Best Ford Cars of All Time
From the Model T of 1908 to the Focus RS of 2016by Ciprian Florea, on
Ford is, without doubt, one of the most significant automobile manufacturers. Established back in 1903, more than 110 years ago, it gave us some of the greatest cars ever built. From the Model T of the early days to the F-Series truck that continues to be America’s best-selling vehicle, Ford has an impressive amount of cars to brag about. Sure, Ford developed and sold lemons too, but there are at least 18 vehicles that stand out in automobile history. Find out more in the list below.
1908 Ford Model T
The Model T is the primordial Ford, the vehicle that started it all.
Not just for Ford but the entire auto industry, as the Model T was the world’s first affordable automobile and the world’s first vehicle built on an assembly line. Considered one of the most influential cars of the 20th century, it was produced from 1908 to 1927 and sold in no fewer than 16.5 million units. This figures placed it in the top ten most sold cars of all time, an impressive feature given that it was discontinued almost 100 years ago.
|Top speed:||45 mph|
|Model years:||1908 - 1927|
|Production run:||16.5 million|
1931 Lincoln K Series
Introduced as a replacement for the L Series in 1931, the Lincoln K Series was the most highly acclaimed luxury vehicle in 1930.
That’s a big feat given that the 1930s saw companies like Cadillac, Packard, LeBaron, Pierce Arrow, Duesenberg, and Auburn launch some of the most beautiful cars ever built. And I’m not even mentioning the European marks that were available in the U.S. at the time, such as Mercedes-Benz, Bugatti, and Bentley. The K Series was offered in a variety of body styles and went through many changes in its ten years on the market. Lincoln made updates constantly from 1931 to 1936 and settled for a more stable layout from 1937 to 1940. The K Series was discontinued following declining sales due to the introduction of the more modern Zephyr and Continental. The engine lineup included V-8 and V-12 mills displacing 6.3 to 7.3 liters. The most powerful unit delivered 150 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque.
|Power: 150 horsepower|
|Top speed:||70 mph|
|Model years:||1931 - 1940|
|Production run:||more than 15,000|
1932 Ford V-8
The Ford V-8 is part of the Model B series.
The latter was produced from 1932 to 1934 and replaced the Model A, which in turn replaced the Model T in 1927.
The Model B has a more streamlined body and a better four-cylinder engine compared to its predecessors, but it’s the 3.6-liter "Flathead" V-8 mill that sent it into the history books. The car become even more appealing in 1933 when Ford introduced a slightly slanted front radiator and a more streamlined roof. These versions, especially the Deuce coupe, became extremely popular with hot-rodders during World War II.
|Top speed:||80 mph|
|Model years:||1932 - 1934|
1953 Ford F-100
Speaking of hot-rods, the second-generation F-Series was considered so cool looking that it became a favorite among street rodders that wanted a hot-rod with a bed behind the seats. Looks weren’t the F-100’s only attribute, but it definitely helped turn it into a sales success.
The second-generation F-Series arrived in 1953 and remained into production until 1956.
Ford offered various sizes ranging from 1/2 to 2 1/2 ton capacities, but the small F-100 was an appealing choice for customers that needed some utility, but also wanted a compact truck. Drivetrain options were varied, given the long-lived generation and included straight-six and V-8 units. The six-cylinders delivered up to 137 horsepower, while the Y-block V-8 generated up to 170 horses. In 1956, the truck’s final year on the market, Ford offered a beefed-up 300-horsepower variant of the V-8. There’s no official figure as to how many F-100s were sold in this period, but this truck is part of the F-Series, the best-selling nameplate in North America since 1986.
|Top speed:||80 mph|
|Model years:||1953 - 1956|
1955 Ford Thunderbird
Production of the Thunderbird spanned from 1955 to 1997 over ten generations and then included the 11th-gen model from 2002 to 2005, but it’s the first-generation model that stands out as an iconic Ford.
