Are you curious about the eight most popular Ford Mustang years? There is a lot of chatter among Ford Mustang fans on which one is the best Mustang model. After reading this article, you will have more information about which models are favorites and why. This comprehensive, informational list covers cost, reliability, quality, fun factor, performance mods and more. Top Flight has you covered with combined knowledge and service since 1977. If you want to know why each of these models is on the list of fan favorites, continue reading below!
Ford Mustangs have been popular since the release of the original 1/2 Mustang in 1964. However, the Mustangs built after August of that year were considered 1965 models, so finding an actual 1/2 Mustang from 1964 is next to impossible. Over the years, many different Mustangs have piqued the interest of car enthusiasts and Mustang admirers. Whether a specific year’s Mustang model was popular solely based on current trends in pop culture or muscle car collectors or car shows, Mustangs find their way into everyone’s heart at some point.
Many owners of a Mustang, whether it’s a Mustang from 1965 or a model from the current year, love to add accessories and upgrade parts to their vehicle. Especially the older models of Mustangs. Wouldn’t you love to have a Mustang from 1965, for example, the Hi-Po 289 model, and add in new-age engines, exhaust, tires, and other internal features, and drive it down the highway? Of course you would! To start your journey into the world of Mustangs, or even as a professional collector, this list of the best Mustang model years is perfect for you.
1966 Shelby GT350-H
This model intended to broaden the consumer base with a greater appeal towards Mustangs. Ford partnered with Hertz to make this car with marketing set towards a rental vehicle for their “Rent-a-Racer” program. The Shelby GT350-H was a more stylish and comfortable version of the 1965 Shelby GT350, mainly manufactured for racing. Ford left the comfortable seating and all the functionality of luxury cars in the GT350-H, and their plan and marketing worked. It quickly became the most popular Ford Mustang year ever.
With 306hp, renters of this vehicle could feel the unforgettable emotions that overcome Mustang drivers as they race down the road. Renters had the option to boost their horsepower to over 400 by adding in a Paxton supercharger. A dual exhaust in the vehicle’s rear combined with a Cobra High-Riser intake manifold, Tri-Y headers, and a 4-speed manual transmission made this car the most sought-after.
Renters of this car did not just use it for everyday driving. There were reports of the addition of roll cages installed during the rental period and then taken off before the cars were returned, indicating they had been used for racing. The stunning looks of this car and the sheer power and high-quality parts Ford manufactured them with make this a dream car to many still to this day. You can add current parts and upgraded engines, exhausts, performance tires, and more to the body of this model for the combination of beauty and power.
1965 Shelby GT350
The Shelby GT350 was a precursor to the 1966 variant GT350-H. In 1965 Ford made a deal with Shelby to produce the latest iteration of Ford Mustangs. Ford shipped Shelby incomplete models stripped of interior and exterior parts so Shelby could create a brand new form of Mustang. These models are known for their Wimbledon White with a blue stripe paint job and 306 horsepower, able to reach around 138 MPH and go 0-60 in 6.6 seconds.
During the production of this model, Shelby removed the rear seating, replacing it with fiberglass. They took out the stock intake and replaced them with Cobra Hi-Rise manifolds. To keep the engine from overheating because of all the upgrades and add-ons Shelby installed, they used a radiator from the Galaxy 500. Over 500 models would be manufactured in 1965, paving the way for enhanced, upgraded, and supercharged versions of Mustangs.
1967 Shelby GT500
Shelby created what is now one of the most famous models of Mustangs in 1967 — The “Eleanor” Shelby GT500. This model was a powerhouse provoking car collectors, racers and more interested in the model in terms of Mustangs. Shelby started with this model by putting dual-quad 428 engines into his Mustangs. The GT500 has become the most famous model thanks to being front and center in the Gone in 60 Seconds film.
The Shelby GT500 is also the last Mustang to be built in the Shelby American plant in California. Ford moved the manufacturing to a different plant in Michigan. In terms of looks, power, and quality builds, this is truly a performance work of art. After being featured in the film, the model’s popularity gained a following, and custom builds using the Shelby GT500 body were being produced by car enthusiasts. Boasting 355 horsepower and able to hit 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, this model is not only a pop culture icon but a powerhouse for Mustang.
1974 Mustang II
Due partly to rising fuel prices and more strict emissions laws, the 1974 Mustang ushered in an era of smaller-engine vehicles dubbed the Mustang II. The popularity did not drop despite these attributes. 1974 was one of the most popular years for Mustangs, selling about triple the amount sold the previous year and finding its way to the 4th place of most popular Mustang years.
The Mustang II even won the Motor Trends Car of the Year award. Because of the growing popularity of small import vehicles, they wanted to bring Mustang back down to a smaller, more compact size. These second-generation Mustangs were the most elegant and smallest ever built at the time. The 1974 Mustang II was close to never seeing the light of day due to issues with quality control. Still, they figured it out using a subframe isolator that resembled a toilet seat.
The Mustang II barely resembled a Mustang and what people have expected from Mustang models since their inception. The siding is the most “Mustang” iconic part of the Mustang II, and it came in either a 3-door hatchback or hardtop version.
