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How could this be the most popular Mustang of All-Time?

Most “Mustang” lists give us things such as the fastest, the sexiest, most expensive, most fun to drive, most collectible, best-selling, most awarded, etc…but what would be the most popular Mustang of all-time? How would we come up with the specifications for this?

Let’s begin with a definition of the word “Popular”: Dictionary.com defines it in this way-regarded with favor, approval, or affection by people in general…..also, suited to or intended for the general masses of people.

Carroll Shelby (Iconic car builder), when asked what his favorite car was always said “the next one”, which begs us ask, “has the best/most popular Mustang already been built or could it be still to come?” The new 2015 (50th anniversary) edition Mustang caused quite the stir among collectors and car enthusiasts, but is it the best?? According to Edmunds.com (one of the leading American automotive websites) the Ford Mustang is one of the most popular automobiles in America.

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Shall we dive right in and discuss my justifications and criteria for this choice…….Yes!

Should it be a classic Mustang? Surely the vintage Mustangs should top any lists of all-time favorite right? After all, they are the backbone of the whole pony car generation and the 1964 ½ is the car that started it all. However, the problem with naming a 1st generation as the most popular car is that most of the younger generation feels they are outdated. On the other side of the coin, the older guys say the new styling of the 2015 looks much too modern and leans too much toward the European designs.

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Okay, this may be harder than I anticipated…..how do you pick the most popular Mustang over a time span of 50+ years? If we begin with the best-selling years that might give an indication of how popular each model was, or is, as the case may be.

Top 5 Mustang Model years based on total cars sold: (these numbers may be rounded)
1. 1966 – 607,500
2. 1965 – 559,500
3. 1967 – 472,000
4. 1974 – 386,000
5. 1979 – 370,000

This list would point us back to the classics of the 60’s and 70’s based on sales, but is that a picture of how popular they still are? Let’s be fair and take a look at the more modern Mustangs and their sales numbers:
1. 1986 – 224,400
2. 1993 – 114,400
3. 2000 – 203,000
4. 2005 – 166,530
5. 2015 – 122,350

Does the trending decline in sales also mean a drop in the popularity of the Mustang or is it just a result of the wider field of vehicles and more brands to choose from? The Foxbody Mustang in the 1984 – 1993 years seems to be the new hot car to buy and restore. It seems that as certain age groups reach their 40’s they want to go back and buy the car they wanted in high school and restore or hot-rod it now that they can afford to do it.

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If we look at most lists of Iconic or greatest Mustangs of all-time they always seem to be the early ones from the ‘60’s, such as the ‘66 GT350, ‘69-‘70 Boss’s, or the ‘67 GT500, so we can’t ignore those heavily researched stats.

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We could also lean on the Mustangs that have performed the best from a collectible standpoint or have the most value at the recent automobile auctions. Here is a list of the highest prices these cars brought at the most popular auctions:
1. 1967 Shelby GT500 “Super Snake” Mustang Fastback, Mecum 2013 – $1.37 million
2. 1967 Eleanor GT500 Mustang (from Gone in 60 Seconds), Mecum 2013 – $1.06 million
3. 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350 R, RM Amelia Island 2012 – $990,000
4. 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350 R, RM Amelia Island 2014 – $984,500
5. 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350 R, RM Sotheby’s Andrews Collection 2015 – $770,000

I assumed this list would be full of classics from the ‘60’s (and that was the case), so now the 1965 and ‘67’s have to be given points in the value column, since those are a rare breed of Mustangs for sure.

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I decided to look at one more list of the most popular cars to restore, and guess what showed up at number one? Yep, the 1964-68 Mustangs! According to a survey on coolridesonline.net, the early Mustang ranked tops on the list due to the ample availability of spare parts. These classic Mustangs online appeal with car clubs, forums, websites, etc….gives the collector a wide variety of advice and answers to the many questions during restoration of a Mustang.

In summary, I think my research causes me to give strongest consideration to the ‘60’s Classic Mustangs, and if the list is narrowed down to specific years, the list should include the 1965, ‘66, and ‘67 Fastbacks. These early Mustangs are widely regarded as the most recognizable cars on the Planet. I think the evidence is clear, the lists have been reported, and most critics will agree (if you don’t agree please feel free to voice your thoughts and opinions in the feedback section).

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Therefore I have chosen the 1966 Fastback Mustang as the most popular of all-time……Long live the American Pony Car. Thanks to Lee Iaccoca for giving us a car that will forever be a classic American dream for the young and old, the past and the future!

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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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