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Best Mustangs RankedFord Mustangs are at their best when they have something to prove. It is the automotive equivalent of, “Oh, yeah?! Watch THIS!”

In its 60 years, the Mustang has outlasted all competitors from Chrysler and GM, weathered changing automotive tastes, and survived government regulations. Which examples stand out as beacons, worthy of “automotive legend” status?

5. 1985 Mustang GT

The malaise era of the late ’70s and early ’80s was depressing. Even sports cars such as the Chevrolet Corvette and Ferrari 308 struggled to break eight seconds running to 60 mph.

However, manufacturers were determined to make fun cars again, and the 1985 Mustang GT achieved an essential milestone — 200+ hp. With 210 horses, the ’85 GT had nearly as much power as the Corvette and ran to 60 in 6.4 seconds.

4. 2003 Mustang SVT Cobra

John Coletti, then director of Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT), was frustrated. The 1999 Mustang Cobra didn’t make its advertised horsepower and had to sit out a model year. For 2003, he made sure the Cobra would have the beans, so he slapped a supercharger on the Cobra’s 4-cam 4.6-liter V8.

Coletti fought for upgrades such as Manley forged rods to ensure the “Terminator” engine could handle 390 hp. The result was the first factory-stock Mustang that could run quarter miles in the 12s.

3. 2012 Mustang Boss 302

How can anyone rank the 2012 Mustang Boss 302 above the 1960s original? The 2012 version made 444 horsepower, pulled 0-60 in 4.3 seconds, and ran 0.9 G on the skidpad.

While vintage Boss 302s look great at a concours event, the new Boss 302 is much happier dominating races. There’s even a faster, more intense top-spec version named after a racetrack — The Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca.

2. 1965 Mustang GT350R

The GT350R shouldn’t exist. In 1965, Carroll Shelby wasn’t interested in the Mustang. He was busy making Cobras and running five racing programs. However, then Ford general manager Lee Ioccoca wanted the Ford Falcon-based Mustang to be a true sports car, and he was determined to make it happen.

The GT350R dominated Sports Car Club of America races when piloted by Ken Miles and Jerry Titus. It even became airborne during a race, earning it the nickname, “Flying Mustang.” The first one ever built recently sold for $3.85 million.

1. 2020 Mustang GT500

Carroll Shelby passed in 2012, but Ford continues to produce Mustangs that bear his name. Do they live up to his legacy? The last GT500 made 760 horsepower.

Unlike previous GT500s that excelled in a straight line but turned only with great prodding, the 2020 GT500 excelled at lateral Gs as well, pulling nearly 1 G on the skidpad. It is the pinnacle — the ultimate Mustang.

Which Mustang Is Your Favorite?

Of course, any ranking of the all-time great cars will be somewhat subjective, and this list could easily have included icons such as 428 Cobra Jet models, Steve McQueen’s green Bullitt 390, Eleanor, the ’80s SVOs, or any of the Saleen Mustangs. But it's hard to argue with the importance of the above five classics.

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