Mustang Story

Design in Motion
An icon of muscle car power and innovative styling, the Mustang continues to thrill a broad customer base with its legendary appeal.

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    A Drive Through History


    • Mustang Roars onto the Scene

      Success from the starting lineup.


      The original Ford Mustang debuted on April 17, 1964, at the attractive price of $2,368. Dealers were inundated with requests for the sleekly-styled new vehicle. In Garland, Texas, 15 customers thronged to bid on the same Mustang. The winning bidder resorted to sleeping overnight in his new car so that it wouldn’t be sold out from under him before his check could clear.

      Ford initially forecasted annual sales of about 100,000 units. On the first day alone, dealers took 22,000 Mustang orders. Shortly after its introduction, the fledgling vehicle’s success was official when it was featured on the racetrack as the pace car for the 1964 Indianapolis 500. During the Mustang’s first 12 months on the market, sales built to an astounding 417,000. Within two years, sales had catapulted to one million.

      “When the Mustang was unveiled, the reaction was so positive that there was no doubt it was going to be a success,” recalls Joe Oros, chief designer of Ford’s original pony car – dubbed the 1964½, because it was launched at an unusual halfway point during the year.

      Click the thumbnail below for Part 2 of the story.
    • Mustang Roars onto the Scene

      Success from the starting lineup.

      The rest of the story...


      Don Frey, Product Planning Manager for the original Ford Mustang, says he knew the car was going to be a hit months earlier when the design team gave Ford employees a sneak peek at one of the prototypes. “We built the first prototype in an experimental garage, and employees flooded the place to see it. Their reaction was spectacular, and it was very revealing to us. We knew the car was going to be roaring success from the start.”

      Frey says he believes the car had such dramatic appeal because the styling was very unusual for its day. “The design was very European, particularly the front end. There was no other car like it in North America at that time.” Another facet of the original Mustang’s appeal was that it was made to suit the tastes of a wide range of customers; available models included economical “base,” high-performance and luxury variants, which featured the most extensive roster of options Detroit had offered to date. Three distinct body styles were manufactured, as well - convertible, hardtop and fastback.

      “Mustang was designed to be designed by you,” an original print ad declared. And it was true. Everyone who owned a Mustang believed no one else had a vehicle like his, and yet the Mustang had enduring universal appeal. Despite its status as an icon of automotive lore, the Mustang remains as wildly popular as ever with enthusiasts everywhere.

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    • Mustang Debuts on the Silver Screen

      Mustangs began making big screen appearances in 1964 and have figured prominently in hundreds of notable films ever since. Here's a look at some classic, celluloid moments.

      Goldfinger (1964)

      Goldfinger (1964) – This Bond film gets high Mustang marks for being the first movie to show off Ford’s new sporty car, a white 1964½ convertible driven by a beautiful assassin. After a brief chase in the Swiss Alps, Sean Connery, in his Aston Marin DB5, shreds the Mustang’s tires and its rocker panel (borrowing a chariot racer trick from the epic film Ben Hur).

      Bullitt (1968)

      Bullitt (1968) – Steve McQueen plays a hardened police detective who drives a 1968 Mustang GT390 in a famous, nine-minute, 42-second car chase.  He's attempting to flee hitmen as they gun their black Dodge charger through the hilly streets of San Francisco. (Pictured).

      Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

      Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) – For slam bang action, it’s hard to beat this B-movie about an insurance-man-turned-car-thief forced to steal 48 cars, which sport women’s names to foil eavesdroppers. The second half of the movie includes a 40-minute car chase that destroys 93 cars, leaving the getaway vehicle - a 1973 Mustang Mach I - much worse for wear.

      Diamonds are Forever (1971)

      Diamonds Are Forever (1971) – Reprising his role as James Bond, Sean Connery eludes police pursuit on two wheels in a red 1971 Mustang Mach I fastback.  Bond squeezes his car down a narrow alley in downtown Las Vegas, tilting it up on the passenger side wheels to enter the alley and then tilting it on the opposite side to exit.

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    • V-8 Power Returns

      In 1975, V-8 power returned to the Mustang. The 302-cid V-8 engine produced a mere 130 horsepower, however, and came only with automatic transmission. An economy option called the "MPG" Stallion was also available.

      1975 Mustang II

      1975 Mustang II Cobra II

      1975 Mustang II Ghia

      1975 Mustang II Ghia

      1975.5 Mustang II

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    • Cobra II Joins the Line Up

      The Cobra II package joined the lineup in 1976, replete with non-functional hood scoop and racing stripes, as well as front and rear spoilers. Available in white with blue stripes, blue with white stripes, and black with gold stripes, the Cobra II was designed to be reminiscent of the famed Shelby Mustangs.

