To its creators' undoubted dismay, the 1994 Ford Mustang garnered mixed reviews. While road-testers lauded the many changes, there was general head-scratching over the GT's 60-horsepower deficit against the latest 275-horsepower Camaro Z28 and Firebird Trans Am.
"The carryover power may challenge the loyalty of some fans," mused Car and Driver, " with substantial improvements in braking and body structure, the Mustang [GT still] offers tremendous performance for the dollar."
Proving the point, C/D's five-speed V-8 coupe ran 0-60 mph in a brisk 6.1 seconds and the standing quarter-mile in 14.9 at 93 mph, not bad for an engine now well past middle age.
The automatic version was no slouch either, Consumer Guide® timing a brisk 7.4 seconds. But as Road & Track pointedly noted: "A 60-horsepower shortfall is a lot of horsepower." Ford shot back that Mustang aimed at those who valued overall finesse, not just straight-ahead thrust. Going toe-to-toe with GM power was not the first priority.
So what was? Well, several team members admitted the main mission was to satisfy the 6.1 million folks who'd bought Mustangs since day one. While that implied sizable demand for the new models, it also suggested that sights hadn't been set very high. As Motor Trend observed: "Mustang fans have been deprived of a new platform for so long they would've accepted almost anything with a chrome horse on it."
Of course, they did accept it, and with enthusiasm. And why not? They had helped to design it. And after MT's editors surveyed the field, they choose the 1994 Ford Mustang as "Car of the Year."
"Mustang," they wrote, "is once again a car to be coveted.... Viewed from both an industry and buyer's perspective, we weighed technological advancement, value and performance to determine the one standout car for '94. The Ford Mustang is that car."
Ford Mustang 30th Anniversary
The MT award was a nice kickoff for Mustang's 30th anniversary year. Ford hosted several big parties on Sunday, April 17, 1994. One was staged in conjunction with the Mustang Club of America at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Among the throng of people and cars on hand was one William Jefferson Clinton. The President of the United States showed up with his rather well-used '67 convertible.
The event also welcomed 200 cars driven from as far away as Sacramento, California, in a six-day "Mustangs Across America" rally. Down L.A. way, the "Fabulous Fords Forever" show, then in its ninth year, was the end point for a cross-country "International Mustang Roundup" comprising 16 cars from three European countries.
The celebrating didn't stop there. Recalling 1964, Ford got Mustang selected as Indy 500 pace car. Engine master Jack Roush souped up a trio of new Cobra convertibles for Memorial Day track-wheeling by Ford CEO Alex Trotman and legendary drivers Parnelli Jones and A. J. Foyt. It was the first public outing for the '94 Cobra, though it had started production in February and was always part of SN95 planning.
Again for 1994, the Ford Special Vehicle Team produced the powerful Mustang Cobra, with exclusive speed-oriented features and stylish touches. Get all the details about the '94 Cobra on the next page.
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.
- The Fox generation of Mustangs got a new lease on life with a 1987 restyle and further refinements into the early Nineties. Learn all about it in 1987-1993 Ford Mustang.
- Ford's ageless pony car was rejuvenated one more time for 1999 with "New Edge" styling, more power, and many key refinements. Read 1999-2004 Ford Mustang to learn about the fastest, most roadable Mustangs yet.
- Ford muscle cars were among the top performers of the muscle car era. Check out profiles, photos, and specifications of some tough Ford muscle cars.