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As the Mustang closes in on its 50th anniversary next year, let’s pause for a moment and go back to 1969.

You’re a young car designer in Detroit. The Mustang just celebrated its fifth anniversary. With each facelift and redesign of that first gen, the Mustang got bigger and more powerful—hardtops, fastbacks, convertibles, and Carroll Shelby’s street-legal road racers. Since its debut in 1964, the car has gained a foot in length and almost 700 pounds to accommodate those roaring big-block V8s.

After years of showroom success and inspiring a host of imitators, the original pony car faces higher gas prices, stricter emissions standards, and tough competition from its Motown rivals. Loyal fans complain that they want a smaller car, but they want it to feel powerful. They want it to be fun. They want it to be a Mustang.

Sound familiar? 

Read more over on Road & Track