TOP 5: Ford Mustang from the ‘S550’ era

2020 Ford Mustang R-Spec.

Ford will be removing the cover of its much-anticipated new ‘S650’ generation Mustang in Detroit this week. But there’s still a bit of life left in the current ‘S550’ model, with the new ‘Stangular’ likely not arriving in Australian showrooms until later in 2023 (at the earliest).

But with the change of armor, we decided it was time to take a look back at the sixth-generation Mustang and celebrate its greatest model ever. The ‘S550’ was the first Mustang to be sold in Australia as a factory-built right-hand drive vehicle, so it has special meaning for Ford in both the US and Australia.

There have been some very successful examples, both on the road and on the track, but here are five of our favourites.

2016 Mustang GT

Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang GT

The S550 Mustang arrived in Australia in 2016 straight from a US factory for the first time. The timing is ideal, as it gives Ford fans something to fill the void left by the Falcon XR8 and FPV GT models.

It was far from a perfect car, with some cheap plastic in the cabin and lacking ride quality compared to the locally developed Falcons, but it did exactly what it promised – an old-school American muscle car.

The 5.0-liter V8 isn’t the most powerful of the bikes, but it’s fast enough and makes the right sound. Plus, it’s in a gorgeous looking car that perfectly captures the spirit of both the original 1960s and the contemporary.

This laid the groundwork for a new model arriving in 2018, which brought more technology and comfort in the cabin and made the Mustang Australia’s favorite sports car.

Mustang Bullitt 2019

Ford Mustang Bullitt special edition

One of the keys to the Mustang’s success was Ford’s ability to launch a steady stream of special editions, often reminiscent of the brand’s legacy. And there’s nothing better than a tribute to Steve McQueen’s 1968 police thriller Bullitt, best remembered for its iconic 10-minute car chase starring the ’68 GT390 Fastback Mustang.

Like the car in the movie, the 2019 special edition (which is limited to just 700 units in Australia) is finished in dark green and has 60s-inspired wheels. It doesn’t just show, with the tone of a slightly more powerful engine and MagnaRide suspension.

It’s an instant classic.

2020 Mustang R Specifications

2020 Ford Mustang R-Spec.

Unfortunately there were technical challenges which meant the high-performance, track-ready Shelby GT350 and GT500 were never available to Australian audiences. So we built it ourselves.

Ford Australia teamed up with Rob Herrod of Herrod Performance to create the Mustang R-Spec, a supercharged and upgraded version of the S550.

It was actually built on a makeshift production line at the Broadmeadows factory, where the standard Mustang GT was revamped thanks to a raft of Ford Performance parts selected by Herrod. These include the Roush supercharger, which reportedly boosts performance to 522kW of power and 830Nm of torque as well as unique tunes for the adjustable MagneRide dampers, firmer Ford Performance springs and adjustable stabilizer bars, as well as a new tire and wheel package.

It may not be a Shelby, but it once again demonstrates the spirit of Australian car industry ingenuity – and it’s also a brilliant car.

2021 Mustang Mach 1

Ford Mustang Mach 1

With the S550 nearing the end of its life, Ford is once again turning to the past to create something special. The Mach 1 was designed with a fairly simple goal in mind – to be the most capable track-ready version of the Mustang.

It gets away with flying colours, because while it’s not as powerful as the R-Spec (because it sticks to a 5.0-liter V8 with 345kW tones, like the Bullitt), it has a factory-tuned chassis for superior handling.

Basically, Ford raided the Shelby parts department and added a new intake manifold, oil filter adapter and engine oil cooler from the GT350 and a pair of side heat exchangers, rear axle cooling system and bottom diffuser from the GT500, to upgrade both. handling and endurance on the track.

The end result is a top-notch version of the S550, with a unique look that calls back to the original Mach 1 of the ’70s.

Ford Mustang Supercar

Scott McLaughlin at Mustang Supercar

It’s not the prettiest Mustang S550, but it’s arguably the most successful. In the hands of Scott McLaughlin the American coupe won two Supercars championships (2019 and 2020) and the Bathurst 1000 (in 2019).

What’s more, the arrival of the Mustang allows Ford Australia to continue its involvement in Australian motorsport, which would otherwise be difficult with the loss of the Falcon.

The Mustang helped revive the blue oval’s interest and excitement in the sport after recent years of trouble with the Falcon and Australian manufacturing shutdowns and sends a message to racing fans and customers that Ford is committed to the country.

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