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History of the Ford Motor Co Muscle Cars
1964 1/2 to 1973. New section added to highlight the 2007 Carrol Shelby Cobra GT500-SVT powerhouse Musclecar. A rebirth of a legend.

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The date was April 17, 1964. Intermediate sized muscle cars, with big block engines were gradually replacing the fullsized muscle car. Lee Iacocca, Ford's General Manager, had always invisioned a small sports car to be the next hot item in the street wars. Ford decided that instead of improving their lackluster intermediate, they would do the competition one better and introduce a whole new breed of automobile, the pony car. Originally designed as a two seater in the European tradition, Iacocca realized that true success depended on volume sales. Therefore the Ford Mustang was introduced as a 1965 model that was based on the compact Falcon to lower production costs. It came with an obligatory back seat and a multitude of options that would give the buyer an opportunity to customize their purchase, and generate extra profits for Ford. Plymouth faithful stress that their Baracuda beat the Ford Mustang to market by two weeks. But it was the Mustang, which racked up over 22,000 sales its first day and one million sales in its first two years, that turned the market and people's attention to the pony car. The pony car class that the Ford Mustang helped create is the only class of muscle car that still exists today. The Ford Torino also fall in this category. Click images to enlarge!

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Comments on engines and options: The Ford Mustang debuted as a simple sports car powered by a 170 cid six cylinder and a pair of V8's. Originally named for the fighter plane, the P-51 Mustang, preliminary allusions were made to the horse, and the horse motiff quickly became the emblem for the Mustang. Buyers loved its low price, long hood, short trunk styling, and its myriad of options. Ford loved its high volume sales and visibility. In mid 1964, Ford introduced a sporty 2+2 fastback body style to go along with the hardtop coupe and convertible. Enthusiasts also cheered the new "K-code" 271bhp 289 cid V8 that finally put some performance to match the Mustang's good looks. For those that wanted more, the legendary Carroll Shelby and Ford collaborated to produce the Shelby GT-350, a Ford Mustang fastback specially tuned by Shelby. The 289 V8 produced 306bhp in street tune and around 360bhp in special GT-350R race tune. These Shelby's had no back seat, were only available in white and were fully race ready.

Production: 2D Hardtop: 501,965 - Fastback: 77,079 - Convertible: 101,945
Engines: - -289 V8 225 bhp. - 289 V8 271 bhp. -(GT-350) 289 V8 306 bhp.
(GT-350R) 289 V8 360 bhp.

Red 1967 Mustang GT fastback coupe

1967 saw a massive restyle of the Ford Mustang. Changes included bulkier sheetmetal below the beltline, a more aggressive grille, a concave tail panel, and a full fastback roofline for the fastback body style. The engine compartment was also increased and Ford dropped in its big block 390 to compete against the new Chevrolet Camaro SS396. Although the 390 was slightly detuned for the Mustang, its popularity sealed the end of the high performance 289 cid engine, which was later dropped from the lineup. Of greater interest to enthusiasts was the availablitity of another Shelby-tuned Mustang. The GT350 was still powered by a modified 289 V8, though output dropped to 290bhp. The new GT500 was powered by a reworked 428 V8 (some were reportedly built with the even more powerful, race ready 427 V8). The 1967 Shelby's were more civilized and sported numerous luxury options, which seemed to appeal to buyers. These would be the last Shelby Mustangs actually built by Shelby-American. All future models would be built by Ford with little Shelby involvement.

Production: 2D Hardtop: 356,271 -- Fastback: 71,042 -Convertible: 44,808

Engines: 289 V8 195 bhp. 289 V8 271 bhp. (Shelby GT350) 289 V8 290 bhp.
390 V8 320 bhp. (Shelby GT500) 428 V8 355bhp@5400rpm, 420lb-ft@3200rpm.

