A Brief History
On April 17, 1964, Ford rolled out the Mustang, introducing a new class of sporty car to the world!
Ford called the new car a 1965 model, but an adoring public will forever refer to it as a “1964 ½!”
Creating a whole new category of cars that the public dubbed “pony cars,” Mustang’s layout of 2 doors with a small back seat (2+2), a short rear deck and a long hood set the standard for all the imitators. Chevy Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, AMC Javelin, Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda all tried to cash in on Mustang’s success.
Mustang has gone through 5 generations of reinvention, and the 6th generation will debut for the 2015 model.
Of these, it is the second generation (Mustang II) built from 1974-1978 that almost killed the franchise! Returning to glory with the 3rd generation in 1979, Mustang has remained the leader of the pony car pack.
The original introduction of the Mustang resulted in (at the time) the best sales introduction of a car line, although sales have varied from a high of 681,000 cars (1964 ½ and 1965 combined) to a low of 66,000 (2009) in annual sales. The general trend of American badged car sales declining over the years certainly has something to do with the decline in sales, although Ford has managed to continue to provide nearly world class performance at a fraction of world class price.
For people who want performance, the GT model, specialty performance models and conversions have been available, or for those who want to merely look fast at a low price there are the 6 and 4 cylinder models. The image of Steve McQueen in the most famous car chase movie segment of all time (Bullitt, 1968) or a Hollywood starlet driving along California’s coastal highway with the convertible top down and the breeze blowing through her scarf tied hair causes the fantasy juices to flow for men and women alike!
Mustang has won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year twice, and made Car and Driver’s 10 Best list 6 times. One of the coveted Motor Trend Car of the Year awards went to the reviled 1974 Mustang II, the most hated Mustang of all! The Mustang name is at least in part from the World War II fighter plane by that name, and other names considered were Cougar, Torino, and T-Bird II. Focus groups preferred Mustang by a large margin. In Germany, Mustang was called T-5 until December of 1978 because of licensing conflict over the name!
Question for students (and subscribers): Americans like songs about cars, as “My Merry Oldsmobile”, “Pink Cadillac”, “Hot Rod Lincoln”, “Little Deuce Coup”, “Beep Beep (Little Nash Rambler)”, “Fun Fun Fun (Till Her Daddy takes Her T-Bird Away)” and others will attest, but we think the best is Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally”, how about you? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please read…
Farr, Donald and Edsel Ford. Mustang: Fifty Years: Celebrating America’s Only True Pony Car. Motorbooks, 2013.
Mueller, Mike. The Complete Book of Mustang: Every Model Since 1964-1/2 (Complete Book Series). Motorbooks, 2010.