In 1993, Ford debuted a rounded jellybean-style sports concept called the Mustang Mach III. This concept, based on Patrick Schiavone’s 1990 sketch, previewed the radical restyling of future Mustangs. This fourth-generation Mustang, which had the Fox-platform (SN-95) all to itself, launched for the public in December 1993 for the 1994 model year. This generation of Mustang increased in size. Wheelbase was extended from 100 inches in 1993 to 101.3 inches; exterior length was increased by 2 inches to 181 inches; and exterior width was increased to 71 inches.
Upon release, the 1994 Mustang gained two performance variants: the GT and SVT Cobra. The former carried over the ’93 GT’s 4.9L V8, producing 215 horsepower 285 ft/lbs of torque. Other features included a 3.08:1 ratio rear axle, 16-inch upgraded wheels, and a firmer suspension package for refined handling. The SVT Cobra got the 5.0L Windsor V8 producing 240 horsepower and 285 ft/lbs. For 1995, SVT debuted the Cobra R, employing a more vigorous 5.8L V8. This model turned out 300 horsepower (60 more than the standard Cobra). Both the GT and Cobra got the Tremec T-5 5-speed manual transmission.
1996 saw the revision of the Mustang’s dated drivetrain. Gone was the Windsor V8, replaced by the 4.6L Modular engine. In the GT, this engine produced 215 horsepower – considerably less than the ’94-’95 GTs. Torque stayed the same at 285 ft/lbs. As for the SVT Cobra, power got an upgrade: 305 horsepower and 300 ft/lbs. The transmissions in both the GT and Cobra remained 5-speeds. While the GT kept the Tremec T-5 unit, the Cobra transitioned to the T-45. Model year 1997 was relatively quiet: the GT retained its 1996 specifications, as did the Cobra. For 1998, the GT got an upgraded powertain control module (PCM). This allowed the engine to produce more power; specifically, a power-bump up to 225 horsepower and 290 ft/lbs of torque. Between 1994 and 1998, 644,250 Mustangs were sold.
While the Ford Mustang enjoyed a relative sales success, its jellybean styling wouldn’t be enough to seriously sustain its reputation as an all-American muscle car. Former Vice President of Design for Ford, Jack Telnack, as well as then-chief designer Claude Lobo, implemented a new design language for European-market Fords, called “New Edge“. This design language used more modern crisp body lines and edges. For 1999, the SN-95 Fox-body Mustang gained this New Edge design. Also changed was the 4.6L Modular V8 engine. With a revised head, the GT could turn 260 horsepower and 302 ft/lbs. A special model package, the 35th Anniversary Limited Edition, gave the Mustang GT some blacked-out body panels (such as in front of the hood scoop and side mirrors), special 5-spoke aluminum wheels, and vinyl interior. The “New Edge” SVT Cobra was also revised: it produced 320 horsepower and 317 ft/lbs of torque. For 1999, Mustang sales rose to 167,000 units, with 215,500 more for model year 2000. After the 2001 model year, production of the SVT Cobra went on a brief hiatus.
After the successful 2000 model year, Mustang sales started their slow decline. 2001 saw over 169,000 Mustangs produced, with 2002 output at 138,500 units. From here onward, Mustang sales would hover around the 130- to 140-thousand average. In 2003, the base, GT, and Cobra were joined by another special edition not seen since the last Mustang II of the 1970s: Mach 1. The Mach 1 was a modest mid-field entry in the Mustang lineup. Still employing the 4.6L Modular V8, it developed 305 horsepower and 320 ft/lbs of torque. Paired up to it was the Tremec TR-3650 5-speed manual transmission shared with the contemporary GT and the 2001 Cobra. It also featured a solid rear axle whereas other models employed independent rear suspensions. Exterior styling of the Mach 1 was somewhat conservative, but recalling of the Mach 1’s of the past.
SVT amped up the power of the top-line Cobra via the means of supercharging. Compared to the prior Cobra, it gained a 70 horsepower bump, good for 390 horsepower; and torque was also raised to 390 ft/lbs. The 5-speed TR-3650 transmission was dropped and replaced by the 6-speed T-56 unit. This transmission was installed in other Australian Fords like the Falcon XR6 and Ford Performance Vehicles’ F6 Typhoon super sedan. This generation of Cobra would be nicknamed “Terminator”. The Cobra’s exterior was given a significant “beefed” look: a front integrated spoiler and large air dams completed the aggressive “Cobra” styling. Also added were the special 17-inch machined aluminum/chrome wheels and imposing dual exhausts at the end. The rear fascia consisted also of the debossed “COBRA” script stamped on the bumper just below the license plate bezel. Mustang production for 2004 notched in at 130,000 sales.
