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The Absolute 10 Coolest Fords Of All Time

Updated May 23, 2018

Ford’s made some great cars over the years. We looked them all over and picked what we thought were the coolest (not always the fastest or most powerful).

We’ve not included cars that have either just been released or their release is pending. To include them would not be fair to the other kids. So no 2016 GT350, no 2016 Ford GT, and no 2017 GT500. Sorry, but we can revisit the list in two years and see where they fit.

In the meantime, enjoy the 10 we’ve selected by clicking on the NEXT button below.

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1920 Ford Frontenac

The product that really put Ford on the map was, of course, the Model T. It was a sturdy car with a sturdy, if under-performing, engine. Several companies, including one named Frontenac made DOHC cylinder heads for the Model T block, putting the motor into an entirely new category of performance. In fact, in the 1920s, there were several Model T powered race cars entered in Indianapolis 500. And in 1920, quite ironically, the winner was Gaston Chevrolet (yes, that Chevrolet) driving a Ford-powered car with a Frontenac cylinder head – a company that had been established by the Chevrolet brothers which Gaston joined after leaving Chevy.

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1932 Ford Model 18

Competitive pressure forced Ford to develop an entirely new car to replace the  Model A. In fact, Ford ceased production for several months to retool for a completely new model for 1932. The single greatest advancement was the availability of a V8 engine, then found primarily in luxury cars.  Initially named the Model 18 it was the first low-priced, mass-marketed car to have a V8 engine, an important milestone in American automotive history. The 221 CID 3.6 L V8 was rated at 65 hp  when introduced, but power increased significantly with improvements to the carburetor and ignition in later years. So popular was the car Henry Ford received fan mail from, among others, notorious bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde complementing him on the V8. Production continued into the 1950s and it became a favorite among early hot rod builders.

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1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II

Cars of the 1950s are almost always thought of overly chromed, with huge tail fins, painted in colors like pink and aqua. Here’s one car that’s none of the above: the Lincoln Continental Mk II. It was an attempt to build a post-World War II car to rival the greatest autos of the pre-War era, or anything produced in Europe in terms of style and sophistication. To drive that point home, the Mark II was introduced at the 1955 Paris Auto Show. Little chrome was used compared to other vehicles of the time, and the only two-tone paint offered was limited to roofs  contrasted to the  bodies. The Mark II had power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seats, power vent windows, and a tachometer. The Continental Mark II had only one option, air conditioning.

Most of the car was hand-built to an exacting standard, including the application of multiple coats of paint, hand sanding, double lacquering, and polishing. The engine was the 368 CID Y V8 which was virtually hand-assembled. It produced 285 hp in 1956 and 300 hp in 1957. The engine was mated to a three-speed Lincoln automatic, and both engine and transmission were subjected to extensive  testing before shipment to the dealer. Unfortunately not many Americans were willing to shell out $10,000 for the car and only 3000 were sold over two model years.

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1965 Shelby GT350 R

The Shelby GT350 R was a purpose built racecar that became the template for GT350 road cars to follow. Racing in the SCCA’s B Production class, Shelby was Ford’s answer to winning the American Road Racing Championship for several years. The cars were built in series as a turnkey racecar.

Prepared in conjunction with Ford, stripped out 271 hp Mustangs left the factory for conversion in Shelby’s facility. The first arrived without side or rear windows, heaters, defrosters, upholstery, headliners, insulation or sound deadening. The body was modified with the fitment of a distinctive fiberglass front apron,  fenders were flared to accommodate the larger-than-stock 15×7 inch wheels and Goodyear Blue Streak racing tires. Further, the side and rear window glass was replaced with Plexiglas in aluminum frames.

Underneath, Shelby altered the front suspension pickup points for a more favorable geometry and added traction bars for the rear suspension and installed a new differential. The engine was upgraded with a  Holley four-barrel carburetor and Cobra high rise aluminum intake manifold bolted to heads that had received a little nip and tuck. The result produced around 360 hp and dominated its class for several years.

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1967 Mustang GT

While you probably expected us to pick the first Mustang, to be honest we’re more of a fan of the ’67 – ’68 models. For one, its styling is more aggressive than the ‘64.5 – ’66 models. There have been comments from Ford designers about styling the original Mustang to appeal to women as well as men. That idea seemed to have been dropped for 1967. For power, the pick is the four-barrel 390 CID FE (Ford-Edsel) V8 engine, which produced 325 HP at a leisurely 4800 rpm and a stump-pulling 427 lb-ft of torque at 3200 rpm (the previous model’s HiPo 289 V8 maxed out at 271 hp). And of course there’s always the “Bullitt” connection that’s virtually unavoidable.

