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20 Ford Mustangs That Kept The Legend Alive This Century

Vukasin HerbezNovember 5, 2020

Even though the Ford Mustang is on top of its game as the best-selling and most popular pony/muscle car out there, Ford has a great responsibility to keep it in the leading position. Domestic competitors like the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro are all aiming at the same market and same customers. But Ford knows the importance and power of Mustangs and is investing heavily in its development, engine range, and performance.

Today, we look at the top 20 modern Mustangs that captivate the public imagination, create controversy, and bring performance to auto enthusiasts in America and beyond. Many classic Mustangs have gone up in value this year, but these are the pony cars of the current time. They are future collectibles that pushed the envelope and further established the Mustang name for the current generation of car enthusiasts.

20. 2020 Mustang EcoBoost High-Performance Package

Most of the attention of the motoring press and Mustang enthusiasts is directed to the higher end of the model range. Yet there is one immensely interesting Mustang that has just been released and has blazed its way in the model lineup. It is the Mustang EcoBoost High-Performance Package – a 2.3-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder with a twist.

If you don’t know what it is, think of it as a cross between Ford Focus RS and Mustang. You have a Mustang’s design but the engine from Focus RS with 332 hp and special handling package, which makes all the difference. Also, there are a few subtle visual enhancements and badging.

The EcoBoost High-Performance Package is quicker to 60 mph, but it retains the same 155 mph top speed as the rest of the EcoBoost Mustangs. Even though it is not the mighty GT or Shelby, it offers a lot of performance at an affordable price. It is also more refined and handles better than before as an excellent entry-level performance Mustang.

19. Ford Mustang SVT Cobra

Inspired by the wild SVT Cobra Rs from the ’90s, Ford didn’t name the 2003 model with an “R” since it wasn’t in limited production. In fact, the SVT Cobra was available to the public rather than just race car drivers and private teams. However, this SVT Cobra was an important model for the Mustang dynasty because it featured two firsts.

The first was adding a factory supercharged engine and the second was the independent rear suspension. The Ford Special Vehicle Team (SVT) took a standard 4.6-liter engine block and mounted different heads. They also added a supercharger to get 390 HP and 390 lb-ft of torque. They named the engine the “Terminator.” But the rumor was that it delivered more than the advertised 390 HP.

So, to handle all that power and torque, Ford equipped the SVT Cobra with an independent rear suspension. A setup similar to the first Ford GT, it increased stability at high speeds. Also, it made this Mustang handle like a dream. And the 0 to 60 mph time took only 4.7 seconds, making the SVT Cobra a drag strip terror.

18. 2021 Ford Mustang Mach I

Even though 2020 wasn’t the best year in the car industry, Ford was still able to introduce new designs, further expanding the Mustang range. One such product was the brand-new 2021 Mustang Mach I. This model marked the return of the legendary Mustang’s nameplate. This Mach I is better than ever and has more power and performance than its predecessors.

The 2021 Mach I is envisioned as a step up from the regular S550 Mustang GT and GT Performance Pack II but a step below the Shelby GT350 and GT500. For 2021, Ford will discontinue the Shelby GT350 since Mach I and Shelby are aimed for the same market and have somewhat similar price tags.

Under the hood is the same 5.0-liter Coyote V8 but with few Shelby and Bullitt parts, which results in a 480 hp rating (same as Bullitt). The customers hoped for a 500 hp rating, but Ford decided to keep it 480 hp using already existing components. The 2021 Mach I will come with special body parts, a handling package, special paint, decal trim, and a host of unique details. Since Ford is getting ready to introduce the next-gen Mustang in two years, you can expect that Mach I will be a limited production model.

17. Ford Mustang GT S197

The world was stunned when Ford introduced the fifth-generation Mustang in late 2004 as a 2005 model. The retro-futuristic design was perfect for the time because it captured the essence of the legendary first generation. But it also presented an elegant and sporty shape that is still modern 15 years after its unveiling.

The new Mustang featured a lot of new technology, yet still had a somewhat older platform with a live rear axle. Nonetheless, buyers went crazy for the car. So, during its 10-year market life, Ford introduced numerous special versions and extremely powerful Shelby models.