1979 Third-Generation Mustang
1979 ushered in yet another massive departure from the commonly manufactured styles for Mustang. The third-generation Mustang used an entirely different chassis called the Fox chassis. The long nose of this model is almost the only feature shared with the previous Mustang models. Ford went to great lengths to ensure this model was one of the best Mustangs ever, and they succeeded. The 1979 Mustang was more popular than any previous year after the 1974 Mustang II debut.
All the popularity and praise didn’t come without its due complaints from some customers, though. Not everyone can be made happy with every model. The entire car changed to a new look, similar to how Mustang II changed the whole look in 1974. The wheelbase alone was increased by 4.2 inches to create more space in the vehicle’s interior. The “Fox” body is the longest-running platform in Mustang history. You can even exchange the doors from the 1979 model with the doors from the 1993 model!
Car enthusiasts who had moved on to other models and manufacturers were again shifting their focus to Mustang with the new look. It resembled a pony more than any other previous model that was endowed with the Mustang name tag. Different versions of the model were available, giving consumers the choice of style they wanted their Mustang to be. Ford had options for a three-door hatchback or a two-door sedan. The engine was a 2.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder with 132 horsepower.
1968 Bullitt Mustang
Pop culture helped this model gain popularity, much like the GT500. Steve Mcqueen drove this model in the movie Bullitt and soon after the craze was so big, it became the most expensive Mustang ever sold. Even though it had less horsepower than the GT500 with only 335 horsepower, it could do 0-60 in 6.3 seconds. The last sale on this model was at 3.74 million dollars. The actual model was a Mustang 390 GT.
The actual Mustang that was used in the movie built upon its mystery and wonder between ill-informed writers, conspiracies, and stories around the car world. Many of them said it was driven to its final days and tossed in a junkyard for crushing, and they thought it was gone for good. The third owner had it stored for several years and only drove it a little after that before storing it again, never to be found again until recently.
1969 Boss 429
The 1969 Boss 429 is known for its iconic big block engine. The model itself created an image that meshed professional race cars with high-level street appeal. Both racers and car enthusiasts alike enjoy the beauty and power output of this model. The engine was a 429 cubic-inch 7.0L v8. Equipped with a 4-speed transmission, this model had around 375 horsepower and could do 0-60 in 7.1 seconds. Ford built this model to qualify for Nascar. It was a beast whether driven on the track or the street.
The Boss 429 was coined the “Shotgun” and was more expensive than previous models. With 375 horsepower and 450-lb torque, the Boss 429 was one of the most powerful Mustangs of the decade. The model offered was the fastback model with 4-speed transmission. Even with all of the power and attention this model got, it was only in production for a couple of short years. The hood scoop was far more substantial than other models of Mustangs still to this day and was fully functional.
The chin spoiler that they integrated into this model was also an iconic look and reduced the drag that is produced at high rates of speed. Kar Kraft was responsible for all of the performance modifications and is the true creative head behind the Boss 429 model. Ford sent Kar Kraft the models equipped with a 428 Cobra Jet powerplant, which Kar Kraft immediately stripped upon arrival to their manufacturing plant. Kar Kraft started installing and upgrading all the parts in the Boss 429, creating a mechanical beast.
1980 Mustang Trio
In 1980 Mustang produced a trio of models that are arguably some of the most iconic to date as far as progression goes. The three models produced in the ’80s were the SVP M81 McLaren Mustang, Ghia, and the Cobra. The McLaren model, in particular, spawned a new unit responsible for designing and producing the car. This was called Special Vehicle Operations and was tasked with creating limited-edition performance models.
The Cobra borrowed a few looks from the 1979 pace model and had an oversized hood emblem. The Cobra made a name for itself by utilizing the rear lip spoiler and lower front air dam combined with its distinctive grille. Ford took the Cobra line and increased the power to create the machine it was meant to be.
Meanwhile, the luxury coupe aptly named Ghia Ford offered in models that were hatchback and coupe frames. Enhancing the luxury look with European-style headrests and vinyl seats and bearing the mark of the Ghia on the decklid, the Ford Mustang Ghia was luxury for the most discerning car enthusiasts.
Best Mustang Year
There is a lot to consider in terms of what is considered the best Mustang year for the Fords Mustang series. Looks, engine power, innovation, and creative prowess all come to mind when thinking about the best Mustang to buy. In terms of overall consumer purchases, the 1966 Mustang, when Shelby already had one Mustang in their books and knew what they wanted to do on the second iteration, beats them all.
With over 600,000 rentals, the Shelby GT350-H became the hottest racer-style streetcar to own, partly because of the Hertz program Ford joined with but also mainly because, at the time, a vehicle like this Mustang model was unheard of and still shocking the car world as a whole.
With all of the upgrades, parts, performance enhancers, and more provided by Top Flight Automotive, you will have peace of mind knowing you are buying the best features from the most talented and knowledgeable salespeople around. No matter what model fits your bill or what Mustang you crave, Top Flight Automotive will have what you need to enhance your experience and enjoyment of driving down the street in your own customized Mustang.