That’s a lot of horsepower: Ford builds 10-millionth Mustang

Ford has built its 10-millionth Mustang since the model was launched in 1964. It was an opportunity for Ford and Mustang fans to celebrate the iconic “Pony Car” and its 50-plus years of history.

The 10-millionth Mustang was a GT convertible with a six-speed manual transmission. The car was painted Wimbledon White to match the very first production Mustang, which was also a convertible. Both cars are powered by V8 engines but, in a true sign of progress, the new Mustang has 460 horsepower while its ancestor has just 164 hp, and a three-speed automatic transmission.

To celebrate the milestone, Mustang owners gathered at the Flat Rock, Michigan, factory that currently builds the car. More than 60 Mustangs were arranged to spell out “10,000,000” on the blacktop outside the factory, and Ford set up a flyover of the car’s namesake — the World War II North American P-51 Mustang fighter plane.

The Mustang was originally conceived as a more stylish alternative to the Ford Falcon, meant to attract younger buyers. That plan worked: after the first-generation Mustang was unveiled at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, it set records for initial sales. Because the car was unveiled in spring, very late in the traditional automotive model year, those first Mustangs are often referred to as “1964 1/2” models.

Despite the availability of a V8 engine, the Mustang wasn’t really that sporty at first. But in 1965, Ford wrangled Carroll Shelby to create the first Shelby Mustang, the GT350. Things took off from there as the 1960s muscle car boom led to bigger engines, more performance models, and racing glory in Trans Am and drag racing. The ’60s also turned the Mustang into a movie star thanks to Bullitt, which Ford is celebrating with a new special-edition model.

As with many other iconic American cars, the 1960s boom was followed by a 1970s bust as new fuel-economy and safety regulations brought the Mustang to an all-time low (Mustang II, anyone?). Ford began restoring the Mustang to its former glory in 1979 with the introduction of the “Fox” body, a long-lived generation of Mustang that remains popular with tuners.

While Ford did consider replacing the rear-wheel drive Mustang with a car that eventually became the front-wheel drive Probe, the Pony Car stuck around into the 21st century. The 2005 Mustang adopted retro styling inspired by the 1960s original, and pretty much set the styling tone for all Mustangs to follow.

The current-generation Mustang emphasizes handling like never before, attempting to compete with European and Japanese sports cars as well as American muscle cars. It’s a major departure from previous Mustangs, but Ford has even bigger changes in store in the form of a Mustang hybrid. The Blue Oval is also planning a new Shelby GT500 with over 700 hp, making it the most powerful production Mustang ever. Here’s to another 10 million.

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