"I will build a car for the great multitude."-Henry Ford
In 1908, Ford Motor Company released the seminal Model T as a means to make the middle class more mobile in an affordable manner. It provided a kind of independence previously unknown to the general population. While there were many models in the Ford catalog after 1908, 1964 was the year that Ford solidified its position as a leading automaker that could bring youth, exuberance and freedom to the motoring population with the Mustang.
The Model T was the first car to be produced on a mass assembly production line which resulted in interchangeable components and lower wages for less skilled workers as opposed to the expensive skill set needed by hand made cars of the time. A mere $850 (~$21,000 today) could buy a brand new Model T outfitted with a 2.9 liter four-cylinder that put out 20 horsepower. That motor could get the Tin Lizzie up to 45 mph or achieve 13 to 21 mpg. This price was less than half what the competition expected for its cars. Ford had created a car of unequaled performance and value.
Fast forward about 100 years and Ford is still providing a car that has unmatched performance for its cost. The 2011 Mustang GT is by no means that "car for the great multitude" but it will work very nicely for the driver that craves performance while on a budget. This $30,495 pony comes complete with a 5.0 liter V8 pushing out 412 horsepower which is just two shy of the $60,575 BMW M3. While losing the horsepower war, the Mustang wins back territory with its 390 lb-ft of torque, 95 more than the Bimmer. In a test performed by Motor Trend magazine, the blue ovaled car matches or beats the M3 in every performance category and gets 17/26 mpg to boot.
This isn't saying that the Mustang is the new form of basic transportation for the masses and the reincarnation of the Model T. However, the similarities of an affordable car for the working class man that can take the fight to cars costing twice as much can't be denied. Although, the Mustang could have been what Henry Ford was thinking all along when he said, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."