Production of the Mustang began in Dearborn, Michigan on March 9, 1964 and the car was introduced to the public on April 17, 1964 at the New York World’s Fair. It is Ford’s third oldest nameplate currently in production next to the F-Series pickup truck line (which has undergone major nameplate changes over the years) and the Falcon which is still in production in Australia.
Executive stylist John Najjar, who was a fan of the World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane, suggested the name. An alternative view was that the Mustang name was first suggested by Robert J. Eggert, Ford Division market research manager. Eggert, a breeder of quarterhorses, received a birthday present from his wife of the book, The Mustangs by J. Frank Dobie in 1960. Later, the book’s title gave him the idea of adding the “Mustang” name for Ford’s new concept car. The designer preferred Cougar or Torino (and an advertising campaign using the Torino name was actually prepared), while Henry Ford II wanted T-bird II. As the person responsible for Ford’s research on potential names, Eggert added “Mustang” to the list to be tested by focus groups; “Mustang,” by a wide margin, ” came out on top under the heading: “Suitability as Name for the Special Car.” (The name cannot be used in Germany, however, since it belongs to a lawnmower manufacturer; there, Mustangs are called T-5s.)
Mustangs grew larger and heavier with each model year until, in response to the 1971-1973 models, fans of the original 1964 design wrote to Ford urging a return to its size and concept. It has since seen several platform generations and designs. Although some other pony cars have seen a revival, the Mustang is the only original pony car to remain in uninterrupted production over four decades of development and revision.
First generation (1964 1/2–1973)
As Lee Iacocca‘s assistant general manager and chief engineer, Donald N. Frey was the head engineer for the Mustang project — supervising the overall development of the Mustang in a record 18 months — while Iacocca himself championed the project as Ford Division general manager. The Mustang prototype was a two-seat, mid-mounted engine roadster. This vehicle employed a Taunus (Ford Germany) V4 engine and was very similar in appearance to the much later Pontiac Fiero. It was claimed that the decision to abandon the 2 seat design was in part due to the low sales experienced with the 2 seat 1955 T-Bird. To broaden market appeal it was later remodeled as a four-seat car styled under the direction of Project Design Chief Joe Oros and his team of L. David Ash, Gale Halderman, and John Foster — in Ford’s Lincoln–Mercury Division design studios, which produced the winning design in an intramural design contest instigated by Iacocca.
Having set the design standards for the Mustang, Oros said:
|“||I told the team that I wanted the car to appeal to women, but I wanted men to desire it, too. I wanted a Ferrari-like front end, the motif centered on the front – something heavy-looking like a Maserati, but, please, not a trident – and I wanted air intakes on the side to cool the rear brakes. I said it should be as sporty as possible and look like it was related to European design.||”|
|“||I then called a meeting with all the Ford studio designers. We talked about the sporty car for most of that afternoon, setting parameters for what it should look like — and what it should not look like — by making lists on a large pad, a technique I adapted from the management seminar. We taped the lists up all around the studio to keep ourselves on track. We also had photographs of all the previous sporty cars that had been done in the Corporate Advanced studio as a guide to themes or ideas that were tired or not acceptable to management.Within a week we had hammered out a new design. We cut templates and fitted them to the clay model that had been started. We cut right into it, adding or deleting clay to accommodate our new theme, so it wasn’t like starting all over. But we knew Lincoln-Mercury would have two models. And Advanced would have five, some they had previously shown and modified, plus a couple extras. But we would only have one model because Ford studio had a production schedule for a good many facelifts and other projects. We couldn’t afford the manpower, but we made up for lost time by working around the clock so our model would be ready for the management review.||”|
To cut down the development cost and achieve a suggested retail price of US$2,368, the Mustang was based heavily on familiar yet simple components. Much of the chassis, suspension, and drivetrain components were derived from the Ford Falcon and Ford Fairlane (North American). Favorable publicity articles appeared in 2,600 newspapers the next morning, the day the car was “officially” revealed. A Mustang also appeared in the James Bond film Goldfinger in September 1964, the first time the car was used in a movie.