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1966 Shelby GT 350 mustang engine and interior shots

1970 Ford mustang Mach 1cobra_427.jpg (8256 bytes)mustangcar2.jpg (14855 bytes)
Some Classic high performance cars including the F40 Ferrari and AC Cobra.

The 1968 Ford Mustang received a simpler grille and side trim and a limited number of 427 engines were slipped into the engine bays. These 427 engines were slightly detuned but still cranked out 390bhp, enough to strike fear on the streets. Then on April 1, 1968, Ford unveiled perhaps its most famous line of engines, the 428 Cobra Jet. It was based on the regular 428 but included larger valve heads, the race 427's intake manifold, and an oil-pan windage tray. It had ram-air induction and breathed through a functional hood scoop. Output was listed at 335bhp but was rumoured to be around 410bhp. The Shelby's were still available, joined by an available convertible model and renamed the Shelby Cobra. The GT-350 dropped its 289 cid 306 bhp engine and gained a 302 cid 250 bhp engine. Midway through the year, the GT-500 was dropped and was replaced by the GT-500KR ("King of the Road"). The GT-500KR sported the new Ram Air 428 Cobra Jet, still underrated at 335 bhp.

1968 Shelby GT 500 was a real collectable muscle car

Production: -2D Hardtop: 249,447 - Fastback: 42,581 -Convertible: 25,376
Engines: -200 I6 115 bhp. 200 I6 120 bhp. -289 V8 195 bhp.
289 V8 271 bhp. -302 V8 230 bhp. -(Shelby Cobra GT-350) 302 V8 250 bhp.
390 V8 320 bhp. -390 V8 325 bhp. -427 V8 390 bhp. -(Cobra Jet) 428 V8 335 bhp @ 5400 rpm (est. 410bhp), 440 lb-ft @ 3400rpm. -(Shelby Cobra GT-500) 428 V8 350 bhp.
(Cobra Jet) 428/335: 0-60 in 5.4 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.01@101mph.

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The Mustang was restyled for 1969, gaining 3.8 inches of length, all ahead of the front wheels, and about 140 lbs in curb weight. The Mach 1 body style debuted in 1969 and came standard with a 351 cid V8 but could also be had with the 428 Cobra Jet, which now came in three states of tune. The first was a non-Ram Air version, followed by the Ram-Air version which breathed through a shaker hood scoop. Topping the list was the new Super Cobra Jet which came with the Drag Pack option. The Super Cobra Jet used the shaker hood scoop, a modified crankshaft and stronger connecting rods. The Drag Pack also came with limited-slip 3.91:1 or 4.30:1 rear axles and no air conditioning. All three engines were underrated at 335bhp. All this power overwhelmed the rear tires, which suffered from a 59/41% f/r bias which also hurt handling. But then, these Mustangs weren't built for curves, just straight 1/4 mile lines.

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The circle tracks were reserved for the Boss series of Mustangs. Named after stylist Larry Shinoda's nickname for Ford president Semon "Bunkie" Knudson, the Boss Mustangs were built to qualify the 429 V8 for NASCAR. The Boss 429 package came with a race ready 429 cid V8 with ram air induction, an aluminum high riser and header type exhaust manifolds. Mandatory options included a four speed manual and a 3.91:1 Traction-Lok axle. Also included were an oil cooler, trunk mounted battery, race suspension, and the best interior Mustang had to offer. Although impressive on paper, the Boss 429s failed on the street where their dependence on high revs hurt their street starts and the initial batch had incorrect valve springs that would stop winding at 4500rpm instead of 6000rpm. Nevertheless, it had good handling and would last through 1970. To combat Chevrolet's Camaro Z/28 in Trans Am racing, Ford built the Boss 302 which used a 302 cid V8 treated to the cylinder heads from the racing 351 cid engine and Ford's largest carb. It was underrated at the same 290bhp as the Camaro Z/28's engine and was available with the shaker hood scoop. Shelby Mustangs were still available, though they were more luxury oriented then ever before.

