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Icons In Time: Ford Mustang
The CarConnection
by Mike Davis 4/13/2003

1962
Mustang I show car with mid-ship V-4 debuts Mustang name, somedesign cues.

1963
Mustang II show car, a prototype of production model, unveiled tocontinue the tease.

1964
April 17 — Mustang production car introduced at N.Y. World’s Fair;goes on sale in coupe and convertible versions on 108-inch wheelbase with choice of 170-cid inline six, 260-cid V-8, or three 289-cid V-8s.


October 1 — fastback body added to Mustang lineup, permitting intro of Shelby Mustang GT-350.

1965
April 17 — 418,000 Mustangs sold in first year.


October 1 — 1966 models introduced with 170 six and 260 V-8 dropped in favor of 200 six and 289 V-8; “Six and the Single Girl” advertising campaign plays on pop sociology book.

1966
September 30 — introduction of 1967 Mustang with all-new, larger body and provision for 390-cid V-8 engines; muscle-car era spreads

1967
September — Intro of 1968 model with added 302-cid, 427-cid, and 428-cid V-8 engine options.

1968
September — Introduction of 1969 Mustang with quad headlamps, larger body (six inches longer and 240 pounds heavier than the original); 289-cid and 427-cid V-8s dropped and 250-cid six and 351-cid V-8 options added; Boss 302, Mach I and Cobra Jet models; last year for Shelby Mustangs.

1970
September 19 — Introduction of 1971 Mustang with new body on 109-inch wheelbase, now nearly 500 pounds heavier than original, partly due to federally mandated safety equipment; 200-cid six dropped and 429-cid V-8 options have replaced 428s.

1971
September 24 — 1972 models introduced, still in three body styles, coupe, convertible and fastback, but muscle begins to shrink with elimination of 429s

1972
Fall — Model year 1973 Mustangs are the last of the original concept for some years and likewise feature Ford Motor Company’s last convertible for a decade.

1973
Mid-year — Pinto-based 1974 Mustang II introduced as “luxury sub-compact” powered by choice of 140-cid four or imported Ford of Europe 171-cid V-6; shorter but heavier than original ’Tang, it was mounted on a 96.2-inch wheelbase in coupe and fastback configurations; offerings included “luxury” Ghia and “sheep in wolf’s clothing” Mach I models.

1974
September — 1975 Mustang II introduced with optional 5.0-liter (302-cid) V-8 as Ford switched to metric engine designations; economy "MPG" model introduced mid-year.

1976
October 1 — 1977 Mustang II model intro with copy-cat “poor man’s convertible” T-roof option.

1978
October 6 — Mini-Mustang replaced by all-new 1979 Mustang on 100.4-inch Fox chassis wheelbase; weight back to under 2450 pounds like original ’65 in two bodies, coupe and hatchback, with choice of 2.3-liter four, turbo 2.3-liter four, 2.8-liter V-6 or 5.0-liter V-8.

1979
October 12 — Intro of 1980 model offered with 3.3-liter (200-cid) straight six in place of imported 2.8 V-6, and downsized 4.2-liter V-8 in place of 5.0.

1981
September 24 — 1982 model Mustang brings back the 5.0 as Ford learned how to comply with fuel economy regulations.

1982
November 5 — return of the Mustang convertible as a 1983 model, first since end of 1973 run; also new, a 3.8-liter V-6, plus GT models with choice of turbo four or 5.0-liter V-8 for a two-model-year run.

1983
September 22 — Introduction of 1984 models including SVO Mustang with turbo four.

1986
October 2 — Intro of restyled 1987 Mustang; SVO model eliminated andengine choices reduced to venerable 2.3 Four and 5.0 V-8.

1994
Model year 1994 Mustang with all-new rounded body in convertible and coupe versions on longer 101.3-inch wheelbase and only two engine choices: base 3.8-liter V-6 and 5.0-liter V-8.

1996
For 1996 Mustang, 5.0-liter V-8 replaced by new 4.6 in both SOHC andDOHC versions.

1998
December — 1999 Model with less rounded sheetmetal introduced.

1999
Mustang featured on a U.S. postage stamp.

2003
Mustang for 2003 little-changed from 1999 — or, for that matter, 1994 model — but still sells at enviable clip; number one in convertible sales through 2002.
 

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Your welcome Blurter, RPO83 "Luke" had posted the same thing in the Ford World Wide News forum awhile back. I was going to post before he did in a sticky post we were going to name Ford 100 years. But, out of all the Ford cars, Mustang and the Model T were the only cars I could find any info on. BTW, I like your avator pic.
 

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Nice details in the timeline. Some great Mustangs produced in that time too.
 

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Pony car was birth of hot-rod culture.All-American Mustang quickly became an icon

Monday, May 19, 2003
100 Years of Ford: The Cars
By Bill Vlasic / The Detroit News
Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News

DEARBORN -- All eyes locked on Lee Iacocca when he strode into the design studio at Ford Motor Co. in the late summer of 1962.

Without a word, the mercurial head of the Ford division studied the sleek, red concept car with the elongated hood, Ferrari-style front end and stubby rear deck.

Then, ever so slowly, Iacocca began rolling his ever-present cigar over and over in his fingers -- just the sign that Joseph Oros was hoping for.

"When Lee did that," said Oros, chief of Ford division design, "we knew he was excited."

And with that gesture, the Ford Mustang was born.

