Mustangs, hot take, are good. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they’re very good. But which Ford Mustang, in its nearly sixty years of history, is the most good? This was the question we posed to you all on Monday, and today we’re combing through your answers for the best. Let’s see what you said.
1965 Shelby GT350R
‘65 GT350R. There were 34 of them built specifically for SCCA racing. They came hot on the heels of the Shelby 427 Cobra. IMHO there has not been as pure a vehicle from Ford since this car. Certainly, there hasn’t been as pure a driver’s Mustang since the GT350. The R version is just icing on the cake.
I’m always intrigued by claims of automotive “purity.” What does that really mean? What makes a car impure? Sound deadening? Fuel injection?
The SVO. I feel like it was created to piss people off.
Not unlike my kinja account.
I was saying in Jalopnik Slack earlier: More cars should be bad. It’s even better when the bad car is in fact very, very good, in spite of (or even because of) its badness. The SVO is bad, yet also very good.
Gotta be the OG: Introduced in April 17, 1964 at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, NY. Sold 400k units in the first year, 1 million units in the 18 months after launch, and almost 3 million units from 1964-73 for the first generation. It’s the best-selling Mustang of all time.
Like the Model T brought affordable car ownership to the world, the original Mustang brought sporty design and performance to the masses. Ford called it the “working-man’s Thunderbird”, and no Mustang embodied that better than the first generation.
It’s amazing how many more Mustangs are out there in the world than Miatæ. Is that just? Is this a kind world we’ve wrought?
The 2013-2014 Shelby GT500
This is a good question. Having sold Mustangs for over 23 years (from ‘97-’20) and driven so many as they got better and better in terms of handling and ergonomics. I’m in the camp that a Mustang will always be a Muscle Car to me (not raking anything away from the S550, as it’s an amazing car but that is a sports car now and a damn good one) and as such I would vote for ones that still have a SRA. That said my choices are 2-fold. One being N/A and one Supercharged.
One, if I wanted a naturally aspirated car, my pick would easily be the 2012-2013 S197 Boss 302. Such a fantastic car. Fantastic post from the upgraded “Road Runner” 302 with forged parts & a raised redline (to 7,500 which was something back then). Amazing handling from a SRA (Ford engineers did wonders with this) and a soundtrack that begs to keep the radio off. And best thing, they are still fairly reasonable price wise on the used market.
If one wants a supercharged car, my pick will always be the 2013-2014 Shelby GT500. 662hp from the bespoke “Trinity” 5.8 V8 paired to a Tremec. Now THIS is a muscle car! The last manual GT500s and they will be sought after in the coming years. Get one now because they are still semi reasonable. Give it a few more years and they will be priced a lot higher. Such an amazing story about how & what they all did to these to get all that power (moving the snake logo to get air in on one side specifically). I loved the 4 cars I sold in the two years they were out (2 were the totally allocations my dealer got each year. All 4 at MSRP). Those were the days.
These likely will be future classics, but they’re also a bit... brusque. Unrefined, aggressive. For some, that’s likely the appeal.
2015 Mustang GT350
A compelling case could be made for a Mustang from pretty much any generation that doesn’t have II in its name, but if you said to me “Every Mustang now costs the exact same. Which one do you choose?” I’d pick the 2015 GT350, and that says something.
It is not the best Mustang in any one category, but if you were to rank every Mustang in every category and sum the scores, the GT350 would have the highest total. The GT350 is an everything car. It’s a jack-of-all-trades, but never feels like a compromise.
And it doesn’t rely on kitschy chameleon paint to make it special. ;)
“Kitschy chameleon paint” meet me out back of the Arby’s at 11pm. Them’s fightin’ words. Say that to my face, not online.
The New One
“ I’ve long held that the New Edge body style is one of the Mustang’s best”
You are wrong. The New Edge/Disjointed Lines Mustang is one of the worst looking Mustangs.
In my view, the best looking and best one to drive is the newest one currently available.
And if I was trolling, I’d say the best Mustang was this: [photo of the Mach E]
It’s funny — some of y’all say that Mustangs haven’t been good since the sixties, while others say that every Mustang is empirically better than the prior one. Truly, the Kinja comments contain multitudes.
The Original Original
Have to give it to the original. No not the 64/65. The original prototype.
Look at it! Mid engine, V4 with room for improvement, imagine if Ford had continued down this path. So much potential
Ah, the 1962 prototype. When was the last time we had a car with a V4 engine? I would absolutely daily this car.
I will vote for the Fox body Mustangs. They could be as simple as a 4-cyl, or go to the other end of the spectrum with the V8, and with that V8, there were so many simple (or complex) mods that could be done to get a ton of horsepower out of them, that it was the car that you could tailor to your tastes, yet it would still be a Mustang when it was done.
...also, I have an 89 GT convertible, so there’s a little bit of bias there (grin)
The Fox Body feels like the smallest Mustang. Its styling just looks compact, nimble. It’s good.
The 2012-2013 Boss 302
I’m a little biased...
[Photo of 2012-2013 Boss 302]
I remember the release of the Boss 302 Laguna Seca, and how that car absolutely took over my high school-aged mind. To this day, I cannot fully explain the hold that black-and-red design held over me.
Every Falcon ever, was better than every Mustang.
I reject the premise of your question.
The best Mustang... is the Falcon (and XC is the most memorable).
Aussie-market Falcons are kind of like Mustangs, in the way that ice cream is kind of like ciabatta. That is to say, not at all.
2020 GT350 Heritage Edition
That engine + the color scheme is just perfection to me
Truly, there is no other way to get a white Mustang with blue stripes. Heritage Editions only, that’s it.
The Bullitt One
1968 Mustang GT fastback.
This car was the best part of Bullitt. Also the only good part of Bullitt.
Mustang II Ghia
[Photo of Mustang II Ghia]
Once again, I respect bad cars for their goodness. I should drive one of these, just to truly understand what it was like.
Pre-Facelift S550 Convertible
Mystichrome Cobra is a good choice, but that’s really the paint. The Terminator Cobra would also be a good choice, but I’d really just go with the one that I can buy, and wouldn’t have any problems driving all the time:
An S550 Mustang GT convertible - before the silly droopy headlight change.
I drove a red 2017 Mustang GT convertible through the Rocky Mountains over the course of a week almost 5 years ago now, and I still remember that fondly. Top down through the mountains, down the Icefields Parkway, was one of the best drives I’ve ever had. It was epic. When I got home, I bought a Miata instead of a Mustang because it was more fun at legal speeds - but I still think of that Mustang. A LOT. Enough that I’m wondering if I should just get both. My wallet is happy my garage couldn’t fit the two.
I’ve driven newer ones with the Ecoboost, and it’s just not right. I’ve driven older ones with the V6, and that was much worse. I’ve driven older ones with the V8, and they have the character, but much less livability.
That specific Mustang - right around 2017 - is pretty much perfect. Damn. I’m going to spend the day looking at Auto Trader now.
My hot take is that the pre-facelift S550 had the better front end, but the later cars have better tail lights. Someday I’ll mash those two together.
Whatever Costs Five Grand
I say this with the addendum that in my head it’s still 2002 and the car market hasn’t gone completely nuts, but the best Mustang is the best $5000 Mustang you can get (preferably with at least a bit of power). I will probably never completely get over the Fox Body being the epitome of cheap fun Mustang, even if we’re more or less at the point where the better choice for cheap fun is probably a V6 S197.
The best Mustang is the one you can afford to buy, beat on, modify, and keep fuel in. Anything else is gravy.