Originally introduced back in 1964, the Ford Mustang officially turned 54 this month. To celebrate that milestone and National Mustang Day, the Motor Trend staff put together a list of our favorite Mustang models, in no particular order. Read on to see which ones we chose.
1964.5 Ford Mustang
The original Mustang might not be the fastest or the most expensive car on this list, but it’s the one that started it all. Whether there’s a base inline-six or an optional 289-cubic-inch V-8 under the hood, the 1964.5 Mustang is always going to be cool.
When Ford updated the Mustang for 1967, it added more power in the form of a 390-cubic-inch V-8. A year later, the 335-hp Cobra Jet 428 showed up, essentially turning the Mustang into a street-legal drag racer.
1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR
No list of iconic Mustangs is complete without at least one GT500, and the 1967s are legendary. But in 1968, Shelby used the Cobra Jet 428 to build an even faster version called the “King of the Road.” It’s a cool name, but it’s an even cooler Mustang.
1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1
To close out the 1960s, Ford introduced the Mach 1 based on the SportsRoof-body Mustang. It could be equipped with an upgraded Super Cobra Jet 428 and featured a functional shaker hood—a hood with a cutout for the engine-mounted intake. So not only would you be feeding cooler air to your engine, but you also got to watch the scoop dance as you drove.
1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1
The Mustang’s early-’70s body style isn’t as iconic as earlier versions, but it’s hard to argue that the ’71–’73 Mach 1s weren’t awesome. The twin hood scoops, two-tone hood, and graphics package scream “cool.” Appearances in Diamonds are Forever and Gone in 60 Seconds only add to this generation of Mach 1’s credibility.
1986 Ford Mustang SVO
No, the SVO didn’t have a V-8, but it still belongs on this list. When it was introduced, the SVO’s 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder made just as much power as the 5.0-liter V-8. In 1986, Ford bumped it up to an even 200 hp. By 1980s standards, that was seriously impressive.
1987–1992 Ford Mustang 5.0 LX
Ford did build an SVT Cobra version of the Fox-body Mustang, as well as a Cobra R. But the great thing about the 5.0 LX was that it looked slower than it actually was. The LX got the same 5.0-liter V-8 as the GT but was much more sedate-looking with fewer ground effects. It was a serious sleeper in the early ’90s, and thanks to high production volumes, 5.0 Fox-bodies are plentiful and relatively cheap these days.
2000 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R
The 1999 Cobra deserves credit for being the first Mustang sold with an independent rear suspension. The 2000 Cobra R, however, added side exhausts, which are always awesome. It also used a more powerful 5.4-liter V-8 that required a larger power bulge than the ’99 Cobra and a huge, park bench-like fixed rear wing.
2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt
To mark the 40th anniversary of the legendary Steve McQueen film Bullitt, Ford brought back the Mustang Bullitt for 2008. Like the 2001 version, it was essentially a debadged version of the Mustang GT with more power and improved handling. It came with an ultra-cool machine-turned aluminum dash and an aluminum shift knob.
2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca
Once Ford gave the 2011 Mustang GT a 5.0-liter V-8, it was only a matter of time before the Boss 302 nameplate made a comeback. But no one could have predicted the 2012 Boss 302 would handle as well as it did. The track-focused Boss 302 Laguna Seca version went even further, laying down lap times that would shame a BMW M3.
2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R
The Boss 302 Laguna Seca was a fantastic Mustang, but the 526-hp Shelby GT350R is truly world-class. In fact, with better steering, it probably would have won our 2016 Best Driver’s Car competition. Instead, it placed second, only losing to the $200,000 McLaren 570S.