Credited with helping reshape the American muscle car genre, the Mustang galloped onto the road in 1964 and quickly became Ford's most successful model launch since the Model A. The first generation Ford Mustang was powered by a V8 and was also responsible for the rise of the "pony car" segment – sports cars that featured such parts as shorter decks and longer hoods. Competitors such as the Plymouth Barracuda and Chevy Camaro were designed just to take a chunk out of Ford's popular new model. The Shelby Mustang (designed by Carroll Shelby) also helped initiate growing interest about the car. Sales were not expected to be overwhelming, but the Mustang surprised many. Easily shattering early expectations of under 100,000 units, Ford assembled more than one million Mustangs in the first year and half alone.
The seventies were not going to make it easy on the Mustang, so Ford had to make adjustments to the Ford Mustang parts. Due to the oil crisis, vehicles that were not deemed "fuel efficient" were no longer in demand, regardless of style or performance. The Mustang was scaled down for a short period of time and shared a platform with the Ford Pinto. It was still sporty, but lacked some of the flare the accessories of the first series generated. Despite the change, first year sales were strong, coming in at over 385,000 units sold. In 1975, a 302 CID V8 became available, as well as a more fuel-friendly option known as the MPG Stallion. The end of the decade saw the Ford Mustang make a return to its bolder ways. Now based off the Fox platform, a larger trunk, engine bay, and restyled interior helped the Mustang recapture some of its form. This helped keep the model popular with a diverse group throughout the bulk of the eighties and nineties, as body styles varied from hatchback to coupe.
Now in its fifth generation, the Mustang is back to bringing power and style. The Mustang GT features an aluminum block 4.6L modular V8, a Tremec T-5 5-speed manual transmission (automatic is also optional for the first time), and a restyled exterior accessories that resemble the original design of the early sixties. The current series has been in production since 2005 and is manufactured in Flat Rock, Michigan. Sales of the Ford Mustang have been impressive, especially given the current automotive climate where subcompacts and crossover SUVs have become more desired. It is still very much the pinup ride, as Ford has marketed the Mustang towards baby-boomers and youthful performance-enthusiasts alike.
Long an icon, the Mustang has withstood the test of time and still pounds the pavement with gut-wrenching authority. The knee-quivering horsepower and built-for-speed persona is still as present as ever, and its drivers seem to take these traits as their own. Even after enduring several changes, the legacy of the automobile never faltered. If anything, its reputation has grown even stronger. There aren't many models out there as defined and as richly respected as the Mustang, a fact that is reaffirmed with each passing day.
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