By Niamh Smith
I, for one, love a good debate. I can argue about anything while talking a glass eye to sleep, and muscle or sports cars are not exempt. One of the constant debates at the drag strip is the age-old feud of GM versus Mopar. Today’s debate, however, is one internal to Ford.
The Ford Mustang is such an iconic nameplate that each year has its own recognisable features that make them special; this makes it difficult to argue why one model year is better than another. Luckily, the 1967 Ford Mustang presents a pretty good argument for itself being the creme de la creme in Ford’s stable. Here’s why we put it forward to parade the winner’s circle.
Beginning of the Best
The ‘67 Mustang was born out of rising competition from the other muscle car manufacturers of the decade. Chevrolet was just about finalising their Camaro, which ended up becoming one of the all-time classic muscle cars. (When asked what the word ‘Camaro’ meant, GM responded that it was a small, vicious animal that ate Mustangs—now that is fighting talk.) Chrysler had launched their pony car, the Plymouth Barracuda, and the Mustang also faced competition from the Mercury Cougar and the Pontiac Firebird.
This was the start of the true Muscle Car era. Ford looked at the offerings coming from their manufacturing competitors and decided to go with the trend of making the car bigger and faster as they saw that this was appealing to their customers. These new design ideas prompted the first major redesign of the original 1965 & ’66 Mustangs.
As well as the classic muscle car imagery, the Mustang needed to become larger to fit some big block muscle under the hood: the new 390ci V8, of which 28,800 1967 Mustangs were fitted with this big block that was capable of 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds. The top speed of the ‘67 Mustang fastback was 115mph.
Although the wheelbase remained the same at 108”, Ford decided on a 2” increase in length and a 2.7” in width from the ‘66 to ‘67 model years, as well as some visual feature changes to make the new Mustang look tougher.
Famous racing driver and car builder Carroll Shelby carried on building the Shelby GT350 Mustang fastbacks in 1967, using the K-code Hi-Po iron-block 289ci engine. 1967 was also the first year for the GT500, which was supplied with a Ford Cobra 428ci V8 engine, capable of galloping to an impressive 0-60mph of 5.7 seconds.
On these Shelby Mustang 1967 models, fibreglass was used for the bonnet back panel to reduce weight and other areas to keep that weight down and performance up. They were also redesigned to give off a look of real performance and distance themselves from the base model Mustangs. Soon after this, due to financial problems, Ford took over the development and production of the Shelby cars.
Other model variants of the 1967 Ford Mustang included the Mustang GT, which featured power front disc brakes, grill mounted fog lights, dual exhaust with quad outlets and other upgrades. One dealership special I find particularly interesting is the ‘She Country Special’ ‘67 Mustang. The She Country Special Mustangs were painted a range of pastel colours, had personalised interiors and buyers would receive a special orchid corsage with their new Mustang in order to appeal to women drivers; I found this equally hilarious and endearing.
Many of the new ‘67 model changes were showcased at the Detroit Auto Show, including the bigger Shelby GT models and the iconic 1967 Mustang fastback. The production figures were down on the 1965 Ford Mustang, but still very impressive in light of the new muscle car competition elbowing their way to top the market at the time.
What Makes the 1967 Ford Mustang the Best Model Year?
At the time of its release, the 1967 Ford Mustang had decent looking sales figures; it didn’t make the record-breaking sales figures of the 1966 model year (607,568) or even the 1965 Mustang (559,441) but still sold a respectable 427,121 cars. After 1967, sales figures gradually decreased with each model year; some may argue this makes the 1967 model one of the last of the great Mustangs.
Naturally, the hardtop standard had the best sales figures, but the fastback was close behind it, as we can see from Ford’s production sales figures for 1967:
|1967 Mustang Model||Production Units Sold in the USA|
|Hardtop standard coupe||325,853|
|Hardtop luxury coupe||22,228|
|Hardtop bench seats||8,190|
|Convertible bench rear seats||1,209|
Since its conception, the 1967 Mustang has been featured in many blockbusters to hit our screens. One of the most well-known movie Mustangs of all time is in fact a 1967 Shelby GT500 Mustang Fastback, ‘Eleanor’, in the 2000 film Gone in 60 Seconds. Eleanor features a custom beefy body kit, and is the Achilles heel of Memphis Raines (Nicholas Cage), an infamous car thief.