      1976 Ford Mustang II Cobra II

      1976 Ford Mustang II Cobra II

      1976 Ford Mustang II Cobra II

      1976 Ford Mustang II Cobra II

      1976 Ford Mustang II Stallion Edition

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    • Mustang's 20th Anniversary Brings More Growth and Change in the 80's

      By 1984, Mustang was turning 20, and this special anniversary warranted a commemorative, signature vehicle.

      20th Anniversary 1984 Mustang GT350 Convertible, pictured with a 1964 Mustang Convertible

      In 1984, a special V-8 powered Mustang GT was created to commemorate Mustang's 20th Anniversary. It was a limited edition done up in Oxford White with a Canyon Red interior.



    • The Public Weighs In - Mustang Is Here To Stay

      When Mustang's legacy seemed in jeopardy, a public outcry ensured that the journey continued.


      While the Mustang legacy continued to burnish bright from the early to mid-80s, Ford’s product development team was looking for alternatives to the popular Fox-body. By 1987, it was again time for Mustang to evolve with the changing market. Designers gave the Fox-body – the platform introduced in 1979 – a facelift with new “aero-look” design and a 5.0-liter V-8 with 225 horsepower.

      “There were people who thought Mustang was headed for the scrap heap,” said Ressler. “Sales were sluggish, and they thought that front-wheel drive modern-looking cars were the wave of the future.” After Ford signed an agreement with Mazda to build the Mazda 626 and MX-6 at a new plant just outside of Detroit, the idea was to use the front-wheel drive Mazda platform as the underpinnings for the “new Mustang.”

      “When news came out that the all-American Mustang was going to be based on a Japanese car and built by a Japanese company, plus move to front-wheel drive and again go back to losing its V-8 engine, the nameplate’s legion of fans could hardly believe it,” said John Clor, author of The Mustang Dynasty. “By the time a cover story in AutoWeek magazine hit the newsstands on April 13, 1987 – questioning ‘The Next Mustang?’ – the Mustang-badged Mazda was already the target of a letter-writing campaign launched by the editors of Mustang magazines across the country.”

      The public spoke out with a vengeance, and Ford listened. The front-wheel drive Mazda became the 1989 Ford Probe, and the iconic vision of the Ford Mustang lived on.

      “It was the only time I can remember in my career when the will of the public affected a major decision in advance of the decision being made,” Ressler said. “They brought about something I thought at the beginning was worth trying but wouldn’t work. But I was enthusiastic. I thought it was crazy to get rid of the only performance rear-wheel drive car we had.”


    • Mustang Gets Racier

      The low-volume 1993 Cobra R - originally developed as a race car - sold out prior to production.

      27 March 2012

      In 1993, Ford’s new Special Vehicle Team (SVT) introduced the limited-production SVT Mustang Cobra, which sported subtle yet distinctive styling cues and performance upgrades. The low-volume 1993 Cobra R, developed to be driven as a race car, sold out prior to production.

      In the early 90s, Ressler and a group of performance enthusiasts within the company came up with the idea to build an increased-performance Mustang out of Ford Motorsports performance parts (now known as Ford Racing Performance Parts). Based on the lessons learned from the SVO Mustang program, this group's goal was to attract driving enthusiasts to the Ford brand.

      “It was a confederation of people, all of whom had their own home organizations in different areas within the company, such as Marketing, Engineering and Product Planning,” Ressler explained. “When we worked together, we described our activities as occurring with the Special Vehicle Team or SVT.”

      Ressler confided that many of the projects the team spearheaded at Ford – such as the Mustang Cobra – were not formally approved by upper management. “We just found the money and thought that as long as we were doing things that were good for the company, we were safe not to ask for permission,” he said. “We were prepared to ask for forgiveness, but we never had to.”


    • Mustang Gets A Major Make-Over

      A triumphant new design debuts in 1994, and it's an immediate hit.

      1994 Ford Mustang GT Coupe

      The 1994 model year marked the beginning of the fourth generation of Mustangs. After 15 years of the same "Fox" platform, enthusiasts were ready for an all-new look and feel - and Ford was anxious to give them what they wanted. “It was a do-or-die situation for Mustang at the time,” recalled William Boddie, then Ford’s program manager for small- and mid-size cars. “A lot of people at Ford thought we wouldn’t make enough money with the Mustang, and they thought we ought to kill it. This was going to be our chance to prove them wrong.”  The team’s vision was clear, as Boddie recollected.

