Since its introduction in 1964, the Mustang has since been the beating heart of Ford’s (NYSE:F) all-encompassing lineup. While General Motors aims to take on the global super car segment with the Chevy Corvette, Ford has been content with largely keeping the fight domestic, taking on rivals such as the Challenger, Camaro, and back in the day, the GTOs, Rebels, Grand Nationals of the world.
Ford’s commitment to its famed pony car has resulted in the masterpiece that we know today. Now packing a new turbocharged engine option, its (some say overdue) independent rear suspension and more tech than ever been seen before in a Mustang, the 2015 model is bringing the nameplate into a new era.
It addition to being the most advanced, the best-handling, and the fastest that the base-model Mustangs have ever been, the cars will also be enjoying the global spotlight more than ever. To commemorate such a milestone, and with some help from some guys at the company, we’ve taken a look at some of the fastest Mustangs produced over the years in Ford factories for street driving (excluding race-tuned cars, third-party modified vehicles, and concepts). Check out the fifteen beasts we found after the jump.
15. 1971 Ford Mustang Boss 351
When the 1971 Boss 351 appeared, Car & Driver mourned the fact the new beast would have to exist as a street car rather than a track star. Drivers of that Boss probably weren’t disappointed in the 351 cubic-inch V8 engine capable of 330 horsepower and 370 pounds-feet of torque. In fact, the main complaints from the reviewers came from the styling cues of the new Mustang 351. Performance-wise, it delivered, running from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds and the quarter-mile in 14.1 seconds at 100.6 mph. That performance still makes it one of the fastest of all time.
Photo Credit: Ford Racing
14. 1993 SVT Mustang Cobra R
It didn’t look muscle-bound at all, but the fleet, final installment of the third-generation Mustang had some zip in the SVT Mustang Cobra R trim. According to Road & Track times published by Ford Racing, the 1993 Cobra R made the 0-60 sprint in 5.7 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds at 99 mph using 235 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Only 107 models of this speedster were produced.
13. 2003 Mustang Mach 1
Ford was in a retro Mustang mood around the turn of the twenty-first century. Following the release of a 2001 Mustang based on the Steve McQueen Bullitt, next up came the 2003 Mach 1. Sporting the shaker hood scoop based on the original bad boy, the 2003 Mach 1 packed a 4.6-liter V8 capable of 305 hp and 320 lb-ft. of torque. This model featured a specially tuned exhaust setup and could launch from 0-60 in 5.6 seconds and run the quarter-mile in 13.88 seconds at 101.9 mph, according to Motor Trend.
12. 2001 Mustang Bullitt
In the 1968 film Bullitt, Steve McQueen played a cop who went all out in his pursuit of the bad guys. Flying through the hills of San Francisco in his highland green Mustang GT, McQueen and the film’s producers added another layer of coolness to the iconic muscle car’s resume. To celebrate the reputation that still held decades later, Ford developed the 2001 Mustang Bullitt.
The new model had the chops to do some racing of its own. Featuring an upgraded 4.6-liter V8 (265 hp and 305 lb-ft torque), the 2001 Bullitt Ford debuted running 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and the quarter-mile in 14.0 seconds at 97.9 mph (both figures per Motor Trend). Fewer than 6,000 units were produced.
11. 1969 Mach 1 Cobra Jet
There are many discrepancies (arguments) and disagreements (brawls) over the actual output and performance of the earliest Mustangs, but Gary Wizenburg put together the most comprehensive rundown in Mustang! The Complete History of America’s Pioneer Ponycar (Automobile Quarterly, 1979). According to Wizenburg’s extensive research, the most beastly of the early models was the 1969 Mach 1 Cobra Jet, the Mustang that sported a 7.0-liter, 428 cubic-inch engine capable of 335 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque.
The 1969 Cobra Jet matched even the 1970 Boss 302 Trans Am (built for the track) in quickness. Both cars went 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, with the Mach 1 making the quarter-mile run in 13.9 seconds at 103 mph. That figure was clocked by Car Life in March 1969 . The Mach 1 Cobra Jet also hit a top speed of 121 mph in the Car Life tests, which made it the fastest of the early models — even faster than the 1970 Trans Am, Wizenburg reported.
Photo Credit: Ford Racing
10. 1995 Mustang SVT Cobra R
It didn’t have the attitude of the original Cobras, but the 1995 SVT Cobra R had the performance to compensate. Using its 5.8-liter SOHC 16-valve V8, the 1995 Cobra R produced a max of 300 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque. That output had this Mustang running 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds and the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds at 102 mph (Motor Trend).
