1971 Ford Mustang: Ultimate In-Depth Guide

1971 Ford Mustang: Ultimate In-Depth Guide

History, Specs, Options, Performance & More

1971 Ford Mustang

1971 Ford Mustang Overview

The 1971 saw another major restyling change for the Mustang. It was also to be the last restyling for the first generation Mustang. Introduced late in August of 1970, the new Mustang was more than two inches longer and almost two and a half inches wider than it’s 1970 predecessor. The 200 cubic inch 6 cylinder was dropped along with the 428 cubic inch V8.

Model: 1971 Ford Mustang
Generation: 1st Generation Mustang
Type: 2 Door
Body Styles: Coupe, Convertible, Fastback/Sportsroof
Engines: 250ci six, 302ci 2bbl V8, 351ci 2bbl V8, 351ci 4bbl V8, 351ci 4bbl V8 (CJ), 429ci 4bbl V8, 429ci 4bbl V8 (RA)
Original Price: $3,006 (Basic Coupe), $3,322 (Convertible), $3,006 (Fastback)
Units Produced: 149,678

Additional 1971 Mustang Research: 1971 Research Center / Colors Details / Production Numbers / Prices & Options / Sales Brochures / Owner Manuals / Maintenance / Pictures / Videos / VIN Decoder / Special Editions


Background & Details

1971 saw another major restyling change for the Mustang. It was also to be the last restyling for the first generation Mustang. Introduced late in August of 1970, the new Mustang certainly looked different. While maintaining a basic resemblance to previous Mustangs, the 1971 Mustangs were the largest and heaviest yet.

The body gained weight and other dimensions faster than you could say stop! It was more than two inches longer and almost two and a half inches wider than it’s 1970 predecessor. For the first time since the Mustang’s inception, the wheelbase was extended one inch to 109″. In fact Lee Iacocca called it a “fat pig”.

The car had to gain width and length to accommodate the new 429 dynamo being installed in it. Over 400 pounds were added in one year! Yet, if you did not order the monster engine, the smaller engines were still hampered by the increase in weight and size.

Ford still built the Mustang in three configurations: hardtop, convertible and SportsRoof.

The Exterior Design

The design was mocked up by Gail Halderman and shown to Ford’s then president “Bunkie” Knudsen. Bunkie liked the design and approved it. Sad news however because of his racing and performance tastes, he was removed from office. It seems like the upper echelon didn’t share his tastes and were caving in to the underpowered and ugly “econostang” being readied for 1974.

On the SportsRoof, the rear window angle was only fourteen degrees from horizontal- this resulted in a cleaner aerodynamic look, but it was harder to see out. It also meant that rear window slats were no longer offered. Probably because if you put slats on the rear window your view of the stars would be blocked. Also, because you set low in the seats, and it was hard to see over the long hood and rear end.

Also on the exterior, the famous Mustang corral returned. A new wide chrome strip on the edge of the front fenders and hood was borrowed from the 1969 Shelby’s. The long hood now turned up at the windshield to cover the hidden wipers. Large, bold, triple lens tail lights appeared on the rear of the new Mustang. Flush mounted door handles replaced the earlier surface mounted units.

If you ordered the top of the line 429 ram air package, you got the functional hood scoops, all others got a simulated hood scoop. Again, if you wanted to pay for functionality there was a price and if you had a 351 engine, you could buy the Ram Air hood package. This Dual Ram Induction option consisted of a hood with two functional NASA type hood scoops, twist type hood locks, a Tu-Tone paint treatment, and black or argent and Ram Air decals. It made any Mustang look better but really didn’t do much as far performance goes.

The Interior

The interior was redesigned as well. The dash used a three pod arrangement, and for the first time, power windows and a defroster were optional. There were two interior options, the Decor Group and the Mach 1 Sports Interior, which was optional on any SportsRoof Mustang. The interior also featured standard high-back buckets, a mini console, and an all new instrumentation layout.

