Modern Ford Mustang: Which Vintage Mustang Is the Best?

By Owen Pham

The story of the modern Ford Mustang began in the early 1960s when Ford’s then assistant general manager, Lee Iacocca, envisioned a new flashy car to attract younger car enthusiasts. With the help of chief engineer Donald N. Frey, that dream came true within eighteen months.

On April 17, 1964, 16 days after the Plymouth Barracuda, the company unveiled one of the most iconic cars in American history at the World’s Fair. It was a resounding success; on the first day alone, 22,000 Mustangs were driven out of Ford dealerships.

Car enthusiasts have continued their love affair with the Mustang over the past five decades. Ford has always satisfied its loyal fans by introducing six generations of this muscle car over the past five decades. Despite Ford’s lack of interest in pushing sales outside the United States, many determined fans found a way to own a Mustang by shipping it to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. 

2015 was an important year because the auto universe saw the birth of another shining star, the S550, aka the 6th Generation Mustang. The modern Ford Mustang was the first right-hand drive (RHD) car of its kind to appear on British soil. Here below, we’ll discuss & review this living legend and give you our take on which year Mustang could be the best.

2020 ford mustang shelby gt500

The Debut & Marketing Surprise

The modern Ford Mustang made its debut at the 2014 Detroit Motor Show, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Ford Mustang. The automaker announced the model was developed as part of its “One Ford” plan. “We decided to make the Mustang global; we didn’t change the recipe,” stressed Dave Pericak, who led the project.

During the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and its rival Atletico Madrid in 2014, Ford’s marketing did a great job by announcing 500 Mustangs would be on sale in 20 European countries as a special promotion, including 130 RHD cars for the British market. In the blink of an eye, 30 seconds to be exact, they were amazingly completely sold out, leaving another 9,900 customers disappointed. No one doubted the Mustang’s popularity in Europe anymore.

RHD Ford Mustang Models (2015-Present)

The 2015 RHD Ford Mustang was a big deal for car fans in the U.K. Being the first of its kind; it received more positive feedback than expected. The car was offered in two body styles: the fastback and the convertible. In addition, both automatic and manual transmissions were available.

Ford’s typical masterful creativity was evident in the interior/exterior improvements. Some features from the sixties were revived like the dual-hood dashboard. At the same time, the interior design was reminiscent of a jet cockpit, and the exterior was adapted to a European style, giving it a futuristic look.

As a driver, you’ll find the interior improvements and added tech features enjoyable. On the bodywork (the front end), you could see the footprint of the Ford Evos concept. The vertical bar style tail light was still there and was illuminated by LED lamps used for turn signals.

According to Ford, 70% of U.K. customers opted for the 5-litre V8, with the remainder opting for the modest 2.3-litre EcoBoost. The engine output of the RHD Mustangs was slightly less than that of their left-hand drive siblings (5 less horsepower, to be exact). The placement of the steering on the right side of the engine resulted in this slight drop.

Shelby GT350 (2015-2020)

The 2015 Ford Mustang GT350 featured a 5.2-litre V8 with 526 horsepower Flat Plane Crank. Compared to its GT500 sibling, the car was more track-oriented. The GT 350 was a potent competitor to some German greats like Mercedes-Benz E63, Porsche GT3, and BMW M4.

The 2015 GT 350 came with a racetrack-oriented suspension setup, cross-drilled brake rotors paired with Brembo callipers, a lightweight Tremec TR-3160 6-speed manual transmission and aerodynamic modifications that included lowering the hood around the engine. There was also a carbon fibre reinforced polymer radiator support that routed cooling ducts for various components.

Navigation system, rear backup sensors/camera, security system, larger alloy wheels, Shaker-Pro Surround Sound Premium System, blind-spot monitoring, and some other additional options were also available for the car.

With an indirect successor, namely the Mach 1 (which will be coming to the UK), in its arsenal, Ford decided to put production of the GT350 model on hold in 2021 in favour of the GT500, at least for a while.

2019_Ford_Bullitt_Mustang

Bullitt Mustang (2019)

In 1968, the king of cool, Steve McQueen, played the role of Lt. Frank Bullitt in the hit movie Bullitt, which was in fact slow and boring. But one thing made the movie a legend: one of the best car chases in movie history. McQueen, as a badass cop, drove a 1968 GT350 Mustang Fastback and chased the bad guys through the streets of San Francisco in their Dodge Charger.

