Every year, the MM&FF staff toils over which cars should be chosen for the Top 10.
We consider cars that we've featured over the past year, race cars or show cars that have been influential or dominant, new cars from Ford, and newly released specialty Stangs. With such a wide array to choose from, it's always a difficult list to narrow down.
But there's one thing about the list that happens every year -- there's always a mix of just about every genre, style, and generation of Mustang. And that's not because we make special slots for those cars. Rather, it's a testament to the flexibility of the Mustang's platform; the ingenuity and dedication of manufacturers, builders, owners, and drivers; and the strength and potential of the Mustang community.
As Mustang enthusiasts, we take pride in the running horse logo, whether it's slathered down the side of a tricked-out show Pony, pointing to the sky from the grille of a purpose-built drag car, or racing down the straightaway toward the next turn. We may not all desire to own an 8-second Cobra Jet, a supercharged V-6 road-race S197, or a 1,000-rwhp street car; but we can all appreciate the time, effort, and ingenuity that goes into each of those. So here is our list of best Mustangs of 2012.
If this was a list of baddest production Mustangs of all time, there's no doubt the '13 GT500 would be Number 1. And for that reason, and many others, it lands the Number 1 spot on our list as well. At 662 horsepower (612 rwhp as tested), a full factory warranty, no gas-guzzler tax, and a top speed of over 200 mph, nothing compares to the GT500 -- especially at under $60,000. The 100-plus-horsepower improvement, to our pleasant surprise, had no ill effect on the refinement of Ford's top-tier Mustang. The engineers at SVT methodically improved systems and components to allow all 662 horsepower to be harnessed, and enjoyed, by just about anyone who could reach the pedals. With Launch Control and Track Apps, driving the new GT500 on the track is now just as much interactive as it is exhilarating.
Matt Glover '88 Mustang GT
If we could sketch out the ultimate Fox-body, the result would look something like Matt Glover's '88 GT. It has everything a Fox-lover could ever want--flawless paint; clean, black interior; a gorgeous engine bay; slick wheels; and a killer stance. But beyond good looks, this show-worthy hatchback packs an arsenal of performance tricks. Between the smoothed-out inner fenders sits a 363ci fortified powerplant with 9:1 compression. It is fed 20 psi of boost by a Vortech YSi-Trim centrifugal super- charger. Suspension components from PA Racing, Strange, and Lakewood help Matt pilot his Fox into the 9s in the quarter-mile.
Mike Murillo '93 Mustang LX
Unarguably the most decorated Mustang drag racer of all time, San Antonio, Texas' Mike Murillo has been racing Mustangs since 1994. Even with 12 world-champion titles under his belt, Murillo is not slowing down. After winning both the NMRA and NMCA titles in Pro Outlaw 10.5 in 2011, he's on track to defend both titles this year. His SCT Performance-sponsored '93 coupe has been 6.49 at 232 mph in the quarter-mile, a record for both NMRA and NMCA. Powering Murillo's coupe is a 541ci big-block with Trick Flow Specialties heads and twin-88mm Precision turbos. He credits his success to his wife, Lisa.
Roush Performance '13 Roush Stage 3
In the world of specialty Mustangs, the Roush Stage 3 (RS3)
stands alone. As the pinnacle of performance for the Roush Perormance brand, the RS3 achieves 565 horsepower and 505 lb-ft of torque with the help of a Roush TVS 2300 supercharger kit atop the stock 5.0L Coyote. Cooper RS3 tires, 20-inch wheels, big brakes, unrivaled styling, and impressive performance mesh to create the RS3 -- and you get a full 3-year, 36,000-mile warranty. A bone-stock (except for tires required) RS3 carried editor Smith and hot shoe Jeff Lacina during the TireRack.com One Lap of America in May. The pair won the SSGT2 Big Bore class by a ton, validating the RS3's place both on the track and street.
Tim Matherly '10 Mustang GT
Georgia's Tim Matherly began racing a '69 Mach 1 in 1982. By 1987, he was fixing wrecked Mustangs, and ended up with an '87 GT. Fast-forward to 2012, and his '10 GT has gone a best of 8.70 with a single power-adder and a stick. When Matherly's class, NMRA Real Street, was eliminated, he moved to the quicker EFI Renegade. Unrattled by being at the back of the pack, he kept getting quicker as the season progressed. Though he has yet to earn a title in EFI Renegade, his perseverance is to be commended, and certainly look for him at the front of the pack next season.