This one hit the ground running–galloping in fact, for the Mustang rewrote the sales record books soon after it burst onto the market in April, 1964. It really broke the mold, for it was from the Mustang that the term “pony car” was derived to describe a new breed of sporty “compacts.” The concept of an inexpensive sports car for the masses is credited to dynamic young Ford vice president, Lee Iacocca.
In realization, the Mustang was more than classless, almost universal in appeal. Its extensive options list meant there was a flavor to suit every taste. There was a Mustang for moms, sons, daughters, husbands, even young-at-heart grandparents. Celebrities who could afford a ranch full of thoroughbred racehorses and a garage full of Italian exotics were also proud to tool around in Mustangs. Why, this car’s a democrat.
The Mustang burst into the history books almost the moment it was unveiled to the public in Spring 1964. At one stroke it revived the freedom of spirit of the early sporting Thunderbirds and brought sports car motoring to the masses.
Push-button radio and antenna were all part of the options list.
Long doors helped entry and exit for rear passengers.
Both front and rear side windows wound completely out of sight.
Myriad options included smaller wheels, wider tires, wire wheel covers, and knockoff style hub embellishers.
Mustangs were offered with the option of V8 or six-cylinder engines; eights outsold sixes two-to- one in 1964–68. Customers could thus buy the car with 100 bhp or have 400 bhp sports car performance.
The first Mustangs shared their instrument layout with more mundane Ford Falcons, but in a padded dash. The plastic interior is a little tacky, but at the price no one was going to complain. The sports wheel was a standard 1965 fixture.
The Mustang I prototype of 1962 was a V4 midengined two seater—pretty, but too exotic. The four seater Mustang II show car debuted at the US Grand Prix in 1963, and its success paved the way for the production Mustang, which to this day is still the fastest selling Ford ever.
Banded, tinted windshield was another option.
Front discs were a new option for 1965.
The Mustang could be as cheap or expensive as you liked. “The Mustang is designed to be designed by you” gushed an early sales brochure. From a $2,368 entry price, you could check the option boxes to turn your “personal” car into a hot rod costing more than double that.
Harder suspension and handling kits could be ordered as an option.
This bird’s-eye view of the Mustang shows the sense of its proportions, with a box for the engine, the
people, and their luggage. Interior space was maximized by doing away with Detroit’s bulging, and often florid, outer panels. The Mustang’s almost understated styling was a breath of fresh air.
Popular vinyl-covered roof option on the hardtop simulates the convertible.
The 289 cubic inch, cast-iron V8 engine was a glamorous power unit, seeing service in the iconic AC Cobra, Sunbeam Tiger, and TVR Griffiths.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Ford Mustang (1964–68)
BODY STYLES Two-door, four-seat hardtop, fastback, convertible.
CONSTRUCTION Unitary chassis/body.
ENGINES Six-cylinder 170cid to 428cid V8. Featured car: 289cid V8.
POWER OUTPUT 195–250 bhp at 4000–4800 rpm or 271 bhp at 6000 rpm (289cid).
TRANSMISSION Three- or four-speed manual or three-speed automatic.
SUSPENSION Independent front by coil springs and wishbones; semi-elliptic leaf springs at rear.
BRAKES Drums; discs optional at front.
MAXIMUM SPEED 110–127 mph (177–204 km/h) (289cid)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 6.1 sec (289cid)
0–100 MPH (0–161 KM/H) 19.7 sec
A.F.C. 13 mpg (4.6 km/l)