Ford Mustang History – Discover The Pony Car’s Origins And More

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Do you know anything about the Ford Mustang history? This pony car has been around since the 60’s and is still selling well today.

The iconic Ford Mustang is an American automobile manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. It was initially based on the second generation Ford Falcon compact car and first introduced on April 17th, 1964. Within one year the Mustang became Ford’s most successful launch since the Model A.

The Ford Mustang led the way for a new breed of muscle car called “pony car” and gave rise to competitors such as GM’s Chevrolet Camaro, AMC’s Javelin, and Chrysler’s revamped Plymouth Barracuda.

Today the Mustang is still going strong and is Ford’s third oldest nameplate currently in production next to the F-Series pickup truck line and the Falcon that is still in production in Australia.

Ford Mustang History

Ford Mustang History - Discover The Pony Car's Origins And More

Production of the 1965 Mustang began in Dearborn, Michigan on March 9th, 1964 and the car was introduced to the public on April 17th, 1964 at the New York World’s Fair.

Executive stylist Pres Harris, who was a fan of the World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane, is believed by many to have suggested the name and designed the body. An alternative view was that Robert J. Eggert, Ford Division market research manager, first suggested the Mustang name.

Eggert, a breeder of quarter horses, received a birthday present from his wife of the book, The Mustangs by J. Frank Dobie in 1960. Later, the book’s title gave him the idea of adding the “Mustang” name to Ford’s new concept car.

The name could not be used in Germany, because it was owned by Krupp, which had manufactured trucks between 1951 and 1964 with the name Mustang. Ford refused to buy the name for about USD$10,000 from Krupp at the time, so Mustang was sold in Germany as the “T-5″ until December 1978.

The Mustang has seen several different platform generations and designs. Although some other pony cars have seen a revival, the Mustang is the only original pony car to remain in uninterrupted production over the four decades of its production.

First generation Mustang (1964–1973)

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As Lee Iacocca’s assistant general manager and chief engineer, Donald N. Frey was the head engineer for the Mustang project, supervising the overall development of the Mustang in a record 18 months while Iacocca himself championed the project as Ford Division general manager.

The Mustang prototype was a two-seater, mid-mounted engine roadster. This vehicle employed a Taunus (Ford Germany) V4 engine and was very similar in appearance to the much later Pontiac Fiero.

It was claimed that the decision to abandon the two-seater design was in part due to the low sales experienced with the 2-seater 1955 Thunderbird and so to broaden market appeal it was remodeled as a four-seater coupe.

A “Fastback 2+2″ model traded the conventional trunk space for increased interior volume as well as giving exterior lines similar to those of the second series of the Corvette Sting Ray and European sports cars such as the Jaguar E-Type.

The new design was styled under the direction of Project Design Chief Joe Oros and his team which included L. David Ash, Gale Halderman, and John Foster. The final design was chosen at Ford’s Lincoln Mercury Division design studios where Iacocca instigated a design contest for the model.

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Having set the design standards for the Mustang, Oros said:“I told the team that I wanted the car to appeal to women, but I wanted men to desire it, too. I wanted a Ferrari-like front end, the motif centered on the front, something heavy-looking like a Maserati, but, please, not a trident and I wanted air intakes on the side to cool the rear brakes. I said it should be as sporty as possible and look like it was related to European design.”

Oros also added: “I then called a meeting with all the Ford studio designers. We talked about the sporty car for most of that afternoon, setting parameters for what it should look like and what it should not look like by making lists on a large pad, a technique I adapted from the management seminar.

We taped the lists up all around the studio to keep ourselves on track. We also had photographs of all the previous sporty cars that had been done in the Corporate Advanced studio as a guide to themes or ideas that were tired or not acceptable to management.

Within a week we had hammered out a new design. We cut templates and fitted them to the clay model that had been started. We cut right into it, adding or deleting clay to accommodate our new theme, so it wasn’t like starting all over. But we knew Lincoln-Mercury would have two models.

And Advanced would have five, some they had previously shown and modified, plus a couple extras. But we would only have one model because Ford studio had a production schedule for a good many facelifts and other projects. We couldn’t afford the manpower, but we made up for lost time by working around the clock so our model would be ready for the management review.”

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Favorable publicity articles appeared in 2,600 newspapers the next morning, the day the car was “officially” revealed. A Mustang also appeared in the James Bond film Goldfinger in September 1964, the first time the car was used in a movie.

To cut down the development cost and achieve a suggested retail price of US$2,368, the Mustang was based heavily on familiar yet simple components, many of which were already in production for other Ford models.

Most of the interior, chassis, suspension, and drivetrain components were derived from those used on the Ford Falcon and Fairlane. This use of common components also shortened the learning curve for assembly and repair workers, while at the same time allowing dealers to pick up the Mustang without also having to spend massive amounts of money on spare parts inventories to support the new car line.

