Ford announced the arrival of their take on American Muscle with the release of the Mustang all the way back in 1962. Classic lines, simple geometry, and a powerful engine proved a commercial success for the company, and various models of the Mustang have been in constant production since the car was first released to the public in 1964. Whether you’ve fallen in love with the beat-up green monster Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt, or the '80s Fox-bodied experiments, or if you've been revived by the latest round of ground-up redesigns, almost any Mustang is sure to turn the heads of car lovers worldwide.
The Mustang’s ubiquity lends itself to a wide variety of tunes and modifications. Carroll Shelby began the process, arguably, with his line of performance-enhanced supercars, like Eleanor, the GT500 Nic Cage steals in Gone in 60 Seconds. Eleanor was a beautiful beast, though, having been professionally upgraded by a legendary former racer, a man who also happened to be the inventor of the Cobra, the Ford GT in all its iterations, and a multiple Le Mans winner in his own right.
Many Mustang owners have tried to follow in Shelby’s footsteps, modifying their rides in garages and driveways all over the world. The temptation to turn a mass-produced vehicle into a personal piece of automotive history must be overwhelming, and some owners have succeeded in improving their cars, but many more have failed. From hilariously bad looks to absurdly destructive performance, check out some of the worst Mustangs ever modified:
25 The Blue Whale
While this Mustang has clearly been extensively repurposed for quick trips to the drag strip, it's hard to imagine what went through the redesign of that exterior shell. Instead of an American Stallion, we've got something that resembles more of a whale, complete with two huge blow holes next to a humpback on the hood. Considering all the work dedicated towards speed, couldn't someone have taken at least ten steps back and considered whether the crowd at the strip might be chuckling below the roar?
Hopefully the exhaust ports and rear wheels give the driver a little more pleasure than constantly trying to crane their neck to see the track ahead, a track which is hopefully perfectly straight given the narrow front tires hidden underneath this behemoth. The Mustang logo on the front grill is just about all that remains of what is (probably?) a fourth generation model underneath all that blubber.
24 What Year Is It Again?
This strange combination of styles is almost a trip through time. What clearly started as a Fox body (or third generation) Mustang has been modified with rounded edges on its nose and bumper, two sets of mismatched custom fog lights, a tie down hood, and non-original wheels. Then it was all painted over in a color that serves to draw the eye only towards the stark strangeness, like putting makeup on Frankenstein. And yet the fabricators must have known their history.
That grill and its headlights could probably be donated from a first gen Mustang.
The hood scoop could indicate an intercooler for a turbo-four engine, which was first introduced in 1981 and offered similar performance numbers to the traditional V8, but with improved fuel economy and less front end weight. Whatever the intention, whoever cobbled this thing together clearly suffered from a lack of focus.
23 Less Useful Than A Sponge
Big rims, scorpion decals, a huge wing, and a body kit; what's not to love? How about every single curve and bump, or maybe even grain of rice, in the road.
If you're going to trick a car out this ridiculously, just get rid of the tires altogether and let the thing sit in your garage taking up space.
We know it's all about the looks and not the way it drives anyways. On a positive note, at least this shiny toy doesn't have side windows, since they'd probably break within five minutes of starting the car up anyways. And the webbing that replaces the window also keeps you out of what used to be a perfectly reasonable fifth generation Mustang. But if you're not in the car, at least you can't break it. Or rather, at least you can't make it any worse.
22 Gymkhana For The Soul
The madhouse drifting style known as Gymkhana has certainly upped the game in over-powered, under-tractioned monstrosity.
With 1,400 horsepower and four wheel drive, this first gen Mustang coupe has been extensively modified to allow legendary driver Ken Block to charge up and around anything on the road, all while leaving burnout and skid marks everywhere it goes.
Monster energy drink decals probably reveal what deranged the minds that took a historical classic Mustang and turned it into something only one person on the planet could ever actually use. Imagine taking the kids to the park or picking up groceries, but don't leave the keys in the car or someone might take it for a joy ride and demolish an entire parking lot worth of Nissans and Hondas.
21 Transformers Takeover
Rappers in the mid-2000s may have constantly boasted about butterfly doors, but that doesn't mean everyone needs them on their car.
In what appears to be inspired by a teenaged Transformer, this late 90s Mustang has been modified at great cost, including the aforementioned wings (doors), an extended spoiler protruding off the trunk, a body kit that resembles the packaging for fancy soap, and an interior redecoration to match.
