Top 5 Mustang Movies: What We Got Out of Them

Fifty-five years ago, on March 9, 1964, Ford's Dearborn plant in Michigan witnessed the production start of what was to become one of the most successful vehicles in the manufacturer's history.
The first pony car stared in over 500 movies 6 photos
Photo: Ford
Top five Mustang moviesTop five Mustang moviesTop five Mustang moviesTop five Mustang moviesTop five Mustang movies
No one suspected at the time that what they called the Mustang would become Ford's most successful launch since the introduction of the car for the masses, the infamous Model A. The day the car was officially unveiled, 2,600 newspapers across the US praised the newcomer.

As time passed, the Mustang spawned a new era in American motoring and launched a new vehicle class all together: the pony cars. With the only true competitor, the Chevrolet Camaro, surfacing two years later, the Mustang managed to clinch the pole-position in the American consumers' minds as the first mass produced pony car.

Movie producers of that era saw the camera worthiness of the new road sensation even from the car's first year of production. In 1964, the very first Mustang model met the stage with its casting in Goldfinger. Driven by a woman assassin, the 1964 Mustang got shredded by Sean Connery's Aston Martin DB5.

It was the beginning of the Mustang stardom. Since that first movie, producers have casted the Mustang in over 500 movies. Our top five tries to present you the Mustangs which had or will have the biggest impact on the American car culture. Or, actually, based on how they managed to influence the plot, the outcome, the characters themselves and the society that created the Mustang.

Gone in 60 Seconds, 1974

Top five Mustang movies
Photo: Ford
The first movie to wear this name has set new benchmarks in on-film car chases. For the first time caught on tape, an entire army of 93 vehicles were smashed to pieces in a 34 minute long car chase, amounting for about half of the movie's total length. All of the police cars damaged in the movie were bought at an auction in 1972 by the movie's producer/writer/star/director/stuntman H.B. Halicki.

The reason behind the Mustang's long-long chase is that the movie had no script per se. Apart from a few pages of dialog, there was nothing to fill in the blanks. The result, despite the fact that the movie has been often B- or even C-classed, is a classic car chase, with both directed and real accidents. Mustang's 100 mph encounter with a pole for instance was as real as it gets, and it badly injured Halicki. When he recovered, he asked : "Did we get coverage?"

It was the first introduction of the Eleanor name to the movie industry, a name proudly worn by a 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1. Created to take on the Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird, the Mustang became the sole survivor of the infamous chase.

Fast and Furious Tokio Drift, 2006

The American tribute to Kunimitsu Takahashi, the inventor of the drifting techniques and Keiichi Tsuchiya, the Japanese drift king, came in shape of the 2006 Fast and Furious Tokio Drift. The production, the first of the franchise not to star Vin Diesel or Paul Walker, came as a refreshing addition to the car-movie scene. Even if among the veteran viewers it didn't do so well, the movie was a hit as far as teenagers were concerned.

Top five Mustang movies
The 1967 Ford Mustang Sean Boswell uses to take on the movie drift king is a freak of a Mustang. Using a Nissan Skyline GT-R-sourced 2.6l DOHC 24-valve straight-six engine and a Nissan Skyline 5 Speed 2WD transmission, the car takes on the 2006 Nissan 350Z . At least that's the official story.

In fact, the stunts made by the Mustangs were possible thanks to a V8 engine. The six cylinder turbocharged engine can match the V8 in any given performance features, but when it comes to drifting, the V8 is a better choice, especially when faced with the Nissan.

The movie came at a time when the 30 year old drifting-mania, evolved into the D1 Grand Prix and countless other legal and not so legal competitions took to the US stronger than ever before. The movie, far from being a "how it should be done" guide, marked Mustang's take at the Japanese made drift cars' supremacy.

Transformers, 2007

This 2007 production brought onto the scene one of the most wicked, meanest Mustangs ever displayed on film. The Saleen variant of the Mustang, set on harassing and subsequently kill poor Sam Witwicky to get the Allspark, is usually powered by a Saleen modified 4.6l S V8, which develops 335 horsepower. Not the case here. Barricade (the Mustang's name in the movie) had to go after the silent Bumblebee with a smaller engine, the 300 horsepower powerplant found on the Mustang GT.

Top five Mustang movies
What this movie brought new to the movie industry is a direct conflict between Ford and GM, by means of celluloid. The two Detriot generals sent to the set the Mustang and the Camaro to do battle as they never did before. Goodbye fender-bender, so long shattered stop-lights. Welcome shape-shifters and high caliber weapons.

Gone in Sixty Seconds, 2000

The remake of the first flick in our top five may come down in history as the only movie ever made who stared Angelina Jolie, without her being the main attraction at the theaters. Sure, she was good enough on the posters, to lure us in, but once the movie began, the only female name in males' minds was Eleanor.

The 1967 Shelby GT500 is a Ford Mustang modified by Carroll Shelby. From 1968, the car got the Shelby Cobra GT name and was designed to take on rival Corvette. When the series model came to be, in 1967, the GT500 had a 320 horsepower four barrel V8 engine. Tweaked by Shelby, the fastback received a new 428-cid police Interceptor unit.

What did the movie do for the car? After falling in love with it, consumers all over the US wanted their own Eleanor. Pressed by the increasing demand, Carroll Shelby sold in 2002 a license to Unique Performance for the production of the GT500 Eleanor. In 2007, Shelby tried to withdraw the license, due to numerous complaints and lawsuits from customers who paid for Eleanor, but never got her.

Top five Mustang movies
That same year, Unique Performance was raided by police on account of VIN irregularities and subsequently declared bankruptcy, ending the production of the Eleanor.

I Am Legend, 2007

The worst movie impression made by the Mustang must be this 2007 production. Apart from the flashy red paint with white stripe, the cars amazing sound while racing solo down New York city streets and pieces of shattered glass here and there, nothing points to the vehicle's performances, iconic stance or cultural value.

What's the point of creating the 2007 Shelby Mustang GT500 and have nothing to compare it to? Ford said at the time that the sequences where the Mustang races down the empty streets are incredible and the envy of all motorists. They are. But, we reckon, that's a bit like being the smartest guy in your class. A class with only one student.

Or perhaps Ford wanted us to know the Mustang will be the last car to be driven by a human being on this Earth. If that's the case, niiice....! What an ending for humanity's first mass produced, successful pony car!
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
About the author: Daniel Patrascu
Daniel Patrascu profile photo

Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories