Ford Mustang: 2004-2011
Forward into the past!
The 2004 Ford Mustang was a momentous model year for Ford, as it marked the 40th anniversary of Mustang production. The original ponycar celebrated its birthday alone, as those former rivals from General Motors, Chrysler and AMC had fallen by the wayside. Unfortunately, however, the 2004 model wasn’t a new model, but a minor upgrade from 2003.
Power outputs came in four different levels. The 193-hp pushrod V-6 models were offered in Standard and Pony trim packages, while the GT sported a 16-valve, SOHC V-8 with 260 horses. Ford Mustang Mach I added eight more valves for 305 hp, while the supercharged Cobra muscled up to an impressive 390 hp. Less than 6,000 SVT Cobras were sold in this, their last year of production. Not surprisingly, there was also a 40th Anniversary Package consisting of special emblems and trim. The 2004 Ford Mustang was to be the last one built in the Ford Dearborn plant.
In the following model year, the 2005 Ford Mustangs boasted improved chassis and suspension designs, while and the snazzy new bodywork featured more retro styling cues. The obvious touchstone was the classic 1967-1968 models that have always been popular with collectors. The public went wild and the reborn Ford Mustang was hot news!
The brakes were bigger and handling was upgraded. Under the hood a new SOHC V-6 was good for 210 hp, while the GT now sported a 3-valve 4.6 V-8 with 300 hp. The 17-inch spoked wheels from the old Ford Mustang “Bullitt” model were standard on the GT. The lineup consisted of Deluxe and Premium V-6 models, plus the V-8 packing GT and convertible models of each. Missing was the Cobra, a victim of the evisceration of Ford’s SVT program. Production of the Mustang was moved from Dearborn to Ford’s Flat Rock, Michigan plant.
The big news for track fans was the 2005 introduction of the Ford FR500 series of racing cars. These factory-built Ford Mustangs were not sold for street use and special versions were developed to compete in various racing series. The FR500C was built to race in the Grand Am Grand Sport Championship, where it won the 2005 Manufacturers, Team and Drivers’ championships. The FR500C has a 5.0-liter version of the Cammer R50 Ford crate engine with 420 hp. The FR500C cost $125,000 and came with a 6-speed transmission, racing brakes, modified suspension and a full roll cage.
The 2006 Ford Mustang was an update on the successful 2005 model, with the new Pony version of the V-6 model sporting 17-inch spoked GT wheels and a host of performance and trim items. The GT stepped up to 18-inch wheels but otherwise had few changes. A unique new program was developed with Shelby Automotive to produce 500 Shelby GT-350H models that would only be available for rent at Hertz. These featured 325hp versions of the 4.6-liter 3-valve V-8, 5-speed automatic transmissions and unique black-and-gold paint jobs.
Return of the Snake Handler
The renewed cooperation with Carroll Shelby was even more evident in 2007 when the new GT500 rolled with a 500-hp supercharged 4-valve, 5.4-liter V-8. Primed to become the new Ford “halo” car to replace the discontinued Ford GT, the GT500 was available in both coupe and convertible versions using the trick suspension parts developed for the FR500 racers. The GT500 was a joint project between Shelby and a reformed SVT program, which no longer produced their own versions of Ford models. There was also a special “Redline” version of the GT500 sporting black or white paint with broad red top and side striping, along with matching interior trim.
Another new Shelby product was the convertible version of the GT-350H rent-a-street-racer, to replace the 2006 Ford Mustang GT-350H rentals that were being retired and sold by Hertz. About 500 of these unique black-and-gold cars were planned. The final fruit of this collaboration was the 2007 Shelby GT, a practical performance version of the 4.6-liter V-8 producing 319 hp. Both manual and automatic transmissions were offered. All 2007 Ford Mustang Shelby GTs were coupes, and the only color options were black or white with silver stripes.
There was also a non-Shelby special edition Mustang, the reincarnated California Special (C/S). Ford had sold C/S versions of the 1968 Mustang, and the 2007 model sported an inexpensive cosmetic upgrade package that included special stripes, spoiler, scoops and interior trim. For those who opted for the standard Ford Mustangs, things were pretty much the same as in 2006, with V-6 and GT V-8 versions available in several states of trim.
Ditto for the 2008 Ford Mustang line, though there were a few new models. The Warriors in Pink edition sported pink trim and part of the sales price went to support cancer research. The Shelby models were back, plus a new GT500KR (“King of the Road”) with 540 hp and carbon fiber trim. Only 1,000 KRs were built. Shelby also built special versions of Ford Mustang models, including the fearsome 725hp GT500 Super Snake, but these were not official Ford models.
Another new Mustang model was the return of the “Bullitt” package to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the famed movie that starred a dark green Mustang driven by Steve McQueen. The new model was based on the V-8 GT, with green or black paint, special wheels and shaved emblems like the old movie car.
A new racing version, the FR500S, was offered at $75,000. It was built to run in the Ford Mustang Racing Series and only 75 were built. It wasn’t as quick as the FR500C, with a spec 325-hp 4.6-liter V-8.
Little changed in 2009, except for the demise of the Ford Mustang Shelby GT and the FR500S. There was special badging on V6 and GT models to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Mustang. Among the many new options on the street models was a glass top. The FR500S was supplanted by the FR500CJ (Cobra Jet), a DOHC 5.4-liter V-8 (400 hp) drag racer that sold for $69,900. It was not street legal.
New Look For 2010
Actually the biggest news in Mustang circles in 2010 was the re-introduction of the Camaro, which, along with the Hemi Challenger, put serious pressure on Ford to keep the Mustang up to snuff. Although the underpinnings remained basically the same, both the exterior and interior of the 2010 Mustang were upgraded. The revised nose, bulged hood and improved aerodynamics improved top speed and reduced lift in the front.
The model lineup was shuffled, with the Ford Mustang Deluxe and Pony V-6 and GT models joined by the new Track Pack GT and the GT500. Three engines were available, a 210-hp V-6, the 4.6-liter V-8 with 315 hp and the 5.4-liter V-8 in the GT-500, now boosted to 540 hp. The optional AdvanceTrac traction control system was an aid to handling. The new Track Pack package added special suspension and brake upgrades to the 5-speed GT coupe.
Mustang 5.0 Returns
A new racing version was announced that hinted at good things to come. The FR500 series of racing cars was expanded to include the Ford Mustang Boss 302R (a replacement for the FR500C) powered by a 5-liter, 400-hp 4-valve V-8. There were two models, one for $79,000 ready for track events, and a more serious version ($129,000) that was eligible for Grand Am races.
The 302 program came to fruition during 2010 when the 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 was announced. It sports a 412-hp 302 that gives it a performance edge over the previously faster Camaro SS. Also announced for 2011 is a hotter GT500 with 550 hp and less weight to carry around, plus a new Ford Mustang California Special. There are other changes in the wind, but we’ll have to wait and see what the next decade of Ford’s premier ponycar looks like.
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