The Ford Motor Company
The Ford Mustang is an automobile manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. It was initially based on the platform of the second generation North American Ford Falcon, a compact car. Introduced early on April 17, 1964, and thus dubbed as a “1964½” model by Mustang fans, the 1965 Mustang was the automaker’s most successful launch since the Model A. The Mustang has undergone several transformations to its current fifth generation.
The Mustang created the “pony car” class of American automobiles—sports-car like coupes with long hoods and short rear decks—and gave rise to competitors such as the Chevrolet Camaro, and Pontiac Firebird, AMC Javelin, as well as Chrysler’s revamped Plymouth Barracuda and the first generation Dodge Challenger. The Mustang is also credited for inspiring the designs of coupés such as the Toyota Celica and Ford Capri, which were imported to the United States.
The Ford Mustang was brought out five months before the normal start of the 1965 production year. The earliest versions are often referred to as 1964½ models, but VIN coded by Ford and titled as 1965 models with production beginning in Dearborn, Michigan on March 9, 1964 and the new car was introduced to the public on April 17, 1964 at the New York World’s Fair.
Executive stylist John Najjar, who was a fan of the World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane, is credited by Ford to have suggested the nameNajjar co-designed the first prototype of the Ford Mustang known as Ford Mustang I in 1961, working jointly with fellow Ford stylist Philip T. Clark. The Mustang I made its formal debut at the United States Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, New York on October 7, 1962, where test driver and contemporary Formula One race driver Dan Gurney lapped the track in a demonstration using the second “race” prototype. His lap times were only slightly off the pace of the F1 race cars.
An alternative view was that Robert J. Eggert, Ford Division market research manager, first suggested the Mustang name. Eggert, a breeder of quarterhorses, received a birthday present from his wife of the book, The Mustangs by J. Frank Dobie in 1960. Later, the book’s title gave him the idea of adding the “Mustang” name for Ford’s new concept car. The designer preferred Cougar or Torino (and an advertising campaign using the Torino name was actually prepared), while Henry Ford II wanted T-bird II. As the person responsible for Ford’s research on potential names, Eggert added “Mustang” to the list to be tested by focus groups; “Mustang,” by a wide margin, came out on top under the heading: “Suitability as Name for the Special Car.” The name could not be used in Germany, however, because it was owned by Krupp, which had manufactured trucks between 1951 and 1964 with the name Mustang. Ford refused to buy the name for about US$10,000 from Krupp at the time. Kreidler, a manufacturer of mopeds, also used the name, so Mustang was sold in Germany as the “T-5” until December 1978.
Mustangs grew larger and heavier with each model year until, in response to the 1971–1973 models, Ford returned the car to its original size and concept for 1974. It has since seen several platform generations and designs. Although some other pony cars have seen a revival, the Mustang is the only original pony car to remain in uninterrupted production over five decades of development and revision.
First generation (1964–1973)
1964 Mustang convertible
As Lee Iacocca’s assistant general manager and chief engineer, Donald N. Frey was the head engineer for the T-5 project—supervising the overall development of the car in a record 18 months—while Iacocca himself championed the project as Ford Division general manager. The T-5 prototype was a two-seat, mid-mounted engine roadster. This vehicle employed the German Ford Taunus V4 engine and was very similar in appearance to the much later Pontiac Fiero.
It was claimed that the decision to abandon the two-seat design was in part due to the low sales experienced with the 2-seat 1955 Thunderbird. To broaden market appeal it was later remodeled as a four-seat car (with full space for the front bucket seats, as originally planned, and a rear bench seat with significantly less space than was common at the time). A “Fastback 2+2” model traded the conventional trunk space for increased interior volume as well as giving exterior lines similar to those of the second series of the Corvette Sting Ray and European sports cars such as the Jaguar E-Type. The “Fastback 2+2” was not available as a 1964½ model, but was first manufactured on August 17, 1964.
