The generally recognized definition of a muscle car is a vehicle produced in the USA from 1964 to 1972 in which a compact body/frame is paired with a high performance V8 engine. When designing T shirts for car shows, automotive related businesses, or branded apparel, it is useful to know which muscle cars are the most popular with the people your clients are trying to reach. The criteria used is based several factors along with my experience in designing for screen printed apparel. It’s mainly a matter of sales / production numbers. The more units a particular model is manufactured in a production year, the more there are remaining across the country with proud, passionate owners (T shirt buyers). Certain muscle cars have increased in value to the point where they can be good investments. Cultural factors are also involved. Movies and TV shows have spurred popularity of certain models by featuring them in the storyline. The recent “Fast and Furious” movie franchise is a good example of this. Also the sport of drag racing has contributed to the reputation of the muscle car as a race winner. In subsequent installments, I will highlight a particular model starting with the…
Ford Mustang 1965 – 1970
Like Henry’s original Model T, the Ford Mustang was a sales phenomenon selling over a half million units in the first year! Clever marketing and product placement in popular movies like the 1964 James Bond thriller “Goldfinger” helped the Mustang gain a following of all ages. It was basically a Ford Falcon compact frame with a sexy low slung body and a 289 cubic inch V8 engine. Sporty features like bucket seats and a floor shifter came as standard equipment. Buyers could choose from three body styles, a Hardtop, Fastback or Convertible. The affordable, lightweight, powerful car made it a favorite of speed enthusiasts and drag racers. In 1967 Ford cut a deal with racing legend Carroll Shelby to produce the “Cobra”, a high performance race car. Similar versions were available at Ford dealerships.
The car got better and more powerful in subsequent years with the Boss 302, and the Mach 1 packages. Available engine sizes increased to 302, 351, 390, 427, 428 and 429 (Boss) cubic inches.
Slowing sales and the early 1970s oil crisis more or less killed the muscle car segment. Government legislation, high gasoline prices, increased insurance costs and the public desire for fuel efficient cars prompted Ford’s decision to introduce the unfortunate Mustang II in 1976. It was a smaller vehicle powered by a 4 or 6 cylinder engine. However the V-8 pony car made a huge comeback in the 1980’s with the zippy Fox body 350 GT.
Nostalgia for the ’65-’70 Mustang prompted Ford to introduce a modern version of the Fastback in 2006 that emulated the original. The company is still producing Mustangs that have the look of that era. Today the legendary ’65 -’70 cars are pretty much embedded in the culture. Numerous magazines, web sites and social media pages are devoted to the Mustang. Original and aftermarket parts are readily available. In 2018 Ford introduced the 50th anniversary “Bullitt” Mustang commemorating the olive green 1968 GT Fastback Steve McQueen drove in the popular movie of the same name. Early this year the original car used in the movie was sold at auction for $3.74 million.
In short, the 1965 – 1970 Mustangs are just great looking cars with a lot of present day owners and admirers! My philosophy is “Good looking car = good looking T shirt design”.
Next Time: 1967 – 1969 Chevy Camaro