By Niamh Smith
In the last decade, there has been a rise in demand for the ‘69 Mustang, particularly in the UK. This month it was reported that the 1969 Ford Mustang was September’s most-searched-for car.
As one of the most iconic muscle cars of all time, and one of our bestsellers, the 1969 Ford Mustang deserves its own spotlight.
The 1969 Ford Mustang: True Muscle
As Ford moved on from the family ‘pony cars’ from previous models in 1968, the 1969 Ford Mustang is often hailed as the first true Mustang to qualify as a muscle car.
Although fame was a household name for the 1968 GT Mustang that featured in Bullitt, the ‘69 model was Ford’s purpose-built strip car, marketed as one to drive to work on weekdays and race it down the strip on weekends.
The ‘69 Mustang saw it take on a bigger size: 3.8” longer, and 0.5” wider. This new, bigger body size was paired with an aggressive stance, quad headlamps, performance part options and different performance packages. Ford dropped the 289ci in favour of the 351ci engine (5.8L V8) in the Mach 1.
They also introduced the Ford Mustang Boss homologation special; the Boss 302 which was set up for the TransAm Championship, and the Boss 429 which was set up for street use and to comply with NASCAR rules. Other packages included the 428 Cobra Jet, GT350 and GT500.
1969 was actually the last year for a Ford Mustang GT option as they moved away from Shelby until the GT badge was revived for the third generation Mustang in 1982. These high-performance models echoed the sales figures of the Shelby GT500 and GT350 in earlier models.
Mustang Boss 302 Trans Am Domination
Perhaps adding to the 1969 Ford Mustang’s infamy as one badass muscle car is their domination in the 1969-70 Trans Am championship. The Trans Am race series was intended as a series for commercially available cars that were allowed a moderate degree of modification.
There were two classes, the under 2L class and the over 2L class (limited at 6L), which is where Ford fit in. Ford turned to KarKraft in 1969, where Bud Moore built and campaigned the Boss 302 for the 1969-71 Trans Am seasons.
Ford’s 4 car stable, involving two Moore cars and two Shelby cars, jumped to an early lead in the ‘69 championship by winning four of the first five races, although Ford didn’t take the eventual win this season due to issues with the Firestone tyres. However, they totalled 6 wins in the 1970 TransAm Championship, swiping the title from under newcomer American Motor’s noses.
Price – Let The Figures Do The Talking
Despite not being the Mustang’s best sales year (which was 1966, with 607,508 cars sold), the 1969 Mustang didn’t do too badly compared to other companies. Compared with the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, which sold 243,085, and the 1969 Dodge Charger which only sold 69,000, the 1969 Mustang mustered up 299,824 sales.
This lower sales figure perhaps adds to the ‘69 Stang’s desirability nowadays. Out of all the 1969 Mustang options, the hardtop coupe had the highest sales figures, with 118,613 sold. 72,458 of the 1969 sales were the fastback Mach 1, with its shaker hood, twin chrome exhaust tips, hood pins, rear and chin spoilers and competition suspension.
The 1969 Mustang was deemed too ‘aggressive’ by Ford, and the 1970 Mustang was tamed visually in an attempt to increase sales. However, this backfired, as sales dropped by 100,000 for 1970. The oil crisis was looming as well as stricter emission rules, and by 1971 the Mustang was turned towards the luxury market.
A New Era for the Mach 1
Ford recently announced a rerelease of the Mach 1 for 2020, to fill the gap between their standard 5L Mustang GT and their Shelby GT350 and GT500. Ford has hailed it their “most track-capable 5.0-litre Mustang ever”.
Whilst little is known about this model yet, it is expected to make close to 500bhp featuring the same 5L coyote engine which powers the GT but will feature a range of ancillary updates to raise the power, and the new grille draws inspiration from the original 1969 Mach 1.
Perhaps the announcement of the new Mach 1 has conjured up nostalgia in Mustang fans, prompting them to seek out an original ‘69 Mustang for themselves; maybe even as stablemates?
A Lasting Impression
So why are 1969 Ford Mustangs so popular?
As sales of ‘69 Mustangs continue to rise in both the UK and the US, it’s easy to see why. With its aggressive good looks, versatility, easily modifiable model, good spare parts availability, coupled with multiple specialist garages/dealerships around and being a ready-made strip car, the 1969 Ford Mustang convertible remain a popular option for new owners.
This popularity has no doubt been helped by Keanu Reeves; In John Wick and its sequel, he drove a 1969 Mach 1 dressed as a Boss 429, and a 1970 Mach 1 in the film Point Break.
The auction sale figures actually reflected this rise in interest; the current sale average for 2020 is $62,358, with Boss homologation models demanding a high price tag due to the low numbers produced and their cult following.
People who were too young or couldn’t afford one when the films were first released are now saving up. Even today, Hot Wheels collectors will continue to lose their mind when they see a 1969 Ford Mustang fastback roaring down the street, right up until they feel the need to own one themselves. And so, fuelled by a clever mixture of media and nostalgia, the cycle of muscle car enthusiasm continues.
Author: Niamh Smith
Muscle Car UK is the UK’s leading specialist Mustang and Muscle Car dealership.
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