The Evolution of the Original Pony Car

The Ford Mustang is widely recognized as the first of the American pony cars and is a legend of the American road. Since its first drive off the production lines in 1964, this muscle car has gone through a number of major changes to accommodate evolving tastes and preferences in the U.S. automotive marketplace. Here are some of the most important turning points for the Ford Mustang.

The First Generation

The Ford Mustang originated from the T-5 project helmed by chief engineer and assistant general manager of Ford Motor Company Donald N. Frey. The objective of this project was the development of an affordable new sports car for the Ford lineup. The Mustang was the result of the combined efforts of renowned designers Phil Clark and Eugene Bordinat, engineer Roy Lunn and automotive stylist John Najjar Ferzely. The first Mustang prototypes featured a choice of two V-4 engines capable of producing 89 horsepower and 109 horsepower respectively. Production models, however, were released with V-6 and V-8 engines and considerably more power under the hood. The iconic Mustang emblem was created by Phil Clark and still adorns modern Mustangs to the present day.

Redesigning an American Classic

Just three years after the initial release of the Mustang, Ford’s design team went back to work to create a larger version of this successful entry in the automaker’s lineup. By 1971, this trend had reached its peak with underpowered, oversized Mustangs that failed to reach the market created by its initial release. A new fuel-efficient Mustang was released for the 1974 model year; dubbed the Mustang II, the new vehicle was available in coupe and hatchback and reclaimed some of its previous audience in the U.S. marketplace.

Third Generation Mustangs

Between 1979 and 1994, Ford produced four-passenger Mustangs in a variety of configurations that included coupe, convertible and hatchback models. The Cobra and Cobra R trim levels were introduced during this period and soon earned a place among the legendary muscle cars of the American automaking industry. The relatively stodgy exterior design and lackluster performance of the Mustang, however, failed to attract the buzz and sales hoped for by Ford executives and resulted in a return to the drawing board for the automaker’s design division.

A Return to Greatness

The fourth generation of the Ford Mustang was released in 1994 and featured a 3.8-liter overhead valve V-6 engine capable of producing 145 horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque. The exterior of the new model featured a welcome return to the aggressive styling and powerful performance that characterized the original Mustang. This innovative retooling reignited interest in the Mustang and attracted a new generation of buyers for this classic muscle car.

In 2014, the Ford Mustang will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The modern Ford Mustang incorporates more powerful engine choices, a wide array of special editions and some of the most technologically advanced features available in the automotive market. After five decades of continuous production, the Mustang continues to enjoy exceptional popularity and delivers the performance and style buyers expect from this iconic pony car.

The Classic Car Appraisal Process

The quality of the restoration work performed on classic vehicles can have a significant impact on the value of these cars and trucks. The appraisal process for vintage automobiles can be confusing for novices to the field. Developing a basic understanding of the procedures used to arrive at a fair value for these vehicles can help car collectors in navigating this specialty marketplace.

Comparable Prices

Because the value of classic cars can vary widely depending on location, professional appraisers look at the fair market values of comparable vehicles in the same regional market. Online and auction prices may also be considered if they are available to potential buyers in the same geographical area. For example, an appraiser might look at the selling price for a 1966 Mercedes-Benz 230 SL in Kansas City and compare that amount to the price fetched at auction in Wichita, Kansas. Any online auction sites might also provide added information to create a more accurate picture of the comparable prices for the same make and model of vehicle in the regional marketplace.


The condition of the vehicle will also have a significant impact on its overall value in the classic car market. Concours quality restorations, for example, can command higher prices than comparable vehicles that have not been restored to similar high standards of accuracy. Documentation of the work performed on a vehicle can also be helpful in establishing the high quality of the craftsmanship and the materials used to restore the classic car to its current condition. Obviously, cars in good running condition will sell for better prices than non-functional vehicles; additionally, any dings, dents or other damage will have a negative effect on the appraised value of the car or truck.


Older vehicles are typically much rarer than their modern counterparts. As with any economic commodity, valuable items that are in short supply can command much higher prices in the competitive marketplace. Some limited edition vehicles are in high demand as well; despite their more recent vintage, these cars are often highly prized and can go for extremely high prices at auction or in private sales. The rarity of a vehicle must be considered when establishing its fair market value and providing an appraisal to the owner or potential buyer.


Some vehicles are more valuable because of their association with individuals in the public eye. For example, Jay Leno’s prized Fiat 500 Prima Edition sold at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for $385,000, roughly 10 times its appraised value prior to the sale. Celebrity ownership is not the only way in which provenance can affect value; cars modified by Don Yenko, for instance, can often attract much higher prices from buyers than comparable vehicles without these customization options.

These factors can have a significant effect on the appraised value of vintage cars. By considering the condition, rarity, provenance and comparable prices for classic vehicles, owners and buyers can better understand the appraisal process and can ensure the right price for these elite cars and trucks.