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The Ford Mustang A Look Back At The History Of An Icon

It’s one of the most recognisable muscle cars of the past 50 years


Yet the Ford Mustang has never actually been sold in Britain.


The first generation – brought to fame by Hollywood legend Steve McQueen – has always been the most desired, but it, along with every other version ever made, has made it on to UK roads as a left-hand-drive import only.


But that’s all changing, as Ford’s sixth generation Mustang aims to be a global car – being sold directly to UK buyers in right-hand-drive form the first time.


We thought that it was the perfect excuse to look back on the model’s 50-year history.


FIRST GENERATION – 1964 to 1973


The first Mustang was born from a two-seat, mid-engined, roadster with a fairly unremarkable V4 engine. The two-seat idea was abandoned by the time that production came around, with the aim of attracting more buyers with a 2+2 setup. Over its life the first generation Mustang had some facelifts, which made it bigger and bulkier, but at first no more powerful.





That changed in 1968, when a hefty 4.9L V8 engine was fitted and the powerful muscle car that is fondly remembered was born. That was largely thanks to Steve McQueen, who drove a 1968 GT 390 fastback in one of the most famous movie chase scenes of all time in Bullitt.


It elevated the Mustang to celebrity status and it’s this first gen car that is thought as ‘the’ classic Mustang by many.


SECOND GENERATION (1974 to 1978)


With fuel becoming more expensive, Ford bosses wanted a smaller, more efficient Mustang and it came in 1974. What it actually did was turn the clock back to the same size as the original 1964 car as regards size and styling.






Engine choices were varied, from a 2.3L four-cylinder via a 2.8L V6 up to a meaty 5.0L V8. The car was again available as a coupe and a hatchback, but just lacked the classic style and appeal of its predecessor.


THIRD GENERATION (1979 to 1993)


If the second iteration of the Mustang didn’t quite match up to the original, then the third gen, very much an 80s car, is probably the least memorable. It was no looker, with styling far removed from the iconic original.





This version was based on a longer platform and focus shifted to making it comfortable for four people inside, rather than the occasional 2+2 configuration of old.


It was, however, still available as a coupe, hatchback and a convertible.


FOURTH GENERATION (1994 to 2004)


With the undesirable third gen car well past its sell-by date, it was decided that the Mustang needed a refresh after 15 years. The aim was for the styling to hark back to earlier Mustangs and this was the dawn of the modern version of the car for many, with looks that are mirrored both in the original 1960s car and in the most recent new version. The car had regained its identity and hasn’t lost it since.





It was also a shift back towards a sporty emphasis, with the hatchback version canned. The smallest engine was now a 3.8 V6, with a 4.6L V8 providing the real meat under the bonnet.




By this point the Mustang was well and truly back on song, with styling and engines that made the car almost as sought-after and desirable as the 1960s version. Power came from a 4.0L V6, a 4.8L V8 and later a 4.6L V8.





The figures continued to climb as far as output went as well – in 2012 a Boss 302 version had a hefty 444hp under the bonnet.




For the first time, the Mustang is a truly global car that Ford aims to sell in 120 countries, including, for the first time, in the UK as a right-hand-drive car. It is the first time since 1964 that British Mustang fans will be able to walk into a Ford showroom and buy one direct without having to import it.





The latest car is wider and lower than the last version and benefits from Ford’s newest EcoBoost engine, a 2.3L with 310hp. But purists will look at either the 3.7L V6 or the mighty 5.0L V8, with 300hp and 435hp respectively.


At last, after half a century, the Mustang is set to truly conquer the world.


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