Launched two years later at the 1964 World's Fair in New York, the Mustang took the U.S. auto market by storm. Fast, sexy and affordable, Ford's new "pony car" captured the imagination of a generation -- and never lost it.

After 39 years and nearly 8 million sold, the Mustang remains the most popular icon of the automaker, celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Copied by competitors, celebrated in pop culture, always identifiable despite radical redesigns, the Mustang is an indelible link to Ford's storied past and a crucial component of its future success.

Ford is counting on the all-new 2005 Mustang, due out next year, to fuel its nascent financial turnaround.

While other cars and trucks will certainly play a role in Ford's revival, there is no substitute for a hot, new Mustang.

"This is a flag-waving, American original as much as Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Levi jeans, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe," said J Mays, Ford's chief designer. "It is ingrained in our culture."

But back in the early 1960s, Ford executives had no idea the Mustang, named after the famed fighter aircraft of World War II, would earn an exalted place in automotive history.

Internal forecasts pegged the Mustang's first-year volume at 80,000 cars. In the first 18 months, Ford sold a million.

"We didn't know what we had," Iacocca said. "We lucked out. It was a home run."

Gun-shy after Edsel

It was hardly the ideal time for Ford to gamble on a risky new model.

Company executives were reeling in 1962 from the spectacular failure of the Edsel, perhaps the most ridiculed automobile of all time.

Ford was still writing off the losses when Iacocca and his team proposed building a low-priced sports car targeted at baby boomers coming of age.

Four times, Iacocca and his aides pitched the idea to Chairman Henry Ford II and other top execs. Four times, it was rejected outright.

Then one afternoon, Henry Ford II stopped by the design studio and grabbed Donald Frey, product manager for the Ford division.

"Henry said, 'I'm tired of hearing about your (expletive) car,' " Frey said. "He said, 'Build it, but it's your ass if it doesn't sell.' I guess we had worn him down."

Iacocca laid down the guidelines for the then-unnamed "sporty Ford." It had to be a four-seater, but lightweight. The car needed a dash of European elegance, but a bargain-basement sticker price. Above all, the new model had to, in Frey's words, exude "pizzazz."

To keep costs down, the car would be built on the existing chassis of the Falcon, and many of its parts borrowed from other vehicles. But getting the right design proved problematic from the start.

At least eight variations were turned down flat by Henry Ford II. In desperation, Iacocca ordered an in-house competition among design teams from Lincoln-Mercury, the advanced product staff and the Ford division.

Oros gathered 35 of his designers together to map out their plan.

"I wanted a European feel with a thin bumper, elliptical headlights and a Ferrari-type front," he said. "In the center of the grille I liked a strong motif, like the Maserati trident."

When Iacocca chose his team's design over six others, Oros knew he still had one more hurdle to clear.

"Mr. Ford came down and wanted to sit in it," Oros said. "The only thing he said was, 'Joe, I think we need a little more headroom.' "

The production team worked at a feverish pace to meet a deadline of April 17, 1964 -- when the Mustang would be unveiled at the Ford Pavilion at the New York World's Fair.

That day, Ford planned to flood newspapers and magazines with two-page ads that showed the car in silhouette along with two, simple messages: "The Unexpected," and "$2,368."

The reaction stunned even Iacocca. Consumers swamped Ford dealerships across the country. Some slept outside showrooms overnight to get first crack at buying a Mustang.

Media coverage flew off the charts. In one week, both Time and Newsweek featured Iacocca and the Mustang on their covers, an honor usually reserved for world statesmen and show-business superstars.

He went on to become president of Ford, chairman of Chrysler Corp., and the author of two best-selling autobiographies. But even today, at age 78, Iacocca remembers the early days of the Mustang as the most thrilling chapter of his legendary career.

"The demographics on that car was everybody, and I mean everybody," he said. "Back then, that's when the adrenaline flowed."

Evolution of the pony

As its popularity soared, the Mustang evolved. The "2+2" fastback version arrived in 1965, followed by the high-performance "GT 350" model created by racing legend Carroll Shelby.

Ford dedicated three factories to produce the car, a testament to the Mustang's unique appeal. Its marketing success was matched only by the financial windfall the Mustang generated for Ford.

In its first two years, the Mustang earned an estimated $1.1 billion in profits. "That was the majority of the profits of the company worldwide," Frey said.

America's car became a cultural phenomenon. In 1966, soul singer Wilson Pickett immortalized it in his hit record, "Mustang Sally." Two years later, movie audiences were thrilled by the car-chase scene in "Bullitt" when Steve McQueen roared through the streets of San Francisco in a dark green, 1968 Mustang GT Fastback.

The Mustang embodied a decade of dramatic change, from the Vietnam War protests to the women's liberation movement to the sexual revolution.

Moreover, the spunky little sports car with the galloping horse on its grille touched a chord in consumers hungry for speed and style in their lives.

"Before Mustang, sports cars were for wealthy people," said Bill Johnson, president of the 9,200-member Mustang Club of America. "All of a sudden, everybody could afford one."

But as time passed, the pony car packed on weight. Bigger engines and technology required to reduce emissions made the Mustang heavier and less nimble. All of a sudden, the light, taut Mustang grew into a brutish muscle car.

By 1972, sales plunged to their lowest point since the car's introduction. "Our pony car turned into a fat pig," Iacocca said.

