Timeline: Ford Mustang

Updated April 8, 2022 | Infoplease Staff
ford mustang covertible

50th Anniversary 2014 Ford Mustang

Photo Credit: Raynardo


Here are some key moments in the history and evolution of the Ford Mustang.


1964 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2014
April 17
The first Mustang is introduced by the Ford Motor Company at the World's Fair in New York. It is named after the P51 Mustang fighter plane from World War II and the car's design is based on the compact Ford Falcon. Since the Mustang is introduced toward the middle of the year, it's nicknamed 1964½.
Sept. 17
Goldfinger becomes the first major motion picture to feature a Mustang. While being chased by James Bond in an Aston Martin DB5, Tilly Masterson drives a white 1964½ Mustang convertible.
The 1965 Mustang is released. It is the most successful launch for the Ford Motor Company since the Model A in 1927. Along with the coup and the convertible, Ford adds a fastback to the year's lineup. The coupe out sells the convertible and fastback five to one, initially. The first Shelby Mustang is also introduced. It has no rear seat and the spare tire is stored under the rear windshield.
The first Mustang GT is introduced. This GT includes a dashboard instrument cluster that becomes the standard by the following year.
Sales of the Mustang pass the 1 million mark.
The Shelby GT500 is introduced with a V-8 engine that produces 355 horsepower.
April 1
Geared toward car enthusiasts, the 428 Cobra jet engine is introduced and offered as an option.
Oct. 17
The 1968 Mustang 390 GT is featured in the hit movie, Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen.
The Mustang Mach 1, Boss 302 with 290-horsepower, Boss 429 with 375-horsepower, and the Grande luxury model are added to the lineup.
The ram air "Shaker" hood scoop becomes available for any Mustang with a 351-cid or larger V-8 engine.
The largest Mustangs ever join the lineup. They are nearly a foot longer and 600 pounds heavier than the earlier Mustangs.
The Sprint is introduced. It has a red, white and blue exterior and matching interior.
The Ford Mustang convertible is offered for the last time this year. A new version will not be made for the next decade. It's also the last year for the Mustang's original Falcon design.
The Mustang II is introduced. A complete redesign, it is nearly 500 pounds lighter and 19 inches shorter than previous models. There is no Mustang convertible and no V-8 engine option for the first time in the Mustang's history.
The V-8 option returns.
The Cobra II is introduced with a racing stripe design.
To the delight of convertible fans, fastback models become available with T-Top glass panels that are removable.
The new King Cobra becomes the first Mustang to have the "5.0" rearward-facing decal.
A new Mustang, called Fox, debuts with a more Euro-type design. It is longer and taller, but 200 pounds lighter than the Mustang II.
The 302-cid V-8 engine is replaced with a more economical 255-cd small block V-8.
New emissions controls force the reduction of the 255-cid V-8 to 115 horsepower from its previous 119-horsepower. The turbo four-cylinder engine is dropped from the Mustang lineup.
After 12 years, the Mustang GT returns. Optional T-Tops also return.
The Mustang convertible is back after being absent for ten years. This convertible has a power top and a tempered glass rear window.
The Mustang SVO is launched by Ford's Special Vehicle Operations. It has bigger tires, breaks and is turbocharged.
A new 5.0 liter V-8 engine is introduced. It is capable of 210 horsepower with manual transmission.
A new multi-port fuel injection is added to the V-8.
Another redesign for the Mustang is introduced. This one features a new "aero" body design.
Sales for the Mustang are still going strong with 211,225 sold in 1988. More than half of the Mustangs sold this year include the 5.0-liter V-8 engine.
Ford celebrates the Mustang's 25th anniversary by adding "25 Years" to all cars made between April 17, 1989 - April 17, 1990.
A driver's side airbag becomes standard for all Mustangs.
New Mustangs feature an improved four-cylinder engine.
The Mustang LX 5.0 outsells all the other Mustang models combined.
The limited edition Mustang Cobra is introduced during this last year of the Fox body design. The racing Cobra R model sells out before production begins on it.
In honor of its 30th anniversary, the Mustang gets a makeover. Of the vehicles 1,850 parts, 1,330 of them are changed.
It's the final year for the 5.0-liter V-8 engine in the Mustang.
Mustang Gts and SVT Cobras include the new 4.6-liter V-8 engine for the first time. These new modular V-8 engines have overhead cams to open exhaust valves.
The Passive Anti-Theft System (PATS) is now included with all models.
The Mustang GT's 4.6-liter V-8 engine is improved and increased to 225 horsepower.
The Mustang receives another makeover, including a new hood, grille, lights, wheel archs, and sharper lines.
The third SVT Mustang Cobra R is introduced. It is the first Mustang ever to have a six-speed manual transmission.
The Mustang Bullitt GT joins the lineup. It is inspired by the 1968 Mustang 390 GT, featured in the movie, Bullitt. In the movie, Steve McQueen drives the classic car.
Production ends on the Pontiac Firebird and the Chevrolet Camaro, the Mustang's closest competition.
A revised version of the Mustang Mach 1 is released. This one has the ram-air "Shaker" hood scoop and a 305-horsepower V-8 engine.
Unique Performance begins making Shelby G.T. 350 SR Mustangs. They are built using 1965 and 1966 fastbacks, but with modern engines and suspension technology. Meanwhile, Ford produces its 300 millionth car, a 004 Mustang GT convertible 40th anniversary edition. 2004 marks the last year that the Mustangs are built at Ford Motor Company's Dearborn Assembly Plant in Michigan. Every Mustang model had been produced at the plant.
Production on the 2005 models begins at the Flat Rock assembly plant in Detroit, Michigan.
An instrument panel featuring 125 different colored lights is offered, an industry first. Mustang GT models now include 18-inch wheels.
A special "Warriors in Pink" Mustang joins the lineup to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure breast cancer research. The Shelby GT500 is also launched.
A farmer in Iowa buys the nine millionth Mustang. He buys a GT convertible.
April 17
Ford Motor Company honors the Mustang's 45th anniversary with a celebration in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Mustang is restyled with a more muscular design. Its new features include power-dome hoods and sequential turn signals.
The Coyote 5.0-liter V-8 is introduced, marking the return of the Mustang's 5.0 option.
The Boss 302 returns to the Mustang lineup after more than 40 years. It is considered by many to be the best handling Mustang ever.
The Shelby GT500 is launched. With a supercharged 5.8-liter V-8 and 662 horsepower, it becomes the most powerful V-8 in the world.
April 16-17
Ford celebrates its 50th anniversary by displaying the brand new 2015 Mustang convertible on the observation deck of the Empire State Building in New York City. New York is where the first Mustang made its debut during the 1964 World's Fair. The car will be cut into many pieces in order to be transported by elevator to the top of the Empire State Building.

by Jennie Wood

Source: Ford Motor Company



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