The Rearview Mirror: The Pony Car is Born


This 7 days, on April 14, 1964, the automotive push noticed what the standard general public would see 3 days afterwards, a new automobile that was initially verified by a Ford Motor Co. press launch in February.

Ford Motor Co. executives Lee Iacocca and Don Frey with the 1964-1/2 Ford Mustang.

“Ford Division verified today that it will introduce a new line of vehicles this spring,” explained the push launch issued Feb. 6, 1964, by Lee Iacocca, vice president of Ford Motor Co. “The new line of vehicles will be termed the Mustang … no additional particulars on the new motor vehicle line will be unveiled until the time of its general public introduction.”

The car would develop into an icon for Ford and make a new class of auto, the Pony Motor vehicle.

With a 108-inch wheelbase, 2,500-pound control pounds and a $2,368 value tag, Ford sold 22,000 Mustangs on the very first working day. Its reputation proved unparalleled. But its advancement was a lengthy 1, obtaining started out in 1960. 

Healthy revenue irrespective of stodgy cars and trucks

Ford’s bestseller at the time was the Ford Falcon, a wise unexciting compact sedan launched that year together with this sort of new opponents as the Chevrolet Corvair, Plymouth Valiant, AMC Rambler and Studebaker Lark. Ford’s chicken was the most effective, providing far more than 400,000 models in its preliminary calendar year. The vehicle was emblematic of the Ford line under Ford Motor President Robert McNamara: good, conservative and boring. 

The 1960 Ford Falcon platform was dull but preferred, and employed as a foundation for the very first Ford Mustang.

As Ford Automotive Division typical manager and vice president, McNamara took the two-seat Ford Thunderbird, released for 1955, and additional rear seats in 1958, quickly doing away with its cache. The elegant, Lincoln Continental Mark II was dropped and the ungainly Edsel released in its place, major to a $250 million flop. In its wake, Henry Ford II proved reluctant to think about any new vehicles and the company’s goods grew to become more and more stodgy and dull.

By 1960, McNamara was named Ford Automotive Division’s president, with Lee Iacocca inheriting his aged place, but the arrangement would not final extensive. When McNamara remaining Ford in late 1960 to turn into Secretary of Protection under President John F. Kennedy, Iacocca was named Ford Division President. He was 36 yrs previous.

A marketplace seeking for a motor vehicle

The 1st Mustang, the 1962 Mustang I, is a two seat, mid-engine sporting activities vehicle.

But Iacocca was turning out to be conscious of the rising youth sector, a person that was getting into their teenage many years and would soon be driving. He felt a car or truck should be made to fulfill the current market. In late 1960, Iacocca formed a committee of Ford managers to examine the choices, but knowing Henry’s reluctance, convened the new staff at The Fairlane Inn, a motor lodge two miles west of Ford Environment Headquarters in Dearborn, and absent from prying eyes.

What the The Fairlane Committee found was what they termed “a industry seeking for a automobile.”

Ford market place research had consistently shown that university educated shoppers, like the Newborn Boomers now coming of age, accounted for 46% of new car or truck purchasers irrespective of the actuality they only built up 18% of the all round inhabitants. Analysis also confirmed that women automobile proprietors have been 1 of the segments expanding most quickly and that they would be the kinds most probable to use a 2nd car or truck. But it would have to be little, maneuverable and be effortless to park.

The Euro-styled Ford Allegro was a person of the early proposals for what would grow to be the Mustang.

As committee pondered its emerging client, they observed that “given the elements of youth, training, fantastic pay back and a need for model and sportiness in vehicles, we nonetheless had to preserve in brain that a significant segment of the market we were aiming at was manufactured up of young people … experienced very good possible and extravagant preferences in tough goods — but relatively little all set funds.”

Ford starts perform on a new steed

Exploration in hand, Iacocca preferred to start the motor vehicle in April 1964 at the New York World’s Fair. But 1st, they experienced to convey the vehicle to daily life. 

As designers started off developing proposals for the new vehicle, Hal Sperlich, Ford specific initiatives assistant, proposed building the auto on the Ford Falcon chassis, which would preserve $400 million in growth fees, an vital consideration in light-weight of the Edsel’s losses. And, the Falcon was about the sizing of the vehicle they hoped to construct.

In 1962, Gene Bordinat’s model Allegro proven the fundamental proportions that would determine most Mustangs.

But what to call it? Monte Carlo, Monaco, Torino and Cougar had been all considered. Advertising and marketing agency J. Walter Thompson advised Bronco and Colt. As they wrangled more than names, designers obtained to function in spring 1962. 

Mustangs that under no circumstances were being

The very first Mustang, the 1962 Mustang I, was virtually a race auto, with a tubular frame, aluminum skin and a totally impartial suspension. Measuring 154 inches extended, weighing 1,200 lbs and boasting two seats, its 90-horsepower, 2.-liter 4-cylinder motor propelling it to 60 mph in about 10 seconds. Ford common supervisor Lee Iacocca declared it far too radical. 

The future proposal was the 1962 Ford Cougar a fastback built by Jack Telnack, who grew to become Ford’s vice president for worldwide design and style in 1987. The Cougar name, later on utilised by Mercury, was one particular of the names employed until finally the Mustang name was authorised. Another was Avanti, which was changed to Allegro when Studebaker launched a coupe using that title.

In 1963, there was substantial debate about which route the Ford Cougar’s cat should really face.

Ford designed 13 variations of the Allegro, none of which resembled the production Mustang. But they did establish its proportions: very long hood, shorter rear deck and a compact passenger compartment. Nonetheless by summer months, the Allegro was shelved and designers were being presented two weeks to build anything fresh. Seven proposals resulted, with a principle named Cougar supplied the go-forward for production. 

But there nevertheless a person person who could scuttle the challenge: Henry Ford II.

The pony vehicle receives a thumbs up

On Sept. 10, 1962, Iacocca presented the entire-sized clay product to Henry Ford II. He authorised the vehicle, continue to identified as the Cougar, with three caveats. Very first, its value to the enterprise will be $45 million, not the $75 million Iacocca asked for. Up coming, it has to have an inch of extra legroom in the backseat and, finally not like the Edsel, it has to promote.

As soon as authorised, Ford designed a top quality sporty vehicle for an economic climate vehicle price.

To verify that it will, The Mustang I is taken to Watkins Glen, N.Y., exactly where racecar driver Dan Gurney dazzles the automotive push and crowd when he surpasses 100 mph. 

In the meantime, Hal Sperlich, who would later on create Chrysler K-Vehicles and minivans, was named the Mustang’s method manager, and inside of a year, 200 pilot production automobiles are remaining evaluated. 

An icon is born

By March 10, 1964, the first Mustangs are becoming strategically delivered to Ford sellers all over the world, awaiting its debut. Iacocca took no prospects with its unveiling, operating adverts in 2,600 newspapers nationwide, and airing and prime time commercials on all a few broadcast Television set networks the night time prior to the start at the World’s Good.

The automobile and the government who stewarded its delivery land on the covers of Time and Newsweek publications. It’s a strike. Ford sells 22,000 Mustangs in the 1st working day, peddling 418,000 in its 1st 12 months of generation. It would spawn a host of imitators, and a entire new class of car or truck — the Pony Vehicle.

It is this 7 days that we salute the delivery of an icon that survives right up until currently, a reminder that cars that cater to the younger and youthful-at-coronary heart continue being an everlasting part of the automotive sector. 


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