5 Reasons Classic Old Mustangs Make the Best Muscle Cars - Muscle Car

5 Reasons Classic Old Mustangs Make the Best Muscle Cars

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Written by Elise

21st September 2020

5 Reasons Classic Old Mustangs Make the Best Muscle Cars
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5 Reasons Classic Old Mustangs Make the Best Muscle Cars

By Jamie Wills

One of the most iconic muscle cars, a classic Ford Mustang is always the star vehicle in the lot. Unlike the high-performance bulk of the Dodge Charger or Boss 302, Mustangs like the Shelby GT500 are the Jessica Rabbit of cars, where a large front, curves and fantasies unite. To wax lyrical, old Mustangs deliver dreams that have loitered in the heart for years, even unknown to the beholder. They truly are the best classic muscle cars.

With this in mind, and in the spirit of listicles everywhere, here are five reasons your old Ford classic is the king of the road.

5. Mustangs: What’s in a name?

Shelby GT500 in Candy Apple Red.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

Despite her love of alpha Romeos, Juliet Capulet didn’t understand cars. Her insistence that names were mere monikers failed to acknowledge that a single word can beautifully encapsulate an entire vision. In the case of the Mustang, that imagery is of liberty, power, and – most of all – coolness.

The term ‘mustang’ is an entry in the encyclopaedia of Americana. The roaming horses of the western states are as ‘Land of the Free’© as blue jeans, big skies, and eating bonfire-cooked beans out of a saucepan. When you drive a pony car, you shave with a straight razor and own a decent hat.

Yet this image goes beyond the USA because in truth the whole world loves wild horses. They are spirit animals that accompany flame-haired girls in Irish villages and swept the Mongol hoards to the walls of Baghdad. Guinness had them pounding out of the surf, and inspired U2 and Patti Smith at their peak. Equine prowess is so strong that Bill and Ted called their band The Wyld Stallyns.

When you drive a vintage Mustang, you get all that. When you drive a Plymouth Barracuda, you get a fictional Latin dance craze like in Voyage of the Damned.

4. Mustang Movie Glamour


All right, so the first reason on this list was more superficial than practical. Well, darn it Joe, the second one will be too, and for good reason. American muscle cars are the cars Hollywood loves; there’s no denying that buying a well-loved old Ford Mustang elicits movie glamour — not to mention sexiness, that intangible siren.

Film directors know their stuff. When they want a lead man to look debonair, they give him an Aston Martin or a Cadillac. However, if the name of the game is a stylish man of action, they open their old Mustang garage. The most iconic instance of this is Steve McQueen in Bullitt, who as Det Lt. Frank Bullitt drives his Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT around San Francisco, including a nearly 11-minute chase.

Toby Halicki’s cult classic Gone in 60 Seconds includes multiple V8 engine 1973 Mustangs, each codenamed Eleanor. The remake, starring B-movie A-lister Nic Cage, opts for a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500.

Will Smith and Sam the German Shepherd take a Shelby Mustang GT500 around post-apocalypse Manhattan in I am Legend, and Keanu Reeves drives 1969 Mustang Fastbacks in both Point Break and John Wick. And it isn’t only guys: even the Queen of Genovia in The Princess Diaries drives a 1966 model for cool credentials.

To highlight the difference an old Mustang makes, consider this: in 2000, ITV released a legal series called Close and True, featuring laughably named characters John Close and Glenn True. In the 1968 film Bullitt, the lead bears the consequences of equally bad naming skills. Yet, Lt. Frank Bullitt driving a vintage Mustang turned him into an overnight ageless poster. Meanwhile, ITV’s new lawyers were cancelled after six episodes. Case closed.


3. The Enduring Value of Old Mustangs

Officially, Ford lists a new Mustang for sale in the UK as ‘from £38,035’. Chuck in insurance, petrol, an overpriced urban parking space, and some fluffy dice while you’re at it, and the average individual (median UK salary in 2019: £30,420) may need staycations for a few years after even with a full financing plan.  However, what we’re looking at is vintage Mustangs, and that is a whole different world.