With a 4.6-liter 300 HP V8 engine and later a 5.0-liter 425 HP V8 engine from the 2011 to 2014 model year, the GT was a capable car with exceptionally good road manners. It was fast, handled well, and was affordable. Also, its simple mechanics means it is affordable to maintain. So, if you are looking for a V8 powered Mustang with performance and loads of attitude but are on a budget, this is the car for you.

16. 2020 Ford Mach E

The most controversial Mustang introduced in recent years and maybe ever is definitely the Mustang Mach E. Some claim that this isn’t the Mustang at all, and Ford calls it “Mustang-inspired.” But it is painfully apparent that it is a Mustang but a very different one.

For those who don’t know, Mustang Mach E is an all-electric, performance-oriented, four-door SUV. The Mach E is all that the regular Mustang isn’t, and that makes it so controversial. However, looking at the interest and pre-orders Ford has collected, the general market seems to be crazy about the electric Mustang-inspired SUV. This is probably the first proper Tesla Model 3 fighter there is, and that alone is impressive.

The Mach E is fast, just like Mustang needs to be. The base version can get to 60 mph in low six seconds, and the top-of-the-line model can do the same in about 3.7 seconds, as fast as the 2020 Shelby GT500. Power is ranging from 266 hp to 459 hp, and prices start at around $40,000.

15. Ford Mustang Shelby GT-H

With the retro-looking car came the return of legendary Mustang special versions like the Shelby GT-H. Back in 1966, Shelby offered its GT350 model as a rental car through the Hertz network. They painted the cars with black with gold stripes and the GT350-H model designation.

Exactly 40 years later, Ford did exactly that with their 2006 Mustangs. They tuned them to Shelby specs and named them the Mustang Shelby GT-H. The cars were regular GTs with a 19 HP power increase and a new front end.

And once again, they offered the Shelby GT-H as a rental car at selected locations. Also, after that use, they sold them to the public as used cars. So, if you want a cool piece of modern Mustang history, search the ads for a Shelby GT-H in good condition.

14. 2020 Mustang Cobra Jet 1400

True Mustang enthusiasts know a Cobra Jet is a big-block V8 Mustang. Or is it? In April of 2020, Ford introduced a Cobra Jet 1400 prototype that further divided the community. Using a legendary name, this iteration of dedicated drag racer is all-electric and faster than ever.

Look at the stats – 1,400 hp and 1,100 lb-ft of torque sent to rear wheels can propel this drag racing missile to an eight-second quarter-mile time at an insane 170 mph. This Cobra Jet is set to break some records.

Although it’s still in the prototype phase, we can expect that Ford will produce it in the near future and that Mustang fans will get all-electric drag legend to go along with the Mustang Mach E SUV.

13. Ford Mustang Bullitt

When this retro masterpiece of design was embodied in the 2005 Mustang, fans of the legendary pony car were ecstatic. The new car not only looked fabulous, but it also introduced new levels of power and performance. However, its retro look opened the doors for numerous special editions that mimicked fantastic Mustangs of the past.

Ford couldn’t resist going back to the model, so in 2008, they presented the new Bullitt Mustang. Just like the original, it was dark green with a blackout grille. Also, it had American Racing wheels and a few mechanical modifications. And the 4.6-liter V8 engine pumped 315 HP and 325 lb-ft of torque.

That engine was enough to launch this Highland Green Mustang coupe to a 5.0-second 0 to 60 mph time. Since Ford produced them in limited numbers, the 2008 Bullitt Mustang is a top collector’s car.

12. Ford Mustang Boss 302

Ever since the first retro Mustangs appeared in Ford showrooms across America, car fans have asked for the return of the Boss 302. Ford presented the Boss 302 in 1969 as a racing car homologation special for the Trans-Am races. 43 years later, Ford revived the Boss 302 with a new 5.0-liter Coyote V8. In fact, the engine delivered 444 HP and 380 lb-ft of torque.

Again, this was almost a pure racing car with no back seats. As you would expect, performance was better than the regular Mustang GT. The 2012 Boss 302 could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.97 seconds and top 155 mph. The 2012 model is widely considered one of the coolest Mustangs of all time.

However, the modern Boss 302 was an expensive, limited-production model when it first came out. Since it was so good, the demand for well-preserved examples is high. So prices are well beyond an average 2012 Mustang GT.

