Mustang Gets a Big V-8
For performance fans, the big event for the '67 Mustang was availability of the planned big-block V-8, the familiar 390-cubic-inch "Thunderbird Special" with four-barrel carburetor and a rousing 320 horses. Also listed for many Fairlanes and full-size Fords (and standard in the T-Bird), it cost $264 as a Mustang option vs. $434 for the "Hi-Po" small-block. Dealers usually recommended teaming it with Ford's new "SelectShift" Cruise-O-Matic, which cost $233. SelectShift referred to a manual-override feature that allowed this automatic to be held in any of its three forward gears to engine redline for maximum acceleration, as well as manual downshifts from third to second.
The 390 raised powerteam choices to 13. The sturdy 200-cid six remained base power, while the "starter V-8" was now a two-barrel "Challenger" 289 with 200 horsepower ($106). The four-barrel 225-horsepower version returned as the "Challenger Special" ($158), as did the 271-horsepower 289, now called "Cobra" (and priced at a stiff $434). All engines offered standard three-speed manual, a new close-ratio four-speed option, and the SelectShift automatic.
A More Nimble Pony
A 2.6-inch wider front track helped make room for the burly big-block but benefited the handling of any Mustang. So did front springs moved from below the top crossmember to above it a la Falcon/Fairlane. Dearborn engineers exchanged ideas with Carroll Shelby's crew, and though no GT-350 hardware showed up in regular Mustangs, the '67s did have similarly lowered upper A-arm pivots and a raised roll center. The effect was to decrease understeer by holding the outside front wheel more perpendicular to the road. As this didn't require higher spring rates, ride didn't suffer. Engineers also reduced noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) with new rubber bushings at suspension attachment points.
"Given the more primitive hardware of the day," Tom Feaheny said later, "the '67 Mustang was really a fine-handling car…more than just cornering ability, but a feeling of real security for the driver…" Well, maybe with a small-block, but the 390 made for a front-heavy Mustang -- fully 58 percent of total curb weight -- and it understeered with merry abandon even though the option included F70-14 Firestone Wide-Oval tires. You were well advised to specify the Competition Handling Package, which listed for $62 but required the $205 GT Equipment Group (denoted this year only by "GT/A" fender emblems on cars with automatic). Also available with the Cobra 289, the comp package reprised stiffer springs and front stabilizer bar, 15-inch wheels and quick-ratio steering, while adding premium Koni adjustable shocks and a 3.25:1 limited-slip differential. All this improved handling at the expense of ride, which may explain why orders were relatively few.
What big-block buyers really cared about was blazing straightline acceleration, and the 390 didn't disappoint. Typical figures were 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds, the standing quarter-mile in 15.5 seconds at 95 mph, and close to 120 mph all out.
With performance like that, it was easy enough to forgive less-than-perfect handling. At least Car and Driver seemed to after testing a well-equipped 390 GT/A fastback. "The Mustang corners willingly, if clumsily," the editors reported. "It doesn't seek the right line instinctively...but once pointed in the proper direction, it clambers eagerly around the corner. True, initial understeer is there, but oversteer can be induced by a flick of the wheel here, a poke at the throttle there. And it's very hard to throw it off balance or make it come unglued."
C/D praised other things beside the potent new engine. "Anyone who likes the old Mustang ought to go nuts for the '67. It's a much better-looking car than the photographs show...[The new interior indicates] Ford has decided the Mustang is going to be around for awhile, so why not invest some money where the occupants can enjoy it? The ride has been improved to the point that it's every bit as good as most [midsize cars]." Other testers echoed many of these opinions, confirming that Ford had achieved what it set out to do.
Want to find out even more about the Mustang legacy? Follow these links to learn all about the original pony car:
- Saddle up for the complete story of America's best-loved sporty car. How the Ford Mustang Works chronicles the legend from its inception in the early 1960s to today's all-new Mustang.
- America's youth was looking for a car to call its own, and the Mustang delivered. Learn why the sporty, practical, and affordable 1965-1966 Ford Mustang was such a runaway success.
- Sales were lagging, but performance and style were piled on high. Learn how rocky times for the 1969-1970 Ford Mustang resulted in two of the greatest cars in performance history.
- The 1968 Shelby Cobra GT-500KR was no mere Mustang. Check out this muscle car profile, which includes photos and specifications.