The 1969 vs 2023 Mustang
Any comparison of the iconic Mustangs and the 2023 version is probably not fair due to the improvements in technology, safety, and efficiency, but we know that the debate is going to happen anyway. Here are some primary ways that the 1969 compares to the 2023 Mustang.
Design And Dimensions
In ‘69, Ford decided to increase the size and weight of its iconic sportscar, with specialized performance packages aimed at increasing sales. The design revisions included added large shaker hood scoop, tie-downs and hood pins, rear spoilers, and a wide, aggressive stance that put every other muscle car on notice. Ford offered the new performance trims (the Fastback body style Mach 1, 302 Boss, and the 429 Boss, all with powerful V8 engines. (At the time, these were the largest big block engines Ford had ever built). Ford built the cars with upgraded suspension systems (although they did not offer independent rear suspension until 2015).
The ‘69 retained the classic Mustang look with its long snout, sloping roofline to a small rear bumper area and rear spoiler. Circular quad headlights gave the Mustang a wide grille designed to intimidate.
The 2023 has the instantly recognizable silhouette of a classic Mustang with its athletic, sleek profile. The hood slopes down just a bit giving way to narrow headlights in a fashion that the classic doesn’t. The body lines are smooth and contoured, and the roof line tapers down the back, engulfing the truck area like its classic predecessor. The 2023 is broader and taller than the ‘69 Ford Mustang Mach 1 by about three inches and fully an inch longer.
Engines, Horsepower, and Torque Ratings
One of the remarkable things about the ‘69 Mustangs was the engine options offered. Ford offered no less than eight engines (not counting the racing 429 engine package). While the base Mustang still came with a 200 cubic inch inline-six. Several models (GT, Hardtop, Convertible, Mach 1, and Sportsroof had five V8 engine choices).
Consumers could order the 428 V8 with a Cobra Jet ram air option with a large intake manifold that was very capable. Still, the top engine was the homologated racing engine used in the NASCAR circuit. The Boss 429 produced 375 hp. (That was the official rating, but most believe the numbers to be over 500 hp). We’ve listed the engine offerings below, taken from the 1969 Ford sales brochure, while the 429 Boss figures are from Mustangspecs.com.
The 2023 Mustang does not offer the extensive selection of engines that are found on its classic predecessor. It doesn’t have to because even the base EcoBoost engine produces nearly 315 horsepower. There is no question that the new Mustang continues the legacy of power first set by the Mustangs of the sixties. The 429 Boss had a top speed of 118 mph and could pull off a 7.1 second 0 - 60 (Car Life magazine tested it), which was fast for its time. Today, the lowly 2.3 Ecoboost engine can run the same course in 5.1 seconds, and the V8s in 4.1 - 4.4.
Early Ford Mustangs were not overly concerned with driver safety until a best-selling expose by consumer advocate, Ralph Nader, changed the American culture almost overnight. His book, Unsafe At Any Speed: The Designed Dangers of the American Automobile, forced auto companies to begin to design and sell safer automobiles. While many of the changes were forced by governmental agencies (like the seatbelt mandate of 1968), Americans became much more aware of how little protection their automobiles offered.
One of the areas in which the new Ford Mustang excels is safety and technology, while the 1969 Mustang had lap belts due to a government mandate. (Ford had offered seat belts as a dealer-installed option in 1965 and made them standard in 1966). The 2023 comes complete with seven airbags. Consumers have a suite of usual safety features like lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, traction/stability control, and brake assist.
Beginning in 1967, Ford began offering a standard AM/FM radio for the listening pleasure of its passengers. This feature was an improvement over the simple AM radios. Other than a tilt steering wheel and a few other optional features, the interiors of the Mustang were sparse compared to the Mustangs of today.
The 2023 Mustang features many driver assist features like Sync 4, Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto and Apple Carplay, 911 Assist, and navigation.
Early Mustangs came with cloth or vinyl-seating surfaces (or a combination). The bucket seats were tall and were individually adjustable. The Mach 1 featured molded door trim panels with wood applique over the instrument panel and a “woodlike” Rim-Blow steering wheel. Of course, if you wanted AC, you had to pay an additional fee, which many consumers did (72k of the 299,000 were so equipped).
Today, the 2023 Mustang offers conveniences like dual climate control, Android Auto, and Apple Carplay that can stream music straight from a smartphone.
The 1969 Boss Mustangs were priced at $4,740 (equivalent to about $41,000 in today’s dollars). The current 2023 Mustang Mach 1 Premium starts at $58k, which is a tad higher than it should be. However, since only 1,350 Boss 429 Mustangs were ever built in the two years it was produced, finding one less than $218k might be tricky (based on Hagerty’s valuation).
While it is hard to top the classic Mustangs like the 429 Boss, the 2023 has enough of the old style Ford Mustang in it to please almost any consumer. It is still built for high speed, with excellent horsepower and torque ratings, which makes it a worthy addition to the Mustang lineup. The car is faster, safer, and more efficient than any classic could ever dream of being.
While the 2023 might never attain the value that the ‘69 Boss has (mostly because 33,294 have been sold). Even though we would rather drive a ‘69 rather than a ‘23, that doesn’t mean that the 2023 Mustang is any less of a car. We just think that while it comes close, it doesn’t thrill our hearts like the classic did. And as the gas-powered Mustang gets put out to pasture, we can’t help standing at the corral, watching it fade away, wishing it had given us more.