Muscle Cars - A Mustang Changes the World

By: Shawn Low

Factory Muscle Cars Today and Yesterday

When Ford introduced the 1965 Mustang, they not only created a new car, but started a craze.

Before the introduction of the iconic Ford Mustang, the Big Three's stylists' idea of a powerful factory car, was a vehicle that in many ways, resembled and handled, like a large metal boat with fins and then stuffed into it, the biggest motor they made.


The Mustang changed all this. Lee Iacocca, at the time, Vice President of Ford had a vision of the future for a new sports car that seated 4 people, had bucket seats, a floor mounted shifter, and weighed less than 2,500 lbs.

Nicely styled, light and quick and priced at only $2,368.00 f.o.b. Detroit, the car was an instant hit. In fact, 22,000 of these little pony cars flew out of showroom doors the very first day. Not only did the buying public sit up and take notice, so did the competition and it didn't take long for a swarm of other cars to compete against these soon to be called "pony cars".

It also didn't take long for the marketing people to try to outsell the other guys products, by boosting performance. And that was the start of the factory Muscle car and the factory muscle wars.

The 60's and early 70's were heady days for the muscle car, with cheap gas and money burning a hole in people's pockets. Then came the Arab oil embargo and gas rationing. All of a sudden gas prices increased outrageously. That was, if you could find any gas at all.

Hard to find, and expensive gas as well as new pollution and emissions controls, made quick work of the factory muscle car until the late 1980's, when gas prices fell and manufacturers finally had a handle on making a clean engine that could perform respectably.

Interest really never waned, but what was there to buy that was as good or as cool to look at as those 1970's dream machines?Chrysler has to be credited with dusting off some of those dreams of yesteryear, with its Prowler and other show car turned production machines. But the factory Muscle car war really started back in earnest with a beautiful retro-styled coupe with 300 horsepower, that Ford called the new 2005 Mustang. And new dreams were being made.

Since then, we've seen the new Dodge Challenger, the new Camaro and of course the new Hemi. Even with a poor economy, the Ford Mustang has brought the public to a feeding frenzy, and horsepower wars have started all over again.

But although these new cars, have a family resemblance that at once makes them familiar, they are in no way just automotive portraits of a different era.

The first Mustang V8 made a very respectable 210 horsepower and in a 2,500 pound car, that meant a lot of get up and go! Today, however, a 300 horsepower car is a V6 powered car while today's V8 muscle car may now boast 400 to 500 horsepower.

And the biggest turn of events? These machines turn just as well as they perform in a straight line. Not only that, they are fuel efficient, much easier on the environment and safer.

And with that, I have only one more thing to say......

Make mine a six speed!

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