At least the hilarity is capped off by truly unusable wheels with low profile tires so low, they're almost invisible. If the engine's been modded to match the exterior, it's probably safe to guess it might be made of Legos and rubber bands. And is the gas tank latch riveted shut? That would explain just about everything for this poor stallion.
20 Green With Envy
Is there anything that seems unusual about this Mustang? Almost everything looks completely stock, at first glance. Yes, it's true, the car did come in Kermit the Frog green. The chrome mirror caps are aftermarket, maybe? Or is it the ENORMOUS wheels, which appear to be actively scraping both sides of the rear wheel well in addition to the road. Maybe the chrome rims are just floating on balls of Flubber as it molds to the shape of the car. If you're ever lucky enough to catch this Mustang rolling down the block, try not to let jealousy get the better of you. Of course, the owner should probably feel a little green since you can drive over a speed bump, while he has to re-inflate his tires after every painted crosswalk.
19 Blind Spot Detection
Occasionally, if you need to turn or change lanes while driving, it may become necessary to use the vehicle's turn indicators or check the rearview mirror to make sure there are no cars next to you. Then, glance over your shoulder and check your blind spot before changing lanes. This Mustang GT has been modified with aggressive wheels and what appears to be aftermarket exhaust, but the standout change has to be the three-quarter window delete. Sure, this helps the car reference back to the original fastbacks of the 60s and 70s, but now it's missing a critical quadrant of usable view. Maybe the owner of this car just drives so fast so much of the time that he can be absolutely certain no one is on his sides since no one can keep up. Sounds like a safe bet.
18 Bodykits Add Twenty Horses
Just a tip to all the would-be mechanics out there: if your body kit has to end where your door opens, that's probably over-doing things.
This fifth generation Mustang sits lowered on aftermarket wheels and sports a nifty dual exhaust at the rear, but the bodykit and spoiler additions are so extensive it looks like the front fascia might pop off if the driver's door is opened all the way.
Imagine having to squeeze out like someone parked too closely in the parking lot, except every single time. While it may be true that a bodykit can improve aerodynamics, is that worth the sacrifice of replacing a quarter panel every time the cars gets driven? Judging from this Pony, the answer might just be a yes.
17 Chopped Off The Whole Top
One of the main problems with the Fox body Mustang was its boxy, high profile stance. Of course, that's also something that enthusiasts love about the model, but clearly the owner of this example disagreed. And disagreed strongly enough to do something drastic. The car looks to have been chopped until leaving only about four inches of windshield visibility, while side windows seem to slide front to back instead of up and down. Hopefully the seats have been repositioned, otherwise the car will get most of its use driving back and forth from the chiropractor's office. Despite the rear spoiler that might now be higher than the rest of the entire car, maybe this Mustang really can dodge and weave underneath tractor trailers like the Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious.
16 Good Luck Turning
In the pursuit of aerodynamic efficiency, sometimes even modern Mustang tuners go too far. The wire spoked, red rimmed wheels on this sixth generation wide-body give the car a Batman supervillain feel, but you'd never be able to catch the Batmobile for the simple fact that the car probably can't make a turn. Sure, the front lip helps keep the car glued to the ground, but it looks like the rear spoiler could perform that function just fine. And what about parallel parking?
This beast looks wider than a military grade Humvee with about one tenth the ground clearance and an even worse turning radius.
Think about how much cash was spent on a car that can't drive through town and can't even make it up the trailer-ramp to get taken to a track. Luckily it's got fog lights for those late night outings, though.
15 Hello Darkness My Old Friend
This example might be one of the tamest featured in this article, with only a subtle body kit, vented hood, some blacked out rims, and a small spoiler, but the car throws caution to the wind with a radical tint job worthy of a moonless midnight. Not that you'd ever take this Mustang out, not even to lunch. The windows are so darkly tinted that you'd be rear ending poor Camaros even in the bright midday sun. At least the darkness lends to plausible deniability, since no one would be able to testify as to who's driving the thing. And forget red light cameras if you are brave enough to drive this car around town: if you can't see them, they definitely can't see you.
14 Horse Drawn Plow
Nothing grates the soul worse than hearing someone pull their bumper off while backing away from a curb. This custom Mustang gets pretty close to that level of horrific, however. With gaudy brushed aluminum trim installed all over every single detail, it becomes almost difficult to even recognize this car as a Mustang at all. The custom convertible hardtop with its teardrop profile only adds to the conundrum, while the plow-like diffuser in the rear really defies comprehension. But hey, maybe a farmer drives this rig when his field dries up so hard he needs 300 horses to plant one single line of corn. Definitely don't pull out from a steep driveway in this one, or you risk hoeing a row all the way down the block.
