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Cars > Blogs > Official Motortopia Blog > 9 Million Mustangs!

 

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9 Million Mustangs!

By motortopia

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Whether you are a Ford person or a Chevy person, there is no denying that the Mustang is a huge part of American culture. Ford has just announced it has built its 9 millionth Mustang during its 45-year production run, and it will be delivered to a dealership somewhere in Iowa.

The Mustang was introduced in 1964 as a direct response to the Chevrolet Corvair Monza. The Corvair, introduced in late 1959 as a 1960 model, was originally intended to compete against the Ford Falcon as an economy car. But later in 1960, when Chevy introduced the Corvair Monza coupe with bucket seats and a 4-speed manual transmission, it created a whole new niche market for small sporty cars.

Ford saw the potential in this new market, and started working on their own answer to the Corvair. Interestingly, the first Mustang concept that was shown was actually a rear-engined car, like the Corvair. However, instead of an air-cooled flat-6, the Mustang concept car used a water-cooled 4-cylinder sourced from the front-wheel-drive Cardinal/Taunus from their German division. It was created in an amazing 60 days and shown in the fall of 1961. Although well-received, Ford deemed the Mustang I too expensive to produce, and the 2-seater concept car was also too impractical.

By 1962, Ford had produced several new styling mockups that met the following requirements (again, to compete against the Corvair): a $2500 target price; a 2500 lb. curb weight; 180-inch overall length; seating for four; floor-mounted manual shifter; and maximum use of Ford Falcon parts. Eventually, the design you see in the picture above was chosen as the winner. (Note the Corvair in the background, being used for comparison.) It is also interesting to note how the concept featured fake side air intake vents in front of the rear wheels, an homage to the earlier rear-engined Mustang I concept that needed those vents for cooling. Even today, the Mustang has retained that styling cue.

Prior to the launch of the Mustang as a 1964 1/2 model, Ford pulled out all the stops and produced one of the largest and most brilliant marketing blitzes in history. And it worked. The car was unveiled on April 16, 1964, to 29 million TV viewers, as it bought time on all three networks during the 9 pm time slot. The next morning, over 2600 newspapers carried ads and articles about the new car, and it was shown to the public at the New York World's Fair.

All their effort paid off: "Mustang Fever" hit the nation. There were all sorts of crazy stories going around. One trucker was so distracted by a Mustang in a San Francisco showroom that he drove right through the window. A Chicago dealer had to lock its doors to keep people from rushing in and crushing the cars -- and each other. A Pittsburgh retailer hoisted his only Mustang on a lube rack, only to find crowds pressing in so thick and fast that he couldn't get the car down until suppertime. Another dealer found itself with 15 customers wanting to buy the same new Mustang, so the car was auctioned. The winning bidder insisted on sleeping in it until his check cleared.

Ford clearly had a hit. In fact, in its first year, the Mustang set an industry record for first-year sales. The Mustang looked good, was priced right, and had a long list of options, so people could really personalize the car and make it their own. It was also cheaper to produce than Chevy's rival Corvair, since it was based on the Ford Falcon. It could also use the Ford engines out of their other models, so you could get an inline-6 if you wanted economy, and it was just as easy for Ford to drop in a big V8 if you wanted performance. The success of the Mustang smothered the Corvair, and Chevy soon realized they needed something other than the Corvair to compete. Hence, the Camaro (and Firebird) was created as a direct response, and introduced in 1967.

The Mustang continued, and grew larger and more powerful in the 60s and early 70s. In 1967, the big block V8s were available with 300+ horsepower. By 1971, you could get a 375 hp 429 Super Cobra Jet V8. Also, during these years, Carroll Shelby produced the legendary GT350 and GT500 models.

Then, in 1974, Ford made a drastic change by introducing the Mustang II. The Mustang II was originally to be based on the smaller Ford Maverick, but Lee Iacocca decided it should be based on the even smaller Ford Pinto. It was meant to compete with the Toyota Celica and the Mercury Capri. When it was introduced, you could only get a 4-cylinder or a V6. Gone were the powerful V8s you could get in the previous Mustang. In 1975, a V8 was finally offered, but only with a 2-barrel carburetor. It only produced 140 hp.

Surprisingly, the Mustang II sold really well. Over 400,000 were sold in 1974, and four of the five years of the Mustang II are in the top-ten best selling Mustang years ever. In 1976, the Cobra was introduced, and in 1977 the King Cobra was introduced to try and give it a performance image.

In 1979, Ford again redesigned the Mustang. This time, it was based on the Fox platform of the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr. It was larger, and completely restyled. Again, the top engined was a 140 hp V8. However, during the mid-80s, Ford started increasing the power available in the Mustang. Ford offered two ways to get your speed on: the turbo-charged 4-cylinder SVO or the V8 GT.

But, sales were slumping. Ford decided the Mustang had lost its way again, and decided to replace it with a Mazda-based front wheel drive car. Mustang fans went nuts, and bombarded Ford with hundreds of thousands of letters. Ford changed their mind and decided to keep the rear-wheel-drive Mustang. The proposed front-wheel-drive Mustang replacement was released as the Ford Probe.

In 1987, Ford refocused itself on the Mustang, and gave it a styling update. Ford and Chevy started pushing each other to make the Mustang and Camaro faster. Ford introduced models like the SVT Cobra and Cobra R, while Chevy fired back with the IROC Z.

