At the heart of the 2000 film Gone In 60 Seconds starring Nicolas Cage (a loose remake of a 1974 film of the same name) is the 1967 Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang. Henry Ford II unveiled the first Mustang in New York on 17 April and over the years it has come to epitomise the American muscle car. Some iterations were more iconic than others, but it was always consistently at the forefront of American motoring. It is estimated that, by the end of that year, more than half a million Mustangs were sold in America.
Gone In 60 Seconds was not the Ford Mustang's first foray into the entertainment world. Mustangs were in two James Bond films, Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever. A Mustang stars in the title of the classic Wilson Pickett song Mustang Sally, and the 2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR was KITT in the TV series Knight Rider. In Gone In 60 Seconds, a group of car thieves must "acquire" 50 cars in 72 hours. They give each car a name, and the 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 becomes Eleanor, giving a new generation of car enthusiasts, who grew up far from the origins of the Mustang, a new dream car. I know it did for me.
Special mention has to be made of Carroll Shelby, the American racing driver and car designer who, through his company Shelby American, took the foundation that Ford had created from a performance perspective and amplified it. The Shelby Mustang was built between 1965 and 1968 while, from 1969 and 1970, Ford modified the cars under the Shelby nameplate. It was later revived in 2005 by Ford. When you close your eyes and picture the Ford Mustang, the ultimate muscle car, chances are the image in your mind will be of the first generation, which was on the market between 1964 and 1973.
At the heart of the 2000 film Gone In 60 Seconds starring Nicolas Cage (a loose remake of a 1974 film of the same name) is the 1967 Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang. Henry Ford II
When you create something that resonates and becomes part of folklore at the first try, it can be difficult to evolve it. When you hit the bull's eye first time round, it becomes impossible to better that. It took until the fifth generation, 2005 to 2014, for Ford to finally reconnect with the DNA of the original Mustang, finally bringing it into a new era while staying true to the spirit of the first.
And with the sixth generation, launched in 2015, Ford finally officially brought it to the world outside of the United States, including South Africa in early 2016. For the third year running, the Ford Mustang has been named the world’s best-selling sports coupe, having sold 125 809 coupes and convertibles in 146 countries in 2017. South Africans have bought 1929 Mustangs in South Africa since it was introduced here.
The Ford Mustang was launched in six models, the 2.3 EcoBoost Manual Fastback, 2.3 EcoBoost Automatic Convertible, 2.3 EcoBoost Automatic Fastback, 5.0 V8 GT Manual Fastback, 5.0 V8 GT Automatic Convertible and 5.0 V8 GT Automatic Fastback. But when it comes to iconic vehicles such as the Mustang, let's be honest. Does it feel like a muscle car, does it have the appropriate grunt and brawn to transport us to other places and times? Yes and no.
Get behind the wheel, fire up the engine, and the grunt sends a rush through your body even before you pull out of your driveway. It is the kind of car that will have you taking the long way everywhere or simply leaving the house with no real destination. So, yes, it does connect in a beautiful way to the Mustangs of old. And no, because what we expect from our cars in these technologically advanced times is much more that what was expected in the 1960s. The cockpit is a combination of the old (in terms of feel) and the new, with, among others: Ford’s Sync 3 Connectivity System, which is voice-activated, has an 8” colour LCD touch screen, and works with apps such as Applink, Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto, a rear view camera to help with reversing, and keyless entry and push-button start. There’s also the electric power assisted steering (EPAS), electronic stability control (ESC) and traction control system (TCS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and anti-lock braking system (ABS).
The 2018 upgrade of the Ford Mustang continues to pay homage to the original with changes both from a design perspective as well as under the hood. If you are looking to do even more, Shelby has a presence in country with Shelby South Africa, based in the Western Cape, owning rights to certain classic customisations.
Now for the question you are probably asking. Would I buy a Ford Mustang? To be honest, I probably would not have it as my day-to-day car. It’s just too much fun and it gets tiring holding my foot up off the accelerator, plus I would probably get into trouble with JMPD. But, as a second car, bought for the pure pleasure of driving? Yes. Although, I still have dreams of owning Eleanor...