The new design was styled under the direction of Project Design Chief Joe Oros and his team of L. David Ash, Gale Halderman, and John Foster —in Ford’s Lincoln–Mercury Division design studios, which produced the winning design in an intramural design contest instigated by Iacocca.
Favorable publicity articles appeared in 2,600 newspapers the next morning, the day the car was “officially” revealed. A Mustang also appeared in the James Bond film Goldfinger in September 1964.
1967 Mustang fastback
To cut down the development cost and achieve a suggested retail price of US$2,368, the Mustang was based heavily on familiar yet simple components, many of which were already in production for other Ford models. Many (if not most) of the interior, chassis, suspension, and drivetrain components were derived from those used on Ford’s Falcon and Fairlane. This use of common components also shortened the learning curve for assembly and repair workers, while at the same time allowing dealers to pick up the Mustang without also having to spend massive amounts of money on spare parts inventories to support the new car line.
Original sales forecasts projected less than 100,000 units for the first year. This mark was surpassed in three months from rollout. Another 318,000 would be sold during the model year (a record), and in its first eighteen months, more than one million Mustangs were built. Several changes were made at the traditional opening of the new model year (beginning August 1964), including the addition of back-up lights on some models, the introduction of alternators to replace generators, and an upgrade of the V8 engine from 260 cu in (4.3 l) to 289 cu in (4.7 l) displacement. In the case of at least some six-cylinder Mustangs fitted with the 101 hp (75 kW) 170 cu in (2.8 l) Falcon engine, the rush into production included some unusual quirks, such as the horn ring bearing the ‘Ford Falcon’ logo covered by a trim ring with a ‘Ford Mustang’ logo. These characteristics made enough difference to warrant designation of the 121,538 earlier ones as “1964½” model-year Mustangs, a distinction that has endured with purists.
1969 Mustang hardtop
Ford’s designers began drawing up larger versions even as the original was achieving sales success, and while “Iacocca later complained about the Mustang’s growth, he did oversee the 1967 redesign.”. From 1967 until 1973, the Mustang got bigger but not necessarily more powerfulThe Mustang was facelifted, giving the Mustang a more massive look overall. Front and rear end styling was more pronounced, and the “twin cove” instrument panel offered a thicker crash pad, and larger gauges. Hardtop, fastback and convertible body styles continued as before. Federal safety features were standard that year, including an energy-absorbing steering column and wheel, 4-way emergency flashers, and softer interior knobs. The 1968 models received revised side scoops, steering wheel, and gasoline caps. Side marker lights were also added that year, and cars built after January 1, 1968 included shoulder belts for both front seats. The 1968 models also introduced a new 302 cu in (4.9 L) V8 engine.
The 1969 restyle “added more heft to the body as width and length again increased. Weight went up markedly too.” Due to the larger body and revised front end styling, the 1969 models (but less so in 1970) had a notable aggressive stance. The 1969 models featured “quad headlamps” which disappeared to make way for a wider grille and a return to standard headlamps in the 1970 models. This switch back to standard headlamps was an attempt to tame the aggressive styling of the 1969 model, which some felt was too extreme and hurt its sales. It’s worth noting though that 1969 sales exceeded those in 1970. Starting in 1969, to aid sales and continue the winning formula of the Mustang, a variety of new performance and decorative options became available, including functional (and non-functional) air scoops, cable and pin hood tie downs, and both wing and chin spoilers. Additionally, a variety of performance packages were introduced to appeal to a wider audience, notably the Mach 1, the Boss 302, and Boss 429. The two Boss models were introduced to homologate the engines for racing but received fame on the street and to this day they still demand premium pricing for their pedigree. 1969 was the last year for the GT option. However, a fourth model available only as a hardtop, the Grande, (pronounced ‘grund-ai’) met a degree of success starting in 1969 with its soft ride, “luxurious” trim, 55 pounds (24.9 kg) of extra sound deadening, and simulated wood trim.