11. Shelby GT 500

The first Mustang to wear the Shelby name in almost 40 years was the 2007 model conceived by Ford’s SVT department, who designed the Cobra R models. However, the 2007 Shelby GT 500 was something else. The GT 500 had an aggressive design with multiple upgrades.

It sounded terrifying thanks to the new 5.4-liter supercharged V8 engine with 500 HP and 480 lb-ft of torque. This was the first production Mustang that broke the 500 HP barrier. It was the most powerful muscle car at the time. With racing stripes, four exhaust pipes, and the scary rumble from the massive V8, the 2007 Shelby GT 500 would make Carroll Shelby proud.

Of course, performance was amazing with the 0 to 60 mph time taking only 4.5 seconds. But this car could probably could do better. In fact, the massive torque burned the rear tires if you pushed the pedal too hard.

10. 2013 Shelby GT500

This car is the swan song of those SVT supercharged Mustangs is the 2013 Shelby GT500. This glorious muscle car had a 5.8-liter supercharged V8 that pumped 662 HP and 631 lb-ft of torque. At the time, this was the most powerful American-made V8.

They installed in an RWD, live axle platform. And it was famous as a tire smoke generator. But besides its burnout and show potential, it was also a serious performance machine. The 0 to 60 mph sprint took only 3.5 seconds.

So, the $50,000 Mustang could embarrass a $250,000 Ferrari at a stoplight drag race. Car buyers loved this overpowered Mustang. And despite the fact Ford discontinued it, the Shelby GT500 still is the king of the hill among several Mustang fans.

9. Ford Mustang EcoBoost

All-new for 2015, this sixth-generation Ford Mustang was quite a revolution. Ford abandoned the retro look in favor of more aggressive and modern styling. Also, the whole platform was new. Finally, as a regular production item, a competent independent rear suspension found the way in the Mustang.

But under the hood, there was a surprise. Ford offered a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder as a middle model slotted between the V6 and 5.0 V8. The 2.3-liter had 315 HP and superb performance. However, it was reminiscent of the classic 1984 Mustang SVO that also had a 2.3-liter turbo.

The modern turbo power brought interesting handling to the often nose-heavy Mustang. With this engine, they transformed this muscle car Mustang into a modern import sports car. For those who want the Mustang of the future, this is a great choice.

8. Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack 2

The current 5.0 GT Mustang is one of the best Mustangs in history. However, Ford waited until 2018 to unveil the new GT Performance Pack 2 properly. And this car is one of the coolest modern Mustangs, a true performance model for muscle car fans. So what exactly is the Mustang GT Performance Pack 2?

First, it is a GT, which means it has a 5.0-liter Coyote V8 with 460 HP and 420 lb-ft of torque. Ford mated it with a six-speed manual transmission in the best tradition of classic muscle cars. With the 0 to 60 mph times in the low four-second range, the Performance Pack 2 is fast. But the numbers are just half of the story. The essence of the Performance Pack is in handling and braking.

For $6,500 above the price of a regular GT, you will get both chassis and aerodynamic improvements, stiffer springs, and beefier anti-roll bars. You’ll also get performance tires, bigger brakes and racing seats. Some think Ford should’ve named this the Performance Pack 2 Boss 302 since it captures the same idea for the same type of customers. If you can’t afford the Shelby GT350, the Performance Pack 2 is the perfect alternative as it offers almost the same level of performance and handling for a significantly lower price.

 

7. Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R

For those who want a classic, screamer Mustang with a Shelby heritage, but with modern technology and unbelievable V8 performance, the new GT350R is a perfect choice. And although Ford based the Shelby on the Mustang GT, much of the car’s suspension, design, aero package, and the engine was new. However, the biggest single difference was the fantastic Voodoo engine, which has 5.2 liters, 526 HP, and 429 lb-ft of torque.

This is the first time a muscle car has had such an advanced engine. Ford’s investment into the Shelby GT350R paid off since the performance is mind-boggling with 3.9 seconds for 0 to 60 mph.

But the numbers don’t do justice to this car. The Shelby GT350R is a pure sports car that delivers fantastic driving dynamics and experience to drivers. It is much closer to the Porsche GT3 in terms of precision driving and cornering speeds than it is to those humble Mustangs of yesteryear. This car is not only one of the fastest Mustangs ever, but also one of the best sports cars made in recent years.

