American Icon: the Ford Mustang

In 1964 the Ford Motor Company introduced the Mustang, selling more than one million cars in it’s just over a year. The Mustang was the beginning of a new class of sports car that would become known as “pony cars.” Ford product manager Donald N. Frey and Ford Division general manager Lee Iacocca conceived the prototype of the now classic car.

The Mustang was introduced to the public at the New York’s World Fair in 1964 and had the most successful launching in automobile history. In its first year and a half of production more than 1 million Mustangs were sold. Because the Mustang was introduced several months before the regular beginning of the production year, early Mustangs are often called 1964 and ½ models. The Mustang’s original components were based on familiar and simple components to cut down on development and retail price. The chassis, suspension and drivetrain were developed from the Ford Falcon and Fairlane. Also gleaned from the 1964 Falcon were a unitized platform frame and welded box-section side rails. Read more about Mustang components in car magazines like Car and Driver magazine, Motor Trend magazine and Lowrider magazine.

The interior of the 1965 Mustang featured adjustable driver and passenger bucket seats, AM radio and a floor mounted gear shifter in a variety of colors. Throughout 1965 Ford added to the Mustang’s interior options like sun visors, mechanical remote-operated mirror and a bench seat. Ford’s Interior Décor Group became known as “Pony Interior” because they embossed running ponies seats and armrests. Ford’s competitors GM and Chrysler were unprepared for the astonishing success of the Mustang. Chrysler introduced the Plymouth Barracuda just before the Mustang but it would be a few more years before the car became a revered Muscle car. GM had the rear-engine Corvair Monza but it did not sell well. It would take GM two years to produce the Mustang’s biggest competitors: the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird. Lincoln-Mercury also hit the market with the successful “upmarket Mustang” Mercury Cougar. In later years the Mustang inspired coupes like the Toyota Celica and Ford Capri. Read more about the evolution of Ford Mustang and its competitors in popular magazines like Car and Driver magazine, Motor Trend magazine and Lowrider magazine.

The Mustang has seen many redesigns. Currently there are five generations of Mustangs. Ford also produced many performance models of the Mustang including the Boss 302 Mustang, Mach 1 and SVO. Independent car designers like Carroll Shelby, Roush Performance and Saleen have also produced special Mustang models including what is known as the Shelby Mustang. Mustangs have appeared in many movies—more than any other vehicle–helping along the iconic status. Classic movies like the James Bond movie Goldfinger, Bullit with Steve McQueen and The French Connection with Gene Hackman. More modern movies like Gone in 60 Seconds, Vanilla Sky and Runaway Bride. In the 1980s a futuristic fictional 2015 model was featured in Back to the Future II.

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