The Legend Gets Bigger

1964 - 1966
1967 - 1968
1969 - 1970
Early Mustang performance comparison

The 1971 - 1973 Mustang

The 73 Convertible

The Design for the 71 to 73 was developed 1968, when all the emphases was on performance, people wanted power, going fast was one of the most important factors on the purchase of a new car. Specially on a performance / sports car like the Mustang.
Even other family oriented cars, Farlanes for example were pumping out a whole lot of horsepower.
The design was simple. The instructions plain; make the mighty 429 ci V8 fit , make it fast, keep it familiar looking and make it sell. To accommodate the big V8, the Mustang had to grow still a bit more, as compared to the 69 / 70 siblings. It had to be a bit heavier (600 pounds), but that wasn't a problem the designers reasoned, the 429 would make up for it.
For most part it did, along of great versions of the 351 ci V8. What no one could predict in 1968 was the gasoline, insurance hikes and the change of consumer attitudes towards performance. It was too expensive to run these heavy cars, race them was even further away in peoples minds.
Some of the prototypes were really big (even bigger than the production model), but designers and management decided to make them a bit smaller.  The final design was definitely a sporty one. The fastback was really pronounced, the coupe looked like a fastback, the rear end ended almost flat with a blackout treatment. It was more aero-dynamic than previous years and the front treatment was flat, no more pointy Mustangs. It looked a bit like the front end treatment of the 69/70 Shelby.
During the three years of this model the front end grille changed three times.
The different models were different: The standard Mustang had chrome bumpers, the Mach 1 had a body color, dual scooped hood, plastic bumper, yet the Boss had a front spoiler and a rear spoiler was an option on the fastbacks.
This way the biggest change on the Mustang since it's debut in April 64. This was a Mustang of extremes. The performance aspect was brutish, the three versions of the 429 took care of it. In the Luxury aspect the Grande'  was there representing confortable performance, there were also the Mach 1 and the Boss.
If performance was the game this Mustang was a player! Even though new emissions regulations dampened some performance. All Mustangs except the specialty performance models had a new improved combustion system.
New things introduced or included in this model year were: flush door handles, hidden windshield wiper for aero-dynamics, inside full instrumentation; tachometer, oil, battery, temperature and of course speedometer. For confort the Mustang had a center console including the gears and an ashtray,  longer arm-rests, pull door handles, a rear window defogger and power windows were available.
For safety a side guard door beam was included in the design, the steering gear was a constant ratio unit with the standard suspension, but it was available as variable unit for the competition class option.
Speaking performance options rear end ratios could be ordered as high as 4.11:1, meaning tires wouldn't last long!
Performance was still strong in '71 some call it the last year for "total performance" options like Boss 351, Mach 1 and even Drag pack 429 vouch for it.
Even with all the excitement sales were down, as always still well ahead of the competition, but definitely on a downward trend.

Engine choices were:

Horse Power
250 CI  Line 6
135 Hp
302 CI  2 barrel V8
195 Hp
351 CI  2V - V8
225 Hp
351 CI  4V - V8
285 Hp
351 CI  4V -V8  Boss   330 Hp
429 CI  4V - V8
370 Hp
429 CI  4V - V8 ram air
380 Hp

In 1972 things got tougher for sport cars, manufacturers were thinking about their models. Gas consumption and pollution controls were the priority, but a sporty look was still in, so Ford added wings, stripes, louvres to try to make some thing happen, but it wasn't to be.
The highlight of this year was a Car of the decade award presented by Popular Hot Rodding Magazine! The other highlight was the 351 Mustang. It was still built after a lot of hair pulling at the Ford headquarters, even though in limited production, it kept the  Mustang with some kind of decency performance speaking.
Ford didn't even published the performance figures for the Mustang, a trend of things to came. Performance figures should be similar to '71
In 1973 there was some minor changes in the exhaust system, suspension, some different options, the front bumpers were now all plastic, the interior now could have a leather wrapped steering wheel. All in all it was still very similar to the '71 model.
Again this year there were no performance figures.

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