The 9 best Ford Mustangs

07th June 2024
Ethan Jupp

Icon is an overused word, but the Ford Mustang is up there as one of the all-time greats. But, it is a family of cars with many years, many generations, and many versions behind it. Which are the best? Here, we’ve picked the very coolest Mustangs from throughout its 60 year history and ranked them. Let’s get into it.


9. 2003 SVT Cobra R

Believe it or not, in its six decades the Mustang has had shallow periods, with the entire second-generation and the first few years of the third-generation ‘Fox body’ largely thought of as a ten-year misfire. But troughs come with peaks and indeed, the SVT Cobra R was a sign that Ford was serious about getting the Mustang back on its hind legs. The whole SN95 and New Edge thing never quite caught on, handsome though the second-generation car is now, with 20-year hindsight. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Ford sending it off with a bang. A big wing, jutting chin, and puffy arches clues enough to the 385PS (283kW) of 5.4-litre V8 potency within. Just 300 of these incredibly rare models were built and arguably, it was the first sign of Ford’s plan to turn the Mustang into a serious performance car in the coming two decades.


8. 2007 GT500 KR

The 2007 GT500 KR offered more definitive proof that the Mustang was back. Based on the retro-styled fifth-generation car, the Shelby GT500 took on the KR (meaning ‘King of the Road’), in homage to the 1968 original. This was a Mustang all about muscle, with some 547PS (403kW) to throw around, high-performance suspension, a heavy-duty rear axle to help it handle the grunt and a splash of lightweighting to help it make the most of it. It was, however, the last time Ford needed reminding that if a hopped-up Mustang was to be taken seriously as a performance car in the modern era, it needed more than power.


7. 2011 Boss 302

Horsepower has never been a problem for Americans. Trouble is more likely to occur when you get off the gas, stand on the middle pedal, and turn the big round thing in the cockpit to get around what we in Europe call a corner. However, the second-generation S-197 Mustang Boss 302 (after the legendary late 1960s-early 1970s car of the same name) suggested change was afoot. Here was a Mustang that was powerful enough, yes, but with a focus on cornering and overall driving enjoyment; adjustable suspension, stiffer bushings, and an optional torque-sensing limited-slip differential. Likewise, it also did away with luxuries, including power seats.

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6. 2013 Shelby GT500

Of course, all the progress made with the Boss was, if not quite totally overwritten, then totally overwhelmed with 2013’s monstrous GT500. Built as a sort of ‘goodbye’ to the S-197 platform, the facelifted GT500 featured the insane 5.8-litre ‘Trinity’ V8 engine. Only used for one year, the Trinity had a monstrous supercharger that developed 671PS (494kW), making it by far the most powerful series production Mustang to date. Bear in mind, we were only a decade and a bit on from the Cobra R’s 380PS (280kW) seeming very fruity. The 2013 GT500 did get a Performance package as an option with adjustable Bilstein dampers and a Torsen diff, but what it really needed rid of was the live axle…


5. 2015 Shelby GT350

The live axle’s departure came with the ‘global’ S550 Mustang. A pony car for all the world, available for the first time in right-hand drive from UK dealers (and obviously across Europe) the sixth-generation Mustang was an altogether more rounded, refined pony car and not just in looks. Underneath, finally, it had fully independent rear suspension for a more sophisticated-feeling driving experience. Put simply, burnouts no longer had the car battering potholes into the road with axle tramp.

The S550 had a number of excellent special versions, too, from the Bullitt, to the Mach 1 and of course, the Shelby GT500. But it was the GT350 that we believe was the undisputed king of the six-gens. Why? One word. Voodoo. What is quite possibly one of the greatest-sounding internal combustion engines of all time is the flat-plane crank 5.2-litre ‘Voodoo’ V8 in the GT350, with resonances so aggressive it had a habit of vibrating out its own oil filters. Regardless, this phenomenal engine made 526PS (392kW) at a screaming 8,250rpm. The GT350 was honestly like the unhinged, substance-addled but inexplicably athletic cousin to the comparatively straight-laced E92 BMW M3 – glorious. Of course only the Americans got this one.


4. 2024 GTD 

The seventh and current-generation Mustang however, got even more crazy. Not only is it now going racing at Le Mans and Daytona with the new Mustang GT3, there’s a road version on the way, too. Called the GTD, after the IMSA GT3 class, this really is a Mustang like no other. It gets a transaxle gearbox, inboard suspension, an 800PS (588kW) 5.2-litre supercharged V8, carbon fibre bodywork, and GT3-inspired aero. So, this is a Mustang with the power and performance of a proper supercar and for the first time, too, the price of a proper supercar. Buyers of the GTD won’t be parting with any less than £230,000 for the privilege of owning it. But you just know it’s going to be an unbelievable machine.



3. 1969 Boss

Of course, this is far from the first time a racing Mustang inspired a road car, and of the many we can choose from the model’s history, as the original, the Boss 302 has to be up there. 

Created to homologate a Trans Am racer – with which the late great Parnelli Jones won the Trans-Am title in 1970 – the Boss 302 was Ford’s answer to Chevrolet’s track-focused Z28 Camaro. The Boss 428 meanwhile, was a 7.0-litre monster designed to homologate Ford’s rampaging Pony for Nascar. On a personal level, the Boss Mustang is probably my favourite-looking classic Mustang, which may be a controversial take when there’s the likes of the GT350 and the notchback GT to consider. The incredible work they do at the Members’ Meeting presented by Audrain Motorsport probably has something to do with it.


2. 1965 Shelby GT350

Because of course, the Boss was only the next iteration of Mustang racer. It was Carol Shelby and his skunkworks outfit that first built a dedicated racing and high-performance Mustang. Debuting in 1965, only a year after the Mustang’s introduction, the GT350 used Shelby’s fettled 289 Ford V8 with its ‘high-rise’ inlet manifold. That was complimented with revised brakes and a worked over chassis, in addition to lightweighting, for a track-focused experience. The GT350R was the full-on SCCA-compliant race car, with just 34 models made. This is genesis for the high-performance Ford Mustang; the progenitor for every Shelby, Cobra, or SVT-badged Mustang that would follow.


1. 1964 Ford Mustang

Naturally, the best Mustangs are the fastest ones, but if there’s anything the Mustang is known for – if anything is responsible for its success – it’s how it married desirability and accessibility like no car before it. The looks were so cool it couldn’t have been from the same universe as the relatively staid Falcon, let alone the same manufacturer. And yet the average American, with an average American salary, could afford one. Affordable yet aspirational. That’s why instead of selling 100,000 a year as predicted, Ford sold a million of them within two years. Happily, the Mustang retains (for the most part) its affordability and quite obviously, its inimitable pony car style.

  • Ford Mustang

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  • SVT Cobra R

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