Original sales forecasts projected less than 100,000 units for the first year. This mark was surpassed in three months from rollout. Another 318,000 were sold during the first model year and in its first eighteen months, more than one million Mustangs were built. All of these were VIN-identified as 1965 models.

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Many changes were made at the traditional opening of the new model year, including the addition of back-up lights on some models, the introduction of alternators to replace generators, and an upgrade of the V8 engine from 260 cu in (4.3 l) to 289 cu in (4.7 l) displacement.

Some six-cylinder Mustangs were fitted with the 101 hp, 2.8 liter Falcon engine, the rush into production included some unusual quirks, such as a horn ring bearing the ‘Ford Falcon’ logo beneath a trim ring emblazoned with ‘Ford Mustang.’ These characteristics made enough difference to warrant designation of the 121,538 earlier ones as “1964½” model-year Mustangs, a distinction that has endured with enthusiasts.

All of the features added to the “1965″ model were available as options or developmental modifications to the “1964½” model, which in some cases led to “mix-and-match” confusion as Ford exec, hurriedly ramped up production by taking over lines originally intended for other car models.

Some cars with 289 engines which were not given the chrome fender badges denoting the larger engine, and more than one car left the plant with cutouts for back-up lights but no lights nor the later wiring harness needed to operate them. While these would today be additional-value collectors’ items, most of these oddities were corrected at the dealer level, sometimes only after buyers had noticed them.

Second generation Mustang(1974–1978)

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Lee Iacocca, who had been one of the forces behind the original Mustang, became President of Ford Motor Company in 1970 and ordered a smaller, more fuel-efficient Mustang for 1974. Initially it was to be based on the Ford Maverick, but ultimately was based on the Ford Pinto subcompact.

The new model, called the “Mustang II, was introduced two months before the first 1973 oil crisis, and its reduced size allowed it to compete against imported sports coupés such as the Japanese Toyota Celica and the European Ford Capri. First-year sales were 385,993 cars, compared with the original Mustang’s twelve-month sales record of 418,812.

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Lee Iacocca wanted the new car’s, shape and overall styling to be finished to a high standard, saying it should be “a little jewel.” However not only was it smaller than the original car, but it was also heavier, owing to the addition of equipment needed to meet new U.S. emission and safety regulations.

Performance was also reduced, and despite the car’s new handling and engineering features the galloping mustang emblem “became a less muscular steed that seemed to be cantering.”

The car was available in both coupé and hatchback versions. Changes introduced in 1975 included reinstatement of the 302 CID V8 engine option (called the “5.0 L” although its capacity was 4.94 L) and availability of an economy option called the “MPG Stallion”. Other changes in appearance and performance came with a “Cobra II” version in 1976 and a “King Cobra” in 1978.

Third generation (1979–1993)

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The 1979 Mustang was based on the larger platform (initially developed for the 1978 Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr). The interior was restyled to accommodate four people in comfort despite a smaller rear seat. The trunk was larger, as was the engine bay, for easier service access.

Again the Mustang was available in two body styles, a coupé, and a hatchback. In 1983 a convertible model became available. Available trim levels included L, GL, GLX, LX, GT, Turbo GT, SVO (1984–86), Cobra, and Cobra R (1993).

80s-Mustang

In 1979 the Mustang served as an Indianapolis 500 pace car and to commemorate Ford built 10,478 replicas.

The 1982 models had the option of a 5.0 liter V8 engine instead of the 4.2 liter V8.
1983 was the first year for a 5-speed transmission.

During the 1980′s fuel prices escalated and sales slumped and in response to this Ford started developing a new Mustang variant based on Mazda MX-6 assembled at AutoAlliance International in Flat Rock, Michigan.

The new model was being designed as a front-wheel drive, Japanese-designed Mustang without a V8 option. Outraged Enthusiasts protested to Ford and so the new 1987 Mustang only received a major facelift while the MX-6 variant became the 1989 Ford Probe.

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The 1984 to 1986 model years included the Mustang SVO featuring a 2.3 L Multi-port fuel injected, turbo charged inline 4-cylinder engine with an air-to-air intercooler. other unique features included, the return of Mustang 5-lug wheels, lower front forged control arms from the Lincoln Mark Series and was the first Mustang with four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, dual-wing rear spoiler, quad shocks on the rear axle, adjustable “Koni” gas struts and shocks, and other special parts.

Engine output in 1984 was 175 hp but was upgraded to 205 hp by the 1986 model year.

The 1985 model year received a new roller cam block, roller cam, and roller lifters.
1986 was the first year of fuel injection, excepting the SVO in 1984-1986.

Fourth generation (1994–2004)

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In 1994 the Mustang underwent its first major redesign in fifteen years. Code-named “SN-95″ by the automaker, it was based on an updated version of the rear-wheel drive Fox platform called “Fox-4.” The new styling by Patrick Schiavone incorporated several styling cues from earlier Mustangs and for the first time since 1973, a hatchback coupe model was unavailable.

