The Mustang wasn’t necessarily destined for greatness. The very similar Plymouth Barracuda, based on a low-end car just like the Mustang (the Plymouth Valiant and the Ford Falcon, respectively) failed to light a fire under car buyers. On the other hand, within the first year-and-a-half, Ford sold nearly 700,000 Mustangs—an industry record that still stands. What made it so popular? There was the excellent styling, successfully bringing pseudo-European proportions and handsome details together in a small car while preserving its “American-ness.” The name was also spot-on, appealing to buyers by suggesting the independence and freedom of the open road. And finally, there was the drivetrain, utilizing Ford’s excellent thin-wall V8 “Windsor” family of engines. When equipped with a 271 horsepower K-Code “Hi-Po” 289, the Mustang is a great performer and the perfect basis for a fast street or race car. Ultimately, whether you appreciate the performance dynasty the Mustang founded, or simply how fun it is to drive, it’s undeniable that the Mustang is an outsized success.