The Ford Mustang’s long hood and short deck proportions are impossible to miss. But the iconic mesh grilles and layout are only the beginning. What’s under the hood of these sporty coupes will make you want to get your hands on the steering wheel, and feel the adrenaline once you step on the accelerator.
There are more than five generations of Ford Mustangs, and every model seems to be more head-turning than the next. If you’re looking for the best of the best, here are five of the top Ford Mustangs in history.
1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429: A NASCAR-Ready Thrill-Seeker
Devilishly handsome一that’s one way to describe the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429. Designed by the legendary Larry Shinoda, this Mustang sported an aggressive appearance both inside the cabin and under the hood.
Although the Boss 429 only stayed in production for two years, it made its mark as one of the most notable Mustangs to ever grace the streets.
The Boss 429s originally came with 428 Cobra Jet power plants before they were assembled with the 429 cubic-inch V8 at Kar Kraft in Brighton, Michigan.
It’s easy to spot the Boss 429 from a mile away with its fully functional hood scoop, which is the largest on any Mustang ever produced.
Compared to the Shelby series, the Boss 429’s design is much more basic, featuring the automaker’s standard interior decor group (high black bucket seats, deluxe seat belts, etc.).
Some of the subtle features you’ll spot on the Boss 429 include the flared rear fenders and black chin spoiler designed to reduce aerodynamic drag.
But if there’s one unforgettable thing about the Boss 429, it’s the V8 that features four-bolt main caps, a forged steel crankshaft, and staggered valve aluminum heads with semi-hemispherical combustion chambers.
- Engine: 429 V8
- Horsepower: 375 hp
- Torque: 450 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
- Weight: 3,580 lbs.
1971 Ford Mustang: Codename Eleanor
Movie-loving grease monkeys will tell you that the movie Gone in 60 Seconds is a must-watch for many reasons.
Aside from the intense plot, the movie also features one of the most memorable Mustangs ever built一Eleanor.
The original Eleanor is a 1971 Ford Mustang with front clips taken from a 1973 Mustang. Contrary to popular belief, Eleanor is not a 1974 Fastback. The movie’s 2000 remake introduced the second Eleanor, a 1967 Shelby GT500.
In the movie, Eleanor is the halo car that belonged to a list of 48 vehicles to hijack for a whopping $400,000 in exchange for a successful heist.
The medium yellow-gold Mustang in the movie featured a racing crate under the hood with a NOS system to back a 351 Cleveland engine.
- Engine: 5.8-liter (351) V8
- Horsepower: 385 hp
- Torque: 377 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
- Weight: 3,285 lbs.
1985 Ford Mustang SVO: A Mustang On a Mission
The SVO in the 1985 Ford Mustang stands for “Special Vehicle Operations,” which is Ford’s racing division. The idea was to take racing technology and apply it to building high-performance street-legal vehicles.
In terms of its appearance, the 1985 SVO wasn’t that different from the pioneer model. It still sported the iconic two-tier rear wing and ducted hood that Mustang enthusiasts have come to love. So what were the qualities of the ‘85 SVO that set it apart from the ‘84 model?
The system upgrades and facelifts didn’t come until the mid-year production of the 1985 Mustang SVO.
In terms of the exterior, the revamped SVO had minor changes, specifically with the trim (black to charcoal gray) and composite aerodynamic headlights. While this might be the case, these tweaks were enough to breathe new life into the ‘85 SVO.
The ‘85 SVO came with a five-speed manual transmission and reworked turbo elements. Some of these changes included fuel-filled engine mounts, a water-cooled turbocharger, improved boost pressure, a hotter camshaft, and a revised turbine.
The improved SVO was such a head-turner that a lot of gearheads agreed that it rivaled more expensive Japanese and European sports coupes.
- Engine: Turbocharged inline-4
- Horsepower: 148.23 hp
- Torque: 248 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 7.3 seconds
- Weight: 3,049 lbs.
2000 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R: The Street-Legal Speedster
Named after one of the fastest snakes in the world, the 2000 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R lived up to its reputation of being the fastest factory Mustang ever made.
This mean red machine was the closest Ford ever got to producing a street-legal race car in the year 2000.
The SVT (Special CVehicle Team) was the successor to Ford’s SVO division. Similar to the 1985 Ford Mustang SVO, the SVT Cobra R was built to wreak havoc on the tracks.
This modified Cobra came with a flashy side exit exhaust, rear wing, front splitter, and Recaro racing bucket seats.
The 2000 SVT Cobra R sacrificed comfort for power and speed. It had no rear seats, air conditioning unit, radio, and cruise control system.
Because of the extreme light-weighting measures, the SVT Cobra R became one of the best-handling Mustangs ever, rivaling the performance of the infamous Chevy Corvette Z06.
Despite having only 300 units in production, the SVT Cobra R was deemed the most successful model in the Cobra R series.
- Engine: 5.4-liter V8
- Horsepower: 385 hp
- Torque: 385 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 4.7 seconds
- Weight: 3,589 lbs.
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: A Reimagined Classic
The Shelby GT500 has been around since 1967, and it remains one of Ford’s scariest creations to date (in a good way, of course!).
Named after one of the greatest American automotive designers in the world, the Shelby GT500 made a comeback in 2020 after Ford stopped producing the model in 2014.
The revived pony car reemerged in the market with the quickest street-legal acceleration and the most high-performance tech features in any Mustang.
The 2020 Shelby GT500’s hand-built engine was powerful enough to earn the nickname “Predator.”
With the 2020 Shelby GT500’s supercar-like powertrain and quick-shifting transmission, it’s safe to say that it set the standard for its class when producing god-like speed in the most precise way possible.
The 2020 Shelby GT500’s boundary-pushing power is only one of the features that made it one of the best Mustangs that will ever go down in history.
Combined with innovative tech, drivers can also enjoy the timeless features of the Shelby GT500, including an aggressive style front splitter, self-centering hood pins, and the iconic wire mesh grilles.
But why is it called the GT500? You’ve got to go back to the GT 350. The GT stands for “grand tourer” or “gran turismo” and the 350 came from the distance between the race and production shops at Shelby American, which was 350 feet. The 500 was simply a bigger and more powerful-sounding number than 350, so it fit better with GT500’s monster engine.
- Engine: Supercharged DOHC 32-valve V8
- Horsepower: 760 hp
- Torque: 625 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 3.4 seconds
- Weight: 4,171 lbs.
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