Hallmarks of Design-Part 6

September 22nd, 2010 by canadianpontiacguy

Courtesy Annette McLeod 



As small imports begin to make a dent in the Big Three’s marketshare, the free lovin’ ’60s bring economy cars. Muscle cars — mid-sized cars with large, typically V8 engines and special trim designed for maximum acceleration — come out of the woodwork bearing nifty monikers like the Barracuda, Superbird, Cyclone, Firebird and Road Runner. Chevy brings out the Camaro to chase the wildly popular Ford Mustang. Long front ends and short rear decks appear on growing national highway systems and gas is plentiful. 

Hallmark: 1965 Ford Mustang

The history of the 1965 Ford Mustang began when it came before the American public in April of 1964, and it was love at first sight. Before the year was out more than 500,000 had been sold setting a precedent for sales with the Ford Motor Company. The charm of the Mustang was its versatility of being all cars to all people. It represented the traditional six-cylinder economy car for the mom and pop crowd, a mini-luxury vehicle for the middle class, and posed as a high performance sports car for the younger set.

The 1965 Ford Mustang was loosely based on the earlier Ford Falcon. Much of the chassis, and suspension, mocked the Falcon and the Fairlane. The design was conceived by Donald Frey and Lee Lacocca as a two-seater roadster, but later modified to a four-seat model.

The history of the 1965 Ford Mustang is unique due to the fact that:

1. It broke all sales and production records of not only Ford but other top name cars in that year.

2. It won a Tiffany Gold Medal the first American car to achieve that honor.

3. The Mustang was Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1974 and 1994.

4. The Mustang made the Car and Driver Ten Best List for five nonconsecutive years.

Shortly after the Ford Mustang made its appearance in 1964 it was chosen as the pace car for the 1964 Indianapolis 500. That same year the Ford Mustang won first and second place in the Tour De France international rally. And it made its debut in drag racing in 1965 with dealer sponsored competition.


One Response to “Hallmarks of Design-Part 6”

  1. CorvairJim says:

    The Mustang established it’s tradition of a sporty car based on something else right from the start: Between 1965 and 1970, it was based on the Falcon; from 1971-73 the Torino; 1974-78 (Mustang II) on the Pinto; 1979-2004(? – I get foggy on Mustangs around this point in time… ) on the Fairmont “Fox” platform; and then to date on the same platform as the Lincoln LS and the small Jaguar. This is no different than any of the other so-called “Pony Cars”: The Camaro and Firebird were Nova-based from their inception in 1967 through the end of their 3rd generation (Technically, the Nova was Camaro-based, since the 1967 Camaro came before the 1968 Chevy II/Nova on which it was based, although it was already finalized by then); The Cougar followed the Mustang’s lineage; and the Barracuda/Challenger were Valiant/Dart-based; and the Javelin/AMX was based on the Rambler American. Of course, the predecessor to all of these sporty American bucket-seat-and floor-shifter compacts was the Chevrolet Corvair Monza, the car which Lee Iacocca clearly states in his autobiography served as his inspiration for the Mustang in the first place. You know those fake air scoops that most Mustangs have had stamped into their quarter panels since Day One? Those were functional on the first Mustang prototypes which, like the Corvair, were REAR ENGINED!

    Of course, the Corvair had the “All cars to all people” trick nailed well before the Mustang: A traditional six-cylinder four door sedan or a station wagon (which the Mustang never offered) for the “Mom and Pop” crowd, a mini-luxury Monza coupe, convertible or sedan for the middle class, and a QUAD-CARBURETED or TURBOCHARGED sports coupe or convertible in the Monza Spyder and later Corsa models for the younger set! Sounds to me like the Corvair had the Mustang pretty well covered… except that America wanted boring front engine/rear drive conventionality so they went with a shrunken version of the big, traditional American car instead of something new and innovative.

    (Oh one more point: That 500,000 production figure was for the Mustang’s first model year, NOT the calendar year. The 1965 Mustang model year was 18 MONTHS LONG!)

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