As the Mustang lost its sparkle, Ford's rivals picked up the slack. General Motors Corp. scored with its twin sports cars, the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, and Chrysler found a niche with the Plymouth Barracuda.

To combat stalling sales, Ford drastically downsized the Mustang. The Mustang II, which debuted in 1974, was a considerably smaller car built atop the chassis of the subcompact Pinto.

Underpowered and oddly proportioned, the Mustang II was a full foot shorter than its predecessor and woefully slow. But Ford got lucky. The new model arrived on the heels of the Arab oil embargo, and sales jumped 80 percent as anxious consumers accepted less power in exchange for better fuel economy.

Yet as the 1970s wore on, sales tapered off. Worse still, the Mustang lost its youthful aura and cutting-edge image.

"We crapped out," Iacocca said. "We had to get it smaller, but it broke the character of the car."


Mustang hits middle age


A good pony, however, is hard to keep down. Ford scrapped the Pinto platform for the 1979 Mustang. Instead, engineers employed a larger chassis, and designers gave the car an edgy, angular look.

The new model outsold the Camaro for the first time in four years. But the momentum proved short-lived. The Mustang posted respectable sales in the 1980s, but nowhere near what it did in its heyday.

Maturing baby boomers moved on to new vehicles better suited to their changing lifestyles. Chrysler, under the leadership of Iacocca, invented the minivan to accommodate young families. The roomy, sensible Taurus sedan supplanted the Mustang as Ford's crown jewel.

The Mustang had entered the automotive equivalent of middle age. Inside Ford, executives questioned its relevance in a market moving increasingly toward sport-utilities and light trucks.

By 1989, Ford product planners were considering the unthinkable: basing the next-generation Mustang on a compact coupe under development by Mazda Motor Corp., Ford's Japanese affiliate.

A Japanese Mustang? John Coletti, for one, couldn't handle that.

A veteran of Ford's racing program, Coletti was the design manager for Mustang when he first saw the Mazda-based concept.

"We were walking through the design studio and I said, 'What is that?' " Coletti said. "I was told that's the new Mustang. 'Well,' I said, 'that may be a lot of things, but a Mustang it ain't.' "

Ford Chairman Alex Trotman assigned Coletti to come up with an alternative. He formed a small project team, and hunkered down in a vacant warehouse in Dearborn. The group tapped into the designs of classic Mustangs, and vowed to restore the car's high-performance image.

When it hit showrooms, the 1994 model recaptured some of Mustang's lost magic. But Ford is betting the best may be yet to come.


Chance of a lifetime


The first Mustang that Hau Thai-Tang ever saw was on the streets of Saigon nearly 30 years ago. A native of Vietnam, he recalled how U.S.O. shows for American GIs often included customized Mustangs to give the troops a taste of home.

Now he's the chief engineer on the 2005 Mustang and ready to make his mark on the next generation of Ford's most valuable nameplate.

At his initial meeting with his core team of 100 staffers, Thai-Tang summed up the opportunity before them.

"Many people we work with will retire from Ford without ever having the chance you have," he told the group.

Shown as a concept car at the 2003 North American International Auto Show, the next Mustang harkens back to the glory days. Its long hood, short deck, sculpted sides and signature three-paneled taillights conjure up visions of the '60s.

In fact, when the concept was shown to Ford's top brass, a mint-condition, 1967 model was parked alongside for comparison.

"We wanted to capture the essence of the car," said Mays, Ford's design chief. "We looked at what made the best Mustangs good, and the lesser Mustangs not as good."

Thai-Tang took the same approach to the guts of the car. "Our goals were to be fun, fast and affordable," he said.

Gone is the old chassis and platform used for 15 years, which sparked controversy over the location of the fuel tank and its connection to a series of fiery, rear-impact collisions. Instead, Ford officials say the next Mustang will get its own new chassis.

Beyond that, the engineering team focused on beefing up the ride, handling and power. No detail escaped their attention. To get just the right, throaty exhaust sound, Thai-Tang's team made a digital recording of the 1968 Mustang in the movie "Bullitt," and tuned the new car's tailpipe to match it.

It's been a delicate balancing act of paying homage to the past while christening a new Mustang for the 21st century.

"When you have a 40-year family tree, you don't chop it down and plant a new one," Thai-Tang said.

That's music to the ears of people like Jeffrey Ray. The 52-year-old Royal Oak businessman recently realized his dream of owning a vintage 'Stang when he bought a bright orange, 1965-model powered by Ford's fabled 289-cubic-inch, V-8 engine.

"I've been looking for this car for 10 years," Ray said. "It's just amazing."

As he showed off his newfound love, Ray caressed its hood and polished up the die-cast Mustang ornament on the grille. At that moment, the emotions associated with the Mustang were as plain as the grin on Ray's face.

Then he slid into the driver's seat, put on a pair of dark shades, and turned the key. The V-8 came alive with a growl.

"This," he said, "is the best part."

Then he stepped on it, the tires squealing as he laid rubber and tore down the street.

Somewhere, Lee Iacocca was twirling his cigar again.

(Photo) INSTANT HIT: Americans immediately embraced the Mustang's affordable price, power and fast lines - pushing sales to over 1 million within 18 months and making it a hot collector item. Jeffrey Ray of Royal Oak purchased a 1965 Mustang just two weeks ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
HONORED ICON: Calling it one of just 15 icons of the 1960s, the Postal Service honored the Mustang with a first class stamp in 1999.
 