Buying a used, restored and beautified old Mustang can be done through Mustang specialists such as Muscle Car UK; these are vehicles that hold collectors values. Yes, a beat-up run-down from the 70s might now go for a few thousand – especially Stateside where they sold millions – but often the biggest projects still fetch similar numbers, and first-generation V8 models fetch prices of £20k to over £100k.  

All this is before looking into the world of parts. Whether keeping it running, ramping up the power, or giving it the most flash decal on the road, owners of vintage Mustangs love to restore, convert and upgrade. Fortunately, the best muscle car restoration shops cater so well to that love that working on a Mustang is easy.

This is fuelled by the original pony car ‘look’ being very much still the desired style, so most specialised shops and websites stock a great number of parts and upgrade kits specifically for Mustangs.

Reading from the UK? Good news: it’s not just the US that has these treasure troves. Check out our restoration and parts factory

But really, a classic Mustang has value in more than one sense: if you love it, you should keep it.  


2. The Mustang Community

Discussing parts is a smooth segue into the Mustang community. Like Animal House, Mustang fans have fraternities everywhere. Unlike Animal House, they also have self-respect.

Despite their genesis in the United States and their continued popularity there, the interest in classic Mustangs has become global, spawning clubs across the world where Mustang owners and oglers alike can share their enthusiasm to their heart’s content.

  • The Mustang Owners Club of Great Britain
  • The Mustang Club of America
  • The Mustang Owners Club of Australia
  • First Mustang Club of Germany
  • Mustang Club de France
  • Mustang Club México

And then there are internet discussion groups:

Add in local organisations, such as the Surrey Mustang Owners Club, and you get the picture. The Mustang community is ever expanding, and is in great part responsible for keeping the market around these beauties alive.

We’re a friendly bunch. Come and join! 

1. Mustangs: Not Muscle Cars, But Fun

It’s true. There is never a group so fervent as fans who feel you’re getting it wrong, and on this occasion it has to be conceded: on the surface of it, Mustangs aren’t really muscle cars. They’re pony cars. 

But unless you live for semantics, the difference does not affect the joy in the car itself.  Love-’em-or-loathe-’em presenters Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson have both publicly expressed delight at being behind the wheel of a Mustang, the former a vocal Mustang owner himself. 

Even high-brow Mustang-loving celebrities like Bill Clinton said he found it hard to leave his 1967 Mustang convertible when he took office in the White House (though you might say the perks of his job did compensate the sacrifice).

But Mustang owners of a more relatable background are equally vocal on the subject. Take Orla, from a vibrant fan group. She is sure her 1966 289 is indeed a pony car, although “muscles are required to drive it”. Yet, she describes owning it as “a life story, my childhood dream come true. Sheer enjoyment and a statement of individuality.”

More emotive is Shaun, to whom we will leave the last word:. 

“I bought my Mustang to pursue a personal dream. One day, when I am very old, my Mustang will be in my garage as a trophy of my memories.

I’ve been to many wonderful places & will remember the hundreds of unforgettable experiences with fondness.

I’ve always thought and knew how dangerous it is, owning a ‘65 Mustang without all the modern safety features a car has nowadays, knowing that the meaning of courage is to advance by feeling the fear that it can produce. Every time I go up to my Mustang I think about how truly wonderful it is and what it means to me.

When someone says to me: “You have to sell your Mustang and become a more responsible person”, I just swing my head, smile and walk on. 

[…] Pulling up in a Mustang is like landing a Harrier Jump Jet at an ultralight convention. […] few drivers want this kind of attention or can tolerate all that a Mustang demands. These cars are intolerant mistresses. But remember, there will come a day when you have to hang up your car keys for the last time. And perhaps then you’ll want to say then, “I did it.”

Author: Jamie Wills

Muscle Car UK is the UK’s leading specialist Mustang and Muscle Car dealership.

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