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new balance discount tennis shoes A cultural icon Ford Mustangs have been around for more than 40 years and new versions as well as vintage models seem to be as popular as ever. Why? Call it affordable cool. It's the quintessential American performance car from the 1960s, updated only enough to keep the makers of government emissions and safety legislation happy." Calling the Mustang the "quintessential" performance car of the 60s might be a little over the top. Let's face it, along the way Ford did occasionally drop the ball. Remember the Mustang II? Yet, despite that brief lapse in judgment, the concept has been a successful one. As the Auto Channel's website reasonably argues, the Mustang's "classic formula works a relatively small car with a powerful engine, preferably a V8, in front, driving the rear wheels." Plus, Ford certainly did climb out of the rut it made with that second generation Mustang, which happily only "lived" from 1974 to 1978. In subsequent years, the automaker rightfully embraced the car's legacy by developing new models with an old look. The retro approach worked and, these days, the Mustang lives on almost in a class by itself, reaching the status of a cultural icon. Again, Auto Channel: "The Mustang does not compete with [any other model]. At the moment, it doesn't compete with anything. It's a Mustang. Period." The past Part of the Mustang's allure emerges from its standing as a collectible car. A case in point: In a recent listing of cars for sale at Hemmings Motor News' website Hemmings is the world's largest collectorcar marketplace shoppers could view almost 2,000 listings of Ford models. Nearly 500 of those Ford models were Mustangs. In addition to the affordability factor of Mustangs past and present, the car is also, generally, fairly easy to work on, with engine parts easy to replace and a parts inventory that's cheap and still widely available at parts stores and online. Of course, that's not to say that vintage Mustangs don't fetch some lofty prices. A 1967 Mustang GT was recently for sale in Chisholm in northern Minnesota for $69,000. A 1969 Mustang Mach I was for sale in St. Paul for $53,000. With the Mustang pushing 50, a wide range of these models is available out there. One just needs to peruse the newspaper classifieds or vintagecar websites. The firstgeneration models may still be the coolest: running from 1964 to 1973. The aforementioned secondgeneration may be the least cool the cars looked like gussiedup Pintos. The third generation 1979 to 1993 offered coupe, convertible and hatchback versions. The fourth generation witnessed a major redesign and a strong retro salute to the car's heritage. Now in its fifth generation 2005 to present the Mustang continues to offer cool looks, capable performance and reasonable prices. The future Ford shows no signs of putting its Mustang out to pasture. Indeed the automaker recently unveiled the 2008 Mustang Bullitt edition. The car is a GT500 variation on Mustang's theme, styled after the car featured in the classic carchase film "Bullitt," which starred Steve McQueen. As Auto Week cynically put it, the Bullitt edition is "a simple way for Ford's marketers to milk a few extra bucks from a beloved badge, integrity sold to the public on the wings of Steve McQueen's soul." Yet the magazine also acknowledges, "We do embrace the Bullitt without reservation." The Bullitt version goes on sale in early 2008 for $31,000. Ultimately, this Bullitt edition may stand as the best example yet of how Mustangs have attained a cultural icon status that perhaps no other car can match.