Of all the body styles used by Ford for its popular Mustang line, the fastback remains perhaps the best representative of pony car styling. Taking nothing away from other styles, the roof line of the Ford Mustang fastback makes a clear case that a powerful steed has arrived, with the performance to prove it.
Ford’s fastback design was not all new, but it did signal a trend which caught on in the 1960s. As far back as the 1930s, the fastback design began to show up in various cars under the Stout, Packard, Pierce-Arrow, and Tatra makes. That style was later picked up Saab, Chevrolet, Nash, Bentley, and others before the Mustang made its debut.
Today’s Mustang offers fastback styling cues but it was certain models offered during the 1960s which comprised Mustang’s collection of sloping C-pillar models. Price-wise, Ford positioned the fastback just above the standard coupe and ahead of the convertible, outselling the latter but only offering a fraction of the sales of the coupe. Yes, while first generation Mustangs are collector’s items, the fastback designs of the late 60s are especially valued by enthusiasts.
The Mustang fastback stood out mainly due to two things: its stylish ventilation louvers and sweptback rear glass window. Every Mustang featured adjustable driver and front passenger bucket seats, a colorful floor mounted shifter, and standard AM radio. In the 1960s, radio was still typically optional on most models, but Ford offered it across the entire Mustang line.
Rear seating was tight, but the most obvious problem for the driver was the huge blind spot created because of the fastback design. Unless you ordered the optional right side view mirror, then you risked slamming into whoever was coming up alongside you. But that didn’t stop people from choosing the fastback body style which was soon immortalized in the 1968 Steve McQueen thriller, Bullitt.
In the film, Steve McQueen’s Mustang was given the job of chasing down a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T, itself immortalized in the film. Two Mustangs were used, with suspensions and brakes heavily modified in order to handle the stunts. Those stunts had the cars racing through the streets of San Francisco, topping speeds of 110 mph in outlying areas and at times sailing through the air. McQueen himself performed many of the stunts over three weeks of tortuous filming.
The Mustang’s fastback design continued through 1973, although beginning with the 1969 model ventilation louvers were dropped. From that year through 1973, the Mustang was larger and heavier than before until that model was replaced by the Mustang II for the 1974 model year. Alas, the fastback was discontinued although more recent models have attempted to recapture that spirit without invoking an unmistakeable fastback look.