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SCREEN STAR: Actor Steve McQueen helped fuel the Mustang legend in the movie "Bullitt," a slice of Americana that lives on today in a toy version of the popular car.
 

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RECAPTURING MAGIC: In January, Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. unveiled the next-generation Mustang, a model the automaker hopes will recapture the magic of its past.
 

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Ford is counting on the 2005 Mustang to fuel its turnaround. Hau Thai-Tang, Mustang chief engineer, is flanked by the 2005 Mustang concept at the Ford Dearborn Test Track.
 

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John Colietti, director of Ford high performance operations, takes a spin at the wheel of the current Mustang SVT Cobra at the Ford Dearborn Test Track.
 

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Created in the early 1960s, the Ford Mustang has graced postage stamps, magazine covers, and lyrics. A look at Mustang history:

1963
Mustang planning begins, but numerous discussions are held before a single sketch is drawn. The goal: make a car that looks like no other with a sweeping hood, sculpted flank and short rear deck to set the Mustang apart. It is eventually scheduled to be built on Ford's Falcon unibody platform.

1964
Ford officially introduces Mustang on April 17. The fastback model debuts on Oct. 1. Standard equipment includes floorshift transmission, full wheel covers, padded dash, bucket seats and carpeting.

1966
Ford begins "refreshening" Mustang annually, pleasing buyers and collectors. For 1966, thin bars -- leaving the galloping horse to float in its chromed rectangular frame -- replace the honeycomb grille texture.

1971
The entire Mustang lineup gets longer and wider -- creating the biggest Mustang ever.

1974-1978
Due to the growing popularity of sporty import coupes, Mustang II enters the market to appeal to those customers conscious of fuel economy during a gasoline crisis. The Mustang convertible is retired until 1983, though the T-top is an option in 1977.

1979
New crisp and clean lines define the fifth generation Mustang, beginning with the 1979 "Fox" platform. The new model is longer and taller than Mustang II, yet 200 pounds lighter.

1983
The Mustang is tweaked to appear faster for 1983 with a rounder nose that reduces air drag, as well as restyled taillights. The first convertible in 10 years returns.

1984
Ford introduces the Mustang SVO.

1987
The Mustang is heavily restyled, with a new "aero-look" body.

1992
The Mach III concept car is introduced. It has carbon fiber body panels sculpted to recreate a long hood, short rear deck and grille-mounted running horse, dual cockpit and three-spoke steering wheel: reminders of the 1965 original.

1993
Ford's Special Vehicle Team (SVT) introduces the Cobra.

1994
Mustang is restyled to evoke the model's heritage and performance tradition, with 1,330 of 1,850 parts changed. The hatchback is dropped.

1999
For 1999, Mustang has a sweeping hood, side scoops and short rear deck that recall the past, while crisp, beveled surfaces invite new interpretation.

2001
The Mustang Bullitt GT is introduced.

2002
The new Mach 1 is introduced.

2003
The next-generation Mustang concept is shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Ford announces that Mustang output will move from Dearborn to Flat Rock.

(Photo)1964 Mustang
 

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1967 Mustang
 

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1972 Mustang
 

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1978 Mustang
 

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1983 Mustang
 

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Ford 100: The original pony car inspired passion as well as profits


By RICHARD TRUETT | Automotive News

On April 17, 1964, Ford Motor Co. launched the original Mustang and created one of the most sensational and beloved automobiles of the 20th century.

Few cars have inspired the same passion and worldwide following as Ford's original pony car.

Ford sold a million Mustangs in the car's first 24 months - the fastest time for a new nameplate to sell that number.

The Mustang has become an industry. Businesses are dedicated to manufacturing Mustang-only parts, while others specialize in restorations.

Magazines, books and hundreds of Web sites are dedicated to the car.

Some Mustang models are among the most collectible and valuable post-World War II American cars.

Not bad for a car that was almost stillborn.

Compacts and imports

Though economy cars, such as the Rambler from American Motors, the Valiant from Chrysler Corp. and Ford's own Falcon, were selling well in 1960, they weren't competing directly with nimble European cars.

Ford Division General Manager Lee Iacocca noticed the rising tide of European road-hugging sports cars and the young people who were buying them. Imports sold more than 500,000 units in the United States in 1959, a year in which the total market in the United States came in at just over 6 million.

General Motors was first in 1959 to answer the imports directly with the low-slung, air-cooled, rear-engine Chevrolet Corvair, and it added a sporty Monza version in 1961. The pressure was on Ford to create a sporty youth-oriented car.

Ford Chairman Henry Ford II was reluctant to buy into the Mustang concept. It was only after hard lobbying that he finally approved $75 million to fund the project.

"Understand that on the heels of Edsels and things like that we had to make money on it," says Donald Petersen, who worked as a liaison between engineering and marketing on the Mustang team and would become Ford chairman.

Although the Mustang was not Iacocca's idea or his design, he is generally regarded as the father of the Mustang because, by force of will, he took control of the car and pushed it through to production.

"I think that Lee sensed how big the Mustang's potential could be sooner than anybody," Petersen says. "He really went for it. He never gave up."

According to Robert Lacey's book, Ford: The Men and the Machine, Iacocca in late 1962 had every Ford product lined up next to its Chevrolet competitor. There was a gap next to the Chevrolet Corvair Monza. Then Iacocca invited Henry Ford II to view the lineup. This helped sway the boss.

