When people think about the early days of Ford, they think of the trusty old Model T. And why wouldn’t they? It’s the car that put America on wheels, cemented the model of the modern assembly line, and for 19 years, was the only product Ford made. And they made a lot of them to boot: 15 million to be exact. But before the Model T, there was the 999, a racer that Henry Ford built himself and in 1904 set a land speed record in – at 91.37 miles per hour.
Few automakers can claim a performance heritage that stretches back this far, but then again, few other automakers that can match up with the storied history of Ford at all. The company has long been at the forefront when it comes to new technology, and with its current performance stable, not to mention the cutting-edge aluminum-intensive F-150, it boasts one of the most competitive lineups in the world.
While Ford has definitely carved themselves a niche in the pickup and SUV markets (its truck sales account for around 90% of the company’s profits) in recent decades, it’s also released a steady stream of legendary performance cars too. The storied Mustang has seen 51 unbroken years of production, with dozens of facelifts and variants. And let’s not forget it’s success in that brief decade when it decided to take racing seriously (thank you, Carroll Shelby). While Ford’s interest in performance has waxed and waned in the years since (read: the 1970s), the company’s performance history is pretty damn impressive, especially when you consider that it could just as easily get by selling trucks and family cars.
So, what are Ford’s fastest, you ask? We’ve gone over the Blue Oval’s century-plus of performance, and compiled them right here for you, ranked by the quickest time from 0-60 miles per hour, for lack of a better, more encompassing metric. Since Ford doesn’t provide testing data on their own, the information and performance stats are from third-party reviews and experiences. Also, third-party modified models (sorry Shelby, Saleen, et al.), race cars and one-offs were excluded.
Read on to see Ford’s fifteen fastest cars of all time.
15. 1969 Boss 429
Few Mustangs loom as large in the Ford Performance legend as the 1969-’70 Boss 429. Essentially a homologation special, the Boss’ 429 cubic inch V8 was rated at a laughable 375 horsepower – in reality it put out well over 500, with 450 pound-feet of torque. For the privilege, buyers shelled out a whopping $4,925 for a Boss 429, or nearly twice the price of a base model inline-six. As a result, only 1,358 big block Bosses were built, and today, they can easily fetch over half a million dollars at auction. The Boss 429 could scramble from zero to 60 in a then-staggering 5.1 seconds. In 2015, a V6-powered ‘Stang can too.
14. 2008 Mustang Bullitt
In 2008, Ford celebrated 40th anniversary of the greatest cinematic car chase of all time by bringing Steve McQueen’s most iconic movie car into the 21st century. Starting with a base-model GT (already inspired by the ’68 fastback), the Bullitt wasn’t just a new grille, wheels, and paint job. Ford added a new engine management system, revised air intake, exhaust, rear end ratios, and heavier crank damper to bump the redline up another 250 rpms, and brought the zero to 60 time from 5.2 (in the stock GT) down to a cool five seconds.
13. 2003-’04 SVT Cobra
By the early 2000s, the “New Edge” Mustang was getting a little long in the tooth, but Ford didn’t let it go out without a fight. Dubbed “The Terminator” by Ford’s SVT team, the Cobra’s supercharged 4.6 liter V8 put out 390 horsepower, and the same amount of torque. Zero to 60 came in 4.8 seconds.
12. 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
In April 1964, Ford introduced the Mustang, and the rest is history. But lost in the scrum is the 1964-only Fairlane Thunderbolt, a street-legal drag car with a 427 cubic inch V8 good for almost 600 horsepower. Hundreds of pounds lighter than a stock Fairlane, the race-focused coupe could blitz from zero to 60 in an astonishing 4.7 seconds. With fewer than 100 produced, Thunderbolts are worth a pretty penny nowadays. This car was sold by Mecum Auctions in 2012 for nearly $200,000.
11. 2016 Ford Focus RS
Over 50 years later, the Thunderbolt’s 4.7 second zero to 60 time is still impressive, and it’s matched by the hottest hatch to ever come from the Blue Oval. We still have to wait a few months until the RS hits dealerships, but here’s what we know about it so far: 345 horsepower, 325 pound-feet of torque, all-wheel drive, a factory-installed “Drift Mode,” and a projected top speed of 165 miles per hour. Oh, and it can seat five, carry all your groceries, and will start at $36,605. We can’t wait.
10. 2014 Falcon 351 GT F
Remember the Interceptor from Mad Max? Well, this car is descended from it. Australia is the only other country in the world that can compare to us yanks when it comes to balls-out horsepower, and the 2014 Falcon FPV GTF is Exhibit A. The midsize sedan had the Mustang GT’s 5.0 liter V8 tuned to 470 horsepower, which was good enough for a zero to 60 scramble of 4.5 seconds. With Australian Falcon production slated to end in 2016 after 49 years, the GT F was a fitting send off to one of the world’s greatest unsung muscle cars. If you want one stateside, you’ll have to wait until 2039, when they’re legal to import.
