Throwback Thursday: 1970 Ford Mustang


The lineage of the Ford Mustang is pretty well-documented at this late date. When the Mustang was introduced halfway through the 1964 model year, it established a whole new category of fairly compact, sporty-looking 2 + 2 cars for younger buyers. Mechanically, the Mustang was nothing revolutionary; it shared most of its chassis, suspension and drivetrain with the Falcon and Fairlane (along with the clumsy handling of those cars), but with a fresh and timeless body style and sporty interior. The ’64 ½ model was projected for 100,000 units in its first year; it surpassed that number in the first three months, and Mustang buyers were on waiting lists.

The original first-generation Mustang was around until ’73, and underwent cosmetic changes and restyling in the intervening years. The Mustang also got bigger and heavier, with a somewhat longer wheelbase, and Ford offered more powerful V8 drivetrains over the years.

By ’70, the Mustang was fatter and heavier, but also had a more aggressive stance and appearance, with hood tie-down pins and functional (or non-functional) hood scoops. The ’69 and ’70 model years also offered chin and rear deck spoilers, as well as performance packages like the Mach 1, Boss 302 and Boss 429. Today, the Boss 429 in particular is one of the rarest, most desirable muscle cars of the period, with barely more than 800 produced.

The Boss 429 and Boss 302 offered stripes and other external dress-up features, with a competition suspension consisting of larger sway bars, heavy-duty spindles, reinforced shock towers and stiffer springs. The Boss 429 in particular was a model that legitimized the Mustang for the NASCAR circuit; Ford’s original intent was to develop a hemispherical-combustion-chamber engine that could compete with Chrysler’s 426 Hemi. NASCAR rules of the time mandated that at least 500 cars be fitted with a (detuned) racing motor and sold to the general public.

The ’70 model year may have been the peak of Mustang performance for the muscle-car years. Between ’70 and ’73, the Mustang got longer, fatter and heavier, and as gas prices rose and emissions regulations took hold, the V8’s from Ford got more puny. By ’74, the abominable Pinto-based Mustang II came on the scene, and it would be many years before any real performance cars would bear the Mustang name again.