Monday, November 27, 2023

Sixty Years of 'Stang

In early 1964, the first Ford Mustangs rolled into dealerships. The 1965 model year at Ford wasn't officially underway yet, so these earliest Mustangs are known as "1964½" models, like the Skylight Blue convertible above.

That particular Mustang has a 260cid V-8, sourced from Ford's midsize Fairlane line. With a two-barrel carburetor and 8.8:1 compression, the little small block was rated at 164 SAE gross horsepower.

Thirty years and three generations later, the Mustang nameplate was on its third platform: The initial Falcon-derived chassis had bloated to almost midsize proportions. The base model '64½ weighed in under 2500 pounds, while the final 1973 'Stangs tipped the scales at over 3500 in even their most spartan trim.

The second generation shrunk to a Pinto-based car that only weighed 2600 pounds in hardtop coupe form. After four years of the Mustang II, the all-new 1979 Mustangs debuted on Ford's Fox platform, the same as the compact Fairmont sedan.

My Laser Red 1994 Mustang GT in the photo above was the first of the fourth generation, called the SN95, thirty years after the the originals. While the basic dimensions of the small block 302 V-8 are shared with the old 260 and 289, it has thirty years worth of improvements. 

Tuned-port injection, electronic ignition, computerized engine management... the 1994's 5.0L H.O. V-8 put out 215 SAE net horsepower with no drama on midgrade pump gas. Bear in mind that under the old SAE gross brochure horsepower numbers, this thing probably would have been advertised as having something closer to 300 and in the days of carbs and no computers it would have taken radical cams, solid lifters, and a high compression ratio necessitating premium gas to put out these numbers.

Another thirty years on we see the first seventh generation Mustangs, like the Vapor Blue 2024 GT coupe above.

It's been three generations since the Mustang shared a platform with anything, and the new S650 7th generation is its own car. The 5.0L under the hood of this '24 has nothing in common with the 5.0 in my '94 except the name and the number and arrangement of the cylinders. It's a 307 cubic inch DOHC 32V motor rated at a whopping 480 net horsepower.

Sixty years is a long run for one nameplate. The only one with a longer uninterrupted run I can think of is Chevrolet's Corvette.

You gotta wonder if there'll be 75th anniversary editions of either one?