Ford Mustang – 1965 vs. 2006

My family has owned a 1965 Mustang, “PAX 138,” for almost a decade now. I drove it for six years, and I loved it. It was admittedly low tech, but it was a blast to drive. You could feel the road, and the car responding to you, in ways that most modern cars hide. Plus, it’s simple enough under the hood that I could actually work on it, which was really fun.

It’s elderly, though, and it had started to get temperamental in its old age. It didn’t help that it was my only car, so even though I don’t drive much, I probably put more miles on it than it would have liked. I loved working on it, but I wasn’t quite passionate enough to spend the time on it that it probably needed. Eventually, I admitted that it wasn’t cut out to be an everyday commute car any more. So, with a heavy heart, I bought a new one, a 2006 Mustang GT.

First, some background. Before the ’65 Mustang, the only other car I’d driven was an ’80s era Mercury Sable, which is basically a rebranded Ford Taurus. So, the 2006 Mustang is the first truly modern car I’ve driven for any length of time.

Whoa. After driving a 40-year-old car for six years, driving a modern car was culture shock. It amazed me enough that I wrote down the differences I noticed. Here are a few of the features I noticed in the 2006, in no particular order.

  • Lots of obvious functional differences – computer-controlled fuel injection instead of a carburetor, electrical ignition (no points or distributor!), 315 horsepower, computer-controlled transmission, etc.
  • Also, lots of obvious safety features – anti-lock brakes, air bags, and traction control, among others.

  • The idle speed is noticeably slower. OK, it’s adjustable on the ’65, so I could have turned it down…but still. This was the first difference I noticed, and one of the hardest to retrain my muscle memory for.

  • I can’t work on it! I mean, I could try, but there are so many computers that I’m sure I’d break something. I loved being able to work on the ’65, mostly because it was so simple. It had an engine, a driveshaft, a transmission, a cooling system…and that was pretty much it. :P

  • The ’65 was originally built for leaded gas, which we obviously don’t use any more. So, to compensate, I had to fill it with at least 89 octane. The 2006 is happy with regular.

  • …but it’s less gas-happy in general. It officially gets 18/25 MPG, which is a lot better than the ’65.

  • The handling and suspension are shockingly tight, mostly due to the variable sway bar in back. The ’65’s suspension wasn’t bad, but the handling was nowhere near the same league.

  • Similarly, I can’t feel the road in the 2006, or the speed I’m driving. 30, 60, and 90 feel remarkably similar. The tires start to whine at 110 (er, or so I’ve heard), and the handling gets jerky above that…but below 110, it’s hard to intuit speed. This is the main thing I miss about the ’65 – I really felt the road, and felt like I was driving, in a way I don’t feel in modern cars.

  • Sound insulation. The 2006 has it, the ’65 definitely doesn’t.

  • Keyless entry. Gotta love toys.
  • Dashboard controls (heater, AC, defrost) and steering column controls (headlights, windshield wipers) are totally different. For example, the ’65 had a foot switch to turn on the brights. :P Evidently, though, these controls are now standardized, so I won’t have to re-learn them again. That’s nice.

  • On a related note, the defroster is much faster and more powerful, and there’s even rear window defrost!

  • The turning radius is way smaller.

  • The headlamps and taillights are way stronger. Plus, there are fog lamps. Whee!

  • There are headrests!

  • Unfortunately, they get in the way of looking over my shoulder to check my blind spot when changing lanes. I guess I’m just supposed to use the mirrors. That’s going to be hard to retrain for.

  • Side and rearview mirrors are significantly larger.

  • The electronics, and most noticeably the stereo, stay on after I turn off the ignition! They turn off when I open the door. Very unsettling.

50 thoughts on “Ford Mustang – 1965 vs. 2006

  1. Hey..i am actually looking to buy a 65′ mustang, its in really good shape.  This website helped me alot!!  thanx

  2. My favourite car in the world is the ’65 mustang and no matter what would choose it over the ’06 mustang GT all because I love mustangs

  3. My favourite car in the world is the ’65 mustang and no matter what would choose it over the ’06 mustang GT all because I love mustangs

  4. looking to sell a 1965 mustang has some rust but in great shape overall

  5. 65 rock i wolov to ride a stright road  with sunset  2006 one wicke d but perfer 65 they rock the world and lov horses