In 2019, 50 years later, Ford released a limited-edition Bullitt Mustang Fastback to commemorate the iconic car. Like the 1968 original, this version was available in Dark Highland Green alongside another colour: black. The original featured a 6.4-litre V8, and the 2019 Bullitt Mustang Fastback had an upgraded 5-litre V8 with 480 horsepower mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The car featured Recaro seats, a cue-ball shift knob, black 19-inch-spoke wheels with six-piston Brembo brakes, and green interior trim. Ford allocated 350 Bullitt special editions for the U.K. market; they were totally sold out.

Shelby GT 500 (2020)

You haven’t seen this model since the first half of the last decade. Last year, the GT500 was brought back to life; the result is an indomitable beast. With a whopping 760 horsepower and 623 lb-ft of torque, the 2020 Shelby GT 500 is a drag strip stunner. Its massive supercharged V8 engine is mated exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and a supercar-like sprint from 0 to 60 in just 3.3 seconds, similar to the Camaro ZL1.

With its sweeping, angular lines, the car is a real looker, making it hard to mistake it for anything else. The front end houses aggressive cladding as well as splitters that make it clear that downforce and air ducting are the main styling objectives. 

Ford Mustang Mach-e

Bucking the tradition of two-door pony cars, Ford Company introduced a very different kind of Mustang to the world on November 17, 2019: a five-door electric vehicle that does away with gasoline. A year later, in December 2020, the crossover SUV went on sale.

Two battery sizes, standard range 76 kWh or extended range 99 kWh, are available for the futuristic Mustang Mach E, supporting the single-engine rear-wheel drive or dual-engine all-wheel-drive variants; according to Ford, Mach-e has one of the longest-hauls in the electric vehicle sphere: up to 370 miles.

When it comes to power, the highest output belongs to the G.T. models with 480 horsepower and up to 634 lb-ft of torque. The Ford Mustang Mach-e G.T. accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Less powerful editions have 266 or 346 horsepower available, delivering 317 or 428 lb-ft of torque, respectively. The good news is the winner of the North American SUV of the Year Award is available in the UK.

Ford_Mach-e

Modern Ford Mustang: Engine Options

Initially, a standard 3.7-liter aluminium-cyclone V6 with 300 horsepower was available, along with optional 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engines with 310 horsepower (EcoBoost) and 5.0-litre V8 Coyote engines. After the 2017 model year, the V6 engines were discontinued; the EcoBoost became the only standard engine.

The 2.3 four-cylinder EcoBoost was a relatively new ingredient in the Mustang recipe. The engine produced 310 horsepower and up to 320 pound-feet of torque. However, this wasn’t a first for Ford. Starting in 1974, Mustangs had standard 4-cylinder base engines under the bonnet for nearly two decades. In addition, from 1984-1986, Ford Mustang SVO models were offered with turbocharged 4-cylinder engines.

The Voodoo is an upgraded version of the V8 beast engine developed for the 2018 Shelby Mustang GT 350. Valves and dual injection were increased in size, and there were upgraded intake runners. Coyote has another more powerful derivative: Predator. The engine is the beating heart of the 2020 Shelby GT500. The 760-horsepower, 5.2-liter aluminium alloy V8 features a cross-plane crank and a 2.65-litre Roots-Type Eaton supercharger.

2019_Ford_Mustang_Shelby_GT350

Bottom Line

Ford’s longest-produced car nameplate is a living legend. What was anticipated to sell 100,000 units annually ended up being the automaker’s most successful vehicle launch. Today, nearly 30 per cent of Mustangs are exported to more than 146 countries. Europe and China are among the company’s top markets. In recent years, the Mustang has overtaken Porsche. And thanks to the introduction of the RHD sixth-generation in 2015, car enthusiasts all over the globe, including the U.K., have been able to buy and enjoy this vehicle.

When it comes to a modern Ford Mustang, a few things are certain. Every year there will be more technical upgrades, as well as more sophisticated engine configurations. In terms of annual maintenance costs, a modern Ford Mustang is an inexpensive vehicle to keep, unlike certain sports cars. On the other hand, some special editions are historic in their “spirit” and hard to replicate. So perhaps the best answer is to ask:  “What do you think?”

Author: Owen Pham


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