By early 1963, a Mustang prototype had been built that would become the basis of the production car. It would keep costs down by using much of the Falcon's underpinnings. It was a stylish four-seater with a long hood and a short trunk.

Petersen says Iacocca gets too much credit for the Mustang. A team effort created the car, he says. Donald Frey, a Ford senior product planning manager, and Hal Sperlich, the Mustang's program manager, deserve equal billing with Iacocca, according to Petersen.

A home run

If the Edsel was the textbook example of how to do every possible thing wrong in creating an automobile, the Mustang was the opposite. Ford's designers and marketers struck a chord with the baby boom generation and succeeded beyond anyone's expectations.

"It was the right car for the right time," says Bob Casey, curator of the transportation section of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. "Unlike later generations, the first iteration had an extremely broad appeal. Even if you got the stripper six-cylinder manual transmission model with no extras, it still looked cool."

Most historians credit the Mustang's styling and price as the main reasons for its success. The styling was the work of Ford designers Gayle Halderman, David Ash and Joseph Oros. The $2,368 base price was $1,000 lower than the closest competition. The car's performance could be anything from mild to wild. A long option list let buyers personalize their cars with everything from a deluxe interior to dual exhausts.

Retired Mazda design chief Tom Matano, father of the Mazda Miata sports car, ranks the original Mustang as one of the top three American car designs of the post-World War II era.

"What made it so special was that it was a very distinctly well proportioned vehicle," Matano says. "Every dimension has good balance. The proportion matches the function. That's become a legend."

Mustang milestones

1964-66: Sold 1 million units more quickly than any other car before or since

1966: Mustang production peaks at 607,568

1967: First face-lift; first big-block engine

1969: Second face-lift; gets bigger

1971: Last face-lift for classic era cars

1974: Mustang II, based on the Pinto, debuts

1993: Mustang gets a major restyling

2005: All-new model with 1967-68 era styling cues scheduled to debut

(Photo)TOP: The original 1964-65 Mustang (a 1966 model is shown) is the car that put the baby boom generations on wheels. ABOVE: The 2005 model will feature design cues from the 1967-68 Mustang. This is a concept.
 

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You forgot the riots in front of some Ford dealers when customers demmanded their Mustangs!
Some dealers back in early 65 had to call the cops after the first few cars went out in minutes!
People were waving money and begging the dealers for cars but they were all gone. All that enthusiasm went in the wrong direction.

Don't think a car will ever repeat that sort of enthusiasm ever again I think !
 

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Channel4.com.uk

Ford Mustang History


In the early 1960s, the American car makers noted the growing popularity of imported European - and especially British - sports cars and roadsters. Losing sales to the likes of MG, Triumph, Jaguar and Austin-Healey, the then Ford boss Lee Iacocca and product planner Donald Frey came with up a proposal for an affordable, fun sports car that would appeal to the baby-boom generation just entering the car market, and take over from the shelved two-seater Thunderbird. The first prototype, Mustang 1 - named after America's fighter aircraft - was assembled in Los Angeles and featured a steel tube frame with an aluminium body, an integral rollbar, fixed seats but racing-style adjustable pedals and steering, and, unusual for the time, four-wheel independent suspension. Thoroughly state-of-the-art, all the shock absorbers and springs were adjustable and there was rack-and-pinion steering. Power came from Ford's 1500cc V4 engine, front-mid-mounted and tuned for 90bhp with a single Solex carburettor or, in a competition prototype, 110bhp with twin Weber carbs and a crossflow manifold. Mustang 1 had a four-speed transaxle manual gearbox, front disc brakes and weighed less than 1200 lbs; although the engine was small, its light weight ensured a top speed of around 120mph.

A two-seater prototype was demonstrated by race ace Dan Gurney at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen in October 1962; tests at the time put 0-60mph acceleration at around ten seconds and fuel economy at 30mpg. It met with a mixed reception, however; enthusiasts raved about the car, but it was considered too futuristic, unusual and expensive to make to be suitable for mass-market production. Instead, Iacocca ruled that Ford must keep it simple: the production Mustang was to be based on Falcon and Fairlane saloon components, it was to be visually stunning but technologically conservative, and above all, it was to be cheap both to produce and for customers to buy. 1963 saw the longer, wider Mustang II prototype at Watkins Glen, an altogether different car.

MUSTANG 64.5-73

The production Mustang was officially launched in April 1964. A 2+2-seater, it was offered in hardtop coupe form, as a convertible or with a raked fastback bodystyle. The underpinnings were conventional Detroit: a live rear axle with leaf springs and independent suspension up front, and drum brakes all round as standard (discs were optional), though testers praised the car's torsional rigidity and almost European-like handling dynamics. The engine choices ranged from a 100bhp 3.2-litre six-cylinder to a 289-inch (4.7-litre) V8 giving up to 250bhp, and buyers could choose from three- or four-speed manual or three-speed auto gearboxes. Prices started from well under $2,500, as targeted by Iacocca - around half the price of Chevrolet's new Corvette - and buyers could effectively build their own car, pick'n'mixing from the engine, specification and extensive option choices, still quite a novelty. A sportier chassis set-up and later, a GT package were offered - disc brakes, driving lights, sportier trim - but the Mustang was not intended to be a car for the hardcore enthusiast. Ford spent much of the development money it had saved by using recycled Falcon and Fairlane components on marketing: a huge advertising campaign was launched, 100 cars were lent to the American media - and the public loved it. Over 22,000 orders were taken the day it went on sale, and in its first year, over 418,000 Mustangs were sold. By its second birthday, sales had topped the million mark.