  6. I would not trade my 65 for ten new mustangs. with my shelby drop , 650 lbs springs, willwood disk brakes all the way around, 16 inch vintage wheel, T5, 4.11 posi, 524 (net) HP 302. oh yeah the recaro seats make for a comfortable ride. The only way you could feel more connected to the road is have a friend drag you down the asphalt. Did i mention it’s faster than the cookie cutter ponies and still gets 22 mpg. keep your computers, ine weighs in at 2314 pounds with me in it, gota love aluminum everything

  7. yeah i’ev got a 65 v-8-289…personally, i prefer older to younger any day. im 20 years old, driving a cherry red chick magnet…ahahaha…but seriously! i saw you mentioned you can feel the road in the classic, and i completely agree, if you’ve got this car, then you know EXACTLY what he’s talking about. i’ve been restoring mine for 7 years with my grandpa till i finally finished it about 6 months ago. i’ve got a Holley 4160, race suspension, the interior is immaculate-i mean i can almost guarantee my car looks nicer inside then the new 2007’s ahahha….all black and chrome inside, looks like a brand new old car. what i really love about the 289’s is the smooth power, it goes from cruise’n to burnin’ rubber with no effort at all….i think the old mustangs have much more character and personality than any newer car….i’d never give up my 65….i get offers for it everyday i drive it….which is almost everyday….and i this car holds up great…if you like to work on cars, or would like to, and your looking to get an old classic-this is the car for you….its awesome…im dead serious….anyways….just thought i’d leave my 2 cents. take it easy guys and let keep the ponies on the road!~

  8. YEAH! I would TOTALLY have to agree with Seth. I too have a 1965 Ford Mustang V-8 289. However, I JUST bought mine from my GREAT uncle and its in pretty good shape but I have a LONG way to go. But my first vehile was a 1999 Ford Ranger decked out with mud tires, ect. The whole redneck NICE truck and ever since I have gotten rid of it, my mom asks me almost EVERYDAY, “so you wish you had your truck still”, and EVERYTIME I say the same thing “NO WAY!” I went from a/c and WORKING heater and lockable doors with a very up to date stereo system to no a/c broken heater (just fixed) broke locks and a broken AM radio and I love the thing SO much more than any up to date vehicle! I have friends with new 2006 and 2005 Mustangs and driving thier’s and then going to mine… thers just NO comapisions they themselves even say they think they would prefer my car “you wanna trade” and I just laugh and say No Thanks! Regardless the KIND of Mustang you have, enjoy them! There the best cars ever invented! Chick Magnets too by the way! lol ;-)

  9. I really hate fords but i would love to have a 1965 mustang. And me personally think that you have to be outside your freakin mind if you would ever pick a 2006 model over a 1965 model! i mean the only thing that is in a 2006 model is a computer!

  10. I found a ’66 years ago for my daughter who was 16 at the time.  We spent our free time restoring it so she could have it to use around town and to school and back. I enjoyed working on it and as you mentioned it is easy to locate the issues, and wrench on.  I also ejoyed taking it out when Kimmy was away or not using it.  Well, I just came across a very nice original ’65 Mustang with a 289.  spring time yellow in deluxe black pony interior.  It broght me right back to the days when we had the ’66.  Think I may hold onto this one for a while.

  11. O.K. kids. I’m 59 years old. My first Mustang was a 68 w/ 302. I drove it for several years. My second was a 66 and drove it for 21 years. My thrid was a 65 but had it for a short time. I am now lookin for a 65 or 66 again. I have to say you couldn’t give me all the tea in China to take a new Mustang over a classic first generation. I must say I also have had a lot of new cars over the years but not a one can compare to the feeling of old school rear wheel drive and leaning into a corner faster than you should. Even with the fun of driving these classics just look at the interior. O:ld school mustangs just out class all the plastic dash autos out there. Be good to your pony kids.

  12. OK, I cant say that I have a classic Mustang, but my first classic car is a ’68 Ford Falcon Futura 289 Sports Coupe. Under its skin its nearly identical to a early mustang. The feeling of direct connection between your foot and the horses under the hood is unmatched. Only rated 225 HP, but today’s HP is not the same. When you can say a 4 cylinder rice burner has 3 or 4 hundred HP, you must be measuring on a bogus scale. That’s at 6, 7, 8K RPMs. You know its real when you get that at 3 or 4K RPMs! Lets see that 4 banger move a 3000 pound car down the strip in 8 seconds or so! Needless to say, I hate modern cars and wish I grew up in the 60’s when muscle cars were real! We still know a real Mustang when we see one!

  13. i cant wait, in a few weeks i will be owning a 65 mustang with a new 302!

  14. I just bought my self a 65′ mustang and let me tell you that it truley is a great car. There is no comparision to it and the new mustangs.