Original sales forecasts projected less than 100,000 units for the first year. This mark was surpassed in three months from rollout. Another 318,000 would be sold during the model year (a record), and in its first eighteen months, more than one million Mustangs were built. All of these were VIN-identified as 1965 models, but several changes were made at the traditional opening of the new model year (beginning August 1964), including the addition of back-up lights on some models, the introduction of alternators to replace generators, and an upgrade of the V-8 engine from 260 cu in (4.3 l) to 289 cu in (4.7 l) displacement. In the case of at least some six-cylinder Mustangs fitted with the 101 hp (75 kW) 170 cu in (2.8 l) Falcon engine, the rush into production included some unusual quirks, such as a horn ring bearing the ‘Ford Falcon’ logo beneath a trim ring emblazoned with ‘Ford Mustang.’ These characteristics made enough difference to warrant designation of the 121,538 earlier ones as “1964½” model-year Mustangs, a distinction that has endured with purists.
Second generation (1974–1978)
The 1970s brought about more stringent pollution laws and the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. As a result, large, fuel-inefficient cars fell into disfavor, and the Pony Cars were no exception. Lee Iacocca, who became president of the Ford Motor Company in 1964 and was the driving force behind the original Mustang, ordered a smaller, more fuel-efficient Mustang for 1974. Initially it was to be based on the Ford Maverick, but ultimately was based on the Ford Pinto subcompact.
The new model was introduced two months before the first “Energy Crisis” in October 1973, and its reduced size allowed it to compete more effectively against smaller imported sports coupés such as the Japanese Toyota Celica and the European Ford Capri (then Ford-built in Germany and Britain, sold in U.S. by Mercury as a captive import car). First-year sales were 385,993 cars, compared with the original Mustang’s twelve-month sales record of 418,812.
Lee Iacocca wanted the new car, which returned the Mustang to more than a semblance of its 1964 predecessor in size, shape, and overall styling, to be finished to a high standard, saying it should be “a little jewel.” However not only was it smaller than the original car, but it was also heavier, owing to the addition of equipment needed to meet new U.S. emission and safety regulations. Performance was reduced, and despite the car’s new handling and engineering features the galloping mustang emblem “became a less muscular steed that seemed to be cantering.”
The car was available in coupé and hatchback versions. Changes introduced in 1975 included reinstatement of the 302 CID V8 option (called the “5.0 L” although its capacity was 4.94 L) and availability of an economy option called the “MPG Stallion”. Other changes in appearance and performance came with a “Cobra II” version in 1976 and a “King Cobra” in 1978.
Third generation (1979–1993)
The 1979 Mustang was based on the larger Fox platform (initially developed for the 1978 Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr). The interior was restyled to accommodate four people in comfort despite a smaller rear seat. The trunk was larger, as was the engine bay, for easier service access.
In response to slumping sales and escalating fuel prices during the early 1980s, a new Mustang was in development. It was to be a variant of the Mazda MX-6 assembled at AutoAlliance International in Flat Rock, Michigan. Enthusiasts wrote to Ford objecting to the proposed change to a front-wheel drive, Japanese-designed Mustang without a V8 option. The result was a major facelift of the existing Mustang in 1987, while the MX-6 variant became the 1989 Ford Probe.
Fourth generation (1994–2004)
In 1994 the Mustang underwent its first major redesign in fifteen years. Code named “SN-95” by Ford, it was based on an updated version of the rear-wheel drive Fox platform called “Fox-4.” The new styling by Patrick Schiavone incorporated several styling cues from earlier Mustangs. For the first time since 1973, a hatchback coupe model was unavailable.
The base model came with a 3.8 OHV V6 (232 cid) engine rated at 145 bhp (108 kW) in 1994 and 1995, or 150 bhp (110 kW) (1996-1998), and was mated to a standard 5-speed manual transmission or optional 4-speed automatic. Though initially used in the 1994 and 1995 Mustang GT, Ford retired the 302 cid pushrod small-block V8 after nearly 40 years of use, replacing it with the newer Modular 4.6 L (281 cid) SOHC V8 in the 1996 Mustang GT. The 4.6 L V8 was initially rated at 215 bhp (160 kW), 1996-1997, but was later increased to 225 bhp (168 kW) in 1998.
For 1999, the Mustang received Ford’s New Edge styling theme with sharper contours, larger wheel arches, and creases in its bodywork, but its basic proportions, interior design, and chassis remained the same as the previous model. The Mustang’s powertrains were carried over for 1999, but benefitted from new improvements. The standard 3.8 L V6 had a new split-port induction system, and was rated at 192 bhp (143 kW) 1999-2004, while the Mustang GT’s 4.6 L V8 saw an increase in output to 260 bhp (190 kW) (1999-2004), due to a new head design and other enhancements. There were also three alternate models offered in this generation: the 2001 Bullitt, the 2003 and 2004 Mach 1, as well as the supercharged Cobra.
