2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic Ford Mustang and the introduction of some radical technological innovations. We break down the features that make up the modern Mustang – and some we wish did – and where and when they came from
The car itself: the Mustang
The fastback roof
The GT package
We wish! Rent-a-racer program
Boss Mustang package
We wish! Mustang Cobra package
We wish! Mystichrome
Independent rear suspension
We wish! Bullitt Edition
Sequential turn signal taillamps
Mustang Now: EcoBoost
Mustang Now: MyFord Touch
Mustang Now: Something old, something new, something borrowed
- The car itself:...
- The headlights
- Tri-bar taillights
- The dashboard
- The fastback roof
- The GT package
- We wish!...
- 5.0-litre V8
- Boss Mustang package
- Grabber colours
- We wish! Mustang...
- Fuel injection
- Anti-lock brakes
- We wish! Mystichrome
- Independent rear...
- Retro styling
- European styling
- We wish! Bullitt...
- Sequential turn...
- Mustang Now:...
- Mustang Now:...
- Mustang Now:...
1962 Mustang I Concept: This is it, the official start of Mustang. While the production car did not retain the concept’s two-passenger seating layout, or its midship V-4 engine placement, it did keep the long hood, short deck and large side vent that define the Mustang.
1964 Mustang: Maybe it’s just us, but the three lighting elements inboard of the headlights on the 2015 Mustang seem like they’re supposed to call back the three slots the original Mustang had on the side of the grille.
1964 Mustang: The Mustang’s featured segmented three-bar taillights from day one, though they’ve gone through many different looks. They really only broke away from the split lamps during the Fox-body generations of the ’80s and ’90s, but it didn’t take long for Ford to come back to them after that.
1964 Mustang: The twin-cowl dashboard essentially defined the interior of the first-generation Mustang, and while it disappeared for several years after the Mustang II debuted, it came back in a big (and much swoopier way) on the 1994 Mustang. The 2015 Mustang retains the twin-cowl, too.
1965 Mustang fastback: The fastback roofline for the Mustang bowed early on, in the 1965 model year, and it’s been a favourite of most Mustang enthusiasts ever since. Convertibles can be fun and notchback hardtops have their appeal, too, but nothing looks as good on a Mustang as a gradually sloped rear window.
1965 Mustang GT: It didn’t take Ford long to add a sporty GT package to the base six-cylinder-powered ‘Stang. It included some trim delete and neat striping; fog lamps; a tuned V-8, naturally; and the first-ever disk brakes on a Mustang. The ’65 Mustang GT sat on 14-inch wheels; when equipped with the Performance Pack, the 2015 Mustang’s disk brakes are 15-inch six-piston units.
1966 Shelby Mustang GT-350H: Back in the day you could actually get one of these babies from the Hertz rental office, provided you were over 25. Rumour was guys would take the 289 Hi-Po engine out of the thing and swap their stock Mustang V8 in there and return it! Ford’s brought the Hertz Mustang rental program back before, but we’d like to see it happen again.
1968 Mustang 302 Windsor: The figures 5.0 and 302 are hallowed numbers within Mustang canon, denoting the cylinder displacement (in litres and cubic inches, respectively) of several of the pony’s most popular engines. The 302 Windsor first bowed on the ’68 Mustang; the 5.0-litre designation (same as 302, just metric) showed up first on the 1978 King Cobra edition. 1968 was also the first year the Mustang got the medium-riser street version of Ford’s 390-horse 427, as well as the 428 Cobra Jet.
1969 Mustang Boss 302: The Mustang Boss 302 and 429 were – or, really, are – muscle car legends, street-legal racecars that could go fast and handle. We just saw a ressurected Boss 302 package come and go for 2012 and 2013, and are hoping it returns on the new ‘Stang sooner rather than later. The debut year of the Boss package – named after engineer Larry Shinoda’s boss, Bunkie Knudsen – was 1969; the Mustang Mach 1 came out that year, too.
1970 Mustang: The ’70s were the heyday for groovy car colours, including the too-bright “grabber” hues on the Mustang. A much tamer Medium Lime is pictured, but even that would stand out on a car today. Also available? Original Cinnamon, There She Blue and Anti-Establish Mint. The shaker hood scoop debuted in ’70, too; it’s since returned just once, on the 2003 Mach 1.
1974 Mustang II 2.3-litre ‘Lima’: The idea of sticking a miserly four-cylinder into a Mustang is not new: Ford first did it in 1974, with the 2.3-litre Mustang II. (The engine was nicknamed ‘Lima’ after the place they were built.) The next year they even came out with a special “MPG Stallion” trim. 1974 also saw the first V6 in a Mustang, a 2.8-litre unit.