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1967 Ford GT40 MK IV

Ford has won the 24 Hours of Le mans twice running with its GT40 race cars, but those cars were based on an English design and constructed in England. For the last hurrah (1967 would be the last year  the 7.0 L engines would be eligible to compete), Ford brought the whole program back to the US. The GT40 MK IV design was based on the experimental J Car, which had also been designed in the USA.

The engine was a Ford FE 427 side-oiler. The transmission was created with the internals of a Toploader built into a transaxle casing. The chassis was constructed out of aerospace honeycomb aluminum panels bonded together by the aerospace division of Brunswick (yep, that Brunswick, which was both building components for NASA and honeycomb-based pool tables at the same time). The cars were assembled by Ford partner Kar Kraft. No spoiler here, everyone knows the ’67 Le Mans 24 was won by the all-American driving team of Dan Gurney and AJ Foyt in the all-American Ford GT40 Mk IV.

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1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429

Ford developed a 429 CID version of the new “385” engine architecture to replacing the older FE 427 in NASCAR, which required 500 of the engines be installed and sold in passenger cars. The Mustang was chosen as the platform of choice and a legend was born. The 429 was built as a race motor from the start: four bolt mains, a forged steel crank and forged steel connecting rods. The engine featured aluminum cylinder heads, which had a combustion chamber that look suspiciously like a Hemi that  Ford called “crescent”. These heads used the “dry-deck” method, meaning no head gaskets were used. Each cylinder, oil passage and water passage had an individual “O” ring style seal to seal it tight. The Boss 429 engine was fitted with a single 735 CFM Holley four barrel carburetor on an aluminum intake manifold. The engine was so large that it wouldn’t fit between the inner fender of a standard Mustang, so all 1358 1969 and 1970 models were shipped off in batches to Ford partner Kar Kraft to have the engine compartment and other components modified to fit the monster motor.

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1989 Ford Taurus SHO

When the Taurus SHO V6 debuted in 1988, it was the first high performance sedan to come from a US automaker since the end of the Classic Muscle Car Era. The 3.0 L (182 CID) V6  Yamaha designed and developed  24-valve DOHC iron block with aluminum cylinder heads featured an innovative variable length intake manifold. It was an oversquare design, with a 3.5 inch bore and 3.1 inch stroke, allowing for high engine speeds that produced  an output of 220 hp at 6200 rpm and 200 lb-ft  of torque at 4800 rpm. The SHO was available only with the Ford MTX-IV manual transmission.

But the SHO isn’t just about straight line acceleration (though it can hit 60 in  6.6 seconds). Ford engineers increased the Taurus’s spring rates by 30 percent, fitted firmer shocks, and thickened-up the front and rear anti-roll bars. They also stiffened the bushings in the front suspension’s trailing and lateral links. Finally,  the engineers added stiffer bushings in the rear lateral links, which aided toe-in during hard cornering.

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2003 Ford Cobra SVT

Code-named “Terminator” by the SVT development crew, the 2003 Cobra SVT was fitted with a supercharged, 32-valve DOHC 4.6-liter Modular V8  that produced 390 hp and 390 lb-ft  of torque. Along with the upgraded motor came a lightweight aluminum flywheel and  a Tremec T-56 six-speed transmission. At the rear, the independent suspension (which we wouldn’t see on another Mustang for over a decade) was carried over with revised upper and lower control arms, a 3.55:1 rear axle ratio, and stronger 31-spline halfshafts. These modifications enabled the Cobra to go 0-60  in 4.5 seconds and run the quarter  in 12.67 seconds at 110.11 mph. Although electronically-governed to a top speed of 155 mph, word has it that with the governor removed a standard ’03 SVT Cobra could just about reach 180 mph.

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2005 Ford GT

The Ford GT is similar in outward appearance to the 1965 – 1969  Ford GT40, but is  wider, and taller than the original. Although the cars are visually related, structurally, there is no similarity between the modern GT and the 1960s GT40 that inspired it.

The mid-mounted 5.4 L Modular aluminum V8 engine carries DOHC 4-valve heads based on those of the 2000 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R. The GT engine is  supercharged and produces 550 hp .  A dry sump oiling system is employed, allowing the engine to sit low in the car’s frame. A Ricardo six-speed manual transmission is fitted featuring a helical limited-slip differential. Brakes are four-piston aluminum Brembo calipers with cross-drilled and vented rotors at all four corners. A total of 4038 first generation Ford GTs were produced, American supercars capable of 0-60 in 3.3 seconds.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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