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Ford Mustang, the original ponycar, was introduced on April 17, 1964. The media campaign was a total success, no-one could escape this auto-introduction. Ford sold 680989 Mustangs during the first production year (18 month) and about a total of 3 million between 1964 and 1973. The winning concept was simple and yet ingenious; A sharp looking, youthful sporty 4-seater. Affordable price and at the same time a lot of options to personalize your car -- it was a car for everyone and everyone did indeed buy it.
Let us go back a few years to to be able to understand how Ford came up with the Mustang.
Lee Iacocca, M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from Princeton, joined Ford Motor Company (Fo.Mo.Co.) in Dearborn after his graduation. His talent was soon recognized and in 1960 he was the vice-president of the company. Robert McNamara was the president, but this was to change. McNamara was offered the position as US Secretary of the Defense by the US president J.F. Kennedy. McNamara left Ford and Iacocca now became the president of Ford. He soon assembled a group called the Fairlane committee, they launched a market research program and started the project T-5. The research result was analyzed and a picture of what type of car Ford should build emerged -- this was the birth of the legendary auto Mustang and Lee Iacocca was the father. On October 1962 the first prototype hit the road, it was called Mustang I (picture on the right). Although impressing the motoring enthusiasts, Iacocca was not. He realized that this was not the car to break production records with. The Fairlane committee now knew what kind of car they wanted, it should have:
a price less than
a length less than 180 inches overall
four passenger capacity
a floor shift
a young and sporty look
a long list of accessories.
Iacocca started a design competition to find the design that would fulfill the committee's requirements. Joe Oros and Dave Ash came up with the winning design (picture on the left) which they called Cougar. This car was based on the Ford Falcon chassis and could carry Ford's 289 cubic inch engine. For some reason the Cougar name was replaced by Torino and shortly after by Mustang II. Scheduled for introduction in April 1964, which coincide with the opening of New York's Word Fair, time was running short. However, 571 days after selection of Oros' design, the very first production Mustang, which was a convertible, rolled off the assembly line on March 9, 1964. Only some minor changes were made to Oros' design when put in production. Picture on the right features the 1964 Official Pace Car.
The name Mustang was originally chosen from the World War II fighter plane and was considered not appropriate for a production car. But, when searching among animal names, Mustang came up. Mustang, a name for wild horses galloping fast and free. This name gave the right association for a young and sporty car -- this was the kind of name to put on the car that would create a legend.
The Mustang was an instant success. To understand the tremendous excitement this auto introduction put forth, consider the following reports from sales day number one:
Chicago. "A Ford dealer felt he had to lock the doors of the Mustangs in his showroom because so many people were crowding into the cars at once that they were in danger of hurting themselves."
San Francisco. "A truck driver, apparently thrown into a trance by the sight of the car, could not take his eyes away, and drove his truck straight through the showroom window."
Garland. "Fifteen eager buyers bid for the last Mustang in the showroom window, with the winning buyer sleeping in his new Mustang until his check cleared in the morning." The first generation Mustangs were produced between 1965 and 1973. Although production started in March 1964, Ford labeled them as '65s. Purists do, however, consider the first Mustangs as '64½ or only '64. During 1965-1973 production, Ford restyled the Mustang in 1967, 1969 and 1971. Hence we have 4 groups of similar style within the first generation according to: 1965-66, 1967-68, 1969-70 and 1971-73. Every Mustang has a Data (sometimes called Warranty) Plate on the driver's door, decoding of this plate gives you information about: year, bodystyle, engine, transmission, exterior color etc. Mustangs considered as 64½ were made between March and August in 1964 while the 1965 production year started in September 1964 (There are some controversy about the exact dates, however). The difference between '64 and '65 Mustangs is fuzzy, hence these Mustangs are sometimes referred to as early and late '65. One thing is sure though, '64 Mustangs have a letter "C" through "H" in the date code on the warranty plate. Anyway, some differences are summarized in the table below. Only Hardtop and Convertible were available bodystyles during '64 production. With the 1965 production a new 2+2 Fastback bodystyle was introduced and in September of 1964 the production of the Shelby Mustang starts in accordance with the Total Performance Program. Features similar to both early and late '65 Mustangs are found in the next paragraph.
Picture features a '64 Hardtop with Styled steel wheel with white-side tires. Notice the black engine compartment which is used for all first generation Mustangs. On the front fender an ornament identifies the V-8 engine (not found on 6-blowers). The rocker panel molding running from front to back wheel well openings is optional (standard on Fastbacks).
Early 1965 Late 1965
D.C. generator (black color) Alternator (natural aluminum unit)
GEN warning light in instrument panel ALT lamp
Large horns mounted behind the radiator Smaller horns in front of radiator
Threaded base for windshield wiper Not threaded
Slotted cast iron engine pulleys Stamped-steel non-slotted
Interior door handles & window cranks are locked with spring-clip Allen-head screws
Hood bumpers have a recessed phillips screw to keep the rubber to the stud Domed hood bumper on the stud
Driver's fresh-air vent knob have an "A" No "A" on the knob
Two fan blower speeds Three fan blower speeds
The '65 Mustang has a metal honeycomb grill and in the center a running horse. Doors are interchangeable among different bodystyles in 1965 but not the windows. All windows are equipped with tempered safety glass and the windshield is laminated. Vinyl roof is only available for the Hardtop body. Bucket seats are standard and there is an optional bench seat available. The Decor Interior Group, sometimes called "pony interior", was optional for all models after March of 1965. The optional Rally-Pac is a combination of clock and tachometer, all models uses a 6000 RPM tacho except for High-Performance (called "HiPo") models that uses a 8000 RPM unit. The 2+2 Fastbacks have a fold down rear seat to provide expansive luggage compartment.
The picture features a '65 Convertible. Here we note the presence of bright metal trim at the simulated air-intake scoop on the rear quarter, this item is not used on Fasbacks.
The '66 Mustang didn't change much from the '65 model. The difference between early and late '65 is actually bigger. However, the grille changed, '66s have an extruded aluminum grille contaning lots of small rectangles. Also the front ornament changed, the 4 rows in front of grille were deleted. The apperance of the side scoop trim changed, it now got three 6 inch spires along the side. Rocker moldings became standard on all models. The '66 instrument bezel is redesigned, speedometer is now of round clock type for all models.
The picture features a '66 Shelby Mustang G.T. 350. Compared to other '66 Mustangs, it has a new front horse onrnament located on the drivers side. Hood scoop and functional side panel scoop. Emblems were deleted. Also notice the small plexiglass window behind the door's side window, this is not used on '65 Shelbys. And of course, the Shelbys had a caracteristic two-color painting. In mid-April the Paxton Supercharger became a G.T. 350 option. A total of 6 Shelby Convertibles were built, the others were Fastbacks.
Ford restyled the Mustang in 1967. But still it had the classical look which had received the Tiffany Award for Excellence in American design. The grille still had the running Mustang and the sides received redesigned scoops. Overall, the '67 Mustang is larger than the earlier ones. Not only did the outside change, the entire front end changed. Now the Mustang was capable of big blocks and the 390-4V engine became a '67 option. Beside the G.T. 350, the Shelby got a new G.T. 500 model which had a 428 engine. The rally-pac option is dropped. Insted moves the tachometer guage the oilpressure/ammeter-unit to warning lights. Speed control becames a Mustang option in 1967.
The picture features a 1967 Convertible. This particular Mustang has door edge guards and we note that this is the last year for these type of styled steel wheels. We also notice the optional fog (which, in fact, is part of the G.T. equippment group) lamps in the grille.