Which Ford Mustang Was the Best Ford Mustang?

Launched in 1964 at the World’s Fair in New York, the Ford Mustang has been through a number of iterations. Which is the best one?

byKristin V. Shaw|
Ford News photo

When I was a sophomore in high school, my friend Chris Hartman asked me to accompany him to prom. I donned a pink one-shouldered dress with fringe that swayed when I walked and long white gloves and he picked him up in his 1966 Ford Mustang. It was faded green with a glasspack muffler; that thing was loud. Every day when the bell rang at the end of the lunch hour, the whole school could hear him coming from the next block over. I loved it.

Tomorrow is the Ford Mustang's 58th birthday, so let's take a moment to celebrate this iconic car and all of its iterations. Which is your favorite Mustang and why?

First unveiled on April 17, 1964 at the World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York, Lee Iacocca's vision for the Mustang was a hit right out of the gate. Offered with three engine choices, 22,000 examples of the Mustang were snapped up on the very first day. Even three days before that on April 14, Eastern Provincial Airlines pilot Stanley Tucker fell in love with it and convinced a Ford dealership in St. John’s, Newfoundland to sell him the VIN 001 Mustang ahead of the official launch.

After that first model year, the Mustang started to grow in size through the end of the '60s. By the early '70s, fans started to complain the pony car was getting too plump and Ford responded with Mustang II, which was based on a stretched Pinto platform. While that might sound like an odd choice now, that led to a banner year for the model and 386,000 were sold in 1974. The Fox body Mustang followed and was replaced in 1987 with new aero-themed styling. In 1994, the Mustang harnessed its first-generation roots and some of those elements echo into the latest models.

Even after all these years, the Mustang is still going strong. Mustang retail orders nearly doubled in 2021 compared to 2020. And while some cried foul at the inclusion of the Mach-e in the Mustang family, it's flying off showroom floors. In 2021, the Blue Oval sold more than 27,000 Mach-e units in its first model year, which is about half as many of the Mustang muscle cars that were sold. For a new model, especially an EV version, that's noteworthy.

I'm still a big fan of the first-generation Mustang, maybe because of the memory of my friend's loud 1966 model blasting through the high school parking lot. Which one do you think is the best?

Got a tip? Send me a note: kristin.shaw@thedrive.com.