The deluxe interior on the Mach 1 was not standard this year. If you wanted class you bought it at a price of about $130. The deluxe hood was a Mach 1 option if you ordered the engine upgrade.

Engines

The 200 cubic inch 6 cylinder was dropped along with the 428, the Boss 302, and the Boss 429. New engines for 1971 were the Boss 351, the 429, and the Ram Air 429. Base engine on all models was the 250 c.i. six cylinder, except the Mach 1 which came with the 210 hp 302 V8.

All of the 351 engines (series 335) used in the Mustangs were manufactured at the Cleveland plant. In May of ’71, the 351 CJ engine design changed somewhat. The compression was lowered and the horsepower decreased as well. The latter engine was rated 5 horsepower less at 280 horsepower. Both engines were designated with the letter “M” on the door plates.

The 302 V8 didn’t provide much punch for a heavier Mustang. Optional V8s were the 210 hp 302, 240 hp 351, 285 hp 351, 370 hp 429, 375 hp 429. All 351 V-8s were Clevelands. In May 1971, a low compression 280hp 351, called the 351CJ, replaced the 285 hp 351 V-8 that was available at the beginning of the model year. Both of these 351s had the same engine code, M.

With the 427 and 428 engines now history, the replacement 429 CJ engine was called for duty as the top Mustang engine. Although the 429s were available on any Mustang body style, the big engine was most often seen in the Mach 1, which was still the main Mustang performance model. The 429 belonged to the Ford 385 Engine Series and as such, no parts were interchangeable with the older 428. Wider, larger, and heavier, the 429 would not readily fit into the 1970 Mustang engine compartment, which is one of the reasons why the 1971 Mustang got bigger. The cylinder block was a variation of the 429/460 block, of which the Boss 429 was also based on; the cylinder heads were similar to the 351 Cleveland in design. You could describe the 429 as a large Boss 302. The 429CJ became a 429SCJ if the Drag Pack option was ordered.

Special Edition Models & Variants

The Mach 1 continued to be offered for ’71. The Boss 302 and Boss 429 were no longer available , but in keeping with the Boss concept, there was the new Boss 351 for 1971. New for 1971 was the Boss 351 which replaced the Boss 302 and Boss 429.

The overall performance image of the Mach 1 and Boss 351 Mustangs was watered down with the availability of the Sports Hardtop option late in the model year. Based on the hardtop body, it used he Mach 1s honeycomb grille and color keyed bumper, the standard Mach 1 hubcap/trim rings, the non-functional NASA hood and the Boss 351’s side stripes.

1971 boss mustang

Boss 351

New for 1971 was the Boss 351 which replaced the Boss 302 and Boss 429. The Boss 351 featured a special 330 horsepower 351-4V Cleveland engine. The Boss 351 featured a blacked out NASA scooped hood with twist type locks and special body side stripes. The Boss 351 included a competition suspension with staggered rear shocks, a four speed transmission with a Hurst shifter, power front disc brakes, dual exhaust, and 3.91:1 traction lock rear end. There were a total of 151,484 Mustangs built in 1971.

Learn more about the 1971 Ford Mustang Boss 351

1971 Ford Mustang Grande

Grande

The 1971 Mustang Grande option was only for the hardtop and consisted of a vinyl roof, plush interior with deluxe cloth high bucket seats, electric clock, interior trim panels with molded pull handles and arm rests, deluxe two-spoke steering wheel, color-keyed racing mirrors, full wheel covers, metal rocker panel moldings, metal wheel lip trim, and dual exterior paint stripes.

Learn more about the 1971 Ford Mustang Grande

1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1

Mach 1

The Mach 1 continued to be offered for ’71. It was available with any of the V8 engines. A special honeycomb grille and color keyed front bumper were unique to the Mach 1 model. The chrome hood and fender mouldings were replaced with color keyed trim. “Mach 1” decals were placed on the fenders and deck lid and a special black or argent lower body side paint was used.

