I’m choosing the primary yr as a result of it launched a technology of Mustang that, whereas financially good for Ford, was spiritually dangerous for the horse’s vanity. Also, 1974 was the one yr the Mustang was ever provided with out a V-8 choice, and that was simply unsuitable. —Elana Scherr

Best: Mustang II King Cobra (1978)

Lee Iacocca had a dilemma in 1973: Keep rising the Mustang, which by that time was already approaching mid-size-car territory, or shrink it again down and provide one thing that addressed shopper fears about gas mileage and the rising value of residing. The Mustang II is a good disappointment to performance-loving Ford followers, however Mustang is the one one of many pony vehicles to brag an unbroken line from introduction to current day, which it couldn’t have finished if it had saved rising and gasoline guzzling just like the Challenger and the Camaro. The Mustang II can be worthwhile as a supply of straightforward, light-weight impartial entrance suspension and rack-and-pinion steering for customized automobile builds, and plenty of a show-winning Deuce or avenue rod benefited from Ford’s chassis decisions. When it comes to finest, I’m going to go along with the 1978 King Cobra Mustang II. It was nonetheless gradual, taking greater than 10 seconds to get to 60 mph, but it surely got here with a V-8, has a few of the wildest hood graphics of any automobile save the Trans Am, and, maybe better of all, signaled the tip of its technology. —Elana Scherr

Gen 3 (1979–1993) Worst: 4.2-Liter V-8

It was the most effective of occasions, it was the . . . no, it was simply the worst. Amid the second gas disaster of the Nineteen Seventies, producers did all they might to stretch a gallon of gasoline. For the Mustang, this meant a shrunken V-8. For the 1980 mannequin yr, Ford decreased the bore diameter of the 4.9-liter V-8 (extra generally referred to because the 5.0) to create the 4.2-liter. The horsepower output was so repulsive that Ford wouldn’t embrace it in the press supplies. The 4.2-liter produced 118 horsepower, making it the least highly effective V-8 Mustang ever to be produced. We by no means had the chance to check one, however relaxation assured, it wouldn’t have been spectacular. —David Beard

The final of the Fox-bodies and the primary automobile from the Special Vehicle Team (SVT) is arguably the most effective of the bunch, and with simply 107 Vibrant Red hatchbacks constructed, it’s one of many rarest fashions conceived. (The one proven right here was listed for auction on Bring a Trailer in 2021.) The 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra R was powered by a 235-hp 4.9-liter V-8, and SVT ensured measures had been taken to make it a devoted observe automobile. The Cobra R made do with out a radio, air-con, a rear seat, and gutted the rear carpet and sound deadening materials. It additionally had handbook home windows, door locks, and mirrors. The bucket seats from the Mustang LX had been used in place of the heavier Cobra

seats, and when it was all mentioned and finished, a claimed 450 kilos had been eliminated. But a lot of the weight can be added again in with strategic {hardware} equivalent to bigger brake rotors, strut tower and subframe bracing, stiffer springs, adjustable dampers, a bigger radiator, and an influence steering and engine oil cooler. The Cobra R would spawn once more in 1995 and for the ultimate time in 2000. —David Beard

Gen 4 (1994–2004) Worst: V-6 Coupe

When we in contrast the base 1994 Mustang towards a recent Camaro, we mentioned that the engine “drones considerably reluctantly” and the shifter’s throws had been “lengthy and ponderous” and that “you can be sad to uncover that the automobile’s reside axle is definitely led astray.” And these had been a few of the nicer sentiments. Today, a base Mustang is a good efficiency automobile in its personal proper, however in 1994 the V-6 Mustang existed primarily for rental fleets and as an upsell on wheels—drive one and also you’d certainly work out how to afford a GT. Its engine’s specs (145 hp at 4000 rpm) learn like they belong to a small diesel relatively than a pony-car V-6, and this automobile wore probably the saddest three-spoke wheels ever foisted on the car-buying public. How dangerous was it? Bad sufficient to lose a comparability check to a V-6 Camaro. But even that automobile may have been worse: It may have been an automated. —Ezra Dyer

