About as popular a household automotive name as you'll find, the Ford Mustang is the longest surviving of the affordable breed of classic American muscle cars. Sold always in coupe and most times in convertible and 2+2 fastback forms as well since its 1964 introduction, the Ford Mustang is the only one of the original pony cars to enjoy an uninterrupted production run. It hasn't been easy either, as oil crises, tightening emissions standards and corporate budget cuts have put the Mustang's future in doubt on more than one occasion. Ultimately, though, its iconic status within the Ford lineup and popularity with consumers have seen it through.
Of course, any car enthusiast worth his 10W-40 would love to have a classic Mustang in his garage. But even more recent vintages have plenty of appeal, while the latest Mustangs offer all the style and performance any car buff could want. The current-generation Ford Mustang in particular is easily the best ever from the standpoints of performance, refinement, features and day-to-day livability.
Used Ford Mustang Models
The current, 10th-generation Mustang debuted for 2010. Although still heavily related to the previous 2005-'09 car, this Mustang received a number of important changes including standard stability control, more aggressive styling, improved handling, a higher-quality interior and new features such as Sync, a glass roof and a rearview camera.
For that debut year only, the Mustang came with a carryover 4.0-liter V6 (210 hp) or an updated version of the previous 4.6-liter V8 that made 315 hp. For 2011, Ford introduced the current 3.7-liter V6, 5.0-liter V8 and accompanying transmissions. That year also saw larger brakes, revised suspension tuning and a stiffer structure for the GT convertible. The following year, the legendary, high-performance Boss 302 model returned to the family and the GT offered adjustable power steering effort settings.
Note that for 2011 and '12, the GT's V8 produced 8 less horsepower than the current model, though with more than 400 horses available either way, this is a non-issue. Mustangs of those years also did without the current version's standard xenon headlights, Shelby-inspired grille, restyled front and rear fascias and updated taillights. In general, any 10th-generation Mustang would make a fine choice for a used muscle car, though going with a 2011 or newer model would be best considering the aforementioned updates.
Completely redesigned for 2005, the Mustang moved to an all-new chassis after a 25-year run on the late-'70s-era Fox-body platform. Ford's pony car still used rear-wheel drive and a fairly basic solid-axle rear suspension, but ride quality and handling were more precisely controlled than on any previous Mustang. The car's styling paid homage to the famed Mustangs of the 1960s. Many materials were low in quality, however, as Ford sought to keep the price tag low as well.
The ninth-generation Ford Mustang debuted with either a 4.0-liter V6 or a 4.6-liter V8. The underwhelming V6 produced 210 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. It was coupled to a standard five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission. The V8 produced 300 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque.
Key updates included the availability of an auxiliary audio jack, satellite radio and a navigation system for 2007. The following year marked the introduction of the Mustang Bullitt, which added firmer suspension calibrations, high-performance brake pads, 18-inch wheels, mild styling tweaks and Highland Green or black paint. Its V8 produced 315 hp. Other changes for '08 included standard side airbags, while in 2009 the Mustang gained a glass roof option and standard satellite radio, among other items.
Previously, there were eight previous generations of the Ford Mustang, and given the car's sustained popularity over the years, older models are relatively easy to find on the used market. The eighth generation was sold from 1999-2004. This is the best of the Fox-body-based Mustangs, and like the current car, it offers a good blend of performance, fun and affordability. Downsides include rather crude handling characteristics (a consequence of the aged platform) and a cheap interior with an awkward driving position.
If you're shopping for an eighth-gen Mustang, our pick would be a GT from any year, as it offered a healthy 260-hp V8. If you're seeking something faster and rarer, consider the limited-edition Mach 1 (305-hp V8) or supercharged SVT Cobra (390-hp V8), which were sold in 2003 and 2004. The Cobra is the only Ford Mustang ever fitted with an independent rear suspension; it was also sold in '99 and 2000 but wasn't supercharged. Even rarer is the 2000 Cobra R, a race-ready, 385-hp Mustang coupe stripped of its rear seats and air-conditioning.
You'll also encounter plenty of seventh-generation Mustang coupes and convertibles, sold from 1994-'98. This car is very similar mechanically to the eighth-gen Mustang; the main difference is exterior styling. If you're thinking of buying one, 1996-'98 GT and SVT Cobra models might be preferable, as the '96 model year brought a new 4.6-liter, SOHC V8 that was much smoother than the outgoing 5.0-liter V8. Although horsepower held steady in the GT, the Cobra jumped from 240 to 305. The most collectible Mustang of this period is the '95 Cobra R, a 300-hp coupe without a backseat.
If you are looking for newer years, visit our new Ford Mustang page.
For more on past Ford Mustang models, view our Ford Mustang history page.