Learn more about the 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1

German Ford T5 Badge

T-5 (Mustang)

Several special edition Mustangs and packages were sold in 1971. The T-5 was the least interesting from a customization perspective but the coolest story for sure. As we mentioned in the 1966 T-5 post, the German truck manufacturer, Krupp owned the German copyrights to the name Mustang so Ford had to rename the Mustang to the Ford T-5. T-5s were sold in Germany from 1964 through the 1979 model year.

Learn more about the 1971 Ford T-5 (Mustang)

1971 Ford Mustang Spring Special Value Hardtop

Spring Special Value

Continuing the theme of the 1970 Grabber Mustangs was the 1971 Spring Sports Coupe. The Spring Sports Coupe capitalized on the ’71 Boss Mustangs, just as the ’70 Grabber had capitalized on the ’70 Boss. The Spring Sports Coupe was dressed up to simulate a 351 Boss, with quite a long list of wanted features.

Learn more about the 1971 Ford Mustang Spring Special Value


Specifications, Options & Detailed Stats

Production Numbers

A total of 149,678 Mustangs were sold in 1971, down down 36% year on year. The Mustang was continuing to go against consumer tastes and Ford’s moves to sure up demand just did not work. To dive into the model and body splits as well as see charts and percentages, check out our 1971 Ford Mustang Production & Sales Numbers deep dive.

Options and Pricing

Two good options were introduced in 1971, the power windows and a rear window defroster were offered. The deluxe interior on the Mach 1 was not standard this year. If you wanted class you bought it at a price of about $130. The deluxe hood was a Mach 1 option if you ordered the engine upgrade.

1971 saw more of the performance options becoming available on regular Mustangs. The Dual Ram Induction option, on 351 and larger engines, consisted of a hood with two functional NASA type hood scoops, twist type hood locks, a Tu-Tone paint treatment, and black or argent and Ram Air decals. It made any Mustang look better but really didn’t do much as far performance goes.

Further watering down the overall performance image of the Mach 1 and Boss 351 Mustangs was the availability of the Sports Hardtop option late in the model year. Based on the hardtop body, it used he Mach 1s honeycomb grille and color keyed bumper, the standard Mach 1 hubcap/trim rings, the non-functional NASA hood and the Boss 351’s side stripes.

A competition suspension was only available on the 351 and larger engines, all Mach 1’s got it. This package consisted of: heavy duty shock absorbers, Heavy duty springs as well as front and if the engine was a 351 4v or large also rear stabilizer bars and staggered shocks. The cars were also equipped with a variable ratio (15.7 to 1) power steering unit.

For more detailed options and pricing, please check out our 1971 pricing and options research.

Exterior & Interior Colors

A total of 18 exterior colors were offered for the 1971 Mustang model year. There weren’t many special colors this year so total exterior color options came in at a total of 19 colors (unlike previous years with a proliferation of custom colors). For detailed colors, color palettes, codes and interior colors please check out our in depth 1971 colors information post.

Dimensions & Weight

The 1971 saw another major restyling change for the Mustang. The new Mustang was more than two inches longer and almost two and a half inches wider than it’s 1970 predecessor. For the first time since the Mustang’s inception, the wheelbase was extended one inch to 109″.

Engine Specs

The engine lineup changed in 1971. The 427 and 428 engines were history. Both were replaced with the 429 CJ engine. For more information on engines for 1971, you can find the information here.

Performance

We have mentioned before that getting accurate performance data on the early Mustangs is nearly impossible. In most cases only specific variant or engine combinations were ever tested.

VIN Information

Vin Decoder Mustang 1971

This link will take you to a page which contains the VIN tag information for all years of Mustangs. Previously this information appeared on each Mustang’s year page, but consolidating it has significantly reduced page loading times. To decode the build sheet, check out our 1971 VIN & Data Plate Decoder sheet.

Videos & Picture Galleries

We managed to find some great video reviews of the 1971 Mustang so definitely check those out. We also have a picture 1971 Ford Mustang Picture Gallery and photos of real Mustangs in each color that was available.

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