1976 Mustang Cobra II: The very first Mustang Cobra bowed in 1976 on the much-hated Mustang II. Even if people didn’t like that compacted car, they apparently liked the trim: Ford brought it back in 1993, and has done so over and over since. Here’s hoping it comes back again.
1980 Mustang McLaren M81: The McLaren-engined M81 was not at all a production ‘Stang, but it was a sort-of proof-of-concept that you could make gobs of horsepower out of a turbocharged four-cylinder. It was apparently capable of churning out 175 ponies at the flywheel, in fact—respectable, if a lot less than what the new EcoBoost unit makes.
1984 Mustang SVO: We got our first taste of a carb-less Mustang in 1984, when the Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) throttle body injection turbo four debuted. The boosted engine made nearly as much horsepower as a contemporary V8; no surprise, then, that Ford switched all Mustangs over to multi-port fuel injection in 1986.
1990 Mustang: 1990 saw the Mustang’s steering wheel centre go from a cute little round thing to a rounded-off rectangle, complete with new-fangled airbag in the middle. This was not long after they started flush-fitting headlights and things for “aerodynamics,” whatever that is.
1994 Mustang: The 1994 was not just the first year for a new generation of Mustang, it was also the first year for anti-lock brakes (ABS). Throw in airbags and a host of other improvements and the car was a lot safer than it was just five years prior. (That goes for the smoother, safer styling, too, which was nowhere near as aggressive as its hard-lined Fox-body predecessor’s.)
1996 Mustang SVT Cobra: This topaz-to-blue-to-purple-to-black colour-shifting paint job technically debuted on the 1995 Mystic Mustang from tuner Saleen, but I guess Ford was so in love with it they ended up shooting it on some ‘Stangs themselves. They called the limited edition hue “Mystic Cobra” for 1996; when it was resurrected in 2004 (pictured above), it became “Mystichrome.” It’d probably be expensive as heck – and look pretty tacky on the new car – but we’d like to see it back.
1999 Mustang SVT Cobra: The first-ever Mustang with an independent rear suspension (IRS, as opposed to a solid live axle) was the ’99 SVT Cobra. This was supposed to improve the car’s handling, but straight-line performance dropped off as a result. The reappearance of the setup on the new car is a marked departure from Mustang tradition—we’ll see how fans take it.
2005 Mustang: You can thank – or blame – legendary stylist J Mays for the retro-inspired 2005 Ford Mustang redesign, based on the jaw-dropping 2003 Mustang GT Coupe concept. The car’s aesthetic borrowed heavily from the original, and still influences the current car’s look to a certain degree.
2006 Giugiaro Mustang concept: When the Mustang launched in 1964 it was supposed to be European sports-car inspired, but the styling was about as all-American as apple pie. Whenever a European stylist does take a whack at one, though – like when Bertone did in 1965, or Giugiaro did in 2006 – they’re always way cool. The new Mustang was supposed to have global appeal, and so it mixes retro ‘Merican style with European influences.
2006 Mustang Bullitt Edition: The Highland Green 2006 Bullitt Mustang – inspired by the 1968 car Steve McQueen’s detective character drove in the film of the same name – was the latest Mustang we really wanted. They had a similar special edition in 2001—please bring this back, Ford!
2010 Mustang: The sequential turn signals (they light up in the direction you’re turning) are a too-cool feature we were ecstatic to see on the 2010 Mustang. The idea came out of the ’60s-era Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar, but neither of those cars are around any more, so the leap over onto the Mustang made sense.
2015 Mustang: The new 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo has a touch more horsepower than the old Mustang II did—more than 300 ponies total, in fact, which should be enough to shut up anyone who claims you’ve a putt-putt half-bank V8 underhood. Fuel economy should be decent as well, and if you need even more power, there’s still the 5.0-litre V8. Not so power-crazy? The 3.7-litre base V6 carries over, too.
2015 Mustang: While the Mustang will retain its twin-cowl dash, there’re now a touchscreen in the centre of that console. The company’s touch-y interfaces have been receiving some complaints recently, so to hedge their bets, Ford has stuck some old-fashioned knobs and buttons on there, too, for redundancy.
2015 Mustang: The new Mustang was designed to be a car with global appeal, and not just something for the U.S. (that is still the primary market, though, followed by Canada). As a result, it mixes retro American styling with some new European flair, and innovations and features taken from Ford offices around the world.