The history of the Ford Mustang

   

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-seat, 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 2 seat design was in part due to the low sales experienced with the 2 seat 1955 T-Bird. To broaden market appeal it was later remodeled as a four-seat car styled under the direction of Project Design Chief Joe Oros and his team of L. David Ash, Gale Halderman, and John Foster — in Ford's Lincoln–Mercury Division design studios, which produced the winning design in an intramural design contest instigated by Iacocca.
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. Much of the chassis, suspension, and drivetrain components were derived from the Ford Falcon and Ford Fairlane (North American). 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.
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 would be sold during the model year (a record), and in its first eighteen months, more than one million Mustangs were built. All of these were VIN-identified as 1965 models, but several changes were made at the traditional opening of the new model year (beginning August 1964), including the addition of back-up lights on some models, the introduction of alternators to replace generators, and an upgrade of the V-8 engine from 260 cu in (4.3 l) to 289 cu in (4.7 l) displacement. In the case of at least some six-cylinder Mustangs fitted with the 101 hp (75 kW) 170 cu in (2.8 l) 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 "1964˝" model-year Mustangs, a distinction that has endured with purists.

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