1971-2 Mustang coupe
Developed under the watch of “Bunkie” Knudsen, the Mustang evolved “from speed and power” to the growing consumer demand for bigger and heavier “luxury” type designs. “The result were the styling misadventures of 1971–73 … The Mustang grew fat and lazy,” “Ford was out of the go-fast business almost entirely by 1971.” “This was the last major restyling of the first-generation Mustang.” “The cars grew in every dimension except height, and they gained about 800 pounds (363 kg). “The restyling also sought to create the illusion that the cars were even larger.” The 1971 Mustang was nearly 3 inches (76 mm) wider than the 1970, its front and rear track was also widened by 3 inches (76 mm), and its size was most evident in the SportsRoof models with its nearly flat rear roofline and cramped interior with poor visibility for the driver. Performance decreased with sales continuing to decrease as consumers switched to the smaller Pintos and Mavericks. A displeased Iacocca summed up later: “The Mustang market never left us, we left it.”
Second generation (1974–1978)
1974–1978 Mustang II
Lee Iacocca, who had been one of the forces behind the original Mustang, became President of Ford Motor Company in 1970 and ordered a smaller, more fuel-efficient Mustang for 1974. Initially it was to be based on the Ford Maverick, but ultimately was based on the Ford Pinto subcompact.
The new model, called the “Mustang II”, was introduced two months before the first 1973 oil crisis, and its reduced size allowed it to compete against imported sports coupés such as the Japanese Toyota Celica and the European Ford Capri (then Ford-built in Germany and Britain, sold in U.S. by Mercury as a captive import car). First-year sales were 385,993 cars, compared with the original Mustang’s twelve-month sales record of 418,812.
Lee Iacocca wanted the new car, which returned the Mustang to its 1964 predecessor in size, shape, and overall styling, to be finished to a high standard, saying it should be “a little jewel.” However not only was it smaller than the original car, but it was also heavier, owing to the addition of equipment needed to meet new U.S. emission and safety regulations. Performance was reduced, and despite the car’s new handling and engineering features the galloping mustang emblem “became a less muscular steed that seemed to be cantering.”
The car was available in coupé and hatchback versions, including a “luxury” Ghia model designed by Ford’s recently acquired Ghia of Italy. The coupe was marketed as the “Hardtop” but in fact had a thin “B” pillar and rear quarter windows that did not roll down. All Mustangs in this generation did feature frameless door glass, however. The “Ghia” featured a thickly padded vinyl roof and smaller rear quarter windows, giving a more formal look. Changes introduced in 1975 included reinstatement of the 302 CID V8 option (after being without a V8 option for the 1974 model year) and availability of an economy option called the “MPG Stallion”. Other changes in appearance and performance came with a “Cobra II” version in 1976 & 1977 and a “King Cobra” in 1978.
Third generation (1979–1993)
1985–1986 Ford Mustang GT
The 1979 Mustang was based on the longer Fox platform (initially developed for the 1978 Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr). The interior was restyled to accommodate four people in comfort despite a smaller rear seat. Body styles included a coupé, (notchback), hatchback, and convertible. Available trim levels included L, GL, GLX, LX, GT, Turbo GT (1983–84), SVO (1984–86), Cobra (1979–81;1989–1993), Cobra R (1993), and Ghia.
The third generation mustang had two different body styles. From 1979 to 1986 the car had a triangle shaped front clip and four headlights, known by enthusiasts as “4 Eyes.” Then in the 1987 to 1993 model years, the front clip had a more round shaping known as the “aero” style. Also in 1986, engines featured EFI (electronic fuel injection) instead of carburetors. Other changes for the 1986 models included an upgraded 8.8-inch (224 mm) rear-end with four shock absorbers.
In response to slumping sales and escalating fuel prices during the early 1980s, a new Mustang was in development. It was to be a variant of the Mazda MX-6 assembled at AutoAlliance International in Flat Rock, Michigan. Enthusiasts wrote to Ford objecting to the proposed change to a front-wheel drive, Japanese-designed Mustang without a V8 option. The result was a major facelift of the existing Mustang in 1987, while the MX-6 variant became the 1989 Ford Probe.
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