Launched in 1955 as a two-door, two-seat convertible, the Thunderbird was the company's first two-seat vehicle since 1938 and FoMoCo's response to the Chevrolet Corvette.
Praised for its exterior design and comfortable ride, the Thunderbird eventually created its own niche. While the Corvette and other European sports cars focused on speed rather than comfort, the Thunderbird sacrificed some performance for a luxury-style ride and presence. Ford offered two V-8 engines, including a supercharged option rated at 340 horsepower and 439 pound-feet of torque. In 1957, the original Thunderbird was replaced with a much bigger model that had four seats.
|Engine:||supercharged 5.1-liter V-8|
|0-60 mph:||9.0 seconds|
|Top speed:||113 mph|
|Model years:||1955 - 1957|
One of the longest-standing American nameplates, the Lincoln Continental made its debut back in 1940.
While the first three generations were successful, it's the four-gen model that brought the Continental name in the spotlight it deserves.
Available only as a four-door at first, the fourth-gen Continental was notably shorter than its predecessor, but it was praised for its solid construction and high-quality materials. The rigorous post-build inspection of each vehicle turned it into one of the finest production cars in the U.S. and a viable rival for the popular Cadillacs of the era. And it looked good too, as the simpler, clean styling gave it a unique look among other luxury vehicles. Engine choices included 7.0-, 7.5-, and 7.6-liter V-8 engines. The 1961 Continental became the first car built in the U.S. to come with a two-year, bumper-to-bumper warranty. It was also the first four-door convertible from a major U.S. automaker since the end of WWII in 1945.
|0-60 mph:||10.7 seconds|
|Top speed:||118 mph|
|Model years:||1961 - 1969|
Read our full review on the 1961 Lincoln Continental
Ford launched a number of cool cars in Europe as well. The Cortina is one of them.
Introduced in 1962 as a replacement for the Consul, the Cortina survived until 1982 and over five generations.
But it’s the first-gen model, also known as the Mark I, that stands out. Designed by the same man that penned the Edsel, a car that failed in the United States, the Cortina came into the spotlight as an economical, cheap-to-run family sedan. Offered as a two- or four-door sedan and a five-door estate it became a popular choice with British buyers. Its lightweight, rear-wheel-drive layout, and powerful range-topping engine gave it a surprisingly sporty character. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine in the Cortina GT generated 78 horsepower. Toward the end of the first-gen’s life-cycle, Ford launched a Lotus-modified version with a more powerful engine and a unique livery.
|0-60 mph:||12.2 seconds|
|Top speed:||92 mph|
|Model years:||1962 - 1966|
Read our full review on the 1962 Ford Cortina
The Mustang needs no further introduction. The nameplate was introduced in 1964 as an affordable sports car concept and immediately gained traction, spawning the pony car segment. The first-gen Mustang remained in production from 1964 to 1973 and evolved dramatically.
The pony car of 1964 turned into a full-fledged muscle car a couple of years later and became increasingly larger toward the early 1970s.
Ford remained loyal to the Mustang’s original design until 1966. Engine choices included inline-six units and a choice of three V-8 mills displacing 4.3 and 4.7 liters. The most powerful version of the latter, the HiPo K-code, delivered 271 horsepower and 312 pound-feet of torque. In the first two years, Ford produced almost 1.3 million Mustang before introducing an update.
|0-60 mph:||9.0 seconds|
|Top speed:||100 mph|
|Model years:||1964 - 1966|
|Production run:||1.3 million|
Read our full review on the 1964 Ford Mustang
As the Mustang was arriving in showrooms, Ford was elbows deep in a racing program that was supposed to end Ferrari’s dominance at Le Mans.
