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How The Ford Mustang Evolved Into One of South Africa’s Favourite Sports Coupes

Written by Scott Pharoah

How The Ford Mustang Evolved Into One of South Africa’s Favourite Sports Coupes

Before 1960 – petrol heads all around the world viewed the perfect sports car as James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 or the Ferrari 250 GTO, but a new fresh-faced American kid on the block crashed the party and has since been driven by a great deal of influencers and celebrities alike – from Tom Cruise with his supercharged Mustang S281 to ex American president Bill Clinton in his classic 1967 Ford Mustang Convertible.

The Mustang was named after John Najjar (Ford’s executive stylist at the time’s) favourite fighter plane The World War II P-51 (Mustang). The first Ford Mustang launched in 1964 and was Ford’s most successful launch since the 1928 Ford Model.

So what it is about the Ford Mustang that we love so much? Let’s take a look at the evolution of the Stang over the last 60 years.

The Ford Mustang Convertible and Mustang 2+2 Fastback 1960’s

On March 9, 1964 the first Mustang rolled off the assembly line. With a multitude of different interior, exterior, and drivetrain options, the Mustang would be able to be ordered as plain, or as fancy, as economical, or as fast, as the buyer wanted. In general, the Mustang was designed for everyone and was advertised as “the car to be designed by you”.

The 1964½, as it was later called, was available in only two models: the coupe and convertible. Both models featured a lengthened hood and shortened rear deck, chrome wrap-around bumpers, chrome grille with a running horse, and full wheel covers.

The Boss 351 Mustang 1970’s

1971 was the Mustang Boss 351 which replaced the Boss 302 and Boss 429. The Boss 351 featured a special 330 horsepower 351-4V Cleveland engine, it had other accentuates such as a blacked out NASA scooped hood with twist type locks and special body side stripes. The Boss 351 included a competition suspension with staggered rear shocks, a four-speed transmission with a Hurst shifter, power front disc brakes, dual exhaust, and 3.91:1 traction lock rear end. There were a total of 149,678 Mustangs built in 1971.


The SVO is a flagship in the Mustang history, developed at a time of furious automotive evolution born from changes in government-mandated emissions and fuel economy standards, the SVO dominated the wave of small-displacement, turbocharged engines that were popular in cars through the first half of the 1980s.

The 1984 SVO was a performance champion that equalled its Mustang GT counterpart in horsepower – while offering superior balance and fuel economy, not to mention the plethora of unique enhancements that had created a Mustang unlike any other before it.

The heart of the 1984 Mustang SVO was, of course hidden under the hood. The turbocharged and intercooled 2.3 litre Lima four-cylinder engine made it equal to the 1984 5.0-liter V-8 Mustang GT and one of the most powerful American-made performance machines of the day.


The 2000 SVT Mustang Cobra R debuted as the fastest factory Mustang ever produced. Its SVT-developed, naturally aspirated 5.4-liter V-8 produced 385 horsepower, good for 0-100 kph in 4.7 seconds.

As a true, lightweight R-model, it also had track-capable brakes, able to make a full stop from 60 mph in just 127 feet. Like all SVT Cobra R’s before it, the 2000 R came stripped of any stock feature not needed for track use or that would add excess weight.

Recaro racing seats, side-exit dual exhaust, a front air splitter and high-mount rear wing hinted at the car’s superb stability and handling capabilities.

Only 300 models were released and were only available in an exclusive Performance Red Clearcoat.


The modern-day Shelby GT350 Mustang aims to rekindle the spirit of the original model. Helping the R live up to that bold claim is Ford’s first-ever V8 engine fitted with a flat-plane crankshaft.

The 5.2-liter unit generates over 500 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. It roasts the rear tires via a six-speed manual transmission and a Torsen limited-slip differential.

To increase the speed and swiftness of this model ford removed the A/C unit, the stereo, the rear bench, the rear-view camera, and the tire repair kit, among other add-ons. And, 19-inch wheels crafted entirely out of carbon fibre help shed 24 kilos of unstrung weight.

Ford and Shelby hit the bull’s eye with the GT350R. Notably, it recently took home Digital Trends’ Performance Car of the Year award. It’s a limited edition model, and can be expected to auction off for a king’s ransom at auctions in the future


This year’s Detroit Auto Show motor head movie enthusiasts, as Ford introduced the long-awaited 2019 Mustang Bullitt.

It’s a modern interpretation of the appearance of the Stang in the 1968 movie Bullit featuring Steve McQueen in which he famously blazed on the streets of San Francisco to chase down hitmen 50 years ago.

The Blue Oval hit it out of the ball with The Bullitt’s design, it comes standard in dark highland green, a tribute to the original, and can also be ordered in shadow black. There are subtle chrome accents around the grille and the windows, and it rides on 19-inch, five-spoke wheels. Notice it doesn’t come with stripes, decals, or even emblems; subtlety characterises the Bullitt, then and now.

Offered only as a coupe, the Bullitt is based on the latest Mustang GT. Its 5.0-liter V8 engine sends 480 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Give it enough tarmac and it will sprint to 163 mph.

With over 126,000 vehicles registered worldwide, it’s hard to not want to jump on this Stang suave bandwagon and now that you’ve read this article you’re probably pondering whether or not you should pick up the 2019 Mustang once it hits showroom floors, so if you’ve considered slipping into something a little sleeker you can read out our blog on Our Favourite Coupe’s in South Africa.

Alternatively see which hot offering we have and you can consider adding it to your wish list.

May 11, 2018
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