It began a trend of upgrading performance in every Cobra R model, which the Special Vehicle Team also practiced in the increasingly fast Shelby GT500 models. These were production runs in limited quantities, but always factory models built for street driving.
9. 2007 Mustang GT California Special
Continuing its wildly popular line of throwback Mustangs, Ford saluted the 1968 California Special that had a limited run with the help of Shelby. The 2007 edition was a GT Premium upgraded with the California Special Package 54C. A standard 300 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque 24-valve V8 sent the CS from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, with its quarter-mile run taking 13.8 seconds at 103 mph, according to Car & Driver. Ford continued producing this variant until the 2011 model.
8. 2011 Mustang V6 Premium
Once the 2007 V6 Mustang began challenging vintage GT models with a quarter-mile run near 15 seconds, it was clear Ford had serious performance in mind for its base engine model. In the 2011 V6 Premium, Ford delivered an engine producing 305 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, capable of going 0 to 60 in 5.1 seconds according to Motor Trend tests. It ran the quarter-mile in 13.7 seconds at 102.0 mph. Motor Trend posed a valid question in its test: “Could’ve had a V8, but why?”
7. 2008 Mustang Bullitt
Fans of Steve McQueen and stripped-down retro Mustangs convinced Ford of the need for another Bullitt model, and it appeared in 2008. This time, there was a lot more force under the hood to feel that 1960s cool on every trip. The 2008 Bullitt packed a 24-valve V8 capable of 315 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. That power output vaulted the car from 0-60 in 5.0 seconds, running the quarter-mile in 13.7 seconds at 102.7 mph, according to a Motor Trend test.
6. 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra
When the 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra appeared, it was clear different level of power would rule the day. The 4.6-liter “Terminator” V8 was as fearsome as its name with 390 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque on tap. It may not have been as mean-looking as the original, but it would blow the Cobra of yore away with its 13.1 second time on the quarter-mile run (per Motor Trend ). It was also one of the quickest Mustangs in history, capable of running 0-60 in 4.8 seconds.
5. 2000 Mustang SVT Cobra R
With 385 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque, the 2000 SVT Cobra R had a larger displacement V8 (5.4 liters) than the 2003 Cobra yet a lower power output. That didn’t stop the lightweight from outrunning the newer Cobra on the track. Testing by Motor Trend put the 2000 Cobra R 0-60 time at 4.4 seconds with a 12.9-second quarter-mile at 110.8 mph. Ford produced only 300 models of this Mustang, all of them coupes.
4. 2011 GT California Special
The 2011 GT California Special had a new look and a ferocious new DOHC V8 engine capable of 412 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, making it one of the fastest Mustangs ever produced. Like the models sharing the same engine, the GT CS made the 0-60 sprint in 4.3 seconds while covering the quarter-mile run in 12.8 seconds at 110.8 mph (Motor Trend). Standard GT Premium models delivered the same exceptional performance without the limited-edition price tag.
3. 2007 Shelby GT500
Conceived of as the next SVT Mustang Cobra, the 2007 Shelby GT500 ended up bearing the name and signature style of Ford’s performance guru. A product of the S197 Mustang platform, this Shelby had a 500-hp supercharged variant of the 5.4-liter V-8 that cranked a maximum 480 lb-ft of torque. The 2007 Shelby GT500 looked every bit the vintage muscle monster and backed it up with its performance, running a quarter-mile in12.7 seconds at 116 mph, according to Motor Trend. It made the 0-60 sprint in 4.5 seconds.
2. 2012 Mustang Boss 302
Ford was not done with its successful line of throwback Mustangs. The Boss 302 made its reappearance in the 2012 model year with a 5.0-liter V8 capable of 444 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. How bad was the last Boss Ford would ever make? In Motor Trend tests, it took its quoted weight of 3,621 pounds and went flying from 0-60 in 3.97 seconds, running the quarter-mile in 12.3 seconds at 115.8 mph. It was the Boss Mustang fans had been waiting for on many levels, one which Motor Trend declared the greatest ‘Stang of all time.
1. 2013 Shelby GT500
With the arrival of the 2013 Shelby GT500, Ford delivered the V8 engine with the most horsepower ever produced in North America. The 5.8-liter, 32-valve supercharged aluminum beast produced a max 662 hp at 6,500 rpm and 631 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm, which was enough to intimidate the majority of production land vehicles.
The performance tests did not disappoint in the slightest. This Shelby blasted from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. In the quarter-mile run, the GT500 covered the ground in 11.6 seconds at 125.7 mph in Motor Trend tests.
A new generation of Mustangs is ready to appear. How will they rate against the fastest Mustangs ever produced in Ford factories? Only some very fun testing will decide.