It has been used as a symbol of American economic prosperity and free-spiritedness, and of American excess and wastefulness — and it has done so to varying degrees for more than 50 years.
The car serves as a sort of bastion for the V8 engine, bringing the best noise in the gasoline-burning world to the people.
Check out this rundown of all of the Ford Mustangs you can buy today, and some you might wish you still could.
This is the base Mustang, featuring either a 3.7-liter V6 engine or a 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4 pot — the second is turbocharged.
And here's the convertible version.
Step things up with the Mustang GT, which has a 5-liter V8 engine that sounds just like a Mustang should.
Add a little sunshine with the GT convertible. Note that this one is a right-hand drive, European spec — a first for the Mustang.
Not enough for you? Try the Shelby GT-350, which sports a 5.2-liter V8 with a flat-plane crankshaft and 526 horsepower, a combination that creates a ferocious noise, ...
... or the Shelby GT-350R, with a few more track-ready features.
But why stop there? Legendary tuning shop Shelby Automotive will take your base Mustang and turn it into the Shelby GT, a 670-horsepower monster covered in carbon-fiber detail ...
... or they'll put in 750 horsepower and some handling improvements and call it the "Shelby Super Snake."
"Superchargers for the people" should be the Shelby motto these days.
Shelby also makes the Terlingua V8, another 750-horsepower Mustang named for a famous racing team owned by a friend of late racing legend Carroll Shelby. With upgraded brakes and suspension tweaks, this is the perfect Mustang for the racetrack.
Tuning shop Saleen shares a passion for superchargers. Here's its 730-horsepower S302 Black Label.
Ford will also mess with the Mustang. This is the drag-strip-ready Cobra Jet. They'll make 50 this year.
Here it is again, deciding that it cares little for gravity.
The car and its power plant borrow their names from the "Cobra Jet" engine found in the 1968 Shelby GT-500KR.
Is this the coolest Mustang ever? It's definitely a contender. Rally Driver and tire-smoke enthusiast Ken Block created this monster to terrorize the mean streets of LA — video below. It shares a handful of parts with a 1964 Mustang.
World Champion drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr. had a similar idea, but with the new Mustang instead.
Now there's even a Lego Mustang.
Ford launched the Mustang at the 1964 World's Fair. It caused a commotion.
Ford knew it had a hit on its hands, and the advertising campaign included placing a Mustang on the Empire State Building by bringing it up in pieces. Ford repeated the stunt last year.
The first Mustangs were muscle cars, but they were also decidedly pretty.
There was also a great list of models, all with fantastic names like Mach 1 or Boss 302. Who wouldn't want a car called "Boss"?
Mustangs have also enjoyed Hollywood stardom. This is the 1968 Mustang GT 390 Fastback driven by Steve McQueen in "Bullitt."
Academy Award-winning actor Nicholas Cage drove this 1967 Fastback — labeled a GT-500 — in the 2000 remake of "Gone in 60 Seconds."
Like most Detroit creations, Mustangs got heavier in the early '70s, and pretty soon, their appeal plummeted.
To compete with small, economical Japanese cars, Ford launched the Mustang II in 1974.
Known as the "Fox Body" Mustang, this generation has retained a limited but enthusiastic following. Big engine, lightweight body — what could be better? It spanned the 1978 to 1993 model years.
This 2004 Mustang poses with its grandfather and namesake: the P-51, a fighter aircraft from World War II.
A highlight of the fourth-generation Mustang was definitely the SVT Cobra.
In 2005, the fifth-generation Mustang helped kick off the "retro" trend among modern muscle-car marquees.
The 2015 Mustang was the start of the sixth generation. It might be the best-looking since the originals. Here's to the next 50 years of the Ford Mustang, mighty icon of America, and the joys of the open road!