Not all Mustangs are made equal, so let’s set the record straight

Over the many decades that Mustangs have graced the Earth, 54 years to be precise, we’ve seen the famous muscle car take all kinds of shapes and sizes and we all have our personal favourites. The iconic Ford Mustang is instantly recognised all around the world and for a good reason, but which is the best?

Is the 2018 Mustang the best?

2018 Ford Mustang fastback 1

The 6th generation of Mustang legacy is the one we are currently in. Since 2015, the lineup of models have looked like this. Lower, wider and generally quite aggressive-looking. Despite the jaw-dropping appearance, this particular model is probably also one of the most “bulbous” which some people may be able to find fault with.

With that said, the current gen Mustang has been the best-selling sports coupe in the world for 3 years straight. The 2.3L EcoBoost model starts at roughly just £37,000 so it’s very well priced, it also comes with a fantastic interior and handles well for a heavy American muscle car, despite feeling a bit big on UK roads. It’s a shining modern example of a Mustang and ticks all the right boxes, but it’s not the best of all time for me…

Ford’s Bullitt Mustangs

Ford Mustang Bullitt 2

Fanatics will happily call it the greatest car chase in film history. When an emerald green ‘68 390 V8 Ford Mustang GT Fastback chased after a ‘68 375 hp 440 Magnum V8-powered Dodge Charger in the 1968 film Bullitt, history was made. The image of 2 spectacular muscle cars drifting around San Francisco, bouncing down the hilly streets and filtering through traffic has been burned into our minds, reinforcing the cool-factor that the ‘Stangs already held.

2018 Ford Mustang Bullitt 3

The scene was so iconic that Ford has made a Bullitt edition 2019 Mustang to honour the film. The car features the classic green colour, badgeless front and an upgraded 475 hp V8 engine. Both the 1968 GT and the 2019 Mustang Bullitt are dream cars for sure, but they’re just film merchandise at the end of the day. What if you’ve never seen Bullitt?

The 1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R

1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R 4

People are often divided when it comes to the 3rd generation of Mustangs. From 1979 to 1993 the famous and classic shape that we all knew and loved changed drastically. During this era, one particular model stood out and become the king of the range. The SVT Cobra R was released at the very end of the 3rd gen period in ‘93 and although it may have not had a crazy amount of horsepower (235hp), but it excelled when it came to handling and suspension. It may not look as mean as previous models, but don’t mistake this for just a show pony, this was a thoroughbred race Mustang that was as wild as ever.

Not only was it fitted with upgraded cooling, powerful brakes and a 5.0L V8, but the air con, rear seats and stereo system were all thrown out to reduce weight, making it a real track performer. However, it’s not the best Mustang. I can’t forgive the obviously plastic wing mirrors, tri-spoke wheels and the most un-Mustang shape to ever wear the badge.

Why the 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 is king

1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 5

(GT500 Eleanor model)

Out of all 6 generations of Mustang and all special editions, Cobras, Shelbys, GTs, Machs, Boss’s and so on, the ultimate Mustang is the ‘67 GT500. It’s truly amazing just how good this car still looks today, 50 years after its release. The design of this muscle icon does not obey the rules of time like other cars, as it simply refuses to look old and outdated. Put one of these next to today’s best supercars and you may find that it steals the spotlight completely. This is the quintessential Mustang and is probably what the designers look to before they begin drawing up concepts of the next model.

1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 KR model 6

(GT500 KR model)

But why is it better than the rest? On paper it’s not got the most horsepower, or got the most torque or have the best 0-60mph time, but any car enthusiast will know it goes deeper than that. The GT500 took the already-great GT350 and improved it with some exterior tweaks as well as engine upgrades resulting in it outselling the GT350 by almost 2:1.

1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 7

The GT500 was a perfect blend of performance, luxury and of course, style. Unlike the Boss 429, a close runner-up, the 500 wasn’t stripped of its parts to shed weight and retained its “Deluxe Mustang” interior. The exterior featured a double bonnet scoop as well as air scoops on the lower and upper side. The side scoops, bonnet, boot lid and rear light panel were fibreglass and little things like the bonnet pins, GT500 stripes and Shelby Cobra petrol cap are what made the car exceptionally stylish.

1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 Cobra 8

Let’s not forget about that glorious engine and the glorious sounds that come out of the exhaust. You just can’t beat the old school muscle car engines and the 428 Cobra-Jet V8 engine was a good example of why they’re the best. Fit with aluminium mid-rise intake and 2X4-barrel 600 CFM Holley carburettors, it looked and performed as you’d expect from the best Mustang.

All in all, the GT500 was an early stellar example of what a Mustang should be and it’s set the bar for all future models. Despite being anciently old, it’s still very relevant today and (I believe) acts as the very foundation of all of the Mustangs we see today. Ford really pushed the boat out for this special car and they created a masterpiece that will continue to be treasured for decades to come.

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