Fifth generation (2005–present)
At the 2004 North American International Auto Show, Ford introduced a completely redesigned Mustang, codenamed “S-197,” that was based on an all-new D2C platform for the 2005 model year. Developed under the direction of Chief Engineer Hau Thai-Tang and exterior styling designer Sid Ramnarace, the fifth-generation Mustang’s styling echoes the fastback Mustangs of the late 1960s. Ford’s senior vice president of design, J Mays, called it “retro-futurism.”
The fifth-generation Mustang is manufactured at the AutoAlliance International plant in Flat Rock, Michigan. The base model is powered by a 210 hp (157 kW) cast-iron block 4.0 L SOHC V6, which replaces the 3.8 L pushrod V6 used previously. The Mustang GT features an aluminum block 4.6 L SOHC 3-valve Modular V8 with variable camshaft timing (VCT) that produces 300 hp (224 kW). The 2005 Mustang GT has an approximate weight to power ratio of 11.5 lb (5.2 kg)/bhp. The base Mustang comes with a standard Tremec T-5 5-speed manual transmission while Ford’s own 5R55S 5-speed automatic, a Mustang first, is optional. Though the Mustang GT features the same automatic transmission as the V6 model, the Tremec T-5 manual is substituted with the heavier duty Tremec TR-3650 5-speed manual transmission to better handle the GT’s extra power.
A new option for the 2009 Mustang was the glass roof. This $1,995 option is in effect a full roof sunroof that splits the difference in price and purpose of the coupe and convertible models.
For 2010, Ford unveiled a redesigned Mustang prior to the Los Angeles International Auto Show. The 2010 Mustang remains on the D2C platform and mostly retains the previous-year’s drivetrain options. The Mustang received a thoroughly revised exterior, with only the roof panel being retained, that is sculpted for a leaner, more muscular appearance and better aerodynamic performance (coefficient of drag has been reduced by 4% on V6 models and 7% on GT models ).
The V6 for base Mustangs remains unchanged, while the Mustang GT’s 4.6 L V8 has been revised to specifications similar to that of the 2008-2009 Mustang Bullitt’s 4.6 L V8, resulting in 315 hp (235 kW) at 6000 rpm and 325 lb·ft (441 N·m) of torque at 4250 rpm. Other mechanical features for the 2010 Mustang include new spring rates and dampers to improve ride quality and control, standard traction control system and stability control system on all models, and new wheel sizes. For the Mustang GT, two performance packages were made available. Other new features and options for the 2010 Mustang include Ford SYNC, dual-zone automatic climate control, an updated navigation system with Sirius Travel Link, a capless fuel filler, and a reverse camera system to aid in backing up. Note that SYNC, navigation, and the reverse camera are not available on the basic V6 coupe
There are currently 10 models available for the 2010 Mustang:
- V6 Coupe (MSRP: $21,395)
- V6 Premium (MSRP: $24,395)
- V6 Convertible (MSRP: $26,395)
- GT: (MSRP: $28,395)
- V6 Premium Convertible (MSRP: $29,395)
- GT Premium (MSRP: $31,395)
- GT Convertible (MSRP: $33,395)
- GT Premium Convertible (MSRP: $36,395)
- GT500 (MSRP: $46,725)
- GT500 Convertible (MSRP: $51,725)
The 2010 model year Mustang was released in the spring of 2009.
For 2011, Ford is revising all the current model Mustang’s engines. The new V6 will be a smaller 3.7 L aluminum block engine weighing 40 lb (18 kg) lighter than the outgoing version, and produces a much more powerful 305 hp (227 kW) and 280 lb·ft (380 N·m) of torque. Addtionally for 2011 the Mustang will be revising the V8 powertrain. The current 4.6L 24V V8 will be replaced by a new 5.0L 32V V8. This new engine will have 412 hp (307 kW) and 390 lb-ft of torque.. The engine will feature advance technologies such as TI-VCT; however direct injection will not be part of the package. The GT500 will be upgraded to a aluminum block 5.4L engine, with 550 hp (410 kW) and 510 lb-ft of torque.