13 The Legendary Land Shark
Once upon a time in the old days, happy cars used to get driven around by their happy owners, who were blissfully content knowing that at no point would a shark rise up out of the pavement to chomp their feet off. Little did these poor souls know that with a couple of airbags and a compressor, an evil genius lay in wait, biding his time until the release of this fearsome and mythical monster.
Today, the land shark is a rare sight, and its victims rarer still. Despite an intimidating outward appearance, and luckily for us all, this toothed beast can't go very fast since it has to drags its bumper and side skirts along the ground, which coincidentally serves as an effective shark warning for local beaches, as well.
12 Ford Mustanger
It's almost hard to tell whether this is a Ford Ranger that has a fourth generation Mustang superglued to it ahead of the windshield, or a Ford Mustang that got a truck cab and bed added to its rear end. The confusion is a testament to the color matched paint job and similar styling of the two contemporary vehicles. Sadly, that in itself is a testament to the wayward direction of Ford's design team during its worst era.
The cherry on top of this red Frankenstein might be the dealer plate, which reads "ORANGE".
Hopefully any potential buyer appreciates the irony or at least acknowledges the craftsmanship that went into ruining two perfectly good automobiles just to make one that's unique but in the end, fruitless.
11 Locking Hubs?
This highly modified GT350 features a substantial lift kit, huge knobbies, and allegedly even four-wheel drive with locking hubs. While the project no doubt required extensive knowledge, skill, and determination to complete, why ruin a perfectly good GT350 when any old shell would have done just fine?
Carroll Shelby may have enjoyed a light chuckle at the sight of this ranch hand toiling away in the mud, but in his heart of hearts he'd certainly be wondering why the builder didn't ruin a low-spec model, maybe even one with an automatic transmission. That would have been a better first step, followed by the build, then just adding racing stripes afterwards to wrap it all together. Though judging from this hilarious example, reasonability might have been the first thing thrown out the window.
10 Pop A Squat
Fifth gen Mustangs represented Ford's acknowledgement to themselves that their design and mechanical prowess had been failing the brand and the nation for years, if not decades. The failures hit hardest on the pudgy, plastic 'Stangs of the late 90s and early 2000s, but the recent redesign revealed the classic car company's intention to make right the models they'd left behind, or at least the intention to make a few steps in the right direction.
The entire history of this particular car being relegated to pandem lowering with bulging tires makes this modded Mustang seem extra ridiculous.
Right when Ford seemed to be making a U-turn back towards the tradition of American muscle, somebody comes along and takes their effort and cannibalizes it into a car that couldn't outrun a banana slug slithering across a hot Florida highway.
9 Not Quite Flying
Shiny chrome, a pristine paint job, classic rims, and gold stripes; there's a lot to love about this first generation Mustang coupe, but the stance ruins the whole package. Go back and watch Bullitt, which features a second gen Pony charging the hills of San Francisco with Steve McQueen at the wheel, throwing his classic fastback around bends and over curbs as he chases the bad guys. Now that car had stance!
This one, however, looks like the shocks burst, the springs failed, and the tires might be next. Imagine something this low flying over the hill crests. The next shot would be the car bottoming out with a spray of sparks while the oil from its destroyed oil pan pools on the concrete, the car slowly grinding to a halt as the bad guys get away in the distance. McQueen, who performed most of his driving stunts himself, would be disappointed in this one, to be sure.
8 A Mad Max Christmas
Every neighborhood has the one house that totally overdoes the Christmas decorations. Lights, displays, inflatables, toys, a petting zoo in the real life manger... That family's kid went to college and his proud parents bought him a new car as a high school graduation gift. Sadly, he majored in Comparative Literature and now lives on the beach in Mendocino, watching Thunderdome on repeat by night and by day collecting toys and garbage out of the surf and gluing them to his car in a compulsive attempt to recreate the Christmas coziness of his long-lost home life. Occasionally he braves the freeway to begin making the long trip home, all the while hoping none of his trophies fly off in the wind. When that first action figure rattles loose, the dream evaporates and with a quick turnabout he's back on the beach, hoarding more additions for his "art piece".
7 Drifting Across The Lanes
Look at that control arm, something that definitely shouldn't be so visible from the angle of this photograph. Then check out the stickers all over the car. It's safe to guess this is a drift car, but what about the faux Highway Patrol logo?
