The Rearview Mirror: The Pony Car is Born

This week, on April 14, 1964, the automotive push observed what the general public would see a few times later on, a new car or truck that was first verified by a Ford Motor Co. push launch in February.

Ford Motor Co. executives Lee Iacocca and Don Frey with the 1964-1/2 Ford Mustang.

“Ford Division verified these days that it will introduce a new line of cars and trucks this spring,” mentioned the press launch issued Feb. 6, 1964, by Lee Iacocca, vice president of Ford Motor Co. “The new line of cars will be known as the Mustang … no even more specifics on the new car or truck line will be revealed until finally the time of its general public introduction.”

The vehicle would grow to be an icon for Ford and build a new class of auto, the Pony Automobile.

With a 108-inch wheelbase, 2,500-pound curb body weight and a $2,368 cost tag, Ford bought 22,000 Mustangs on the initially working day. Its level of popularity proved unprecedented. But its enhancement was a long a single, obtaining begun in 1960. 

Healthy sales even with stodgy cars and trucks

Ford’s bestseller at the time was the Ford Falcon, a reasonable unexciting compact sedan released that 12 months along with these new opponents as the Chevrolet Corvair, Plymouth Valiant, AMC Rambler and Studebaker Lark. Ford’s hen was the most productive, advertising much more than 400,000 models in its original yr. The automobile was emblematic of the Ford line below Ford Motor President Robert McNamara: reliable, conservative and boring. 

The 1960 Ford Falcon platform was dull but popular, and made use of as a foundation for the first Ford Mustang.

As Ford Automotive Division basic manager and vice president, McNamara took the two-seat Ford Thunderbird, released for 1955, and included rear seats in 1958, immediately removing its cache. The stylish, Lincoln Continental Mark II was dropped and the ungainly Edsel released as a substitute, major to a $250 million flop. In its wake, Henry Ford II proved unwilling to take into consideration any new autos and the company’s products and solutions grew to become increasingly stodgy and dull.

By 1960, McNamara was named Ford Automotive Division’s president, with Lee Iacocca inheriting his previous spot, but the arrangement would not very last lengthy. When McNamara remaining Ford in late 1960 to turn into Secretary of Protection less than President John F. Kennedy, Iacocca was named Ford Division President. He was 36 a long time aged.

A industry searching for a car

The 1st Mustang, the 1962 Mustang I, is a two seat, mid-engine athletics motor vehicle.

But Iacocca was getting knowledgeable of the rising youth marketplace, a person that was coming into their teenage decades and would shortly be driving. He felt a auto really should be manufactured to meet the sector. In late 1960, Iacocca shaped a committee of Ford administrators to look into the options, but being aware of Henry’s reluctance, convened the new crew at The Fairlane Inn, a motor lodge two miles west of Ford Entire world Headquarters in Dearborn, and away from prying eyes.

What the The Fairlane Committee found was what they termed “a market wanting for a vehicle.”

Ford marketplace research had continuously revealed that faculty educated people, like the Little one Boomers now coming of age, accounted for 46% of new automobile purchasers in spite of the point they only created up 18% of the overall population. Exploration also confirmed that females car or truck entrepreneurs had been 1 of the segments expanding most swiftly and that they would be the kinds most very likely to use a 2nd car or truck. But it would have to be small, maneuverable and be easy to park.

The Euro-styled Ford Allegro was 1 of the early proposals for what would turn into the Mustang.

As committee pondered its rising purchaser, they noted that “given the components of youth, instruction, fantastic fork out and a desire for type and sportiness in vehicles, we nonetheless had to preserve in intellect that a huge segment of the marketplace we ended up aiming at was produced up of younger individuals … had fantastic probable and fancy tastes in strong products — but relatively small all set money.”

Ford commences operate on a new steed

Exploration in hand, Iacocca required to start the auto in April 1964 at the New York World’s Good. But very first, they experienced to convey the automobile to lifestyle. 

As designers began building proposals for the new car, Hal Sperlich, Ford specific assignments assistant, proposed developing the car on the Ford Falcon chassis, which would help you save $400 million in advancement costs, an important consideration in mild of the Edsel’s losses. And, the Falcon was about the dimensions of the vehicle they hoped to create.

In 1962, Gene Bordinat’s version Allegro set up the basic proportions that would outline most Mustangs.

But what to phone it? Monte Carlo, Monaco, Torino and Cougar had been all considered. Marketing company J. Walter Thompson suggested Bronco and Colt. As they wrangled above names, designers got to do the job in spring 1962. 

Mustangs that by no means were being

The 1st Mustang, the 1962 Mustang I, was approximately a race motor vehicle, with a tubular body, aluminum pores and skin and a completely independent suspension. Measuring 154 inches extensive, weighing 1,200 kilos and boasting two seats, its 90-horsepower, 2.-liter 4-cylinder motor propelling it to 60 mph in about 10 seconds. Ford general supervisor Lee Iacocca declared it too radical. 

The up coming proposal was the 1962 Ford Cougar a fastback made by Jack Telnack, who became Ford’s vice president for global design and style in 1987. The Cougar identify, later on utilised by Mercury, was one of the names used until the Mustang name was permitted. Another was Avanti, which was modified to Allegro when Studebaker introduced a coupe working with that name.

In 1963, there was significant discussion about which path the Ford Cougar’s cat need to experience.

Ford designed 13 variations of the Allegro, none of which resembled the production Mustang. But they did set up its proportions: extended hood, shorter rear deck and a compact passenger compartment. Yet by summer time, the Allegro was shelved and designers were presented two months to make a thing contemporary. 7 proposals resulted, with a principle named Cougar provided the go-ahead for production. 

But there however a single particular person who could scuttle the undertaking: Henry Ford II.

The pony car gets a thumbs up

On Sept. 10, 1962, Iacocca offered the entire-sized clay model to Henry Ford II. He accredited the car or truck, still named the Cougar, with a few caveats. First, its price to the organization will be $45 million, not the $75 million Iacocca requested. Future, it has to have an inch of added legroom in the backseat and, lastly in contrast to the Edsel, it has to sell.

When approved, Ford built a quality sporty car for an financial state car or truck value.

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

In the meantime, Hal Sperlich, who would later on develop Chrysler K-Automobiles and minivans, was named the Mustang’s program supervisor, and within a calendar year, 200 pilot output automobiles are currently being evaluated. 

An icon is born

By March 10, 1964, the to start with Mustangs are being strategically shipped to Ford sellers around the globe, awaiting its debut. Iacocca took no odds with its unveiling, functioning ads in 2,600 newspapers nationwide, and airing and prime time commercials on all a few broadcast Television networks the evening ahead of the start at the World’s Reasonable.

The vehicle and the executive who stewarded its delivery land on the addresses of Time and Newsweek publications. It’s a strike. Ford sells 22,000 Mustangs in the 1st day, peddling 418,000 in its initial yr of production. It would spawn a host of imitators, and a full new course of motor vehicle — the Pony Vehicle.

It is this week that we salute the delivery of an icon that survives until eventually currently, a reminder that autos that cater to the young and youthful-at-heart remain an everlasting element of the automotive marketplace.