America loves Mustangs.
Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re a Chevy guy. Or a Mopar guy. Or someone who just doesn’t like a good success story.
But America-at-large loves the Ford Mustang.
Because it pretty much launched the American pony car movement.
Because it helped make performance vehicles affordable for a younger generation of car owners in the 1960s.
And because it’s stood the test of time, surviving five decades of muscle car wars, gas crises, and evolving consumer tastes.
Exactly five decades.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang’s debut at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. In honor of its 50th anniversary, we’re counting down the Top 10 greatest Ford Mustangs of all time—at least in our opinion. We realize this is a highly subjective topic, and its likely to stir up a lot of disagreement.
That’s why we encourage you to share your Top 10 Mustangs in the comments section below.
Be warned: condensing 50 years of Ford Mustangs into a Top 10 is much harder than it looks. We picked ours based on a combination of performance, styling, and historical significance. We’ll start with ten through six today and unveil the Top 5 over the next week.
#10: 1969 Mustang Boss 302
We seriously considered going with the 2012 Boss 302—a worthy candidate for the Top 10, for sure. For both historical significance and performance, we stuck with the original instead.
At the time, the Chevrolet Camaro was routinely trouncing the Ford Mustang in Trans-Am Racing, the unofficial pony car racing series. Ford’s solution to the problem was the Boss 302—a car designed to put the Mustang back on top of the pony car performance heap. A 290-horsepower 302-cubic-inch engine, heavy-duty shocks and springs, larger brakes, and an aerodynamics package made the 1969 Mustang Boss 302 a track beast. And a legend among the Mustang crowd.
#9: 2005 Mustang
By 2005, the existing Mustang design, which was rooted back in the late 1970s, had grown a bit tired. Enter the 2005 Mustang and its S197 platform. Featuring a fastback design reminiscent of the 1960s, the 2005 Mustang made us nostalgic for the heyday of the muscle car/pony car. It also helped launched a new era in high performance vehicles in which the “Big Three” went retro. The new Camaro and new Challenger soon followed.
#8: 1968 Mustang Cobra Jet
Inspired by Ford dealer Bob Tasca, the 428 Cobra Jet engine helped give the Mustang muscle car credibility. Although it wasn’t the first big block V8 offered in a Mustang, it made the Ford Mustang a legitimate threat in a straightline street race. Eventually, the Cobra Jet Mustang would become a formidable force in NHRA’s Super Stock division.
#7: 2000 SVT Cobra R
Potent? Most definitely.
The 2000 Cobra R was all about business, and if we were building this Top 10 strictly on performance, it would likely be higher up on the list. It featured a 5.4L powerplant that spit out 385 horsepower, went zero to 60 in five seconds, and had a top speed of 175 miles-per -hour. No rear seat. No A/C. No radio.
Just all performance.
#6: 1965 Shelby GT350
For historical significance and overall cool factor, the 1965 Shelby GT350 easily makes the list. And there were some of us who thought it should be higher.
After all, this was really the first true high performance Ford Mustang. It cemented the legendary Carroll Shelby’s involvement with Mustangs. And there were only 562 made for 1965. Highly collectible and sought-after, the GT350 helped set the stage for many popular Ford Mustang models to follow.
Starting with a 289-cubic-inch engine, Shelby bumped the power output to 301 horsepower and added stiffer springs, larger brakes, and quicker steering for SCCA competition.