The car world was stunned when Ford introduced the fifth generation of the Mustang in late 2004 as a 2005 model. The retro-futuristic design was perfect for the times. It not only captured the essence of the legendary first generation, but presented a very elegant and sporty shape that is still modern even 15 years after its unveiling (via Car and Driver). The new Mustang featured a lot of new technology but still a somewhat old platform with a live rear axle. Nonetheless, buyers went crazy for the car. During its 10-year market life, Ford introduced numerous special versions and extremely powerful Shelby models. But the sweet spot in the range was always the regular GT model.
With a 4.6-liter 300 hp V8 engine at first and a 5.0-liter 412 hp V8 engine from 2011 to the 2014 model year, the ’05 GT was a very capable car. It was fast, it handled well, and it looked cool in any color. Its affordable price means it is quite common, and its simple mechanics means it is cheap to maintain. The soundtrack from the V8 engine is second to none, and the looks are still fresh. If you are looking for a V8-powered Mustang with performance and loads of attitude on a budget, this is the car for you.
The 2005 Mustang GTR was soon forgotten, but its legacy lives on in numerous modern Mustangs. First, it was a prototype of a track-ready Mustang with fantastic design and cool race tech. Second, it featured a then-new 5.0-liter Cammer crate V8 with 440 hp, which was later available to the general public.
Third, it showcased many Ford Performance parts and components (via CJ Pony Parts) that can still be bought today and are an integral part of building a modern Mustang for a track day.
With the retro-looking car came the return of legendary Mustang special versions like Shelby GT-H. Back in 1966, Shelby offered its GT350 model as a rental car through the Hertz network. The cars were painted black with gold stripes and GT350-H model designation. Exactly 40 years later, Ford did exactly that with 2006 Mustangs which were turned to Shelby spec and named GT-H (via Motor Trend).
The cars were regular GTs with a 19 hp power increase, new front end, some details, and of course, black paint with gold stripes. Once again, Shelby GT-H was offered as a rental car on selected locations, and after the use, all examples were sold to the general public as used cars. If you want a cool piece of modern Mustang history, search the classified ads for a Shelby GT-H in nice condition.
When the retro-looking masterpiece of design saw the light of day embodied in the 2005 Mustang, fans of the legendary pony car were ecstatic. The new car looked not only fabulous but also introduced new levels of power and performance. However, its retro look opened the doors for numerous special editions which mimicked the fantastic Mustangs from the past (via Mustang Specs).
Again, Ford couldn’t resist, and in 2008, the new Bullitt Mustang was introduced. As before, it was dark green with a blackout grille, American Racing wheels, and a few other modifications. The 4.6-liter V8 engine pumped 315 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. This was enough to launch this Highland Green Mustang coupe to 5.0-second 0 to 60 mph time. Of course, the 2008 Bullitt Mustang was again produced in limited numbers and had collectors’ car appeal.
The last years of the fifth-generation Ford Mustang were marketed by a cool-looking redesign and new engine. The truly modern 5.0-liter Coyote V8 was a world-class powerhouse that was eventually the basis for almost all performance Mustangs of the era. In base trim, the 5.0 Coyote was capable of 412 hp and 390 lb-ft, which are respectable figures (via Automotive Addicts).
Drivers could get this engine in numerous versions, GT, GT Premium, California Special, and so on. And if the engine was stock, the acceleration times were 4.3 seconds which was almost supercar level of the day and for far less money than a comparable Porsche from the period.
Ever since the first retro Mustangs appeared in showrooms across America, Ford fans asked for the return of the Boss 302. For those who don’t know, the Boss 302 was first introduced in 1969 as a racing car homologation special intended for Trans-Am races. 43 years later, Ford revived the Boss 302 with a new 5.0-liter Coyote V8 which delivered 444 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Again, this was almost a pure racing car with no back seat, factory-installed roll cage, and a host of other external and internal modifications.
As you’d expect, the performance was better than a regular Mustang GT. The 2012 Boss 302 could accelerate to 60 mph in 3.97 seconds and top 155 mph. Until we see the future version of the Boss 302, the 2012 model is widely considered one of the coolest Mustangs of all time (via Edmunds).
The modern-day GT is truly a world-class sports coupe with muscle car roots and a soundtrack. The S550 platform is finally equipped with independent rear suspension, and a great design with the technology to match it. The S550 Mustang was a truly global car sold worldwide and in right-hand-drive as well (via Motor Trend).
The heart of any GT is its engine. And in 2015 to 2022 Mustang, that heart has 5 liters, 32-valves, direct injection, and lightweight construction, which equals 460 to 480 hp delivered to rear wheels over a six-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmission.
One of the biggest Mustang legends is Steve McQueen’s Highland Green 1968 Fastback which was used in the shooting of “Bullitt.”. The movie became famous for its chase scene. So for decades, this car represented one of the coolest Mustang GTs in the world. Ford couldn’t resist using it for special versions, and so far, it has released three Bullitt Mustangs. One in 2003, one in 2008, and one in 2018 as a 2019 model.
All Bullitt special versions are based on the GT V8 model and feature special green paint, dark wheels, an upgrade in power, and numerous trim changes (via Motor Trend). Of course, all three are highly collectible and desirable cars and a big part of Mustang’s history. The latest one is a 480 HP street racer dressed in a recognizable dark green color while boasting sub 4 seconds 0 to 60 mph time. With the price tag of $11,000 over the base price of the GT, this Bullitt is definitely not inexpensive. Drivers looking to invest should start saving for a time when it becomes more affordable.
In 2018, Ford unveiled the new GT Performance Pack 2 to properly present this car as it is one of the coolest modern Mustangs for discriminating muscle car fans. So, what exactly is the Mustang GT Performance Pack 2? Well, it’s a GT which means it has a 5.0-liter Coyote V8 with 460 HP and 420 lb-ft of torque mated to 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 definitely fast. But numbers are just half of the story. The essence of the Performance Pack is in handling, braking, less weight, and a whole lot more driving dynamics (via The Truth About Cars). For $6,500 above the price of a regular GT, drivers got chassis and aerodynamic improvements, stiffer springs, performance tires, bigger brakes, racing seats, and more. With this package, the standard Mustang GT is transformed from a great sports car into a fantastic driver’s machine.
Even though 2020 wasn’t the best year in the car industry because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ford was still able to introduce new products and new designs. That included further expanding the Mustang GT range. One such product was the brand-new 2021 Mustang Mach I. This model marked the return of the legendary Mustang nameplate used periodically from 1969-73 and 2003-04. 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.
Interestingly, Ford will discontinue the Shelby GT350 in 2021 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 a few Shelby and Bullitt parts, resulting in a 480 hp rating. Consumers hoped for a 500 hp rating. But for some reason, Ford decided to keep it 480 hp using already existing components. However, the 2021 Mach I will come with special body parts, a handling package, special paint, decal trim, and a host of unique details (via Guide Auto Web). Since Ford is getting ready to introduce the next-gen Mustang in two years, you can expect that the Mach I will be a limited-production model probably lasting until 2022.