Baby Book: 10 Developmental Milestones of the Ford Mustang’s Formative Years

March 24th, 2016 by

Baby Book: 10 Developmental Milestones of the Ford Mustang’s Formative Years



Ford made a big deal about the “1964.5” model-year designation when the car debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair, but in reality those cars were actually early 1965 models, and the VINs prove it: the first digit of the vehicle-identification number of those cars (which correlates with the last digit of the model year) is 5, not 4.


Der Mustang

The Mustang would be known as the “T5’” in Europe until the 1980s. When it came time to launch the Stang overseas, Ford discovered that a German truck firm had previously been granted the copyright for the name “Mustang.” To avoid delays or litigation, Ford simply called it the T5, the internal code-name used during the Mustang’s development.


Horse Sense

Although facing left in early sketches, the Mustang silhouette emblem on the grille always runs to the passenger side of the vehicle; on the flanks of a vehicle, the horse is always positioned so it runs toward the front of the car.


Empire state of mind

On the eve of October 20, 1965, Ford put a Mustang convertible on the roof of the Empire State Building. To achieve the feat, engineers in Dearborn devised a system to separate the car into four sections that could fit in the building’s 7-foot-tall elevators.


Going Up?

When the day came, a team of Ford employees disassembled the car at street level and then reassembled it at the top of the building. The process went so smoothly, the task was completed in about an hour.


1966 Mustang GT EV

Few remember that Ford was an early player on the EV scene, its fully electric 1966 Mustang GT arriving just in time for Christmas at the low, low price of just $4.95. Available exclusively at Ford dealers, the micro-Stang included steerable front wheels, working head- and taillamps, and a simulated V-8 under the hood. Batteries were included.


No Money Down!

Ford took orders for 22,000 Mustangs within a day of its release, and by the end of 1967 Ford had moved more than one million Mustangs out of showrooms and into owners’ garages. Price at launch: $2358.


Mid-engined Mustang was a thing.

Looking to keep Mustang mania running at full gallop, Ford design chief Gene Bordinat and the Special Vehicles Group created the Mach 2 concept in 1967. Placing a 289-cubic-inch Hi-Po V-8 behind the driver and passenger eliminated the rear seats but allowed the Stang to keep its trademark long hood and short deck. According to the Ford archives, the design was briefly considered as a replacement for the Shelby Cobra. Sadly, those dreams were never realized.


Cubic Inches

By the 1968 model year, the number of engine choices for Mustang buyers had grown to five: the 200-cubic-inch and 250 inline sixes, 289 V-8, which was replaced midyear by the 302 V-8, the legendary 390-hp 427 FE, and the 390-hp “police interceptor” 427. But as engine choices grew so did the Mustang, getting larger for ’67, for ’69, and then again for 1971. It was still desirable, but its innocence was lost.



The Mustang II didn’t have to suck.

In 1971, Ghia studios of Italy, in which Ford owned a controlling interest at the time, produced the designs—and, according to Iacocca, a running mule—that would eventually evolve into the 1974 Mustang II. Sadly, very few of the styling ideas previewed by the mule made it to the production car. It would be another decade until the Mustang fully got its groove back.


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