QOTD: How Do You Rank the Six Generations of Mustang?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd how do you rank the six generations of mustang

Yesterday, the B&B collectively lit up the Buy/Drive/Burn article regarding $45,000 coupes in praise of the V8-powered 2018 Mustang GT. While munching on all the delicious clicks, I thought about the QOTD published back in December 2017. In that post, I asked you, our dear readers, to rank all seven generations of the Chevrolet Corvette. See where this is going?

Today we want to know where you rank all six generations of the Ford Mustang. Line up your ponies!

Rule: Your ranking must include the entire generation as a whole, without distinction of design refreshes as separate items.

I. 1965-1973

First shown to the public at the New York World’s Fair in 1964, the Mustang project was the result of just 18 months of work at Ford. Donald Frey engineered the new Mustang after it was conceived by a Ford brand manager, one Lee Iacocca. Inline-six and V8 engines were available from the get-go, and the model started at under $2,500.

II. 1974-1978

The first generation suffered some serious size and brougham bloat over its tenure, growing from 181.6″ to 189.5″ in length, and increasing in width from 68.2″ to a chubby 74.1″. Ford sought to fix this with the Mustang II. Running on a shorter wheelbase and with a body shorter than the original model by six inches, the second Mustang shared a platform with the subcompact Pinto. Four cylinder engines were introduced in this generation, along with the Cologne 2.8-liter V6 and a Windsor V8.

III. 1979-1993

After the Mustang II, consumers were ready for some serious change. So Ford blessed them with the long-lived Fox body. Larger than the Mustang II, the third generation returned to very similar dimensions as the original. Success returned to Mustang in this generation, and a variety of engines fit under the hood — including, of course, the 5.0.

IV. 1994-2004

By the time the early ’90s rolled around, the square styling of the Fox body was looking a bit tired. Not wanting to jump ship entirely, the new Mustang for 1994 was based on a revised Fox platform called SN-95. “Aero is in!” said the new, rounded shape of the Mustang. Eight different engines were available in V6 or V8 guise. The SN-95 was the only model since the first generation to receive considerable styling changes during the run. A major refresh in 1999 turned on the New Edge charm, or what I’d call “Taco Bell parking lot styling.”

V. 2005-2014

The return to retro. Ford had been developing the fifth-generation Mustang since the New Edge version hit the scene in 1999, and finalized its design in 2002. Sweeping edges were replaced by blocky styling harking back to the ’60s. The size, however, was closer to a late first-gen Mustang. Very popular and refreshed for the 2010 model year, later S-197s have no trouble looking modern today.

VI. 2015-Present

In a travesty to some, the inline-four engine returned in 2015. Sticking with the retro theme established in 2005, the 2015 Mustang brought with it the fastback profile lost at the end of the Fox body in 1993. The V6 option went away after the 2017 model year; now it’s four or eight cylinders, and nothing between.

Where do you rank these six raging ponies?

[Images: Ford, Wikipedia, Carsindepth]

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  • Ernest Ernest on Feb 21, 2018

    OK, the 65-73 might be considered the same generation. But Bunkie Knudsen looked at the Mustang and thought "Hey- that car would look great as a Torino! And with that, the '71-'73's became just that. Torinos... with less room and trunk space. I swear GM must've paid Ford to hire that guy away and get him the hell out of the GM Tech Center. Favorites? 1. 1st Gen, ending with the '70. 2. Current car. Runs faster, jumps higher, looks like a million bucks. Prettiest coupe you can buy for under six figures, IMO. 3. 4th Gen. Quick car, fun to drive, blown Cobras are still giving Corvette owners fits. (Disclaimer, I owned a '01) 4. 5th Gen, for no special reason other than liking the body style. 5. 3rd Gen. Fox body brought performance back to the fold. 6. 2nd Gen. In it's defense, the Mustang may not be here today if that car didn't arrive when it did, in the form that it did.

  • Raph Raph on Feb 21, 2018

    Hmmm... 1. Gen VI 2. Gen V 3. Gen III 4. Gen IV 5. Gen I 6. Gen II The Gen VI cars are as big an improvement over the Gen V cars as they were over the Gen IV and III cars and with the GT350 one of the best driver's cars Ford has ever produced. The only two things I can really complain about are the panel fitment issues (it seems like Ford took a step back in that regard) and the weight. Anybody remember when Pericak had to back track on the supposed weight reduction over the outgoing 05-14 cars. It's a shame he couldn't deliver for whatever reason. If the Mustang had come in at similar weight numbers to the current Camaro it would have been absolutely brillant with the Gen III Coyote introduced with the 2018 Mustang GT and easily an mid 11 second car - of course that begs the question - would Ford have pushed the 5.0 as far as they have if the Gen VI car hadn't been so portly? The Gen V cars were a helluva improvement over the previous Mustangs and probably make for some of the best modern project cars. Cheap to mod and maintain with the strut front end and live rear axle. Hell Watson Engineering has a program where you can drop an 05-14 car off and have it converted over into a spec race car for NASA IIRC.

  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Ed That has to be a joke.
  • SCE to AUX One data point: my rental '23 Model 3 had good build quality, but still not as good as my Hyundais.Test mule aside, perhaps the build quality of the CT will be good in 2027.
  • DenverMike He knows what he has bro, never mind the lowball offer.American, 4x4, V8, short wheel base, full size, historical, customizable, easy resto with or without the Mod, convertible and more. No subscriptions, no bull sh!t, just too cool. Plus the thing will just keep gaining in value. Talk about driving for Free. Never mind that your Ex hates it. $60K Hot Rod that shows $1,800 on paper!?Yes the hobby is pushed on by enthusiast money launderers and hidden wealth in plain sight that you can drive, to name a few.
  • ToolGuy Skim milk? Who stands in the aisle at the grocery store and consciously chooses skim milk? That's like shopping for cars and asking, "Do you have one with a CVT?" 😉