What made the 1966 model the best-selling Ford Mustang of all time?

1966 Ford Mustang in Red

When Ford introduced the Mustang in 1964 as a 1965 model, a whole new era of American pony cars entered the automotive world. From day one, the Mustang made bold statements about automotive design and power, becoming one of the most sought-after cars in history. The latest Shelby Mustang GT500 is the most powerful production car Ford has made to this day.

While the current generation of Mustangs are still hugely popular among muscle car enthusiasts, the iconic look of the first generation Mustang makes them the most popular classic cars people want to get their hands on. In fact, they are so popular that several companies are making identical replicas of the Mustang’s earlier model years.

Sixth-generation mustangs are among the best-selling pony cars on the market. However, the 1966 Ford Mustang had the highest number of sales in a single year. Without further ado, let’s take a look at what made this model year so famous at the time of its release.

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Ford sold over 600,000 units of 1966 Ford Mustangs

Ford released the 1965 Mustang model five months before the start of the 1965 calendar year. Although it continued to sell as the ’65 model, the 1965 Mustang received some changes and upgrades. The differences between the earlier models and the updated models were enough to separate them as 1964 1/2 and 1965 models among buyers.

With exactly 607,568 units sold in the United States, the 1966 model year is officially the best-selling Ford Mustang in history. However, if you add the previous model years together as the ’65 model year, the number of sales exceeds the ’66 model by about 80,000 units.

In addition, sales of the first generation Mustang (1964-1973) in the US are 2,981,259 units, making it the most popular generation of the Mustang. Known as the ‘Fox Body’, the third-generation Mustang (1979,1993) ranks second among the best-selling Mustang generations with over 2,600,000 units delivered to buyers.

The biggest drop in sales the Mustang experienced was in 2008. For the first time ever, sales fell below the 70,000 mark. In that year, all manufacturers struggled to sell fuel-guzzling performance. Still, the Mustang managed to outperform its biggest rivals, the Camaro and Challenger, in annual sales.

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The 1966 Mustang offered several body styles and trim levels

For the ’66 model year, Ford offered three body styles for the Mustang; Hardtop, Fastback and Convertible. With approximately 422,000 units produced, the hardtop was the most sought-after body shape for the ’66 Ford Mustang. Ford produced approximately 72,000 and 36,000 Convertible and Fastback models that year, respectively.

One of the Mustang’s main selling points was undoubtedly its menacing appearance. With a pronounced hood that extended all the way to the engine, round headlights that gave the Mustang a psychopathic look, and the horse decal on the grille, the ’66 Mustang was destined to become an icon.

The 1966 Mustang came in several special edition models. Some of the most popular were the Mustang GT, the Shelby, Sprint 200 and High Country Special.

Initially, the Basic Coupe model was priced at $2,416, the suggested retail price of the 2+2 Fastback was $2,606, and the Convertible was the most expensive of the bunch, priced at $2,652.

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The ’66 Ford Mustang came with four engine options

The stock engine offered on the Mustang was a 2.8L inline-six that produced 120 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. While it was good for its time, the stock engine was by no means a performance option.

Ford had three other engines available for customers looking for more raw American power under the hood. The two-barrel small block 4.7L V8 was more promising. It could make 200 horsepower and 282 lb-ft of torque. Another 4.7 V8 engine was available with four cylinders and 25 horsepower more and 23 lb-ft of torque.

Last but certainly not least, the small block HiPo V8 was the most powerful powertrain available for the ’66 Mustang. It boasted 271 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and a whopping 312 lb-ft of torque.

On the other hand, the Shelby Mustang GT-350 could deliver up to 306 horsepower with its V8 engine.

In addition, buyers could choose between a three-speed manual, three-speed automatic and four-speed automatic transmission to pair with their preferred engine.

All in all, the Ford Mustang has evolved into a monstrous two-door pony that almost anyone on the street can recognize. The seventh generation of the Mustang is just around the corner and rumors are that it may go all-electric.