Co-developed with help from Carroll Shelby and John Wyer Automotive Engineering, the GT40 was Ford's first factory race car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
Ford built various versions and used various engines for the GT40. The Mk II is arguably the most iconic, as it was the first to defeat Ferrari at Le Mans in 1966. Ford went on to win the race in 1967, 1968, and 1969 as well. While the Mk II and the Mk IV features a 7.0-liter V-8, the Mk I was fitted with a 4.9-liter V-8. These engines developed in excess of 400 horsepower. Ford also built a road-legal version, called the Mk III, in only seven units. The GT40 design was revived in 2005 and 2017 through the Ford GT.
|Top speed:||more than 200 mph|
|Model years:||1964 - 1969|
Read our full review on the 1964 Ford GT40
1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
The GT40 wasn’t the only extreme vehicle that Ford was working on for 1964. In the U.S., the automaker was gearing up for the NHRA Super Stock championship with a drag racer based on the Fairlane.
Although built in Ford's factory, the Thunderbolt was a rather experimental car.
Fitted with the massive 7.0-liter V-8 in the Galaxie, the Thunderbolt was lighter than any other production Ford of its size thanks to its fiberglass body elements, plexiglass windows, and the elimination of street items like sun visors, radio, heater, wheel covers, armrests, mirrors, and sound-deadening materials. Its V-8 engine was rated at 425 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque, but this was a conservative figure. Estimates from then claim that the Thunderbolt’s true output was closer to 600 horsepower. The Thunderbolt won the NHRA Super Stock championship for Ford in 1964 and became one of its most iconic race cars.
|Quarter mile:||11.61 seconds at 124.8 mph|
1965 Shelby GT350
Carroll Shelby’s first collaboration with Ford, the Shelby GT350 was a lighter, performance-oriented version of the early first-generation Mustang.
Fitted with a more aggressive and more aerodynamic body kit, the GT350 was devoid of many convenience features and didn't have rear seats.
Power came from the range-topping, 271-horsepower V-8 engine in the regular Mustang, but modified to produce 306 horses and 329 pound-feet of torque. The GT350 had a successful racing career as well, winning the B-Production class of the SCCA championship for three years in a row. In 1966, Shelby sold a limited amount of supercharged models. Some GT350s were also offered to rental company Hertz. These cars were returned to Ford, refurbished and sold as GT350H models.
|0-60 mph:||6.6 seconds|
|Top speed:||138 mph|
|Model years:||1965 - 1966|
1965 Ford Transit
While it might not be as popular as the F-Series truck, the Transit van is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to Blue Oval-badged commercial vehicles.
Launched in 1965, the Transit has been in production for more than 50 years now, and it's a popular choice in Europe since day one.
The Transit went through four generational changes until 2019, each having its very own mid-cycle facelift. The first-gen Transit survived on the market for a whopping 21 years. The van was so popular in the U.K. that, in 1971, Ford combined a Transit body and a GT40 chassis and a V-8 engine to create the Transit Supervan. Ford sold more than 8.5 million Transit vans from 1965 to 2019.
|Power:||too many to mention|
|Torque:||too many to mention|
|Model years:||1965 - 2019|
|Production run:||More than 8.5 million|
One of the most iconic sports cars ever built in America, the Shelby Cobra is pretty much a British-made AC Ace with a big, all-American V-8 engine. This brilliant idea belongs to Carroll Shelby, who materialized it for the first time in 1962.
Much like the GT40, the Cobra was also unleashed on the race track against Ferrari, and it actually defeated the Italians in a few important raced.
Although short-lived — production lasted from 1962 to 1967 — the American-made Cobra spawned various road-going and race-ready versions, and even a dragster. Arguably the most iconic of them all is the Cobra 427, a competition-type roadster with a massive V-8 engine. As the 427 name suggests — as in 427 cubic inches — Carroll selected a 7.0-liter V-8. The engine delivered 425 horsepower in the standard model and 485 horses in the competition version. Only 31 Cobra 427s were built with road-legal specs.
|0-60 mph:||3.5 seconds|
|Top speed:||164 mph|
Read our full review on the 1966 Shelby Cobra 427
1968 Ford Escort
Almost unknown in the U.S., the Escort was a very popular car in Europe. And I say was because the nameplate was discontinued in 2004.
Ford produced six generations in almost 40 years, and the first-gen model remains the most iconic.
