The first generation Mustang was a revelation. Despite an inspired promotional campaign, Ford’s most successful launch since the Model A in the 1920s still gave the Dearborn behemoth a pleasant surprise as ‘Mustang Mania’ swept the nation. Year One-and-a-half projections (the launch came midway through the 1964 model year) anticipated sales of 100,000 units, but the runaway Mustang sold 1.5 million inside 18 months.
Best of all, the Mustang was basically a humble Ford Falcon in fancy dress, and its soaring success created a new class of vehicle – the pony car. These were compact performance cars with long bonnets and short rear ends – and those mega-Mustang sales soon spawned imitators like Chevy’s Camara and AMC’s Javelin.
As with most Ford lines one model could be many, with different body styles, a wide choice of engines, extras and trim levels allowing almost endless permutations. The Mustang launched with a hardtop and convertible, with a semi-fastback 2+2 coupe arriving in September ’64 for the official start of the 1965 model year. There was a major first generation revamp in 1967 that produced all sorts of mechanical upgrades (including a new big V8 engine option) and also one of the most desirable manifestations of the Mustang – the full fastback. The Mustang Fastback has acquired iconic status over time and made a major contribution to establishing the Mustang as America’s best-loved sporty car.
First generation Mustangs are the true classics, for when the second generation arrived for 1974 it was both smaller and heavier than the original 1964 car, thanks to new regulations that included pollution control laws. The Mustang series continues to this day but only fond memories – and lots of cherished cars – remain to commemorate the ‘Golden Decade’ when this mould breaking car was at its very best.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1964 (until 1973) Series 1
Ranged from 2.9 I (170 cid) Straight Six to 7.0 I (427 cid) V8
1965 Mustang 4.7 I V8 – top speed of 120 mph (193 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.3 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Although the Mustang’s cinematic debut was in the James Bond film Goldfinger, its best-ever role was starring alongside Steve McQueen in Bullitt when a 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback (actually two identical cars) driven by Lieutenant Frank Bullitt chased two baddies in a Dodge Charger to a fiery grave through the streets of San Francisco.