9. 2014 Ford Mustang GT
With the success of the current car, the last-generation Mustang seems like ancient history. It still had the polarizing retro styling, and carried over the solid rear axle setup that dated back to the 1960s cars, but it was still one of the best driver’s cars out there. With its 5.0 liter V8 putting out 420 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque, the late-model GT could hustle its 3,650 pound self from zero to 60 in a seriously quick 4.5 seconds.
8. 2000 SVT Mustang Cobra R
Whenever you see the letter R on a Ford, you know you’re in for a good time. With a 385 horsepower 5.4 liter V8 good for both 385 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, the 2000 Cobra R was a street-legal track toy that could scramble from zero to 60 4.4 seconds and top out at 175 miles per hour, making it the fastest Mustang in the nameplate’s 36 year history. Engineered with help from long-time Ford tuner Jack Rousch, the Cobra R is still a formidable foe on the track, and with only 300 made, not only is it one desirable ponycar, it’s one of the rarest Ford production models of all-time.
7. 2015 Mustang GT
The ’10-’14 GT was quite a car, and the Cobra R deserves all the praise it gets, but my what a difference a few years makes. With a fully-independent suspension (finally!), a new platform, and an evolutionary design that breaks from the pure retro styling of the past 10 years, the new for 2015 Mustang GT is not only the most well-rounded Mustang of all-time, but it’s just about the best dollar-per-value performance car you can buy today. Straight from the factory, top speed is around 164 miles per hour, and with the 5.0 liter V8 cranking out 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, zero to 60 comes in 4.4 seconds.
6. 2012-’13 Mustang Boss 302
The original Boss ‘Stang didn’t stick around long enough, so 43 years later, Ford decided to give it another go. Introduced for 2012, the Boss 302 had the ’69 model’s iconic “C stripe” graphics, and deep classic V8 rumble. It also made 444 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque from said 5.0 liter V8, and could scramble from zero to 60 in 4.2 seconds. And unlike most go-fast Mustangs, the Boss 302 could take a corner in stride too. It may already be based on a classic, but the 21st century Boss 302 is a classic in its own right.
5. 2015 Shelby GT350
If racing in the last generation Shelby was like bringing a bazooka to a gunfight (we’ll get to that in a minute), the all-new GT350 is like a laser-guided missile. With the exotic 5.2 liter “Voodoo” flat plane crank V8 that sounds more Italian than American, the GT350’s radical (for Ford) powerplant is good for 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 comes in 3.8 seconds, and the top end is somewhere in the upper 170s. Starting at $48,695, the GT350 can tango with cars three times its price, and after seeing it storm the hill climb at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, it’s practically an American hero. If you ask us, it deserves a place on Mt. Rushmore, right next to Lincoln (the president, not the car).
4. Shelby GT350R
Let’s say you like the GT350, but think it’s just a little too “civilized.” In that case, here’s the GT350R, which does away with annoyances like a radio, air conditioning, a back seat, and sound deadening, and replaces them with carbon fiber wheels, a revised aero kit, and suspension designed for the track. Power stays the same, but the zero to 60 sprint now comes in just 3.7 seconds. That may be 0.1 second quicker than the base GT350, but that’s an eternity on the track. This barely-legal racer starts at around $64,000.
3. 2012-’14 Shelby GT500
Compared to the velociraptor that is new GT350, the last-generation GT500 was an angry t-rex. Like the classic muscle cars of the ’60s, the GT500 wasn’t much in the corners, but put it on a straightaway, and the 660 horsepower beast could leave just about anything in the dust. Starting at $55,000, it was was a performance car bargain, with its 631 pound-feet of torque pinning you to your seat as you blast past lesser Porsches and Corvettes on your way to a top speed of 202 miles per hour. And while the current GT350 is damn near flawless, expect Ford to release a next-gen GT500 to drop sometime in 2017. Rumor has it Ford will be gunning for Dodge’s Hellcat twins in the horsepower department…
2. 2005-’06 Ford GT
In an earlier version of this list, Ford’s iconic GT40 racer of the 1960s sat proudly near the bottom of this list, but with Ford’s recent performance push, we had to unceremoniously bump the old master off the charts. Its successor, the Ford GT is still one of the top dogs, however, even if it lacks the racing credentials of its predecessor. With a 5.4 liter supercharged V8 mounted amidships, Ford’s beautiful supercar had 500 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque at its disposal, good for a 3.5 second sprint from zero to 60, on its way to a top speed of 205 miles per hour. Just 4,038 GTs were built, and after selling new for over $150,000, they’ve only appreciated in value in the decade since.
1. 2016 Ford GT
While last decade’s GT was a retro, road-going homage to the ’60s racer, the 2016 GT is a cutting-edge supercar designed with one thing in mind: To replicate Ford’s first victory Le Mans 50 years after the fact. Breaking with a whole host of traditions, the mid-engined supercar packs a 3.5 liter twin-turbo V6 amidships that’s good for over 600 horsepower. Concrete performance numbers haven’t been released yet, but with an estimated 500 pound-feet of torque, 3.2 second zero to 60 sprint, and a top speed well over 200 miles per hour, it seems impossible that the new GT won’t be the fastest Ford of all-time. If you have any doubt, just take a look at this test mule being put through its paces and tell us you’re not impressed.
Additional reporting by James Derek Sapienza
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