The "New '71 Mustang!":...Then and now

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Kit Sullivan

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I remember vividly when the "All New 1971 Mustang" was introduced in late 1970. Ford made a big deal about it's "European Influence" and how sleek and sinewy it was compared to its competition. Ford strongly suggested that this was the beginning of a new generation of sophisticated Mustang.

When it debuted in the magazines, many reviewers were hard-pressed to find any emotionally-redeeming qualities about the "new" Mustang, beyond its obviously improved mechanicals.

The styling was very controversial, especially so the near-flat roof of the "sportroof" design. The chopped-off back end took a lot flack too.

Most complained it was too big, too much like a cheaper Torino than an authentic Mustang.

And they all lamented that it was inevitable that it grew out of its market...soon to be just a trim-difference on sn actual Torino platform.

At that time, the "1st generation" of Mustang was firmly considered to be 65-70.

Our cars were never given any great respect at the time, and suffered in popularity formany years because of this.

I did not care for mine as I should have, simply because I did not think it a classic and deserving of such care.

Only later did I redeveloo a fanatical fondness for it...after many years of hard use and stupid accidents.

Even when the dreaded "II" came out to laughter and tears of ridicule, our 71-73s still did not quite "get there" in the minds of enthhusiasts.

Personally, I feel the overall design of the car was spot-on in predicting future styling points...well ahead of its time.

It looked out of place and odd then...today it looks much more "contemporary" amongst current cars than 65-70 Mustangs do. That is why some peg them as late 70s or even early 80s models.

Whatever, they are my favorite now!

 

Elizabeth73

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I found that when I got to shows people will look at the car for a couple mins then go to the camaro near me and talk to the owner about everything about it. They still are not appreciated like they should be. I think these cars have great body lines and I love the "short" rear end and the long nose. My dream was to own a 69 camaro, but when I got my car that dream faded away. I LOVE the big body mustangs and get excited when I see another. They aren't too popular in RI (RI has a lot of old cars) I think I have only seen two in the past three years and even those owners were just passing through.

 

Flatback72

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If the 71-73's were universally disliked by the public when they came out, the sales numbers compared to other pony cars from the same years would seem to suggest otherwise.

410,000 Mustangs were built in the three years, which is pretty good when compared to the nearest rival which is Camaro at 280,000 units.

I suggest that Mustang sales weren't lower for the 71-73 because everyone hated them, it was because people became spoiled for choice by the range of pony cars available. And added to that is that the bulk amount of people that wanted a pony car had already bought one a few years earlier and were therefore no longer in the market to buy one.

I am happy for them to remain under appreciated though as it keeps the prices low for people that want to enter the pony car hobby but don't have the big bucks to spend. A majority of 65-70 owners may not like our cars but the general public has none of this bias. If these cars are so awful then why on earth do I constantly receive unsolicited comments from members of the general public who approach me to tell me how awesome they think my car is???

A few reasons why I like our models better than the previous ones are:

lower and wider than all earlier modes

more angled windscreen gives it a more aerodynamic sports car look

hidden wipers add to the sleekness and sense of aerodynamics

the fastback angle is so ridiculous that it's awesome! (only14 degrees!)

the only thing I'm not that rapt in is the tail light design....

 
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K

Kit Sullivan

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Comparing Mustang sales for 71-73 against Camaro sales for the same period is a little misleading.

The Camaro had a foreshortened production year in '72, seriously affecting total cars sold.

Also, 410,000 Mustangs in three model years is a dismal total compared to earler Mustang sales figures.

You are correct in the respect that there far more competition from other manufacturer's "pony cars" by then, which also contributed to market share loss.

However, the "pony car" craze was waning by late '70 anyhow, so sales of all brands of "pony cars" was down considerably.

No one said the 71-73s were universally hated...far from it. They just didn't generate the craze of earlier Mustangs with the public or the press. The 71 model had a lot of elevated expectations to live up to consideting the previous model's instant legendary status. How could it have possibly lived up to those lofty goals?