  15. My family owns a ’65 and a ’66 mustang.
    I love them both,
    We are currently fixing up the 65 but my dad and i love both of them mainly ’cause like you said, They are easy to work on.
    I am only 15 so its easily said that I will love mustangs forever!
    Now all i have to do is get Overhaulin’ to come do our ’65 to make it as hot has our candy apple read ’66 GT! My dad need a break from working on it. He’s getting too old! lol

  16. Ok wow ALOT of misinformation on this site. I do not in any way mean to put anyone down or say im perfect. I own a 1969 Mustang. OK now lets start.

    Alot of the “cons” of the classic car talked about are VERY easily fixed, going from points to electronic ignition takes 70 bucks and 5 minutes of work. Makes a WORLD of difference as far as needing to work on the car, and fits in the stock distributor so no one will ever know the difference.

    The Horsepower ratings are actually not as bogus as someone said. Prior to 1972 engines were measured using gross horsepower. Gross hp was measured using a blueprinted test engine running on a stand without accessories, mufflers, or emissions control devices. It therefore reflected a maximum, theoretical value, not the power of an installed engine in a street car. Today they use net horsepower, which includes standard equiptment, but it is still measured at the flywheel NOT the brakes.

    The main differences in 302 of old vs new 302:
    Catalytic Converters – Possibly the worst invention ever, proven exhaust from gases do NOT hurt the enviroment, but they do hurt performance and gas mileage tremendously. Caused the need for Lower compression ratios, and the need for unleaded gas cause leaded gas lights catalytic converters on fire.
    EFI – a great invention. Much better gas mileage, and better power. Much more expensive and alot harder to work on.
    Overdrive Transmission – GREAT invention, if your old car is a daily driver I 100% recommend this, increases gas mileage insanely well.

    There are things that can be done to a NON-SHOW CAR to make it drive as nicely as a new car in every way. Some of which that should be done to EVERY muscle car in my opinoin.

    As far as power between Imports vs Muscle cars, think not only when the power was made, but about Torque.

    Thats my 2 cents, have fun all.

  17. i just bought a 65 well ok maby i stole it for $1000.00 in good shap
    will be good restore nearly factory all but motor and tranie

  18. i am thinking about buying a mustang 65-about 70.  which one do you think is best.  i want aq car that me and my dad can work on and actually find parts for.  not one that you have to order from new york and spend $50 on shipping.  i have always liked mustangs and my dad said that if i help him on an old 1967 chevy impala he’ll help me buy a mustang!!!  :)

  19. I bought a 64 1/2 Mustang convertible for $ 400 back when I was a junior in college. It was just a 10 year old pony with a leaky top back then.  That was in 1975.  I still own it 33 years later.  Over the years, I’ve almost sold it 5 or 6 times.  In 1984, I was offered a brand new Mustang by a Ford dealer in exchange for mine.  I came close to doing it.  I’ve had the engine out of it 3 times, tranny rebuilt twice, and spent easily upwards of $ 40K on several face lifts, nips and tucks.  During that time I’ve purchased several brand new cars.  I’ve liked most of them.  There is no question that they are safer to drive,  more comfortable, require less maintenace, are built out of galvanized steel so they don’t rust, and are better engineered both ergonomically and technolgically.  But I wouldn’t trade my old Mustang for ANY new car.

  20. I have allways wanted a 1965 Mustang, when I was in High School I had a Camero which I would have traded for a pony. Now I am 46, living in Colorado. Last spring I was picking my son up from football pratice when I saw this 1965 Red Mustang for sale. It was completly original and in cherry shape. Paper work and code number showed it was originaly sold out of the Ford dealership in Denver. The car had never been out of the state. Like I said everything original and I got it for $5,000.00. My dream was to own one and I love driving it and will never give it up. Now I have my son out in the garage helping me work on it which he loves. great way for a father and son to spend time.
    I love the way it drives and handels, that good old 289 V4 is great.

  21. I have my ’65 and i wouldn’t trade her for the WORLD. I don’t even let people touch her…

  22. I have a 65 mustang and i am working on it and going to put a 351windsor in it so i have to say i would not trade it in for any car. So all this bogus saying the new fords can win it. No they cant.

  23. I have a 65 mustang with a 347 stroker, new disk brakes, racing supension and all the extras, and I wouldn’t give up my car for no amount of money or for a new mustang. 347 stroker vs. the new 4.6 who do you thin kwould win in a quarter mile?