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Spotlight Ad -1966 Shelby GT350 in concourse condition

more images of this 350GT mustang

The Best Shelby GT350 on the Planet!"

This 1966 numbers matching Shelby GT350 has only 10,690 original miles and is one of the lowest mileage Shelbys in existence. According to the Ford/Shelby registry is the last red fastback built in 1966! It has all the desirable options including: fold down rear seat, dash mounted tach, 306 hp high performance 289 v-8, POSI-track rear end, rare 10-spoke aluminum wheels, and its original blue streak tires.  Restored to concourse condition using only original parts.

It currently holds the record for the highest scoring Shelby ever scoring an astounding 448.5 out of 450 possible points in Shelby club competition! It has won first place in over 50 car shows across the country including: Mustang Club of America and the International Show Car Association. This Shelby 350 Mustang is also a member of the Premier Division of the Shelby American Automobile Club. It has been featured in numerous magazines and articles including Mustang Monthly, High Performance Cars Magazine, and Mustang Illustrated. The finest 1966 Shelby in existence, the sale of any car of this calibur, with this low mileage and these credentials is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Owning a car like this is truly an appreciation investment far beyond the fact it will never decrease in value.

Both the Boss 302 and 429 continued into 1970. The 428 Cobra Jet continued as the top engine choice for the Mach 1 Mustang. New for 1970 was the 429 Cobra Jet, standard in the Boss 429. The 429 Cobra Jet was rated at 370 bhp while the Super Cobra Jet was rated for 375 bhp. This would be the last year for the Shelby Cobras, which were in fact left over 1969 models with some minor trim changes. A not so great end for a once great performer.

Production: - Mach 1: 40,970 - Convertible: 7,643 - Grande Hardtop Coupe: 13,581
Boss 302: 6,318 -Boss 429Mustang: 498 -
Engines: - 200 I6 115 bhp. - 250 I6 155 bhp. - 302 V8 220 bhp. - (Boss 302) 302 V8 290 bhp @ 5800 rpm, 290 lb-ft @ 4300 rpm. -351 V8 250 bhp. - 351 V8 300 bhp.
(Cobra Jet) 428 V8 335 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 440 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm. - (Cobra Jet) 429 V8 370 bhp. (Boss 429 - Super Cobra Jet) 429 V8 375 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 450 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm.

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2005 Ford GT Prototype, 67 Stang, and the 427 AC cobra shown above

2007 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 - Carroll 2007 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 - Wheels
Carroll Shelby helped launch the new GT500 at the New York auto show in March 2006

Ford says the 2007 Shelby Cobra GT500 Mustang will be the most powerful factory-built Mustang in history, more powerful than the 1969 Mach 1 428 Super Cobra Jet or even the legendary 1969 Boss 429. Think about that for a second. Let it sink in. Mustang worshipers may take a knee if you have to, but the reality is this: When this car hits the streets during the summer of 2006, it'll have 470-plus horsepower, making it the most powerful Mustang ever built.

2007 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 - Mustang and vintage 1969 GT500 2007 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 - Front
The new Shelby Cobra GT500 next to a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 KR, or King of the Road model powered by a 428-cubic-inch V8 rated at 335 hp. The 500 hp new version has the striping (nose to rear air-dam) and lowered stance giving it the classic menacing look.

Shelby Approves and Ford Builds the ultimate Mustang. Ford is calling the car a unique collaboration between the legend Carroll Shelby and the Ford Special Vehicle Team (SVT). "I've worked with the SVT guys for several years now," says Shelby. "And I know they have the guts, the talent and the passion to deliver the best performance Mustangs ever." Shelby, who built the legendary Shelby Mustangs and Shelby Cobras in the 1960s, served as a senior advisor to the "Dream Team" that was assembled inside the Ford Motor Company to develop and build the 2005 Ford GT supercar. But this one is truly a Musclecar legend reborn.