It is the nature of people to pick the underdog, and to kick a winner. The press had their moments of "kicking the winner" with the '71 but time has healed that. The best-equipped 71-73s look striking and fantastic next to older Mustangs, but the plain-jane coupes of 71-73 look...look too generic next to older coupes.

 

sicndhed

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I have a low rust/lots of dents '71 sportsroof.
I remember the introduction (I wish I was not old enough but I am). As a 13 year old I was a big fan of all Mustangs and hoped to have one in a few years. The shape that some still call anything from “excessive” to “ugly” looked good to me as a kid and looks even better to me now. I think our styling is extreme and I like it visually but I also like to think about a room full of executive with Brylcreem in their hair looking at the final ’71 prototype saying “That’s IT”. It takes guts and foresight to be different. Our flatbacks were different then and unique now. But also then as now I think a ’69 Sportsroof is the Mustang I find to be the prettiest of them all. Having the ’69 as my favorite does not make me dislike every other Mustang but I think some people respond that way.

On another thread I mentioned that I find most negative comments come from “car guys over 40”. I bet some of those guys would like our cars if there had never been the earlier Mustangs. I see this from having played with Corvettes a long time ago. I got my first Vette in the 70’s and worked at a Chebby dealership. I expected to hear a lot of positive words from some old time car guys that I worked with. I heard a lot of similar comments: Late model Vette are crap (my ’69 was considered a late model back then), Chevy hasn’t made a Corvette since 1962, Chevy hasn’t made a Corvette since 1967. One of my favorites was “Owning your car is like being married to a French whore. “ I came away from these comments realizing that a lot of people need to dislike anything that’s different from what they do like.

 

Mister 4x4

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People tend to forget that one of the main styling cues comes from the much-coveted '69 & '70 Shelby - the awesome front grille area.

Unfortunately, there were a LOT of other models with similar-looking noses: the AMC Javelin, AMX, Gremlin, and even the '67-'68 Camaros. That can also work against the popularity of our cars.

I admit my 2nd favorite Mustang is the '69 FB, then the '70 FB, and finally the '64.5-'68 coupes (not a fan of the older FBs). But, the '71 clicked for me in the early '80s when I was 14, and I've never forgotten how much I loved the first one I ever drove (illegally, as well). Took me 30 years, but I finally got one of my own.

 

imusa76

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I found that when I got to shows people will look at the car for a couple mins then go to the camaro near me and talk to the owner about everything about it. They still are not appreciated like they should be. I think these cars have great body lines and I love the "short" rear end and the long nose. My dream was to own a 69 camaro, but when I got my car that dream faded away. I LOVE the big body mustangs and get excited when I see another. They aren't too popular in RI (RI has a lot of old cars) I think I have only seen two in the past three years and even those owners were just passing through.

Elizabeth,

You need to go to the shows I go to here RI, Mass and CT, the majority love these cars, and because not many show up at shows I always get a decent amount of people to talk to about it.

the proof that they like our cars is in the trophy's (Best of Class, 1st plays, 2nd Place, Mayors Choice, Best in Show, ect...)

20140920_202014.jpg

 

matrixx

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I like my 73 because it's different. I'm pretty young so I can't recall the naysayers but I've heard stories. Most times I'm out driving or at the fuel station I always get asked questions or tons of stares.

Honestly if I removed the horse from the front I could call it whatever comes to mind and people would believe it.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

Ron Tanzi

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gauge package.rim blow steering wheel,15" magnum 500s,351 C 2bbl running a 4bbl Holley 600,MSD 6a with stock distributor and Pertronix,Comp cam mild grind, The Engine(rebuilt by me in 2002 for the second time the first rebuild I did was stock in 1995) made 305hp and 358 lb ft on the dyno. 9" 2.75 rear end,Global west sub frame connectors,620 front coils.Rear defroster. My parents bought my car brand new the year before I was born. I cherish it like my child.
I found that when I got to shows people will look at the car for a couple mins then go to the camaro near me and talk to the owner about everything about it. They still are not appreciated like they should be. I think these cars have great body lines and I love the "short" rear end and the long nose. My dream was to own a 69 camaro, but when I got my car that dream faded away. I LOVE the big body mustangs and get excited when I see another. They aren't too popular in RI (RI has a lot of old cars) I think I have only seen two in the past three years and even those owners were just passing through.

