Since the Mustang had undergone a major restyling in 1971, the 1972 models saw no big styling changes, only minor cosmetic ones. Probably due to increasing governmental fuel economy regulations, all of the Boss cars were dropped from the 1972 lineup. The Boss 351 and both versions of the 429 engine were dropped so all the fun was gone from the Mustang models. A depressing year, especially with sales down too. Production for 1972 topped out at 125,813.
The 1972 Mustang remains unchanged from the 1971 older sibling. Save for a few cosmetic changes, most body panels and parts are interchangeable. With a lack of any real exterior differences, the virtually unchanged Mustang sold poorly. It is hard to get excited when the most interesting thing for the model year was the revised with “Fasten Seat Belt” warning lamps on the right side dash panel. Hold me back folks. For the keen eyed fans, you could tell the 1971 and 1972 Mustangs apart thanks to the lettering on the rear deck lid. 1971 Mustangs had Mustang lettering that ran the full width of the deck lid. 1972 Mustangs got Mustang lettering, in script, only above the right taillight.
The “Decor Group” exterior trim package was also revised, allowing coupe and convertible owners to option their car with tu-tone lower body paint, plus the honeycomb sportlamp grille from the Mach 1/Boss 351 and the Mach 1’s urethane bumper. In addition, one got the color matching rubberized front bumper, some front hood moldings that were color keyed, as well as front fender color matching moldings. The wheels got a trim ring and center hub cap. The lower body received a paint treatment.
On all regular models the rear deck lid got a script Mustang emblem that attached to the left hand side, this replaced the previous “M U S T A N G” in block letters across the deck lid rear surface. The rocker panels as well as each wheel well got a chrome trim piece. It was very difficult to tell the difference between 1971, 1972 and 1972 Mustangs if you are not familiar with decals. But the easiest way to tell the difference is the front grille. There are several grille types one for the regular cars and one for the MACH1 and BOSS cars.
Due to tightening emissions regulations the most notable change for the 1972 Mustang was basically the end of the special Ford muscle car performance engine era. The only “performance” model that remained for the entire 1972 model year was the Mach 1. The Mach 1, like all other 1972 models, were virtually unchanged.
Engines & Powertrain
Due to tightening emissions regulations, the Boss 351 edition and optional 429 big block were dropped after 1971, leaving the 351 cu in (5.8 L) variants as the largest available engines for 1972 (and 1973).
At mid-year, Ford offered a slightly detuned Boss 351 engine, which could be ordered with any model. Only 398 Mustangs were built with the drag race oriented R code motor and was designated as the 351 HO. The 351 HO engine was basically a low compression version of the Boss 351 engine, with a special high-lift cam, mechanical lifters, forged aluminum pistons and a special 4-barrel manifold.
Mandatory options were the top loader 4 speed, competition N case rear end (427, 428, 429, Boss 351, 351HO), and air conditioning delete. Vacuum operated Ram Air was not available, however the HO came with the first full time cold air induction system in a Mustang, routing cold air via a 2 piece plastic duct under the battery tray to the air cleaner snorkel. All 351 HO cars were manufactured in Dearborn, MI.
Special Edition Models & Variants
The variants and special edition Mustangs for 1972 are a rather sad affair. The Boss 351 and both versions of the 429 engine were dropped. The only “performance” model that remained for the entire ’72 model year was the Mach 1. The Mach 1, like all other ’72 models, were virtually unchanged. Coinciding with similar Pinto and Maverick packages there was one truly “special” 1972 Mustang and it was the Sprint package available on the Mustang SportsRoof and hardtops (fifty convertibles were also made). The Sprint combined the Exterior Decor Group with a special paint treatment to help celebrate the Olympics.
Note: Very few 1972 Shelby Mustangs were built and they were all sent to Europe so we didn’t cover them here.
The Mustang Grande was back for 1972 model year with no major changes. The 1972 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.
No big changes on the Mach 1 front between 1971 and 1972 model year. The 1972 Mustang Mach 1 got the NASA-style scoop hood; argent silver or black lower body finish; color keyed front bumper, rear fender moldings, and sport mirrors; black honeycomb grille with integrated fog lamps; sport hubcaps with trim rings; a 302ci, 2-barrel, V8 engine; and a sport interior with high back bucket seats, electric clock, triple instrument pod, black and wood grain dash trim, and deluxe carpet and door panels. The 302 engine was standard but there was the ability to upgrade to one of three 351 cubic inch Cleveland V8s.
A limited edition version called the Mustang Sprint was introduced in February 1972 as a spring sales promotion. The 1972 Mustang Sprint was created to promote the 1972 Olympics and to participate in the Washington DC Cherry Blossom Parade. Ford Mustang sales for the year of 1972 were significantly down, and Ford was in need of a boost in sales, especially for their standard mustangs. The springtime promotion was on the horizon, as was the 1972 Olympics. From this emerged the 1972 Sprint. The 1972 ‘Sprint USA’ trimmed inside and out with red, white, & blue” with a special decal on the rear quarter panels. Standard features included dual sport mirrors, hub caps with trim rings, whitewalls, large ‘USA’ decals on the quarter panels, and a mach 1 grille.
A total of 125,903 Mustangs were sold in 1972. Total production was down 15.88% year on year, the sixth year in a row of declining sales. To dive into the model and body splits as well as see charts and percentages, check out our 1972 Ford Mustang Production & Sales Numbers deep dive.
Fastback Mach 1
Options and Pricing
A notable option for 1972 was the Exterior Decor Group on the hardtop and convertible. It included the Mach 1 honeycomb grille and sports lamps, the color-keyed front bumper, hood and fender moldings, the lower bodyside paint treatment and the Mach 1 trim ring/hubcap combo. To round out the Mach 1 look, the Mach 1 tape side stripes could also be ordered.
The “Decor Group” exterior trim package was also revised, allowing coupe and convertible owners to option their car with tu-tone lower body paint, plus the honeycomb sportlamp grille from the Mach 1/Boss 351 and the Mach 1’s urethane bumper.
Coinciding with similar Pinto and Maverick packages, was the Sprint package available on the Mustang SportsRoof and hardtops (fifty convertibles were also made and you can learn more above). This was called the Sprint Package A. Sprint Package B was identical, but added the Competition Suspension with the chrome 15×7″ Magnum 500 wheels with F60x15 tires.
A total of 16 exterior colors were offered for the 1972 Mustang model year. There weren’t many special colors this year so total exterior color options came in at a total of 17 colors. For detailed colors, color palettes, codes and interior colors please check out our in depth 1972 colors information post.
Dimensions & Weight
Since 1971 saw another major restyling change for the Mustang, in 1972 there were no major changes. The 1972 Mustang was still large, more than two inches longer and almost two and a half inches wider than the pre-1971 models. The 1972 also had the same 109 inch wheelbase as the 1971.
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. Below is the performance data for the 1972 Mustangs that we could find.