Motorsport legend and Cobra-maker Carroll Shelby entered the Mustang scene in 1965, building 36 lightweight, 350(ish)bhp Mustang GT-350 models to compete in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) race series. The Ford-approved Shelby-American GT-350 was then offered in road-going form, producing around 305bhp, enough to compete with the Corvette. In all its variants, the Mustang was a runaway success; it broke all records for sales and new rivals, such as the Plymouth Barracuda, couldn't begin to emulate its success. It effectively gave a name to a whole new class of car and market sector: small, relatively affordable sports cars became known as "pony cars", in tribute to the Mustang's rearing horse badge.

The first freshening-up came in 1965, and Ford wisely resisted the temptation to mess with a winning formula. The honeycomb grille was replaced by a multi-bar mouth, all models received a GT-style dash and there were other minor changes to styling details. The engine range was reduced, with just the six-cylinder and the 289-cubic inch V8 in three states of tune; Shelby continued to offer the GT-350. More extensive changes came in 1966, pre-empting the challenges from the upcoming Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird. Now 2.5 inches wider and half an inch taller, the fastback gained a more sweeping roofline, the convertible was restyled below the waistline to give it a chunkier look, and the taillights now comprised triple-light units.


The '67 model-year Mustang was more aggressive-looking, and it continued to sell like wildfire. Concepts such as the Mach 1 previewed new design touches, and each year brought new options for modification, personalisation and sporting-up of the basic 'Stang, many styled by Larry Shinoda, the designer of the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray poached from GM by Ford in 1969. Shinoda smoothed out the Mustang's nose and developed aerodynamic body kits, spoilers and design features.


(Photo) Mustang Mach 1 concept

Ford took the high-performance model and motorsport programme back in-house in 1969, after an uneasy relationship with Shelby, who felt that he had done all he could with the Mustang after producing the Cobra Jet and GT-500 KR versions - the latter a 400bhp-plus monster with a 428-cu in (7-litre) V8. The Mach 1 went on sale for 1970, with a 5.7 V8 or the 7.0-litre (developing around 300bhp); this had Shelby-developed rear suspension, a limited-slip differential and distinctive air scoops on the bonnet, and became known as "the Shaker". As the Mustang Mk 1 went into its final years, Ford went horsepower-crazy, launching the Boss 302 and then the wider, better-handling Boss 351, with sheer grunt making up for the car's old-tech structure and engineering. But federal emissions controls and noise legislation were closing in, and the final Mustangs suffered from detuning in an attempt to meet the new mandatory requirements.

This softened the blow for Mustang II...

MUSTANG 74-78

Mustang II made its appearance in the era of the energy crisis: customers were, Ford thought, increasingly economy-conscious, and the powerful American cars were losing ground to lighter, smaller European and, increasingly, Japanese imports. Mustang II was also affected by the new, stringent emissions and noise control legislation: all in all, it was underpowered and unexciting. The four-cylinder 2.3-litre entry-level engine, with just 100bhp, struggled badly and even the 2.8 V6 - with the engine later used in the Capri - barely managed to scramble from 0-60mph in 14 seconds. Iacocca ordered the Mustang II to be smaller and lighter than before, but costs still had to be kept down; it was therefore built on the same basic platform as the budget Pinto, albeit with a modified chassis and retaining its live axle rear suspension layout. Around a foot shorter than the original car, it nonetheless ended up heavier, despite the smaller engines, and the new front-biased weight distribution meant that the handling was nose-heavy, to say the least. Initial sales hardly reached the frenzy of early Mustang-mania, but at least the OPEC-triggered oil shortage meant that a number of buyers were prepared to sacrifice performance for economy.


Things picked up a bit in '75, with the return of a V8: the 302-cu in block returned, though it was rendered pretty anaemic by emissions controls (just 134bhp) and was only available with an automatic transmission - acceleration from 0-60mph was a hardly inspiring 10.5 seconds. Arguably more interesting was the option of a Rallye suspension package with the V6 engine, with stiffer springs, wider anti-roll bars and adjustable shock absorbers, which at least improved the handling. Few buyers were attracted to the 'mpg' version, with a revised rear axle and gear ratios and standard catalytic converter: it may have returned up to 34mpg on the highway, good for the time, but it was deadly dull to drive. Catalytic converters became standard in 1976, though the manual gearbox was then offered in the V8; petrolheads remaining true to the Mustang cause resorted to a careful choice of options and the aftermarket tuners.

Ford's own options, for a few years, were largely restricted to styling accessories, such as the Cobra II body kit - offered with four-cylinder models. 1978 brought the King Cobra Mustang II: the 302 V8, four-speed manual transmission, revised suspension, a Venturi carb and ritzy graphics: some 500 were built, and their 0-60 time of just over 11 seconds was marginally more respectable. A series of show cars prepared with Monroe, the shock absorber manufacturer, and finished with wild custom paint jobs helped keep some interest in the range until the all-new Mustang III debuted the following year.

