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Ford Mustang is Born

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On: Mon, May 10, 2010 at 5:07PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Mustang is Born

The concept design of the first Ford Mustang took place from 1960-1963 after Ford’s Manager Lee Iacocca expressed a vision to create a new compact car, a vehicle that would appeal to the Baby Boomer generation, that would be fast, fun to drive, and affordable. Although it was a tough sell, supporters convinced Ford to move forward on the project.

The name was based on the renowned P-51 Mustang fighter airplane from World War II. Ford was looking for something different as far as the design was concerned, and asked the engineers to come up with a new look. A design contest was created and David Ash and John Oros of the Ford Studio took first place, as they came to be known as the legendary creators of the first Mustang that was offered to the public. Their Mustang model was based on the Falcon and featured a long-sweeping hood and a high-mounted grille with a sculpture of a Mustang Horse prominently featured as its centerpiece.

To cut down the development cost, the Mustang was based heavily on familiar, yet simple components. Much of the chassis, suspension, and drivetrain components originated from the Ford Fairlane and Falcon. The length of the Mustang and Falcon was identical, although the Mustang's wheelbase was slightly shorter. Most of the mechanical parts were taken directly from the Falcon, however, the Mustang's body was completely different with a shorter wheelbase, wider track, lower seating position, and overall height. The innovative "torque box" was a new structural system that greatly strengthened the Mustang's construction and helped to create better handling. In spite of the many similarities between the Mustang and the Falcon, the first Mustang model looked completely different on the outside. It also had lower positioned seats and a lower ride height.

The first concept car debuted in October 1963 at the Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, New York, and was driven around the circuit by the famous racecar driver Dan Gurney. The first production Mustang rolled off the assembly line in Dearborn, Michigan on March 9, 1964, and was introduced at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964, via all three American television networks. In September of 1964 the new Mustang was featured in the James Bond Goldfinger movie, It was one of the most successful product launches in automotive history. The Mustang sold over one million units in its first 18 months on the market.

The Mustang became an icon for speed among American motorists for decades; in 1966, Wilson Pickett scored a hit with the R&B song named “Mustang Sally,” about a young lady who would be well-advised to slow down, because she’s moving just a bit too fast. It was written by Bonny Rice, a member of the Falcons of the early ‘60s, a group with whom Pickett spent some time. In fact, Rice recorded it first as Sir Mack Rice, then Pickett covered it about a year later. It has become known as a Pickett anthem. “You’ve been riding all over town, ooh, guess you gotta put your flat feet on the ground. Ride, Sally, ride.”

View the evolution of the Mustang in the photos below...

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)


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