6. Ford Mustang Bullitt 2018

One of the biggest Mustang legends is Steve McQueen’s Highland Green 1968 Fastback. It became famous from Bullitt, a cop movie from 1969. The movie itself became famous for its chase scene. And for decades, this car represented one of the coolest Mustangs in the world.

Because Ford couldn’t resist using it for special versions and released three Bullitt Mustangs. They presented the first one was in 2003, the second in 2008, and the third in 2018 as a 2019 model. Ford has based all three Bullitt special versions on the GT V8 model. They all feature the special green paint and dark wheels.

Also, all three are highly collectible and desirable cars and big parts of Mustang history. The latest one is the 480 HP street fighter dressed in the recognizable dark green color. Best of all, it delivers sub-four-second 0 to 60 mph times.

5. 2020 Shelby GT500

After all the talk about electric Mustangs, muscle fans are finally getting the most powerful, quickest, and most expensive Mustang ever – the mighty and glorious Shelby GT500. Drivers have waited a long time for the absolute pinnacle of Mustang performance, and this is it.

The 2020 Shelby GT500 has a 5.2-liter supercharged V8, which delivers 760 hp and is designed to go against its main rivals, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Results are impressive, and GT500 can reach 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and quarter-mile in just 11.0 seconds straight from the box.

However, with an over $70k MSRP and over $18k for Carbon Fiber Track Package (optional trim level), the new Shelby GT500 is dangerously close to the magical $100,000 figure. Even though the performance and driving dynamics of the 2020 Shelby GT500 is close to exotic cars, we’re not sure that the market is ready for this Mustang with the price of an exotic.

4. Ford Mustang Cobra Jet Drag Car

Ever since 1968 and the introduction of the famous 428 Cobra Jet engine, Mustangs with this name were dragstrip terrors and street fighting machines. However, in the last couple of years, Ford decided to introduce some not exactly street legal Mustangs. Ford sold them only to drag racing teams and privateers.

They called the 2018 version the Mustang Cobra Jet. Ford equipped with a 5.2-liter Coyote V8 with a 3.0-liter massive supercharger on top, pushing close to 1,000 HP. Also, the drag slicks, special rear axle, and numerous other details are all part of the deal. Ford produced just 68 cars for the 2018 model year at $130,000 each.

3. Ford Mustang Mach I 2003

The early 2000s saw the redesign of the fourth-generation Mustang as well as the introduction of some interesting, powerful versions. One of those is the Mach I. It featured a retro-inspired graphics package, new colors, and upgraded engine and exhaust. Clearly, the Mach I from 2003 was an homage to the fire-breathing Mach I from the late ’60s and early ’70s.

They tuned the 4.6-liter V8 engine to deliver 305 HP and 320 lb-ft of torque, which went to the rear wheels over a six-speed manual gearbox. The 0 to 60 time was swift at 5.6 seconds. But the coolest details were those gorgeous retro-inspired five-spoke wheels.

2. Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R 2000

The coolest-looking fourth-generation Mustang is undoubtedly the 2000 SVT Cobra R. Again, this is a limited-edition model with the “R” designation. Ford produced only 300 of them they intended for racing drivers and teams. However, compared to the other regular Mustangs, the Cobra R featured many improvements and enhancements.

First and foremost was the engine, the 5.4-liter V8 with 385 HP and 385 lb-ft of torque. Second, the body kit with front and rear spoilers and side skirts. Third, stiff suspension and a few chassis modifications. The car was clearly for performance, so buyers got exactly that when they pressed the gas pedal.

1. Revology Mustang

The Revology is an entirely modern car with classic looks and redefines the term “restomod.” The idea behind this company lies in the fact that classic Mustang looks are timeless. Still, the classic Mustang technology, drive train, and performance are obviously not up to today’s standards.

So they set out to recreate classic Mustangs that perform, steer, and brake just like modern cars and have quality, fit, and finish by 21st-century standards. In order to justify its extreme prices, Revology makes complete new bodies, uses new interior pieces, drive train components, and brand-new 5.0-liter V8 engines, to create Mustang that is 100% new but looks like it was made in 1965.

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