Is there a Mustang for every generation?

Ford Mustang Preference by Age Group

No matter how old you are, chances are there’s one Mustang out there that makes you look twice when it zooms by. From wheezy Mustang IIs to tire-shredding 600-plus-horsepower Shelbys, there’s a Ford pony car out there for every taste, be it a classer cruiser or a drag-strip weapon. It turns out that when you were born says a lot about which Mustang you love most.

Using Hagerty’s insurance quote data to measure buyer interest, we can see where these differences lie. Based on that, we see that the generation gap for Mustang preference is every bit as it is for taste in music or comfort with computers.

1965 Ford Mustang (Ford)
1965 Ford Mustang (Ford)

First and foremost, the first-generation Mustang (1965–73) pleases all comers, regardless of who was President when you were born. Decades of enthusiasts lovingly maintaining and/or restoring these early models have kept many of them on the road. And because there are always plenty on the market to choose from, they’ve also remained relatively affordable. Since the original Mustang is both a cultural icon and arguably the archetypal classic American car, it makes sense that people of all ages are interested in driving one. First-gen Mustangs make up between 55 and 60 percent of buyer interest among Millenials (born 1982–2002), Gen-Xers (1965–81), Baby Boomers (1946–64) and Preboomers (pre-1946).

Generally speaking, differences in taste begin to show as the models become newer. For instance, younger Millenials and Gen-Xers like Fox-body Mustangs more than older age groups do, since they remember when these cars were new. Now more than one-fifth of buyer interest among Millenials and Gen-Xers centers on Fox-body models. Older buyers, who may not look past the styling (some call it understated, some call it boring), aren’t as smitten.

1989 Ford Mustang Saleen Fastback
2001 Ford Mustang Bullitt GT

There are anomalies, however. Interest in fourth-generation cars is about the same among generations, and surprisingly, people born before 1946 prefer the 1994–2004 Mustang the most. The cars are cheap, quick, and have the convenience features and reliability of a modern automobile. While everyone can appreciate those traits in an automobile, they seem to resonate more with older buyers.

Finally, the 2005–14 Mustangs are still new enough to be a relatively expensive purchase, which means fewer Millenials are interested in these newer models given their more limited budgets compared to their older, more-established counterparts. That includes Baby Boomers, who may be retiring or booting the last of the kids out of the house and have the biggest preference for newer cars.