Ford Mustang 5.0 Will Return in 2011

Ford announced today that the 2011 Ford Mustang will once again have a 5.0 liter V8 engine. For Ford fans, the number 5.0 is a reminder of happier times, when the Mustang was the coolest car on the block. The new engine, codenamed Coyote, will be available in the F-150 next year and in the Mustang GT for the 2011 model year. According to MotorAuthority, the engine will make about 400-hp.

The Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro have been in an on-and-off rivalry since the Camaro was released in 1967 as GM’s response to the Mustang’s popularity. In the following years, Ford and Chevy were like the Hatfields and the McCoys.

In 1996, it looked like Ford was giving up on the competition when it got rid of the 302 cubic inch, 5.0 liter engine in the Mustang GT in favor of a 215-hp 4.6 liter one, just as Chevy upped the ante with its 275-hp LT1 engine. When the aluminum LS1 found its way to the Camaro, it became clear that if you wanted a pony car, you had to buy a Camaro. The Mustang became a chick car.

Hold your horses. It turns out that playing toward the middle was the right choice. The wimpy Mustang was popular through the late 90s, and the Camaro was a slow seller. So in 2001, Chevrolet discontinued the Camaro. The sun shone a little dimmer. The birds sang a little softer. The competition was gone. The joy was gone. The world was a more boring place. It looked like Ford had won the pony car war, by attrition.

In the last few years though, things have changed. Dodge figured out that maybe the American car buyer wants horsepower after all, and all of a sudden, there were wagons and sedans (the hemi-powered Magnum and Charger) out on the streets that were embarrassing the Mustangs.

GM caught on. Now Chevrolet has a new Camaro SS out, with a 422-hp V8, competing with the Mustang’s 315-hp GT. So Ford has decided it needs to get back in the performance game.

For 2011, the 400-hp Mustang will be a real pony car again. The 2011 Mustang will also get a version of Ford’s Ecoboost turbocharged V6 with 355-hp, which will be priced between the base V6 and the GT.