Introduced in 1967, the Mark I replaced the Ford Anglia as a small family car offered in sedan, wagon, and van body styles. It was produced in no fewer than nine factories across Europe, Asia, and Oceania, and it was sold with a wide variety of four-cylinder engines, including units modified by Lotus and Cosworth. The production run included a series of special-edition models, including a high-performance variant called the Escort RS 1600. This two-door model came with 115 horsepower and 112 pound-feet, a notable jump from the original 40-horsepower and 52-pound-foot Escort. The Escort Mark I was also a very successful race car in both rally and track competitions.
|0-60 mph:||8.3 seconds|
|Top speed:||113 mph|
|Model years:||1967 - 1975|
1984 Ford RS2000
Almost unknown in the U.S., the Escort was a very popular car in Europe. And I say was because the nameplate was discontinued in 2004. Ford produced six generations in almost 40 years, and the first-gen model remains the most iconic.
Introduced in 1967, the Mark I replaced the Ford Anglia as a small family car offered in sedan, wagon, and van body styles.
It was produced in no fewer than nine factories across Europe, Asia, and Oceania, and it was sold with a wide variety of four-cylinder engines, including units modified by Lotus and Cosworth. The production run included a series of special-edition models, including a high-performance variant called the Escort RS 1600. This two-door model came with 115 horsepower and 112 pound-feet, a notable jump from the original 40-horsepower and 52-pound-foot Escort. The Escort Mark I was also a very successful race car in both rally and track competitions.
|Engine:||Turbocharged, 1.8-liter four-cylinder|
|0-60 mph:||3.8 seconds|
|Top speed:||118 mph|
|Model years:||1984 - 1986|
1992 Ford Crown Victoria
Built from 1991 until 2011, the Crown Victoria is one of Ford’s longest-running sedans. Two generations were developed, sold between 1992 - 1997 and 1998 - 2012, respectively.
Replaced by the Ford Taurus, the Crown Victoria was the last full-frame rear-wheel-drive passenger sedan produced in North America and the only non-luxury sedan offered with a standard V-8 engine.
As you probably already know, this four-door made a name for itself as a police interceptor and taxi, serving both roles for more than two decades. The Crown Victoria was retired with a 4.6-liter V-8 engine that generated 239 horsepower and 287 pound-feet of torque. The Crown Victoria was also sold under the Mercury and Lincoln brands, as the Grand Marquis and Town Car, respectively.
|0-60 mph:||8.4 seconds|
|Top speed:||134 mph|
|Model years:||1991 - 2011|
|Production run:||around 1.6 million|
The first true high-performance version of the F-150 truck, the SVT Raptor was introduced in 2009. Not only a dedicated off-roader, but it also had a more powerful V-8 engine. At first, sold with a 5.4-liter V-8, the Raptor was offered with a larger, 6.2-liter V-8 starting 2011. That’s when output increased to a whopping 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque.
The SVT Raptor became so popular that Ford decided to keep it in production for the thirteenth-generation truck as well.
However, the second-gen Raptor no longer features a V-8, as Ford decided to go with a twin-turbo, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 instead.
|0-60 mph:||6.6 seconds|
|Top speed:||135 mph|
|Model years:||2009 - 2013|
Read our full review on the 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
Originally introduced in 2002, the Focus RS was revived in 2009 and again for the 2016 model year. The latest Focus RS is basically discontinued since Ford launched a brand-new Focus, and until a new RS comes into the spotlight, it will live on as the most aggressive ever built.
Powered by the same 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine as the Mustang, the Focus RS hits the ground with amazing 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque.
This rating enabled Ford to dethrone the Volkswagen Golf R and move closer to the Mercedes-AMG A45, a premium-priced hatchback. The Focus RS also features an all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring that can send up to 70 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels.
|Engine:||2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder|
|0-60 mph:||4.5 seconds|
|Top speed:||165 mph|
|Model years:||2016 - 2019|
Read our full review on the 2018 Focus Focus RS