The fifth generation of America’s favorite pony car – built on the new S197 platform – made its debut in the 2005 model year.
“The biggest challenge for our team was to develop a new generation Mustang that would have the functional and cost structure ‘bandwidth’ to cover the entry V6 model all the way up to the high-performance Shelby GT500 convertible model,” recalled Hau Thai-Tang, then chief engineer of the Mustang program. “That amount of market coverage in terms of pricing and performance is very tough to achieve with one common platform.”
From a styling perspective, the aim was to design a vehicle that captured the essence of the original Mustangs from the '60s. Designers brought in a 1967 Mustang for inspiration.
“Every member of our team rallied around the vision of making the 2005 Mustang the best Mustang ever,” said Thai-Tang. “Our goal was to build on the tremendous legacy of the Mustang, to make it instantly recognizable as a Mustang and to deliver on the Mustang promise: fast, fun and affordable.”
The result was a modern interpretation of first-generation Mustangs. The canted nose with its big grille and round headlights recalled the ’67 to ’69 Mustangs, while the side sculpting, fastback roofline and taillights recalled the ponies from 1965.
“Most people don’t realize how much of a risk Ford took by choosing to invest in the development of the 2005 Mustang,” said Thai-Tang. “We were the only remaining player in the segment, and we could have easily played it safe and done just enough to keep the Mustang going. Instead, Ford raised the bar.”
The 2005 Mustang was an immediate sales success.
Little changed for the 2006 Mustang, but for the 2007 model year Ford’s SVT delivered the Shelby GT500 – the most powerful factory Mustang ever produced, boasting 500 horsepower. It featured Shelby, Cobra and SVT badging and was offered as either a coupe or a convertible.
Thai-Tang says one of his favorite Mustang moments occurred during the development of the Shelby GT500 program.
“Automotive legend Carroll Shelby was driving one of our convertible test mules, and I was riding in the passenger seat when a young man pulled up to us in a Camaro. He looked over and saw an 82-year-old man driving a funny looking Mustang, and he wanted to race us,” recalls Thai-Tang. “Needless to say he lost the race. When he finally caught up with us, he did a doubt take. He realised that it was no ‘ordinary’ 82-year-old and no ‘ordinary’ Mustang!”
A special “Warriors in Pink” Mustang was introduced for the 2008 model year to help raise funds for Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure breast cancer research. The second limited-edition Mustang Bullitt debuted the same year.
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Shelby's "King of the Road" GT500 (KR) model , Ford introduced the 540-horsepower Shelby GT500KR, which surpassed the Shelby GT500 as the most powerful production Mustang ever produced.
Last year, Ford marked a major milestone when the 9 millionth Mustang was built. The company also introduced the 2009 Mustang, which offers a segment-first factory-installed glass roof as well as special 45th Anniversary badging to commemorate the birthday of the iconic car.
The legendary Mustang drives into the future as the best muscle car yet. The 2010 Mustang is a fun-to-drive vehicle that combines modern technology and safety with Mustang's sporting heritage, including a more powerful V8 and an even-throatier signature Mustang exhaust sound.
“The 2010 Mustang is drop-dead gorgeous,” said Paul Randle, Mustang chief engineer. “This car marks the best efforts of 45 years of passion and enthusiasm among the best designers, engineers and manufacturing experts in the business.”
- To read "The Mustang Story: Generation One", click here.
- To read "The Mustang Story: Generation Two", click here.
- To read "The Mustang Story, Generation Three", click here.
- To read "The Mustang Story, Generation Four", click here.
- To read Josh McKenzie's Mustang AutoRoute, click here.
We trust you've enjoyed this feature and wish to thank Ford Media US for use of text and images.