      1994 Ford Mustang "Bruce Jenner" Concept Sketch

      The galloping pony emblem returned to the front grille after a 16-year absence, and the Mustang now had a shapely, rounded body available as a two-door fastback coupe or a convertible. The 1994 Mustang also offered the first purpose-built convertible in more than two decades (as opposed to a conversion of a hardtop car), and its 5.0-liter V-8 engine produced 215 horsepower. “It was an immediate hit,” said Boddie. “The demand was greater than our supply.”

      1994 Ford Mustang "Rambo" Concept Sketch

      The designers had come up with three different mock-ups, nicknaming them “Bruce Jenner” (after the Olympic athlete), “Rambo” (after Sylvester Stallone’s movie character) and “Arnold Schwarzenegger” (after the muscular movie star, now governor of California.)  “Rambo was the most far out design. It looked like a snorting bull,” chuckled Boddie. “The ‘Bruce Jenner’ Mustang was the most refined, and the ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger’ model was in between the two. That was the one that we chose.”

      1994 Ford Mustang "Rambo" Clay Concept

      “Our goal was to create a vehicle that would be recognizable as a Mustang, even without the badging,” Boddie said. “It had to have traditional Mustang attributes, such as the three-box design, the long hood and the cockpit-like interior. And it had to symbolize power.”

      1994 Ford Mustang Concept Sketch

      The design the designers chose was reminiscent of the vintage pony cars, yet modern enough to suit the changing tastes of auto enthusiasts. Its code name was SN95, and though its platform was a derivative of the Fox introduced in 1979, there was little resemblance between the two; 1,330 of the vehicle’s 1,850 parts had been changed.
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    • 35th Anniversary Mustang Salute

      Thousands of Ford Mustang fans and nearly 6,000 classic Mustangs converge.

      Charlotte Motor Speedway (April 17, 1999)

      Thousands gathered at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina on Saturday, April 17, 1999, to salute the 35th birthday of the American icon. The 70,000 member Mustang Club of America hosted the weekend show, where Ford Motor Co. unveiled a special 35th Anniversary edition of the 1999 Mustang and a prototype version of the 2000 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra R.

      (Ford Motor Co., Richard Sheinwald.)



    • The 2010 Mustang Convertible is Released

      With its angled rear corners and sequential turn signal tail lamps, the 2010 Mustang tips its hat to early 60's cool. Here's a look at the range of Mustang Convertibles offered through the years - from the sleek 2010 all the way back to 1965.

      2010 Ford Mustang 2 Convertible

      2005 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

      1999 Ford Mustang Convertible

      1994 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

      1987 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

      1983 Ford Mustang Convertible

      1971 Ford Mustang Convertible

      1969 Ford Mustang Convertible

      1967 Ford Mustang Convertible

      1965 Ford Mustang Convertible

      1964.5 Ford Mustang Convertible

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    • Mustang's Modern Evolution Continues

      The 2013 Mustang continues to build on excellence by delivering a new exterior design, updated technology and new driver tools. "It takes the greatness of the 5.0-liter and V6 and pushes refinement to the next level," says D. Pericak, Mustang chief engineer.

      Click the thumbnail below to view the video about the Mustang Boss's return.


      The popular pony car gets even more street swagger for 2013 with a new design and a list of smart features that signal the latest technology.


      The 2013 Ford Mustang V6 rear has been updated with a high-gloss black panel that connects the taillamps, keeping the sequential turn signal Mustang is known for.


      The 2013 Ford Mustang GT rocker panels running along the car are now body-color, providing a more premium appearance.


      High-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps are now standard for both the 2013 Ford Mustang V6 and GT. Signature lighting is a new technology upgrade, as well, with two individual LED bars accentuating the front headlamps and three LED ropes forming the three-bar rear lights.


      The front end of the 2013 Mustang sports a more aggressive design with a significantly more prominent grille and a more powerful splitter. Functional heat extractors on the hood of the GT help move hot air out of the engine compartment and cool the engine.


      The 2013 GT California Special culminates the  Mustang's modern evolution with custom touches throughout the exterior and interior.

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    • The Boss Mustang Returns...As Another Legend Passes On

      Automotive legend Carroll Shelby dies after almost 60 years of pouring his passion and energy into producing high-performance Ford vehicles. One of his last collaborations with the company results in the 2012 return of the ultimate performance Mustang from the 60's - this time as a street-legal race car.

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