Inflation-adjusted, the Ford Mustang that debuted in 1965 would’ve cost less than $19,000 in 2018. Now, the red 2018 Ford Mustang parked out front costs more than twice that—20 times more than the $2,372 needed in 1965 dollars.
By the time the Dark Highland Green Mustang was immortalized in 1968, the pony car wasn’t any less affordable—$2,955 for a GT Fastback.
Bullitt’s Mustang would’ve been equally at home on both sides of Broadway—real, or on celluloid. That car, made an icon by everyman’s cool actor, Steve McQueen, never existed.
The real car made by Ford, sold to middle, high, and low America most certainly did. McQueen, in the real world, was hardly as cool as his character, too.
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Like Broadway, capitalism’s creep has left shells that history has spit-shined after generations have left. Like Broadway, we can revisit the past and argue about the barbaric forces that have driven an icon like the Mustang away from America.
Like Broadway, the Mustang and McQueen and a single 2.7-mile stretch of America will always boom, bust, but always come back. It’s just a matter of time.
For two months, Motor Authority crisscrossed the U.S. in an automotive icon seeking stories about the Ford Mustang's place in American history. These are our stories from the road about its owners, its history, and its status as an evolving symbol of our relationship with cars in America.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified one car from "Bullitt." The Dodge Charger was used for the film's chase scene.