As one of the top 10 longest running American car models, the Ford Mustang has made a deep mark in history, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. From the time the Mustang debuted in the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City, it was an instant success, racking up 1 million sales in its first two years, $22,000 of which were on its first day. Ford Mustang continues to be a household name, enjoying success and popularity in a unique way.

The Original Pony

1964 brought about a whole new class of car referred to as the pony car. These muscle cars features long hoods, short trunks, and big block engines that would remain popular for years, and usher in the glory days of the American muscle car. Plymouth purists argue that the Barracuda was truly the first pony car, being released two weeks before the Mustang, but the Mustang’s instant popularity ended up coining the name for the class of cars. The early release of the Mustang is the reason the original model is often referred to as a 1964 ½. Mustang gained additional attention when it won the job of the pace car for the Indy 500 in 1964.

Changing With the Times

Ford Mustangs were a hit the day they came off the line, and continue to be a highly desired vehicle today. Although some were destined for the scrapheap of history, each model year was popular for its time, and there have been many unforgettable classics along the way. Mustangs have been so successful because they’ve changed with the times. The cars increased in size until 1974, when they were scaled back to a more economical size. They suffered a loss in power as well, but this was remedied with the Mustang 5.0 in 1985, which was capable of up to 210 hp, in a lightweight package. Each significant body style change Mustang has gone through since has been praised by critics, and eaten up by consumers.

Putting out More Power

High-end customizations have kept Mustang enthusiasts interested over the years, and made collectors right on down the line. The original 1965 Mustangs had the option of a GT package created by Carroll Shelby, which packed a roaring 306 hp V8. Other souped up engines would follow, including the Cobra Jet beginning in 1969. The Boss 429 engines were built to qualify the Mustang for  NASCAR racing standards, and of course, the 5.0l of the 80s were legendary for reinventing American muscle. Modern Mustangs include some of the same customized packages, such as the Shelby, but are capable of producing a whopping 305 hp in the GT model.

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