Several of the cars used in Gone in 60 Seconds have since sold, including one for over $1,000,000 US dollars in 2013; we wonder what it’d be worth if it came under the hammer now? This high-quality car has made such an impression on muscle car fans across the world that £150,000 – £200,000 licensed replicas are still being made to this day, 21 years after the film!
Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift is the third instalment of the Fast and Furious franchise and features a 1967 Fastback in highland green. This car has been highly modified to take on all the Japanese GTRs in the film; including having a Nissan Skyline GT-R engine shoehorned into the Mustang. The fact that classic Mustangs are being used in films such as Fast and Furious alongside modern performance cars proves that the Mustang magic transcends across all age groups; they’re not just a car for chino-sporting, middle-aged men!
One way to tell how desirable a car is is by looking at the clientele, and the ‘67 Mustang is no exception to having a list of famous owners. These include Jim Morrison—frontman of The Doors—who bought a 1967 GT500 Mustang, former US President Bill Clinton owned a 1967 Ford Mustang Convert in light blue with a white interior and actor Kellan Lutz from Twilight owns a 1967 Ford Shelby GT500.
A 1967 Ford Mustang isn’t just for the rich and famous, however. The ‘67 ‘Stang was considered at the time an improvement on its predecessors by most, due to its improved stiffer suspension system, higher power output and aggressive appearance. In a 1966 test drive of the new Mustang, Car and Driver said of the handling—despite the initial understeer and ‘somewhat clumsy’ cornering—that ‘it’s very hard to throw it off balance or make it come unglued’. This improved suspension and makeover was what made the 1967 Mustang something totally different to what Ford had produced before.
1967 Mustang and Racing
Since a series of racing accidents in 1955, the big three auto manufacturers distanced themselves from having their own racing teams. They only started realising that the ‘race on Sunday, sell on Monday’ theory applied when Chrysler’s Ramchargers started their own race team in 1959.
Slowly, Ford started getting into racing, and contracted Shelby American to field a two-car factory team for 1967, producing a couple of 1967 Ford Mustang notchbacks for the Trans Am championships. With some race-ready modifications, Shelby’s 1967 Trans-Am289ci HiPo engines pumped out around 425 horsepower.
Ford dealerships and private race teams also used 1967 Mustangs for different forms of auto racing, including teams like Holman-Moody who built two race-specific Mustangs in 1967 and continued adapting the racecar, putting a race-prepared Boss 302 engine in in 1969, and then rebuilding to comply with Trans Am specifications in 1971. To this day, ‘67 Mustangs are still a popular choice for racers; in our drag racing class, UK Nostalgia Superstock, Clive Dandridge drag raced a ‘67 Notchback Mustang with a modified 415hp (5.6L) 347ci stroker V8.
1967 Mustangs For Sale UK
Which year Mustang do you think is the best? It sure is a difficult argument; Ford didn’t make it easy for us when they made all the first-gen Mustangs gorgeous in their own rights. The 1967 Mustang definitely puts up a fight to win though.
With the first major redesign since the Ford Mustang’s conception, it changed the muscle car game of the 60s. The improved suspension hailed praise from the critics and customers alike. Special variants such as the King Cobra and Shelby GT350 and GT500 models gave muscle car fans the power under the hood they were looking for.
Despite being such a coveted car, ‘67 Mustangs often come up on the UK market. In 2013, a 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake Mustang sold for $1.3 million as it was a rare test model. This, however, doesn’t mean that you need to fork out millions to own a ‘67 Mustang, and you can pick up a high performance model for under £45,000 here in the UK.
Author: Niamh Smith
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