In 1994, Ford redesigned the Mustang again. This time, it was based on an updated version of the same Fox platform and featured dramatic new styling. Power eventually increased to almost 400 hp, and the Cobras even featured a new independent rear suspension.

In 2002, GM killed off the Camaro and Firebird, leaving the Mustang as the sole American-made pony car. But Ford didn't stand idly by. In 2004, they introduced a completely redesign Mustang based on an all-new platform with "retro-futurism" styling. The new Mustang looked moderan, but also clearly had styling cues from the 1967-68 Mustangs.

This current Mustang is available in several models. These include the base Mustang and Mustang GT, as well as several performance-oriented special editions, like the Bullitt, Shelby GT, Shelby GT-H, Shelby GT500, and the 500+ hp Shelby GT500KR.

For now, the Mustang is the king of the road when it comes to American muscle. However, the new Dodge Challenger is right around the corner, and Chevrolet is reintroducing the Camaro in 2010 to give the Mustang some more competition. But it is the Mustang that is here right now, and it is the Mustang that is truly a part of the American culture.

Check out the photo album to see some pictures of Mustangs, and tell us your Mustang stories in the comments.

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Read comments on this blog post 1 – 10 of 10

CorvairJim’s Profile Photo
CorvairJim
Jan 8, 2009 at 3:41 pm
Definitely a case of the student surpassing the teacher. Almost half a million units sold in the Mustang's first (18 month) model year, where the Corvair only topped 200,000 twice in it's ten year run. On the other hand, the Corvair was a unique car, whereas the mustang was always somethiong else in a sporty body - first a Falcon (64 1/2-70), then a Torino (71-73), a Pinto (74-78 ), a Fairmont (79-93) and finally (drum roll, please) a LINCOLN LS!

I find myself in the distinct minority of those who never relly warmed to the Mustang. I think the styling of the first two series, the 64 1/2-66 and the 67-68, looked dated even when they were new. Park one of them next to a '65-69 Corvair and see for yourself just how much more modern the Corvair looks. To my eye, the Corvair looks at least a decade newer. On the other hand, you can't argue with success...
 
honeycomb’s Profile Photo
honeycomb
May 1, 2008 at 7:19 am
By the time I was old enough to drive, my parents had bought a Firebird 400, so I wasn't a Ford person during those years, but I remember when the Mustang first appeared, and how different it was from anything else on the road. I wanted our family to buy one so bad. No matter how you feel about Fords, you have to give the mustang props for creating the pony car genre. If there hadn't been a Mustang, there would never have been any Camaros, or Firebirds, or Challengers. The Barracuda pre-dated it, but the early styled versions weren't really a true pony car. Plus the unarguable fact that the Mustang was the survivor. There's not much out there today that a GT or Shelby can't take care of.
 
Shaker’s Profile Photo
Shaker
Apr 29, 2008 at 9:41 am
9 millionth went to a dealer in Iowa!! Wow!! I have to agree with the blog>> for the moment the Mustang is King of the Pony wars! You have to buy a car much more expensive to compete with the GT. What a great car!!
 
SINISTERGN’s Profile Photo
SINISTERGN
Apr 28, 2008 at 12:53 am
9 million, YOW! no wonder you see one every where you look. I don't know If I'd go so far as to call the Mustang the King of the Road, well unless you go by volume, but certainly not by "muscle" standards.
 
tamatt79’s Profile Photo
tamatt79
Apr 27, 2008 at 9:27 pm
Although i am not a big fan of the little Pony car, wow, what a milestone. Owned a 65 for 5-6 weeks and traded it for a 78 TA. Also had a 89 GT bought new June 28, and wrecked July 1. $4350 worth of damage and insurance man screwed me by saying i didnt notify him in time to post a policy on it. banghead image Anyhow, Congrats to Ford highfive image And move over, the 'Maro is coming soon!
 
babycakes’s Profile Photo
babycakes
Apr 26, 2008 at 2:49 pm
I wasn't around when they first introduced but we have the pleasure of owning a 68 FB now and what a dream car that is! The new Mustangs are incredibly cool too!
 
alwaysakid’s Profile Photo
alwaysakid
Apr 26, 2008 at 10:57 am
Chrysler quit making the Challenger and Barracuda, and GM axed the Camaro and Firebird, so even though they keep saying they're bringing them back, by all counts you have to say the Mustang won the pony wars. There were many good reasons for that, I must say, even though I am a bigger fan of the Mustang's early competitors.
 
mohrt’s Profile Photo
mohrt
Apr 26, 2008 at 10:08 am
Did you know the original mustang prototypes were rear engine to compete with the Chevrolet Corvair? The vents in front of the rear tires had a real purpose: cooling!
 
canadianpontiacguy’s Profile Photo
canadianpontiac
guy
Apr 26, 2008 at 6:24 am
Yes, it caused quite a stir when it was introduced. That long hood and short trunk styling was sure a big hit. I don't remember anyone that didn't like it. It seemed to appeal to both men and women, and offered tons of options to satisfy everyone!
 
GoldyLocks’s Profile Photo
GoldyLocks
Apr 26, 2008 at 4:05 am
I remember thinking "how cool" when I was only riding my bike around town and saw that very cool Mustang parked under a tree next to my neighbors place, I turned back twice to ride by...very nice.
 

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