The dawn of the Mustang era was a big part of the folklore from the 60s car culture.
The Mustang name pioneered the pony car era and trumped the Barracuda name, introduced by Chrysler in 1964.
‘A different turn in the road meant we may have seen the dawn of the fish car era in ‘64.’
However, the Ford Mustang took the world by storm because it was an affordable sporty-looking car that was based on the Ford Falcon compact.
The first-gen Mustang model was essentially a Falcon in prettier skin and offered a modest list of engine options that ranged from a six-banger to the small block 289 V-8.
Plenty of extra muscle could be added to the 289 from aftermarket sources, but the factory version was not able to run with the big dogs in the early years of the 60s muscle car wars. The first-gen Mustang was destined to win the hearts and minds of its eager buyers, but it was a pony destined to lose on the track in stock form.
The game changed in 1967 when the Mustang got a massive makeover, cosmetically and under the hood. The Mustang got a huge testosterone injection when they unveiled the ’67 models.
It lost the terminal cuteness that was a trademark of its first three years and a big reason why women loved the first generation Mustangs.
The ’67 Mustang was bigger and badder than its predecessors. It looked ready for a street fight and indeed it was ready for a brawl, because it now offered a big block 390 to tangle with the big boys. This new Mustang was not a secretary’s daily driver, this was a warrior in the year with a Summer of Love.
There was no love on the street during the muscle car era of the late 60s. It was a war zone where only the strong survived and the new Mustang looked (and was) tough enough to take on the world. You could still tell it was a close relative of the first-gen Mustang, but it was clear the newer ‘67 Mustang had a very bad attitude in its muscled-up 390 big block form.
The 1968 Mustang was very similar to the 1967 Mustang in overall appearance. The most important difference was under the hood because the ’68 Mustang offered a 428 Cobra Jet option for its most adventurous customers. The stakes were even higher for Mustangs in ’68; they lived in a dangerous jungle filled with 427 Rats and 426 Elephants, so it was time for Ford to bring in a snake like the Cobra Jet big block option to bite back at its mortal enemies.
We need not go past the 1967-68 Mustangs to pick our winner here at MSCC. This ‘Stang had it all: good looks and brute force in one package. We like the rear quarter scoops on the ‘67s, but we love the 428 engine under the hood of the ‘68s.
Throw in the Steve McQueen cool factor with his ’68 Bullitt car and we have a winner: the 1968 Mustang gets the nod in a close race for best Mustang of all time.
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