MUSTANG 79-93

Ford did a better job with Mustang III: based on the new 'Fox' global platform, it was longer than before, with a longer wheelbase and roomier cabin, yet it weighed some 200lbs less and had much cleaner, crisper styling. Available in two-door booted or three-door hatchback form, with optional removable targa panels, it again had the live rear axle, but the front suspension was a new MacPherson strut layout; three different suspension set-ups were offered, with a full Special Suspension package available with cast aluminium wheels. Engines remained the same at first, however, so performance was hardly improved; a new, lighter 2.3-litre four-cylinder (140bhp) made up for the continuation of the older unit, now giving barely 90bhp, and a new 3.3 straight-six filled the gap between that and the ageing V8 - detuned further to 120bhp by 1980. A turbocharger upgrade was offered with the new four-cylinder engine, boosting the 0-60 time to just over 9 seconds, but this proved unreliable and, in many cases, virtually undriveable, with horrible turbo lag and an alarming tendency to catch fire. Nonetheless, the Mustang was still credible enough to act as a pace car for the 1979 Indianapolis 500 race, and Ford built 11,000 Indy Pace Car replicas to celebrate; over 350,000 Mustangs were sold in 1980.


Sales dipped in '81, though, to just over 180,000 despite the much-improved manual transmission (with overdrive, effectively giving a fifth gear), the option of a better limited-slip differential which made the car much more predictable and tractable, and a convertible-like T-Top targa. The Capri V8 was dropped from the range. 1982 brought a decent engine back, the 5.0-litre HO (High Output) V8, good for 155bhp - hardly high output by today's standards, or those of the early '70s, but an improvement nonetheless. The convertible returned in 1983, the first proper Mustang soft-top for ten years, and all models received a more rounded nose and restyled taillights. The 3.3 V6 was replaced by a 3.8 V6 (110bhp), the 2.3 turbo was reworked and fitted with electronic fuel injection, which made it more reliable, and the 5.0 V8 was boosted to 175bhp thanks to the addition of a four-barrel Holley carb.



To mark the Mustang's 20th birthday in '84, Ford revived the GT-350 name - though as Carroll Shelby had not licensed this name to Ford, the company had to hastily rename it the 20th Anniversary GT. This model was fitted with the 2.3 turbocharged or 5.0 V8 engines, and came in white with red stripes only; 5,260 were built. The V6 and V8 engines received electronic fuel injection systems, which improved economy and throttle response. The most headline-worthy Mustang development of the mid-'80s, however, was the launch of the SVO, a high-performance model developed by Ford's Special Vehicle Operations division. This came in three-door hatchback form with black or charcoal grey paint only, and had the 2.3 turbo engine, modified to 175bhp with a new intercooler and revised transmission ratios. It managed 0-60 in around eight seconds, and handling was less vague than the standard cars thanks to Koni gas-filled shock absorbers, ventilated disc brakes and low-profile tyres, as well as a useful evolution of Ford's Quadra-link suspension system. Its grille-less drooping nose was the height of fashion at the time, and its spoilers and bonnet air scoops made it the equivalent of Ford Europe's Sierra Cosworth - many a mainstream model was kitted out as a lookalike. The 41C option deleted all non-essential equipment, such as air conditioning and electric windows, and weighed nearly 100lbs less.


The 5.0 V8 was lifted to 210bhp in 1985, and the Turbo boosted to 205bhp; but by now, the Mustang was beginning to struggle again. Ford revised the pricing, but had to detune the SVO to run on new lower-octane petrol, and the Turbo was then dropped in '86. The GT package remained the most popular choice. For 1987, all models received an SVO-style nose and headlamps, the GT gained the SVO's four-link suspension, and improvements to the fuel injection system brought the V8 up to 225bhp and 0-60 in just under 6.7 seconds. Five-speed manual transmission was now standard, but the 3.8 V6 was discontinued. Ford revised the car's interior significantly, with a new instrument panel. Production went back up to over 200,000 cars a year in '88 and '89, and although there were many rumours of an all-new, front-wheel drive Mustang - first tipped for launch in the mid-'80s - the Fox-platform model soldiered on.


(Photo) Mach 3 concept

Despite 25th anniversary models and various special editions, sales fell back to less than 130,000 cars in 1990, less than 99,000 in 1991 and under 80,000 in '92 - as even the base Mustang now cost well over $10,000, for a very rudimentary specification, it just wasn't an appealing choice any more. Not only did it look dated, it was thoroughly outclassed in terms of ride, comfort and refinement, let alone handling and driving dynamics. Ford realised that it had lost the plot, and went back to basics: the Mach III concept car of 1992 signalled a few intentions, with its retro styling, carbonfibre body panels and a return to the long bonnet-short rear deck layout. This was followed up by the Jack Roush-tuned SVT (Special Vehicles Team) Mustang Cobra production car, which did 0-60 in less than six seconds, and restored a little credibility to the line-up before the fourth-generation model made its long overdue debut in 1994.

MUSTANG 94-03

Mustang IV, launched to much fanfare, managed an all-new body - in two-door coupe or convertible layout, the three-door shape abandoned - and Ford boasted that 1,330 of its 1,850 components were new, but whilst it looked radically different on the outside, underneath it was still based on the ancient Fox platform. It was roomier again, though, with a longer wheelbase and wide track, which helped the handling a little; ABS brakes were now optional, and disc brakes on all wheels standard. The four-cylinder 2.3 engine was finally pensioned off, replaced by a new aluminium-block 3.8 V6 (145bhp); the 5.0 V8 was modified to give 215bhp and a Cobra model was tuned for 245bhp. A stripped-out Cobra R limited edition of 250 models was produced, as were 1000 Indy 500 pace car replicas. The Cobra R was only supposed to be available to racing licence holders, and came with competition-spec fuel tank and engine cooling, though buyers were expected to install their own roll cages and competition seats. For 1995, the R's 351-cu in V8 was breathed on by Jack Roush to give 300bhp, and further revisions were made to the suspension, wheels and transmission, but by 1996, the engine was discontinued. The next Mustang Cobra had a new, more modern 4.6 V8 (305bhp), and this was offered alongside the mainstream 3.8 V6.


