“Out in the Ford pavilion there is a daydream corner called Mustang. This is the car that dreams are made of. So dream your own Mustang. Take your choice of a Six. Or Three V-8’s. Power steering. Power brakes. Automatic or Standard transmission. Dozens of options.
Standard equipment: Bucket seats. Wall-to-wall carpeting. All vinyl upholstery. Padded instrument panel. Full wheel covers.
Even though Mustang is a dream, its low price is a beautiful reality. Test one now at your Ford dealer. Pleasant dreams.” – TV Commercial for the Ford Mustang’s Introduction at the 1964 World’s Fair
If a car that was first introduced 55 years ago still represents youth, vitality, fun, power, adventure, and style for many, isn’t it too obvious to be the ‘Special One’ in the vintage car collection.
The original Ford Mustang aka The American muscle debuted on April 17, 1964, at the attractive price of $2,368. The company was ambitious about this car and expected to sell 100,000 cars in the next 12 months. During the Mustang’s first 12 months on the market, sales grew to an astounding 417,000. Within two years, sales had catapulted to one million
It has been more than 50 years since then and over 10 million Mustangs have been sold to date. Its Facebook page alone has 8.2 million likes, more than any other nameplate in the world. What is it that makes the Mustang such an iconic car, and how has it managed to withstand the passage of 5 decades and remain a favorite among all generations?
This is the story of the Iconic Ford Mustang.
The Ford Mustang came along at the right time in history. There was something happening in every corners of America. The baby boomers were starting to come of age challenging the past notions. They were different from previous generations, and they were looking for ways to express that difference. That was the environment in 1964 when the Ford Mustang was introduced in the borough of Queens in New York City at the 1964 World’s Fair. It was more than an instant hit. It met an untapped need. Ford created a completely new class of automobile: the pony car
Previous to the Mustang, Ford buyers either purchased staid models like the Galaxy or Fairlane. Chevrolet fans bought conservatively designed cars like the Impala. The Mustang offered a fresh, exciting, sporty alternative that people loved immediately. It was one of the rare new products that people were dying for but just didn’t know it yet
Lee Iacocca is credited with pushing the Mustang into being. His idea was to produce a sporty car with bucket seats that didn’t tip the scales over 2,500 pounds and yet was available for purchase for less than $2,500. He wanted to get younger buyers into the Ford family. To create excitement in conjunction with its appearance at the World’s Fair, Ford ran spots on all the three major television networks at 9:30pm on the evening of April 16, 1964, the night before its release. The gamble paid off as over 20,000 Mustangs were sold in the very first day. Newspapers ran over 2,600 favorable articles lauding the new model.
Almost synonymous with the term ‘muscle car’, it laid the foundation for numerous cars that would lay claim to the title over the next few decades
The Mustang had a long bonnet, low roofline and a short boot on the back. To top it all off was a huge, loud engine that pulled this car away like a rocket. And like a proper muscle car, throw a curve in its way and the car won’t know what to do. If you were driving one of the earlier versions of the car, you’d have to start braking 10 km before the bend in the road showed up.
The company made a few changes to the original model in August 1964, including new back-up lights, alternators, and a larger V8 engine. The 1964 ½ was available as a coupe and a convertible. You could choose from a 3-speed or 4-speed manual transmission, or opt for an automatic. Wall-to-wall carpeting, vinyl seats, and a padded dash were all standard. The original Mustang had four different sized engines available; from a fairly uninspired 172 Cubic Inch 101 Horsepower 6-Cylinder to a 289 Cubic Inch V8 that came in 3 flavors.
The Second Generation
In 1965, one of the most popular versions was known as the K-Code, a 289 Cubic Inch, 271 Horsepower Hi-Po 4 Barrel V8. Anyone buying the GT could spring for the K-Code package for another $276. “K” was the letter designation in the fifth position of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
The K-Code was all about performance. It has better pistons, lifter heads, connecting rods, carburetor, and cylinder heads. It featured little nice details like a chrome air filter and valve covers as well as the insignia “289 High Performance” emblazoned on the air cleaner. In addition, the clutch, rear differential, suspension, and drive shaft were all made for high performance
The K-Code remains a favorite among Mustang enthusiasts. As a result, their value is high. Up to 1967, just over 13,200 were produced. To this day, you often see the biggest crowds at Mustang Car Shows crowded around a pristine K-Code
The second generation of Mustang, called the Mustang II, was a tough period for a lot of Mustang enthusiasts. Due to the oil crisis and rising fuel prices, the focus was much more on fuel economy than on performance, and it showed. Lee Iacocca famously said that this was the generation where the Mustang lost its way
Fortunately, it wasn’t long before a V8 and a performance option returned
The Third Generation
In 1975, V8 power returned to the Mustang. The 302-cid V8 engine produced a mere 130 horsepower, however, and came only with automatic transmission. An economy option called the “MPG” Stallion was also available.
By 1984, Mustang was turning 20, and this special anniversary warranted a commemorative, signature vehicle. A special V8 powered Mustang GT was created to commemorate Mustang’s 20th Anniversary. It was a limited edition done up in Oxford White with a Canyon Red interior.
Ford loves creating anniversary edition Mustangs, and they’ve hardly missed a single birthday since. Anniversary editions vary wildly but tend to be very desirable, with a mix of unique appearance options in addition to performance features.
The Fourth Generation
A triumphant new design debuted in 1994, and it was an immediate hit. The 1994 model year marked the beginning of the fourth generation of Mustang. After 15 years of the same “Fox” platform, enthusiasts were ready for an all-new look and feel – and Ford was anxious to give them what they wanted. “It was a do-or die situation for Mustang at the time,” recalled William Boddie, then Ford’s program manager for small and mid-size cars. “A lot of people at Ford thought we wouldn’t make enough money with the Mustang, and they thought we ought to kill it. This was going to be our chance to prove them wrong.” The team’s vision was clear, as Boddie recollected.
The Fifth Generation
The fifth generation of Mustangs was introduced at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. The 2005 Mustang featured styling with nods to the fastback Mustang models of the late 1960s dubbed “retro-futurism” by Senior Vice President of Design, J. Mays. This was also the first year that the Mustang was manufactured at the Flat Rock assembly plant
Since dubbed the S197 generation, the fifth generation appealed both to people who had grown up with first generation Mustangs as well as younger individuals who loved the retro look of an original but who also wanted safety features, like airbags
The Sixth Generation
Nearly every inch of the 2015 Mustang was brand new. It was much sleeker and European looking, which was fitting since the 2015 Ford Mustang was destined to sell overseas in Europe, Japan, and Australia. However, it still maintained that distinct “Mustang” look, inspired by the past 50 years of Mustang styling. Ford also brought back the fastback styling that was so prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s in the new Mustang.
Perhaps one of the most un-Mustang-like additions was the Eco Boost engine. A turbocharged four-cylinder, the Eco Boost came with optional performance packages that made it competitive with engines with significantly larger displacements. Ford was expanding on its new ideas of allowing performance and fuel economy to evolve hand-in-hand, benefitting everyone.
Ford is set to create more history as we are set to witness the GT500 very soon. Boasting a production Mustang record of 760 horsepower and a redline of 7,500 RPMs, the 2020 GT500 is going to break records and hearts when it finally releases. The engine is a cross-plank variant of the Voodoo engine that’s used in the GT350 that’s been codenamed the “Predator.” It’s a name with fangs for a vehicle that will certainly have some bite.
As rumors circulate about the possibility of a hybrid Mustang, an AWD Mustang, or even a four-door Mustang, it’s clear that the Mustang story is still being built, and we’re just excited to be a part of it