Elizabeth,

You need to go to the shows I go to here RI, Mass and CT, the majority love these cars, and because not many show up at shows I always get a decent amount of people to talk to about it.

the proof that they like our cars is in the trophy's (Best of Class, 1st plays, 2nd Place, Mayors Choice, Best in Show, ect...)
You are absolutely right. The last show I went to (Johnston memorial Chevy fest)

There was my 72 Mach 1 and a guy with a 71 M code Mach 1. The guy with the M code told that he has seen my car around for years and was happy to finally talk to me. Unless you go to a Mustang/Ford specific show you still do not see very many of our cars. Congrats on your awards.

Ron

 

Mike429cj

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I found that when I got to shows people will look at the car for a couple mins then go to the camaro near me and talk to the owner about everything about it. They still are not appreciated like they should be. I think these cars have great body lines and I love the "short" rear end and the long nose. My dream was to own a 69 camaro, but when I got my car that dream faded away. I LOVE the big body mustangs and get excited when I see another. They aren't too popular in RI (RI has a lot of old cars) I think I have only seen two in the past three years and even those owners were just passing through.

Elizabeth,

You need to go to the shows I go to here RI, Mass and CT, the majority love these cars, and because not many show up at shows I always get a decent amount of people to talk to about it.

the proof that they like our cars is in the trophy's (Best of Class, 1st plays, 2nd Place, Mayors Choice, Best in Show, ect...)
You are absolutely right. The last show I went to (Johnston memorial Chevy fest)

There was my 72 Mach 1 and a guy with a 71 M code Mach 1. The guy with the M code told that he has seen my car around for years and was happy to finally talk to me. Unless you go to a Mustang/Ford specific show you still do not see very many of our cars. Congrats on your awards.

Ron
+2

Here in south Texas it is the same. Very few if any at all 71-73's at the car shows i have attended with my car. I get to talk to plenty of people about my car. I have had more than one ask how a 429 got in the car. Everyone thinks the 351 was the only engine for our cars.

I have the most fun when i walk up as just another looker to listen to what people are saying about my car. If you have not done that you should try that sometime.

 
K

Kit Sullivan

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Mike, I have also run into quite a few lookers at cruise-nights who wonder how a 429 ended up in the car. Many times they come up and say "Yeah, 351 Cleveland...awesome!" When I say it has a 429, they are shocked and doubly- impressed.

It strikes me as odd that a Camaro with a 396, or a Chevelle with 396 (402?), or even a 'Vette with a 427, or any Chrysler with a 383 or a 440 doesn't really seem any extra-impressive to most show-goers just because of the engine, but pop the hood on a big-block Mustang and thier eyes pop.

Kinda cool....

 
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jeremycfr

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I've had three GM mechanics helping me rebuild mine. They all told me it wouldn't be worth it if it had not been my dad's. They kept saying how I picked one of the worst to rebuild.... Until it came back from the body shop and it started to come together.

We recently hooked up the ram air and I heard one whisper, now that's bad ass. They now comment how mean she looks for a ford (this is an ongoing joke). They bought into it and now see it as the bad ass car that it is becoming.

 

imusa76

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I found that when I got to shows people will look at the car for a couple mins then go to the camaro near me and talk to the owner about everything about it. They still are not appreciated like they should be. I think these cars have great body lines and I love the "short" rear end and the long nose. My dream was to own a 69 camaro, but when I got my car that dream faded away. I LOVE the big body mustangs and get excited when I see another. They aren't too popular in RI (RI has a lot of old cars) I think I have only seen two in the past three years and even those owners were just passing through.