  24. i have a 71 mustang grande, it does need alot of work but the 351 cleveland and the posi differential keeps me workin on it. the new stangs are like some one else said, they’re just computers, plus my dad wouldnt work on a new one because he doesnt know anything about the computers. i would take my old piece of junk over a new one if it was offered to me.

  25. i wouldn’t trade my squeaky 67 for a brand new shelby gt-500.

  26. I have a 65 coupe with the 200 six and being an old (64) hot rodder I let it sit for years. Now with $4.oo+ gas she looks better each day. A few tricks help MPG. Fresh air intake hooked to original air breather, hotter ignition, free breathing exhaust, flex fan, slightly taller rear tires, late model air compressor and slight lowering of body give a solid 26mpg……with A/C off.  I am a retired ASE certified engine mechanic, Federal Firearms Licensed gunsmith (retired) and have a degree in electronics. My 32 five window Ford had a 289 with a c4 and got 20mpg back in 76 (centerfold of Performance Cars mag in april or august). Build for torque if you want milage and match cam, tires and gears so you get the motors sweet spot at cruising speed. I once owned a piece of chevy……..once!

  27. Hey, this helps a lot, I’m looking to buy a 65 mustang tomorrow and its going for $ 16, 900. I have always loved mustangs but I have no idea how to price em.  Not sure if it is a good deal. ? help ?  It seems in great condition, I’m just a young guy and hate to loose all of my money so fast when i should move out.  But it seems in great condition. Any commets before tomorrow would be appreciated. Thanks.

  28. I own two 1967 Ford Mustangs. A hardtop and a fastback. Both great cars who need lots of love and attention. I’m thinking about starting my own business about selling, and restoring Classic cars including Mustangs.

    FORD & SHELBY ALL THE WAY!!!

  29. i love mustangs. Each and every one of them. my favorite years though, are 88-93. i guess its mostly because of the fox bodies and the 5.0 engine. I love them all anyways.

  30. i got rhis 65 mustang and ive always wanted to put in a ls7 on it ( ls7 – 7.0liters / 427 cc  500 hp 2006 z06 corvette engine 24mpg )

  31. I could have bought a 65 mustang in 1974 fur 200 dollars ,a little old lady that owned it wanted the gas station I worked in to change the oil and grease it for who ever bought it. This car was a 289 automatic and burned rubber with every touch of the throttle . I regret not buing it.
      Time rolls on 1972, I was told of a 1968 mustang fast back with very few miles ,when I got there and he opened the garage door it turned out to be an original shelby for 14,000 dollars and I had the money. I didn’t buy the car and the money is gone. What a sad sorry.
      Should you buy the mustang? I guess only you know. DON’T LISTEN TO ME!!!!

  32. id own a 65 mustang over the 2008 any day, stronger, more dependable, made out of metal instead of plastic, and way easier to work on, ill admit the new mustangs dont look bad, but i wont own 1, same goes for the charger, challenger, and camaro, and the beetle, older is always better

  33. i bought a 66 mustang about a month ago. i LOVE it! people want to race me all the time and so far ive only been beaten by a supercharged 09 GT! i love old cars an like everyone else says theyre simple! you push the pedal down and everything is mechanical. next step is getting a built 302 put in her! :D
    i’d much rather have a 10mpg ’66 over a 20mpg ’09 ;)

  34. Hey there. I am from Australia and have just bought a ’65 Mustang, I prefer the classics to the modern ones any day. Although I would have a modern Mustang for a Daily drive.

  35. The new ford mustangs are crud compared to the ’65 version. ( in my opinion) Everyone around the Mustang world knows that having one of the origional models would be extremely better than a newer model

  36. i would never trase an old mustang 4 a new bcuz old has the classic look with 1 of a kind body that u cant replace and it has all american engines with out the stupid computers

  37. I have been reading all your comments about how great the 65 mustang is or was, well I’m 65 and I’ve owned all that old junk when it wasn’t quite so old. I’ve owned a 64 Falcon Sprint and a 65 Mustang, and the Falcon was a whole lot better than the Mustang, now I have an 06 Mustang with a v-6, that has more power than any 65 289, it corners like a slot car on tracks and at 70 mph, it gets 30 mpg on a bad day, it will go from 0 to ticket in 6 sec.and as far as working on them, you better know how to work on them, if you own a 65. So you can keep your old65 mustang and I’ll see you on the freeway while you are working on it, but I’ll wave hello.