Nostalgia has been keeping the Mustang alive - special edition, carefully themed models have helped to keep the flame burning. The Bullitt Mustang of 2001 (see road test linked below), the Mach 1 of 2002, with 'shaker' air scoop and 'heritage' wheels and a series of show cars. New for 2004 will be a further 305bhp Mach 1 edition, and the SVT Mustang MystiChrome Cobra, supercharged to 390bhp and finished in two-tone paint which can flip from Topaz Green to Cobalt Blue to Royal Purple to Onyx Black, depending on the light; there is also, inevitably, the 40th Anniversary model, with special stripes and badging, an uprated interior and unique alloy wheels. The latter does, however, preview the all-new 24-valve 4.6-litre V8 engine to be offered in the Mustang V... The Mustang GT coupe and convertible concept cars shown at the 2003 Detroit Motor Show demonstrated that Ford really was returning to the original recipe for Mustang V, thankfully, and after years of neglect, the Mustang range could finally live up to the promise of the iconic first-generation car. To develop the prototypes, the design teams spent ages looking at the silhouettes of the early pony cars. "Getting the proportions right is the magic to making the entire design work," design chief J Mays told 4CAR last year. "When you're designing a new Mustang, you're the steward of 40 years of automotive history." And history is key: retro detailing abounded in the GT concepts, and Ford's emphasis on reviving the Mustang name was made clear in its repetition of the galloping pony logo and 'Mustang' scripts, all in the style of the '60s 'Stangs. Well, it had to be, as this is all about heritage, tradition and keeping the Mustang brand alive for the 21st century.

MUSTANG 05

Ford has now unveiled the production version of the fifth-generation Mustang.
 

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Mustang Memories
by AutoWeek


March 9, 1964: The first production Mustang, with an optional 260-cid V8, rolled out of Dearborn. Originally intended as a two-seater, Lee Iacocca, Ford general manager and the force behind the car, thought a four-place car would sell better. Some 22,000 sold the first day, April 17, and 1 million sold in the first two years. The rest, as they say, is history.


For those who thought a stock '65 Mustang too tame, Ford worked with racing legend Carroll Shelby to produce the GT350, a Mustang fastback with a 306-hp 289-cid V8. The car had no back seat, came only in white, and was said to be ready for the track straight out of the factory.


1967 saw the Mustang's first major styling changes, which included a bigger grille and concave tail. Seven engines were available that year, from the 115-hp inline six to the 355-hp 428 in the Shelby GT500.


In 1969 Ford introduced the Boss Mustang, named after Ford designer Larry Shinoda's nickname for the automaker's president, Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen. The Boss 429's V8 developed 375 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. To compete in SCCA Trans-Am racing with Chevrolet's Camaro, which won the 1968 title, Ford built the Boss 302, powered by a 290-hp V8.


It all went horribly wrong in 1974. The Mustang II was Ford's shot at a small, light sporty car. It ended up with an underpowered, ill-handling coupe based on the Pinto. The Mustang II got a 90-hp 2.3-liter four-cylinder (Ford thought V8s too heavy); the "performance" model came with a 100-hp 2.8-liter V6. The highlight: a Ghia model, complete with vinyl roof!


The Mustang II soldiered on and in 1978 the King Cobra was launched to mixed reviews. Some saw the $1,200 package as purely cosmetic, but it came with a four-speed manual transmission, front and rear antiroll bars and more aggressive Goodyear tires. A 134-hp 302 V8 powered King Cobras.


The Mustang II was (thankfully) killed after the 1978 model year and the third generation debuted in 1979. Based on the Fox platform introduced with Ford Fairmont in '78, the '79 Mustang grew in length and height, but weighed some 200 pounds less than Mustang II. Six engines were available, starting with the base 2.3-liter four up to the 302-cid V8, now producing 140 hp. © 2004. All rights reserved.


Midway through the 1984 model came the Mustang SVO, named for Ford's Special Vehicle Operations. The SVO was available only as a hatchback and was powered by a turbocharged 2.3-liter four developing 175 hp. Many SVO buyers checked option 41C, which eliminated the radio, power locks and windows, and a/c. This saved $1,200, and nearly 100 pounds. © 2004. All rights reserved.


For 1987 the Mustang was significantly restyled. The SVO model was dropped, but many of its parts were carried over. In its second year with fuel injection, the 5.0-liter V8 in the Mustang GT now developed 225 hp. The V6 was dropped, so choices were limited to the V8 or a 2.3-liter four producing 88 hp. Body styles were a two-door hatchback and a convertible.


1994, and an all-new body, based on a revised Fox platform. A 3.8-liter V6 now powered the base car, replacing the four. The 5.0 V8's horsepower was now 215. Ford dropped the hatchback and only the two-door coupe and convertible were available. The Cobra R was introduced, intended for racing. It came with no a/c or radio, and most of the sound-deadening insulation was removed.
 
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