The base model came with a 3.8 OHV V6 engine rated at 145 bhp and was mated to a standard 5-speed manual transmission or optional 4-speed automatic. Though initially used in the 1994 and 1995 Mustang GT, Ford retired the 302 cid pushrod small-block V8 after nearly 40 years of use, replacing it with the newer Modular 4.6 L (281 cid) SOHC V8 in the 1996 Mustang GT. The 4.6 L V8 was initially rated at 215 bhp but was later increased to 225 bhp (168 kW) in 1998.

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For 1999, the Mustang received Ford’s New Edge styling theme with sharper contours, larger wheel arches, and creases in its bodywork, but its basic proportions, interior design, and chassis remained the same as the previous model.

The Mustang’s powertrains were carried over for 1999, but benefited from new improvements. The standard 3.8 L V6 had a new split-port induction system, and was rated at 190 bhp (140 kW) while the Mustang GT’s 4.6 L V8 saw an increase in output to 260 bhp (190 kW) thanks to a new head design and other enhancements.

There were also three alternate models offered in this generation: the 2001 Bullitt, the 2003 and 2004 Mach 1, as well as the 305 bhp, 320 bhp and 390 bhp Cobra.

Fifth generation (2005-present)

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At the 2004 North American International Auto Show, Ford introduced a completely redesigned Mustang, codenamed “S-197,” that was based on an all-new D2C platform. Developed under the direction of Chief Engineer Hau Thai-Tang and exterior styling designer Sid Ramnarace, the fifth-generation Mustang’s styling echoes the fastback Mustangs of the late 1960s. Ford’s senior vice president of design, J Mays, called it “retro-futurism.”

The fifth-generation Mustang is manufactured at the AutoAlliance International plant in Flat Rock, Michigan. The base model is powered by a 210 hp (157 kW) cast-iron block 4.0 L SOHC V6 that replaced the 3.8 L pushrod V6 used previously. The Mustang GT used an aluminum block 4.6 L SOHC 3-valve Modular V8 with variable camshaft timing (VCT) that produces 300 hp (224 kW).

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The base Mustang came with a Tremec T-5 5-speed manual transmission while Ford’s own 5R55S 5-speed automatic was optional. The Mustang GT featured the same automatic transmission as the V6 model, but manual was a heavier duty Tremec TR-3650 5-speed.

Ford announced in July 2007 that all 2008 Mustangs would have seats containing material derived from soybeans.

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A new option for the 2009 Mustang was the glass roof. This $1,995 option is in effect a full roof sunroof that splits the difference in price and purpose of the coupe and convertible models.

The redesigned 2010 model year Mustang was released in the spring of 2009. It continued on the D2C platform and most of the previous-year’s drivetrain options. The exterior was revised with only the roof panel being retained achieving a drag reduction of 4% on V6 models and 7% on the GT models.

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The V6 for base Mustangs remained unchanged, while the Mustang GT’s 4.6 L V8 was revised to specifications similar to that of the 2008–2009 Mustang Bullitt’s 4.6 L V8, resulting in 315 hp (235 kW) at 6000 rpm and 325 lb·ft of torque at 4250 rpm.

Other mechanical features included new spring rates and dampers to improve ride quality and control, standard traction control system and stability control system on all models, and new wheel sizes.

For 2011 Ford has revised all the Mustang’s engines. The new V6 is a smaller 3.7 L (227 cu. in.) aluminum block engine weighing 40 lb (18 kg) lighter than the outgoing version. The engine produces 305 hp (227 kW) and 280 lb·ft (380 N·m) of torque. Ford announced on December 28, 2009 that the 2011 Mustang GT would feature a 5.0 engine that produces 412 horsepower.

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The new Ford 5.0-liter V8 “Coyote” engine has a 32-valves with Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing (TiVCT). These cams control intake and exhaust functions of the vehicle to maximize combustion.

The transmission includes either a 6-speed automatic or manual. An Electronic Power Assist Steering (EPAS) removes the conventional hydraulic power steering pump so now the system no longer requires belts previously used to assist the steering.

An optional Brembo brake upgrade is available. These brakes were previously used on the Shelby GT-500. A pair of 19-inch wheels and performance tires is included.

The Shelby GT500′s 5.4 L block is now made out of aluminum making it 102 lb (46 kg) lighter that the iron units in previous years, and is now rated at 550 hp (410 kW) and 510 lb·ft of torque.

Ford Mustang Awards

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The 1965 Mustang won the Tiffany Gold Medal for excellence in American design, the first automobile ever to do so.

The Mustang was on the Car and Driver “Ten Best list” in 1983, 1987, 1988, 2005, and 2006. It won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award in 1974 and 1994.

In 2005 it was runner-up to the Chrysler 300 for the North American Car of the Year award and was named Canadian Car of the Year.

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The Mustang has many more years to go and many more models to enter the Ford Mustang history books.

Which model is your favorite?