In reality, Fox body Mustangs were occasionally delivered to police and sheriff departments, with high-spec engines and A/C making such examples particularly valuable to this day.
It's a safer bet that this car only slightly resembles the law abiding spirit of such cars, though, and it almost certain fails to maintain safe following distances or consistent use of turn indicators. With the almost perpendicular front wheels, throwing this thing around corners must be a ton of fun, but how can the driver hope to see through all the ridiculous decals on the windows and bodywork?
A beautiful American invention arrived in the 70s and 80s: the combination car-truck. Pioneered by the Chevrolet El Camino, the Dodge Rampage, and Ford's own Ranchero, these peculiar but useful mash-ups usually sported overpowered rear axles without enough weight over the tires to prevent burnouts after every stop. Owners would combat the problem by carrying sandbags in the rear of the bed just to add a little heft over the rear tires.
It's a mystery why anybody would take a Fox body Mustang sports car and convert it to a cruck, but why not?
With an impressively fabricated, seamless transition from coupe to cab, and some slick wheels capping the build off, this "Truckstang" almost seems like it could be fun, provided the seats can slide back enough still and the rear end doesn't hop like a frog in hot water. Just don't call it a Mustang, though.
5 Built Ford Tough
Someone stole the mud flaps off a tractor trailer for this lifted monster, and that's about the only good thing about it. The bad? How about square tubing on the rear bumper mismatched to round tubes for a step up, round exhaust, and no end caps to be found on the work at all. Add on bumper flares that are barely even rounded, and a ridiculously small rear spoiler that presumably adds a couple pounds of downforce to the few hundred extra the suspension and tires added onto what is already considered the largest and heaviest model Mustang that Ford ever produced. For this one, do you ask if its efficiency is measured in miles per gallon or gallons per mile? Regardless, the best place for this beast is at a demolition derby, headed downhill straight for the semi those mud flaps came off.
4 Black Is The New Black
This drag racer may or may not be 100% road ready, but with most of the original body panels intact, the true mystery is who conceived of creating a drag racer from a Mustang in the first place. It seems like the logical choice would be to either leave everything as stock as possible with a ton of power under the hood, or go for a ground up aerodynamically optimized body kit. Instead, we've got an amalgamation of parts bolted on, highlighted by a Justice League-era Batman wing providing downforce at the rear, while wheelie bars stick out eight feet past it to keep the car from flipping backwards from the strength of the tail fin. Hopefully the brake lights work since it seems they're going to stay in place, though.
3 What's That Under The Hood?
This electric blue first generation Fastback looks pretty well preserved at first glance. Notice the awesome window shade, which tops off the appearance. But next peer under the hood.
That's not American muscle, that's an electric motor a la Elon Musk's Tesla products. Imagine keying the ignition in this beauty only to hear the roar of silence.
Press the gas pedal and instead of a snarl you get a whine, and be careful in parking lots because old people probably won't be able to hear you coming. You won't even have to keep the dog in the backseat as you crank through the gear shifts since this modern miracle probably only has one speed forward and one in reverse. There's something that seems fundamentally un-American about plugging the future of automotive tech into a classic piece of industry history.
2 A Car Hat
Luckily this custom job retained the Mustang detail on its doors. Otherwise, onlookers might be left wondering what exactly went through the builder's head. When you think Fox body, surely nobody thinks "Let's toss it on top of a Zamboni machine's drivetrain so it can go 100 times slower." But maybe that's exactly the intention behind this project. Note the license plate that's been taken from the upper location and mounted to the (bottom) bumper. Would this thing pass smog in California? Only if it's titled as a farm implement, and still only possibly. At least the welded on, pinstriped bumper flares travel all the way down to protect the donor vehicle's tires almost two feet below the wheel wells of the Mustang. Safety first, after all.
1 Boat Slash Wagon
Just look strictly at the rear window on this custom station wagon. Try not to glance away, otherwise you might notice the extensive reworking of a first generation Mustang's side vent detailing as it swoops rearward and back towards the custom tail that resembles less a car than a speedboat. Along the way you might also catch a glimpse of the rearview mirror, which is good since they're so skinny the driver certainly won't be able to see with them. Presumably there's not much traffic on the nearest body of water, so changing lanes shouldn't be a huge challenge. The only way this could get worse is if the kids sit facing backwards, making faces at the people in the car behind them who can't quite figure out if this is being towed to the lake or if it's just going to drive itself straight in.