Much like any iconic nameplate, the Mustang has had its ups and downs throughout its lifetime. Arguably the most dreadful of them all was the second-generation model. With the oil crisis and the more demanding fuel economy regulations having hit the U.S. in the early 1970s, Ford redesigned the Mustang from a full-blown muscle car into a Pinto-based coupe that lacked everything from design to power compared to its predecessor.
Sure, it was a commercial success for a while, but the fact that it wasn’t available with a V-8 engine in its first two years on the market gave it the bad reputation it still has four decades later. However, the second-gen car wasn’t the first Mustang to drop the ball in the performance department.
Taking the Mustang’s Heart Away
In 1969, long before it had designed the second-generation, Ford decided to give its customers an economy-oriented model. It was called the Mustang E, and even though it was visually identical to the regular model, it was quite different under the hood.
Styling-wise, nothing set this car apart from the standard model except for the “Mustang E” letter on the quarter panels. Inside, it was again identical to the regular pony, but it didn’t have air conditioning and the convenience feature wasn’t even available as an option. The logic behind this was simple: air conditioning decreases mileage and it didn’t make sense on a model that was supposed to be the most efficient Mustang at the time.
Down On Power
Under the hood is where the Mustang E was different from the rest of the lineup. While 1969-model-year cars were offered with a wide selection of V8s engines, ranging from 4.9- to 7.0-liter displacements, the Mustang E got its juice from a 4.1-liter inline-six unit.
Although it wasn’t the first six-cylinder available in the Mustang, the 4.1-liter was new for 1969 and came with a three-speed automatic equipped with a high stall torque converter and a low, 2.33:1 rear axle ratio. Output was rated at 155 horsepower and 240 pound-feet, identical to the standard six-cylinder Mustang it was based on, but the torque converter and revised ratio made it significantly slower.
Mustang E 1/4-mile Times and Fuel Economy
The Mustang E needed 13.3 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start and 19.4 ticks to complete the quarter mile. Compared to the standard 4.1-liter model, it was 2.7 and 1.3 seconds slower, respectively. Top speed came in at the standard 104 mph, which wasn’t that disappointing for 1969, but far inferior to that of the V8-powered Mustang.
This compromise brought some improvements in the fuel economy department, with the Mustang E rated at up to 19 mpg highway, 13.7 mpg city, and 16.3 mpg combined. For reference, the standard model was good for 16.2 mpg highway, 12.9 mpg city, and 15.1 mpg combined. The improvements were more significant when compared to the 4.9-liter V8 model, rated at 16.5 mpg highway, 11.7 mpg city, and 13.9 mpg combined.
Mustang E & The Enthusiast Market
However, this didn’t matter much to consumers, who favored large-displacement engines and performance before the oil crisis struck in the early 1970s. As a result, the Mustang E received very little attention and the model was discontinued after Ford managed to sell only… wait for it… 50 units.
Ironically, this figure makes the Mustang E one of the rarest Mustangs ever built, much more so since many have been converted to Mach 1 replicas and received drivetrain upgrades over time. Finding one in original condition is next to impossible nowadays, which makes it difficult to estimate its value, but you’re likely better off with a V8 if you’re looking to park a 1969 Mustang in your garage.
What are your thoughts on the Mustang E? Would you rather have a 1969 Mustang E or a 1969 Boss 302 in your driveway? Comment your thoughts below!
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