"Carroll Shelby is truly a living automotive design and racing car builder legend, a Ford performance legend," says Phil Martens, Ford group vice president of Product Creation. "It's a dream come true to be able to put the Shelby name on a Mustang Cobra edition again."

Supercharged 5.4-Liter- The Shelby's supercharged 5.4-liter, 32-valve V8 is similar to the engine in the GT. Ford started with the cast-iron 5.4-liter Triton V8 truck engine and added aluminum heads from the GT, specially calibrated camshafts, a Roots-type supercharger making 8.5 pounds of boost, and a water-to-air intercooler.

2007 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 - rear end 2007 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 - Engine photo .. 2007 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 - Detail on exhaust and air dam
That's a supercharged 450-plus-horsepower, supercharged 5.4-liter V8. The rear air splitter is flanked by chrome exhaust tips and all developed for curved road racing wins.

Under that blower is an all-new low-profile intake manifold, which allows the engine to fit under the GT500's special air-extraction hood. Fuel comes from a dual-bore electronic throttle body borrowed from Ford's 6.8-liter truck engine program, however, the larger radiator, increased-capacity cooling system and the exhaust manifolds are unique to this application. The engine is also dressed with special "Powered by SVT" finned cam covers which are reminiscent of the "Cobra Powered By Ford" covers used by Shelby five decades ago, and it's backed by the same T-56 six-speed that appeared in the supercharged 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra.

shelby mustang GT500 500 hp engine closeup
2007 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 engine is awesome!

A screw-type supercharger with an air-to-water intercooler, generating 9 pounds of boost, forces air into the cylinders, each of which has four valves. Many of the engine components, such as the aluminum piston heads and bearings, came from the development of the Ford GT. A T56 six-speed manual transmission is also part of the GT500's powertrain, but there's no technological innovation here. The T56 is a tried-and-true, race-proven transmission that is very capable of handling the V8's horsepower. The gearing is evenly spaced to allow the engine to use all of its torque to drive the rear wheels.   So what does all that hardware get you? According to Ford, the GT500 will generate 500 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 480 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm.

Solid Rear Axle- The GT500 chassis development started during the 2005 Mustang program. "We spent a lot of time at the track developing the new Mustang and ensuring it was capable of handling future performance derivatives," says Hau Thai-Tang, director of Ford Advanced Product Creation and SVT. The result, according to Ford, will be SVT's signature chassis tuning with a balanced, performance-tuned ride that still maintains the compliance required for everyday driving. And Ford says it will accomplish these goals, with the GT500's MacPherson-strut front suspension and three-link rear suspension, which locates a solid rear axle.

1966 Ford Mustang GT350H and new 2007 GT500 Shelby mustang

Although conventional wisdom says the antiquated rear-end design is in conflict with building a state-of-the-art performance car, Thai-Tang says it isn't a problem. "In terms of performance, the Mustang's solid-rear-axle setup in the GT500 has been proven in race competition this year with a Mustang FR500C taking the checkered flag at the season-opening Grand-Am Cup race at Daytona," he points out. The GT500's suspension is lower than a Mustang GT's, and uses recalibrated front and rear shocks, upgraded front and rear stabilizer bars and revised spring rates. The key to the GT500's three-link architecture, according to Ford, is the Panhard rod that provides precise control over the rear axle.

2007 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500-Hardtop

A New Performance Era? You can bet on that! According to Ford, the GT500 show car, which debuted at the New York auto show in March 2006, points to a brand-new era in Ford Motor Company's performance future. A company press release said, "By bringing together Carroll Shelby and Ford SVT, the company's commitment to performance becomes as powerful as at any time in its history — including the famed 'Total Performance' days of the 1960s." This one will not only mirror the original Cobra GT500 ... it will improve on it in every way including 1/4 mile and road handling performance. Get in line for this one, and bring a truck load of money, as they'll not be a $2000 additional cost performance package to the base model price like in the 60's. These will go for $40,000 +

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