Ford despatched out the Fox platform in a supercharged blaze of glory with the 2003 SVT Cobra, which introduced a blown 390-hp V-8 and impartial rear suspension to the occasion. Even although this Mustang nonetheless used a platform courting to 1979, the brand new {hardware} was good for a 4.5-second zero-to-60-mph time and a 12.9-second quarter-mile at 111 mph—legit numbers even at the moment. The identical goes for its 0.90 g of stick and talent to deal with midcorner bumps with out the rear finish heading for the guardrail. Sure, you smashed your knuckles on the sprint shifting to third, however such is the worth of Fox-body greatness. So why is the 2004 mannequin higher than the 2003? Because you may get it in color-shifting Mystichrome paint, the last word early-2000s Mustang flex. —Ezra Dyer

Gen 5 (2005–2014) Worst: Base Model with V-6

Ford lovers rejoiced with the arrival of the fifth-generation Mustang in 2005. The fourth-gen mannequin however, Gen 5 was the primary all-new Mustang since 1979. Based on the brand new D2C platform and with taut styling that concurrently regarded trendy whereas recalling the horny fastbacks of the Sixties, it was an excellent success. But Ford spent most of its cash on the brand new platform and physique. The engines had been just about carryover, in specific the bottom mannequin’s 4.0-liter V-6, which was borrowed from the Explorer, and traced its heritage to a 2.0-liter German V-6 from 1964. That base mannequin wanted 6.6 seconds to get to 60 mph, ambled by means of the quarter in 15.3 at 93 mph, and will muster a mere 114 mph, even with a handbook. This technology received a helpful mid-cycle refresh in 2010, so clearly the worst of the bunch are the pre-refresh vehicles with the hoary V-6. —Csaba Csere

Gen 5 Mustang GTs began out with a carryover V-8, a three-valve, 4.6-liter model of Ford’s “modular” V-8. It had 300 horsepower, which we might have killed for again in Gen 3, however was run-of-the-mill in 2005. But in 2011, the Mustang received the primary “Coyote” V-8. Displacing 5.0 liters and gainfully using double over head cams and 4 valves per cylinder, this jewel of an engine developed 412 horsepower and immediately elevated the GT’s efficiency. A few years later, Ford extracted 444 ponies from the Coyote and plugged it in a mannequin known as the Boss 302, which was a worthy successor to the 1969 unique. Coupled with the Laguna Seca bundle, which upgraded the chassis, and revving to 7500, the Boss hit 60 in 4.2 seconds, scorched the quarter in 12.7 at 111 mph, and went on to 161 mph. It additionally cornered at 0.96 at stopped from 70 in 150. It is definitely the category of the fifth technology. —Csaba Csere

Gen 6 (2015–2022) Worst: “Bullitt” Mustang

Cars being so typically good these days, there are not any “worst” Mustangs. Even so, I don’t know why anybody would purchase a Bullitt (pictured) or base EcoBoost. Ford needed nothing to do with the movie Bullitt, making the cartoonish badging, retro wheels, and two shade decisions the least fascinating sort of throwback at an uninteresting value. Re the EcoBoost, its lowball MSRP can’t excuse its featureless and profound dullness, and including sufficient choices to escape the ennui—just like the High Performance bundle—places one in the pecuniary orbit of the V-8. Which is the place everybody ought to begin, anyway. —Jonathon Ramsey

The best driver’s vehicles occur when engineers make the most effective compromises throughout improvement. The most thrilling driver’s vehicles for every day use on on a regular basis roads require one compromise: handbook transmissions. The Mustang Shelby GT350 was the majestic accumulation of such give-and-take. Ford put the 5.2-liter V-8’s shrieking diablerie proper there in the identify: “Voodoo.” That noise! The circuit suppleness! That Tremec! Those brakes! Unlike the GT500, the GT350 didn’t appear to be a menace to kith and kin. And if you happen to stepped up to the 350R, Ford’s blacksmiths shod the horse in carbon-fiber sneakers. Even legendary eponymous horse dealer Carroll Shelby would have mentioned, “Well, I’ll be.” We definitely did. More than as soon as. —Jonathon Ramsey

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