Model year 2005 saw the release of the much-anticipated retro-styled fifth generation Mustang (codenamed S197). Its wheelbase increased by 8 inches to 107 inches; and exterior length was increased by 4 inches to 187 inches. Exterior width remained relatively the same at 73 inches. Production of the Mustang moved from the Ford River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan, to the former Mazda Motor Manufacturing plant in Flat Rock (which eventually was renamed Flat Rock Assembly Plant). Initial offerings consisted of the V6 and the V8-engined GT. The V6 Mustang was fitted with a 210-horsepower 4.0L Cologne V6, paired either to a Tremec T-5 5-speed manual or Ford’s own 5-speed automatic. The GT pushed the performance bar by utilizing the 4.6L Modular V8. Power sat at a respectable 300 horsepower and 320 ft/lbs. Transferring this power to the wheels was the higher-up 5-speed manual, the Tremec TR-3650. In a straight line, the V8 Mustang GT could accelerate to 60 mph (100 km/h) in 5.6 seconds, doing the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds at 99 mph (158 km/h).
In 2006, the Shelby made its triumphant return to the Mustang lineup. The first Shelby Mustangs to be produced were the GT-H models, for use at Hertz car-rental locations. These models got a slightly tuned 4.6L Modular V8 (same as in the GT), paired to a 5-speed automatic. 500 such models were ever produced.
Shelby amped up its performance with the GT500, which launched for 2007. In performance goodies, it gained a much more potent supercharged 5.4L V8 throwing 500 horsepower and 480 ft/lbs of torque, and a 6-speed Tremec TR-6060 transmission. In front, an independent MacPherson strut suspension was installed, and the rear consisted of a solid axle setup. The Shelby GT500 also got front and rear vented disc brakes (14-inch front/11.8 rear) and 18-inch tires. Cosmetically, the Shelby GT500 benefited from hood scoops, different front fascia, and Cobra identifying badges on the front fenders and front grille. 2008 saw the release of the more powerful GT500KR. Power was sourced from the same supercharged Modular V8, although pushing 540 horsepower (40 more than the GT500) and 510 ft/lbs of torque (30 more).
The facelifted 2010 Mustang, devised by design director Doug Gaffka, launched for the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November 2008; and went on sale in spring of 2009. Although the exterior fascia were refreshed, the hardware was quite outdated: the V6 Mustang retained the 4.0L 210 horsepower Cologne V6, and the GT still got the same power as before from the Modular V8. For 2011, however, these outdated drivetrains were replaced by their respective counterparts: the V6 got the new 3.7L Duratec (Cyclone) V6 also used in the Mazda CX-9 and Ford F-150. In the Mustang, this engine produced a more healthier 305 horsepower and 280 ft/lbs of torque. The GT benefited from a more potent 412 horsepower and 390 ft/lbs from the updated Modular engine. Into its second model year, the facelift S197 Mustang was off to a good start.
For 2012 only, Shelby produced 100 examples of its 50th Anniversary Edition Shelby GTS. These models commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Shelby brand, and included features such as a fibreglass hood, 14-inch front brakes, unique VIN plates, gold exterior stripes, and two exterior color options: white and black. The Shelby GTS 50th Anniversary package was available as an extra-cost option on both the V6 and GT Mustangs.
For 2013, all Mustangs were given a mid-cycle cosmetic refresh. The look of the headlamps was rearranged, as well as the tail-lamp bezels. This was the S197’s final facelift. The GT models gained 8 more horsepower for a total of 420 horsepower, thanks to extensive use of aluminum construction in the Modular V8. Torque stayed the same at 390 ft/lbs. These same specifications were carried over into the 2014 model year.
Model year 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the Mustang lineup, as well as the debut of the 6th-generation “S550” chassis. The exterior design of the S550 was directed by German designer Kemal Curić. Curić had been working at Ford since 2004. Upon launch, the 2015 Mustang was available in three variants: V6, EcoBoost, and GT. The EcoBoost was a new 4-cylinder addition to the Mustang lineup: it developed 310 horsepower and 320 ft/lbs of torque. The GT gained 15 horsepower and 10 ft/lbs for a total of 435 horsepower and 400 ft/lbs. Also new for 2015 was the track-focused Shelby GT350, which featured extra flared-out styling and ultra-wide Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. It was the first production Ford to feature the MagneRide suspension. The Shelby featured a specialized version of the Modular V8 all to itself: a 5.2L unit nicknamed “Voodoo“. Thanks to a flat-plane crankshaft and a very high compression ratio of 12:1, the Voodoo V8 developed 526 horsepower and 429 ft/lbs of torque.
Model year 2018 saw a refresh to the entire lineup. The Mustang benefited from a “shaved” look which helped define its characteristics. Gone was the V6 engine, leaving the 2.3-liter EcoBoost, GT, and the Shelby GT350/GT350R. Power for the GT was raised to a healthy (and stealthy) 460 horsepower. Torque was also raised to 420 ft/lbs. For 2019, Ford debuted the specialty Bullitt model, which came equipped with custom interior stitching, instrumentation, and Recaro seats.
Of course, being a Bullitt Mustang, it was offered with a Dark Highland Green exterior color option. The Bullitt shared some hardware with the Shelby GT350; for instance, the throttle body and air intake were integrated onto a specially modified 5.0L Coyote V8. This raised power to 475 horsepower, which was 15 more horsepower than the Mustang GT. Meanwhile, Shelby devised a more ultra-powerful Mustang for the 2020 model year: the GT500. With a supercharged version of the GT350’s 5.2L V8, it is proclaimed to be the most powerful production Ford produced. Power is speculated to be at 760 horsepower. Another option to be expected of the GT500 will be the MagneRide suspension system.