The 4th generation Mustang got a major redesign and was based on Fox-4 rear wheel drive platform. Ford knew that Mustang is an icon car that most people associated with Ford. So killing this nameplate would have had serious consequences and Ford didn’t want that to happen.
The styling cues from earlier generation were brought by Ford famous designer Patric Schiavone: horse badge on the grille, reappeared side scoop, 3-segment tail lights, twin pad dashboard in the cockpit. The most important change in exterior was the body type – there were no coupe version for the first time since 1973, only hatchback/semifastback and convertible. The Fox platform had modified MacPherson elements, suspension got 4-wheel brakes with optional ABS system.
For the year 1999 Mustang got some sharper contours, larger wheel arches, vertical 3-element tail lights, but the basic both in interior and exterior remained the same. There also were a few special models offered: the 2001 Bullitt GT , 2003-2004 Mach 1, supercharged SVT Cobra [Special Vehicle Team] and 250-unit Cobra R [V8, 300 HP]. The Bullitt was built to evoke memories of the famous 68 Bullitt driven by Steve McQueen in the “Bullitt” movie. It was based on a regular GT, but had lowered suspension, new 5-spoke wheels, some interior redecorations and… 265 HP. This 5000 unit Bullitt was sold out quickly. The Mach 1 was almost mechanically identical 1998 Cobra rated at 305 HP. The main exterior change was eye candy paint, flat-black hood, 17 inch Magnum 500 rims and the Shaker hood scoop. The SVT was a slightly modified GT: all-aluminum engine with GT40’s cylinder heads, 32 valves and different intake system. It had 240-305 HP, unique blistered hood, rear spoiler, round fog lamps, a few snake badges. For the 3rd time in its history Mustang was chosen to pace the Indy 500 races.
The base engine was 232 cubic [3.8 liter] OHV fuel injected V6 that had 145 or 150 HP and was mounted on the standard 5-speed manual transmission. The Mustang GT model had 5.0 liter V8 rated at 215 HP. The 4-speed automatic was optional on both engines. Anyway, the 5 liter engine was replaced with the 281 cubic [4.6 liter] engine after serving in 31 out of 32 Mustangs during 40 years of duty. The SOCH V8 was rated at 215 during 96-97 and 225 HP in 1998. Since 1999 Mustang’s powertrain got some new improvements: 3.8 liter V6 was installed a new split-port induction system and gained more power – 190 HP, and the V8 increased an output to 260 HP by redesigning head and some other enhancements [this power remained till the generation ended in 2004].
Even though the new Mustang was a hit the sales weren’t that overwhelming.