Elizabeth,

You need to go to the shows I go to here RI, Mass and CT, the majority love these cars, and because not many show up at shows I always get a decent amount of people to talk to about it.

the proof that they like our cars is in the trophy's (Best of Class, 1st plays, 2nd Place, Mayors Choice, Best in Show, ect...)
You are absolutely right. The last show I went to (Johnston memorial Chevy fest)

There was my 72 Mach 1 and a guy with a 71 M code Mach 1. The guy with the M code told that he has seen my car around for years and was happy to finally talk to me. Unless you go to a Mustang/Ford specific show you still do not see very many of our cars. Congrats on your awards.

Ron
Ron,

"Johnston memorial Chevy fest" when was that, I missed it, I live in Johnston.

The Mustang Car Club of New England car shows usually have about 5-6 at every show, we have a show on Sunday October 5th at new England Tech in Warwick you guys should come by r enter your cars, or just stop in to see the cars.

 

Elizabeth73

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I would but October 5th is my birthday haha.. Maybe I can hold the party until the weekend after and enter my car. I have never "entered" my car in a show, I have only been to cruises. Does it cost anything? Is there a special spot to park? I am not sure my car is good enough for a show yet. I have some final touches I need to do to get it there. Just ordered new door handles but the pads on on backorder :/ eh I hate buying parts for this car, I get too excited and want them right away :p

 

imusa76

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I would but October 5th is my birthday haha.. Maybe I can hold the party until the weekend after and enter my car. I have never "entered" my car in a show, I have only been to cruises. Does it cost anything? Is there a special spot to park? I am not sure my car is good enough for a show yet. I have some final touches I need to do to get it there. Just ordered new door handles but the pads on on backorder :/ eh I hate buying parts for this car, I get too excited and want them right away :p
Elizabeth73,

you can enter a Display only, you won't be Judged, its $10 for non members and $5 for Members, this will give you a chance to display and show it off to other Mustang lovers :) and that way you can leave at any time and not feel obligated to stay the whole time, plus it gives you a chance to see and get Ideas on what to do during a Judged show.

attached I have the Flyer and the Link to the MCCNE website.

http://www.mccne.com/

20141005Flyer.pdf

 

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Mister 4x4

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I've had three GM mechanics helping me rebuild mine. They all told me it wouldn't be worth it if it had not been my dad's. They kept saying how I picked one of the worst to rebuild.... Until it came back from the body shop and it started to come together.

We recently hooked up the ram air and I heard one whisper, now that's bad ass. They now comment how mean she looks for a ford (this is an ongoing joke). They bought into it and now see it as the bad ass car that it is becoming.
I've got some friends like that. They're all talkin' smack about Mustangs with their Camaro buddies... but then I make a countering comment referencing mine, and it's all, "Oh no - we didn't mean YOUR Mustang..." rofl

 

goodnigh

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I have never had anyone say anything bad about my car.

A guy with his daughter walked up to me and commented

what a beautiful car it was while taking pictures, one with

his 8 year old standing next to it. This car is badly in need

of a paint job and some body work, also a new top. It still

attracts attention, there are very few around here myself

only seeing a couple of others, but there are plenty of

Mustangs from other years. Even in Silicon Valley, The Land

of Bizarre Cars, my '71 Grande stands out and people are

very curious about the car.

mike

 

71_resurrection

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She is named Victoria and sports a 302 with a C4.
Isn't it kinda funny that Ford is saying the same things about the 2015 Mustang.

 

rolandmhall

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I like stuff you don't see alot of. Being a "follower" is boring. I love my 72 coupe, and she'll hold her own at ANY show in the STL area. I also own a 1967 Ford LTD (not too many of those around) with 44k miles and a 1995 F150 Lightning (you never see those on the road). If our cars never reach the value of some of the others, it's ok, as long as their are like minded people like us that appreciate them

 
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