1964- 2013: how the Mustang evolved
IOL Motoring Staff
Ford's brand-spanking-new Mustang was revealed to the world last week with a completely different game plan to any of its predecessors.
For the first time ever, this one will have to satisfy markets around the globe - including South Africa in 2015. Yet Ford's latest muscle car still claims to honour its heritage.
Let's take a look at where it comes from.
FIRST GENERATION (1964 - 1973)
Named after the legendary P51 Mustang fighter plane that served in World War II, the Ford Mustang first emerged as a mid-engined, two-seat concept car in 1962.
Yet it was the four-seat, front-engined production model of 1964 that created the template for the modern muscle car, even if it lacked the fire power. The very first Mustang sported a 75kW/212Nm 2.8-litre six-cylinder motor when it went on sale in April 1964, in hard-top and convertible form. A far sexier fastback body style joined the range later that year.
Ford had expected to sell no more than 100 000 Mustangs annually, yet 417 000 of them found homes in the first year. A legend has been born, and it was about to get a whole lot better.
In 1965, the Shelby GT350 was unleashed, armed with a 4.7-litre V8 that shoved 228kW through the back wheels. This was followed up by the 265kW GT500 and a while string of high-performance 'Stangs like the Boss 302, Boss 429 and Mach I.
The Mustang was restyled numerous times in the late 1960s and early 1970s, growing into bigger and bulkier car with every attempt - in fact the 1971 model was almost 30cm longer and 317kg than the originals.
But the Ford Mustang was set to do a radical about-turn.
SECOND GENERATION (1974 - 1978)
Just in time for the first oil crisis, the 1974 Mustang was 48cm shorter and 222kg lighter than the previous model and offered two puny engines in the form of a 66kW 2.3-litre four-cylinder and 81kW 2.8 V6. No convertible was offered this time around.
V8 power returned in 1975, but despite its size, the 4.2-litre engine was only good for 99kW. 1976 saw the Cobra II package join the line-up, complete with a non-functional bonnet scoop and racing stripes.
This generation was the Mustang's ultimate low point.
THIRD GENERATION (1979 - 1993)
The third all-new Mustang hit the scene at the end of the '70s and it grew a little bigger while still shedding 90kg.
It featured a sleeker, European-influenced hatchback body and even offered the option of a 104kW 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbopetrol, which was just as powerful as the 5-litre V8 option.
The Mustang convertible rejoined the range in 1983 while a more decently endowed 5-litre V8, with 157kW, hit the scene in 1985. Two years later, Ford's muscle car gained a more modern look and the V8 was now fuel injected, churning out 168kW. Gen III went out with a blast in 1993, when Ford unleashed the 175kW/380Nm limited-edition SVT Cobra.
FOURTH GENERATION (1994 - 2004)
Based on a heavily modified version of the 'Fox' platform that underpinned its forebear, the 1994 'Stang gained a clean sheet design that paid more tribute to the 1964 original. Fittingly, a convertible was still available and the tin-top returned to a more traditional three-box coupé body style.
The initial flagship 5.0 V8 GT offered just 160kW and it was soon overshadowed by the 179kW SVT Cobra and 224kW Cobra R. Finally the Mustang was back to its good old self.
The V8 took a step into the modern era in 1996 when Ford's new SOHC and DOHC 4.6-litre V8s were slotted beneath the bonnets of various models, offering between 160kW and 227kW.
Mustang marked the turn of the century with a facelift that saw its gentle lines make way for harder edges and petrol heads were fed a limited-edition 287kW 5.4-litre SVT Cobra R featuring lightweight components and, for the first time in a Mustang, a six-speed manual trannie. The regular Cobra model got even more venom in 2003 when a supercharger was strapped on to raise the pony count to 290kW.
FIFTH GENERATION (2005 - 2013)
Built on a brand new platform and gaining slightly in size, the fifth Mustang wowed the world with a retro design that drew heavily from the 1964 model.
Offering decent fire-power from the get-go, this one could be had with either a 157kW 4-litre V8 or a 224kW 5-litre V8.
Of course, these were soon joined by an army of serious performance models, including the 2006 GT350H and the 2007 Shelby GT500, the latter shunted along by a 373kW 5.4-litre supercharged V8 that was poached from the reborn Ford GT of 2003.
2009 saw a mild facelift for the Mustang and the following year the range gained a new range of engines, including a 227kW 3.7 V6, 307kW 5-litre V8 and - in the GT500 - a 410kW/690Nm 5.4 V8. That, of course was just to prepare the world for the 493kW/855Nm 5.8-litre GT500 that romped onto the scene in 2013 as the world's most powerful production V8.
SIXTH GENERATION (2014 onwards)
It's fitting that the all-new Mustang was simultaneously unveiled in six countries on 5 December - it's the first Mustang ever to have been designed for global markets, and it'll also be the first Mustang to be officially sold in South Africa in right-hand drive form when it reaches our shores in 2015.
It's a more sophisticated beast, offering fully independent rear suspension, and base models return to four-cylinder power, although we're talking 227kW here, and Ford is still offering the pleasure of a 313kW 5-litre V8 version.