Ford Mustang History of Horsepower [Infographic]

ford mustang history of horsepower infographic

The 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang debuted with a 170 cid six cylinder and a pair V8 engines. Mustang enthusiasts that wanted strong performance to match their sports car persona could order the 271 horsepower 289 cid V8. As sales for the Ford pony car grew, it become even more powerful. Excluding the tuning by Shelby, the Ford developed special models, such as the Boss 302 and Mach 1 that appealed to the demand for more performance.

1969 was the year two high performance Mustangs – with racy bodywork – were released to be unbeatable track machines on road courses and drag strips. Intended to dominate the circle tracks was the Boss 302 which had an underrated 290 hp 302 cid V8 underneath its shaker hood. It had two engine configurations and tuned suspension work that led to the fastest Mustang ever to lap the Ford test track to that point. The Mach 1 body style, which also debuted in 1969, was built for racing straight 1/4 mile lines. Standard engine for the ’69 Mach 1 was a 351 cid V8. The high performance option was an underrated 335 hp 428 Super Cobra Jet (SCJ) engine. These special models, excluding the Shelby tuned Mustangs, were the pinnacle of performance for the first-gen Mustang up to 1971.

“A lot of younger Mustang enthusiasts don’t remember the 70s and 80s, but I do,” says Kyle Harris of “While the Mustang II and the Fox body will always have a special place in my heart, they never compared to the late 60s Mustangs in terms of performance. In fact, it wasn’t until the fifth generation Mustang that performance finally got back to the levels we remember from decades ago,” says Harris.

The “Big Mustang” entered the market in 1971, but the race to pack more power and performance were hampered by tighter emission controls and an impending oil crisis. Facing a dilemma, Ford struggled to surpass the performance levels set all the way back in 1971. The low point was launch of the 1974 Mustang II that was offered without a performance option. The base engine for the Mustang II was a 2.3-liter four-cylinder rated at a weak 102 horsepower. The optional 2.8-liter V6 was rated marginally better at 119 horsepower. The glory days of the horsepower race took a back seat to safety and fuel economy strategies.

The infographic below clearly shows the second, third, fourth, and much of the fifth generation Mustangs performing below the level set by the 1971 Mach 1 SCJ.

ford mustang history of horsepower infographic

Infographic created by Spork Marketing on behalf of A good faith attempt was made to verify every detail of this infographic. However, Spork Marketing disclaims all liability for inaccuracies, as this graphic is created for entertainment purposes only. This infographic is license under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.