Even though the 1972 Ford Mustang did not look much different on the surface than its predecessors, upon digging deep it was easy to see that many changes were made. By 1972, Ford had lost some market share and the Mustang was looking to make up some ground.
One issue that the 1972 Ford Mustang ran into was under the hood. New emission standards that were stricter than the past were put into place. In turn, this meant reduced compression in all Mustang engines. Along with this, all automakers had to measure horsepower in SAE net instead of SAE gross. While this did not actually change the power of the car, on paper it made the Mustang look worse.
With all these changes, the V6 engine was left with 95 net horsepower. Along with this, the popular two barrel 302 V8 saw its horsepower decreased to 136. The 351’s also ran into some changes with the two barrel down to 168 horsepower and the four barrel to 275 horses.
Although performance enthusiasts were disappointed, Ford made up for this midway through the year by re-releasing the popular HO 351 engine.
Transmission options for the 1972 Ford Mustang included a three speed manual – this was standard. A four speed and Cruise-O-Matic were optional. Some models included the 1972 Mustang convertible and 1972 Mustang mach 1.
Although some were disappointed with the HO, Car and Driver had no problem praising the 1972 Ford Mustang. “It’s big and it’s self-assured. Everything is massive. When you lean on the Hurst lever…you can feel about 10 pounds of brass synchronizer rings and steel hubs sliding into position…. There is little demand for finesse, only machismo…. The HO doesn’t really feel like a high-performance engine at all. You don’t have to wait for the good part of the torque curve. It’s there all the time — flat rather than peaky like the old Boss 302s.”
The HO had the ability to go from 0-60 in 6.6 seconds. It could also do the quarter mile in 15.1 seconds at 95.6 miles per hour.
Perhaps the biggest point to make about is that the HO was available in any 1972 Ford Mustang for the affordable price of $119. That being said, there were other required options that bumped up the overall cost.
With sales sluggish from the start, Ford was well aware that mid year changes were necessary. Although the 1972 version may not be as popular as many other Mustangs, it still has a large following and is considered a classic by many.