The Ford Mustang is one of the most iconic vehicles of all time. It was so popular, it provided the name for an entire segment of small sporty cars - the pony car. Hitting the right balance between affordability, a bit of muscle-car power, and compact design, it sold 400,000 units in the first year.
This combination of appealing attributes have made it the longest continuously produced Ford nameplate. Due to its longevity and prevalence, it is highly popular for tuning, modifying and amateur racing.
High-profile movie cameos helped drive the Mustang’s initial popularity. Ford timed the 1964 release of the first Mustangs in American to coincide with an appearance of the car in the James Bond film Goldfinger. A few years later, a debadged Fastback Mustang was featured in the classic car-chase film Bullit with Steve McQueen.
More recently, the Mustang has experienced resurgence of interest due to the 2000 movie Gone in 60 Seconds which featured Nicolas Cage as a car thief obsessed with a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500. That obsession has translated to customers with several companies offering to make replicas of Shelby Mustangs.
Though the most recent generation of the Mustang is a hit with tuners and modifiers, the fourth and fifth generations are the most popular. A long production lifespan makes parts available and makes it an ideal car for customizing and upgrading.
Performancewise, the Mustang offers a high power to weight ratio that makes it competitive in races. Early generations of the Mustang found success in circuit racing and in 2019 the Mustang became the body for Ford cars in the NASCAR cup championship.
The combination of performance, legendary movie status, and affordability has kept the Mustang from ever going away. In 2020, when Ford discontinued all other non-SUV cars for financial reasons, they kept producing the Mustang because it continued to experience strong demand.