Developed as an affordable, sports-oriented vehicle that was relatively lightweight for its era, the first-generation Mustang wasn’t too fast. Sure, its 0-to-60 mph sprint of nine seconds and quarter-mile run of 16.5 seconds wasn’t very slow either, but it wasn’t mind-boggling either.
It wasn’t until 1969 that Ford came up with a production model capable of hitting 60 mph in less than six seconds and running the 1,320 in less than 14 clicks. The car in question was the Cobra Jet, and completed the said benchmarks in 5.5 and 13.9 seconds respectively, thanks to its 335-horsepower and 440 torque.
However, no factory-made Mustang was able to hit 0-60 mph in five seconds or less until the late 1990s. If you ever wondered which Mustangs are the quickest, the Top 10 list below will provide you with the answer.
The slowest pony car in this list is the 2008 Bullitt. A tribute to the iconic 1967 model featured in Steve McQueen’s “Bullitt” film, this fifth-gen model packed a 24-valve, 4.6-liter V8 engine rated at 315 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. Although it wasn’t the most powerful version at the time, it was more than capable of hitting 60 mph in five seconds and running the quarter-mile in 13.7 clicks at 102.7 mph.
Five years before the S197 Bullitt, Ford made the SVT Cobra and turned the 4.6-liter V8 into a 390 HP and 390 TQ monster by adding a supercharger. The sprint to 60 mph took an impressive 4.8 seconds in this car, while the quarter-mile was completed in a scant 13.1 ticks. But as impressive as it may sound, the 2003 SVT Cobra wasn’t the quickest Mustang to wear the “Cobra” badge.
2000 Mustang SVT Cobra R
The meanest Cobra of them all was launched in 1999 with the mighty 5.4-liter V8 under the hood. At 385 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque, the Cobra R wasn’t more powerful than the 2003 model, but the track-oriented gear ratios and sporty chassis made it significantly quicker from 0 to 60 mph and on the quarter-mile. While the former was achieved in 4.4 seconds, the latter came in at 12.9 clicks at 110.8 mph.
As quick as the performance-oriented SVT Cobra R, the 2011-2014 Mustang GT is proof of how much car technology evolved over the past decade. Even though it wasn’t created with extreme performance in mind and it’s 5.0-liter V8 has only 22 extra horses compared to the Cobra R, the standard GT needed only 4.4 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start and ran the quarter-mile in 12.8 seconds, a tenth-second quicker than the Mustang above. Pretty impressive for ‘Stang devoid of special badges and specific performance upgrades.
On the flipside, the redesigned GT model that Ford launched in 2015 didn’t bring any significant updates performance-wise. Even though the “Coyote” V8 gained 24 horsepower and 10 pound-feet torque, the 0-to-60 sprint remained unchanged at 4.4 seconds, as did the quarter-mile time at 12.8 ticks. The only notable improvement is the higher trap speed at 112.2 mph. The updated 2018 model could do a bit better, but output figures aren’t yet available as of this writing.
To find a quicker Mustang we have to go back to the fifth-generation model and the bonkers Boss 302 from the 2012 – 2013 model year. A tribute to the iconic coupe from 1970, the modern Boss 302 had a beefed-up 5.0-liter V8 rated at 444 horsepower and 380 pound-feet. Not surprisingly, this output made it quicker than the standard GT, with 60 mph coming in only 4.3 seconds and the quarter-mile covered in 12.7 seconds. For reference, the original Boss 302 was two seconds slower in both departments (in case you were wondering where all the progress is).
The Mustang became even faster when Ford upgraded the Boss 302 to Laguna Seca specs. Essentially made to bridge the gap between the regular Boss 302 and the racing version, the Laguna Seca had a Torsen limited-slip rear differential, revised suspension tuning with unique spring and damper rates, and a larger rear stabilizer.
Additionally, the rear seats were replaced by a cross-car X-brace, which reduced weight and increased structural rigidity by around 10 percent. As a result, the Laguna Seca was a tenth-second quicker from 0 to 60 mph and at the drag strip. The first benchmark came in 4.2 seconds, while the second one was achieved in 12.6 ticks at 114 mph.
In order to find an even quicker Mustang, we need to step into Shelby territory. The iconic GT500 name returned in 2007 and brought a supercharged, 5.4-liter V8 into dealerships. Rated at 500 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of twist, the GT500 was tested to a 0-to-60 mph sprint of 4.1 seconds. The fastest quarter-mile recorded for a stock model was at 12.4 seconds with a speed trap of 115.8 mph, moving the factory-built Mustang even closer to the 11-second run.
Although the sixth-generation Mustang has yet to spawn a GT500 version, it did get a GT350 that’s impressively fast. Motivated by a naturally aspirated, 5.2-liter V8 capable of producing 529 horsepower and 429 pound-feet, the GT350 has an official 0-to-60 mph sprint of 4.3 seconds.
However, independent tests revealed that the Shelby can hit 60 mph in less than four clicks, with the quickest benchmark achieved at an amazing 3.8 seconds. The current Shelby GT350 is also quick enough to run the quarter-mile in less than 12 seconds, with it best performance at 11.9 ticks at 116 mph.
However, it’s the previous-generation GT500 that takes the crown here. Upgraded in 2013 to a supercharged, all-aluminum, 5.8-liter V8, the GT500 hit the streets with a whopping 662 horsepower on tap. The enormous output and the revised chassis pushed the coupe form 0 to 60 mph in a scant 3.6 seconds. The quarter-mile time was equally impressive at 11.6 seconds, while trap speed was set at an unprecedented 125.7 mph.
Granted, the 2013 Shelby GT500 may seem unbeatable for now, but it’s just a matter of time until Ford introduces a quicker and more powerful pony car. The only mystery here is whether it will also have a GT500 badge.