    so you kids have fun

  38. I have 2 1965 ford mustangs 289 V8. I am selling one of them if anyone is interested. The mustang I am selling needs some body work. I started to restore it and I just finish both floor pans which came out great. If anyone would like more info about the car I am in New York and you can drop me an email at mmenegalli@gmail.com and I will answer any question about the car. Thanks Mike

  39. hey im austin, 15 years old, and was interested in a sweet ride, just to be able to say how badass i was in high school(although others may beg to differ). and i got to thinking, if i get a pre 72 mustang or other car/truck(pre 72 so i there are no catalyc converters, or “government modification and restriction”. i really like the looks, and riding quality of the old mustangs, and the power, however after reading this i never realized that the horsepower was measured in “gross horsepower” instead of net horsepower. that may have swayed my decision. so i read further on, into my possible impending doom of owning a sports car. i also had seen reviews of people loving being able to work on their cars. now i personally love to work on anything with an engine, so that would be a plus for me, however i would also like capabilities. that is where my deep thought comes into play. i said “hey, im 15 years old, would like something classic, but not antique” and i just hit a brick wall, i realized that in 20 years when im most of your guys’ age, (not trying to be offensive, just reporting facts ;) ) that that’s what my mustang may turn into, an antique. now i had seen that most of you used yours as an everyday car, i would like mine to be like a once a week car. (i currently own a 94 stx ranger) but i also realized the amount of maintenance a car of that age and experience would require. it would be like someone now driving an early 1950’s to late 1940’s car, It’d be a waste! granted i would love to be a proud owner of the bare bones, raw, original pony, but the amount of care i would have to put in it would have to be my life. now i love ford so dont get me wrong when i say that even 20 years from now a 70 (right now 50) year old car would be extremely painstaking. thus my reasoning for wanting a newer, 07 mustang, although you don’t have all of the beauties, and contributing factors towards the classic, 20 years from now, it’ll be a classic. yes i realize the cheap materials, and non- personally repairable computer parts inside of it, but still, it’s classic vs. antique, and i’d rather, honestly something that provides function, as opposed to show. i’d like some feedback however, but that is my review for the purpose i’m looking to apply my future mustang to.

  40. I’ve owned a 66 coupe for almost 40 years now, and I still love it. Just recently bought a 65 fastback 2+2. It’s rough, but I know my son and I are going to have a ball making it look like new again.

  41. Hi fellow Mustangers, I’m 55 years old & can certainly understand & appreciate the passion you all have for the classics (1965-73), the moderns, or both! I’m essentially a lifelong Mustang enthusiast. In 1979 (I was 19 YO) I bought my first car: a 1967 Mustang 289 c-code coupe for $700. It was a (rough) running car in overall decent cosmetic shape (mechanically is another story) with minimal rust in the typical places. Over the 8 years of owning that Stang I became a fairly decent mechanic, doing all the routine maintenance & pretty much any other repair (I even R/R’d the engine in my driveway). I also learned how to do body/paint. After 8 years of ownership I got a job far from home & bought a low-mileage used cruiser for the trek back & forth . I made the GRAVE MISTAKE of selling my Stang. I SHOULD HAVE KEPT THE STANG!!! But, I was still relatively young (27). That was almost 30 years ago and I STILL REGRET selling that ’67. A year later in 1988 I sold the cruiser (a Buick) & bought a brand-new Mustang 5.0 hatchback (5-spd), putting 205,000 on the original engine over 21 years of ownership. During that time I also owned a 1995 Mustang GT convertible, a 1997 Mustang GT coupe, and a 1994 Mustang GT coupe. I was Mustang-less for about a year then in 2010 bought a brand-new Mustang V6 but didn’t really like it (the driver seat was VERY uncomfortable) and sold it after a couple years replacing it with an Altima (which I can’t stand). I am now in the process of trading in the Altima for a brand-new Mustang. Here’s the rub: Although I like an up-to-date modern car as a daily driver (and YES, I CAN and DO work on them), I LONG to have a 1967 289 once again, even if it’s only a weekend driver. Because although a modern Mustang is a nice daily driver, a modern Mustang is really just a nice car (and the 2015 is a REALLY nice car!). However, there is NOTHING like the 1965 (or 1964 1/2 for some of you!) to 1968 (or you can go up to 1973 if you like) originals which are now classics & the real thing!!! The classics have a certain something about them that a modern car will NEVER have. With that being said, all Mustangs are cool (but some are cooler than others!).

  42. All my grandson has talked about Since He’s been old enough to tell one car from another he has absolutely been In love with a 72 model Mustang Grande. We quit driving it a few years back when we restoring it 46,000

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