The Rearview Mirror: The Pony Car is Born


This week, on April 14, 1964, the automotive press noticed what the common public would see three days later, a new car that was 1st confirmed 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 cars this spring,” claimed the press release issued Feb. 6, 1964, by Lee Iacocca, vice president of Ford Motor Co. “The new line of autos will be known as the Mustang … no further facts on the new vehicle line will be revealed till the time of its community introduction.”

The automobile would become an icon for Ford and develop a new course of auto, the Pony Auto.

With a 108-inch wheelbase, 2,500-pound suppress body weight and a $2,368 price tag tag, Ford sold 22,000 Mustangs on the initially day. Its popularity proved unprecedented. But its improvement was a extensive just one, possessing began in 1960. 

Wholesome sales inspite of stodgy automobiles

Ford’s bestseller at the time was the Ford Falcon, a sensible unexciting compact sedan introduced that year together with this sort of new opponents as the Chevrolet Corvair, Plymouth Valiant, AMC Rambler and Studebaker Lark. Ford’s chook was the most productive, promoting more than 400,000 units in its original 12 months. The car or truck was emblematic of the Ford line underneath Ford Motor President Robert McNamara: solid, conservative and dull. 

The 1960 Ford Falcon system was dull but popular, and employed as a basis for the initial Ford Mustang.

As Ford Automotive Division basic manager and vice president, McNamara took the two-seat Ford Thunderbird, released for 1955, and added rear seats in 1958, quickly eradicating its cache. The stylish, Lincoln Continental Mark II was dropped and the ungainly Edsel launched alternatively, major to a $250 million flop. In its wake, Henry Ford II proved reluctant to contemplate any new cars and trucks and the company’s merchandise became more and more stodgy and uninteresting.

By 1960, McNamara was named Ford Automotive Division’s president, with Lee Iacocca inheriting his aged location, but the arrangement wouldn’t final prolonged. When McNamara still left Ford in late 1960 to become Secretary of Protection underneath President John F. Kennedy, Iacocca was named Ford Division President. He was 36 yrs outdated.

A current market searching for a car

The very first Mustang, the 1962 Mustang I, is a two seat, mid-engine athletics vehicle.

But Iacocca was turning into informed of the rising youth marketplace, a person that was getting into their teenage a long time and would quickly be driving. He felt a car or truck should really be produced to fulfill the market. In late 1960, Iacocca fashioned a committee of Ford professionals to examine the possibilities, but being aware of Henry’s reluctance, convened the new workforce at The Fairlane Inn, a motor lodge two miles west of Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, and away from prying eyes.

What the The Fairlane Committee uncovered was what they termed “a current market on the lookout for a motor vehicle.”

Ford sector exploration experienced persistently demonstrated that higher education educated consumers, like the Newborn Boomers now coming of age, accounted for 46% of new motor vehicle purchasers in spite of the fact they only produced up 18% of the total population. Investigation also showed that women of all ages car or truck house owners ended up one of the segments escalating most swiftly and that they would be the ones most possible to use a 2nd car. But it would have to be modest, maneuverable and be quick to park.

The Euro-styled Ford Allegro was just one of the early proposals for what would become the Mustang.

As committee pondered its rising purchaser, they noted that “given the elements of youth, education, good spend and a wish for design and style and sportiness in vehicles, we nonetheless experienced to retain in head that a large phase of the market place we ended up aiming at was manufactured up of young individuals … experienced fantastic potential and fancy preferences in long lasting products — but rather very little all set money.”

Ford commences work on a new steed

Investigation in hand, Iacocca wished to launch the car in April 1964 at the New York World’s Fair. But to start with, they had to carry the car to existence. 

As designers started off generating proposals for the new vehicle, Hal Sperlich, Ford special tasks assistant, proposed creating the automobile on the Ford Falcon chassis, which would conserve $400 million in growth costs, an essential thought in gentle of the Edsel’s losses. And, the Falcon was about the size of the automobile they hoped to establish.

In 1962, Gene Bordinat’s edition Allegro established the basic proportions that would define most Mustangs.

But what to phone it? Monte Carlo, Monaco, Torino and Cougar have been all regarded. Marketing company J. Walter Thompson advised Bronco and Colt. As they wrangled more than names, designers got to function in spring 1962. 

Mustangs that under no circumstances had been

The first Mustang, the 1962 Mustang I, was virtually a race car or truck, with a tubular body, aluminum pores and skin and a absolutely independent suspension. Measuring 154 inches very long, weighing 1,200 lbs and boasting two seats, its 90-horsepower, 2.-liter 4-cylinder engine propelling it to 60 mph in about 10 seconds. Ford typical manager Lee Iacocca declared it as well radical. 

The next proposal was the 1962 Ford Cougar a fastback built by Jack Telnack, who grew to become Ford’s vice president for worldwide design in 1987. The Cougar title, afterwards employed by Mercury, was a person of the names used until eventually the Mustang identify was accredited. Another was Avanti, which was changed to Allegro when Studebaker launched a coupe making use of that name.

In 1963, there was considerable debate about which direction the Ford Cougar’s cat should really facial area.

Ford created 13 versions of the Allegro, none of which resembled the output Mustang. But they did establish its proportions: extended hood, small rear deck and a compact passenger compartment. But by summer months, the Allegro was shelved and designers ended up supplied two weeks to produce a little something clean. Seven proposals resulted, with a thought named Cougar supplied the go-in advance for manufacturing. 

But there however just one man or woman who could scuttle the project: Henry Ford II.

The pony car receives a thumbs up

On Sept. 10, 1962, Iacocca introduced the comprehensive-sized clay product to Henry Ford II. He accepted the auto, nonetheless named the Cougar, with three caveats. 1st, its cost to the enterprise will be $45 million, not the $75 million Iacocca requested. Subsequent, it has to have an inch of additional legroom in the backseat and, ultimately not like the Edsel, it has to promote.

Once authorised, Ford designed a high quality sporty car or truck for an economic climate car cost.

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

In the meantime, Hal Sperlich, who would later create Chrysler K-Automobiles and minivans, was named the Mustang’s software supervisor, and inside of a year, 200 pilot creation cars and trucks are remaining evaluated. 

An icon is born

By March 10, 1964, the to start with Mustangs are becoming strategically shipped to Ford sellers throughout the world, awaiting its debut. Iacocca took no probabilities with its unveiling, working ads in 2,600 newspapers nationwide, and airing and key time commercials on all three broadcast Television networks the night time ahead of the launch at the World’s Honest.

The motor vehicle and the govt who stewarded its delivery land on the handles of Time and Newsweek magazines. It’s a hit. Ford sells 22,000 Mustangs in the to start with working day, peddling 418,000 in its 1st 12 months of production. It would spawn a host of imitators, and a complete new course of car or truck — the Pony Auto.

It’s this 7 days that we salute the birth of an icon that survives until now, a reminder that autos that cater to the young and younger-at-heart stay an eternal element of the automotive business. 

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