The Rearview Mirror: The Pony Car is Born

This week, on April 14, 1964, the automotive press noticed what the standard public would see a few days afterwards, a new automobile that was initially confirmed by a Ford Motor Co. press release in February.

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

“Ford Division confirmed nowadays that it will introduce a new line of automobiles this spring,” claimed the push launch issued Feb. 6, 1964, by Lee Iacocca, vice president of Ford Motor Co. “The new line of vehicles will be identified as the Mustang … no further more specifics on the new auto line will be disclosed until finally the time of its general public introduction.”

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

With a 108-inch wheelbase, 2,500-pound curb bodyweight and a $2,368 price tag, Ford marketed 22,000 Mustangs on the initially day. Its attractiveness proved unprecedented. But its progress was a extended a person, owning started in 1960. 

Healthy income in spite of stodgy automobiles

Ford’s bestseller at the time was the Ford Falcon, a practical unexciting compact sedan introduced that yr along with this kind of new rivals as the Chevrolet Corvair, Plymouth Valiant, AMC Rambler and Studebaker Lark. Ford’s chook was the most profitable, promoting extra than 400,000 models in its preliminary calendar year. The car was emblematic of the Ford line beneath Ford Motor President Robert McNamara: good, conservative and boring. 

The 1960 Ford Falcon system was uninteresting but common, and utilized as a foundation for the very first Ford Mustang.

As Ford Automotive Division typical manager and vice president, McNamara took the two-seat Ford Thunderbird, released for 1955, and additional rear seats in 1958, quickly eliminating its cache. The classy, Lincoln Continental Mark II was dropped and the ungainly Edsel launched in its place, major to a $250 million flop. In its wake, Henry Ford II proved unwilling to think about any new cars and trucks and the company’s products and solutions grew to become progressively stodgy and dull.

By 1960, McNamara was named Ford Automotive Division’s president, with Lee Iacocca inheriting his outdated place, but the arrangement would not past extended. When McNamara still left Ford in late 1960 to become Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kennedy, Iacocca was named Ford Division President. He was 36 yrs old.

A market place searching for a vehicle

The to start with Mustang, the 1962 Mustang I, is a two seat, mid-engine sports motor vehicle.

But Iacocca was becoming knowledgeable of the emerging youth market, 1 that was getting into their teenage many years and would quickly be driving. He felt a vehicle need to be produced to meet the market. In late 1960, Iacocca fashioned a committee of Ford administrators to examine the prospects, but understanding Henry’s reluctance, convened the new team at The Fairlane Inn, a motor lodge two miles west of Ford Globe Headquarters in Dearborn, and absent from prying eyes.

What the The Fairlane Committee found out was what they termed “a sector on the lookout for a motor vehicle.”

Ford sector study experienced continually proven that college or university educated shoppers, like the Newborn Boomers now coming of age, accounted for 46% of new auto purchasers irrespective of the actuality they only created up 18% of the over-all inhabitants. Research also showed that girls motor vehicle proprietors were being a single of the segments increasing most speedily and that they would be the kinds most very likely to use a next motor vehicle. But it would have to be tiny, maneuverable and be simple to park.

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

As committee pondered its emerging customer, they noted that “given the elements of youth, training, great pay out and a want for design and style and sportiness in cars, we nevertheless had to preserve in head that a large section of the industry we were aiming at was designed up of younger individuals … had great opportunity and extravagant tastes in tough merchandise — but somewhat minimal completely ready income.”

Ford starts perform on a new steed

Research in hand, Iacocca wished to start the vehicle in April 1964 at the New York World’s Reasonable. But to start with, they had to bring the motor vehicle to lifestyle. 

As designers started developing proposals for the new motor vehicle, Hal Sperlich, Ford unique tasks assistant, proposed constructing the car or truck on the Ford Falcon chassis, which would preserve $400 million in advancement expenditures, an vital thing to consider in mild of the Edsel’s losses. And, the Falcon was about the measurement of the car or truck they hoped to develop.

In 1962, Gene Bordinat’s variation Allegro recognized the basic proportions that would determine most Mustangs.

But what to get in touch with it? Monte Carlo, Monaco, Torino and Cougar were being all viewed as. Advertising and marketing company J. Walter Thompson advised Bronco and Colt. As they wrangled about names, designers got to work in spring 1962. 

Mustangs that in no way have been

The very first Mustang, the 1962 Mustang I, was practically a race vehicle, with a tubular body, aluminum pores and skin and a thoroughly independent suspension. Measuring 154 inches prolonged, 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 general supervisor Lee Iacocca declared it much too radical. 

The following proposal was the 1962 Ford Cougar a fastback created by Jack Telnack, who turned Ford’s vice president for worldwide style and design in 1987. The Cougar identify, later on made use of by Mercury, was a person of the names employed right up until the Mustang title was permitted. Another was Avanti, which was changed to Allegro when Studebaker released a coupe making use of that name.

In 1963, there was significant debate about which direction the Ford Cougar’s cat should confront.

Ford constructed 13 versions of the Allegro, none of which resembled the manufacturing Mustang. But they did set up its proportions: lengthy hood, small rear deck and a compact passenger compartment. But by summer time, the Allegro was shelved and designers had been given two weeks to generate one thing fresh new. Seven proposals resulted, with a strategy named Cougar presented the go-forward for creation. 

But there nevertheless one particular person who could scuttle the undertaking: Henry Ford II.

The pony motor vehicle will get a thumbs up

On Sept. 10, 1962, Iacocca presented the entire-sized clay product to Henry Ford II. He authorized the vehicle, even now known as the Cougar, with 3 caveats. To start with, its cost to the organization will be $45 million, not the $75 million Iacocca requested. Up coming, it has to have an inch of added legroom in the backseat and, at last as opposed to the Edsel, it has to market.

After approved, Ford created a quality sporty motor vehicle for an economy auto cost.

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

In the meantime, Hal Sperlich, who would later produce Chrysler K-Automobiles and minivans, was named the Mustang’s system manager, and inside of a 12 months, 200 pilot production cars are staying evaluated. 

An icon is born

By March 10, 1964, the first Mustangs are becoming strategically delivered to Ford dealers around the globe, awaiting its debut. Iacocca took no probabilities with its unveiling, jogging adverts in 2,600 newspapers nationwide, and airing and primary time commercials on all three broadcast Tv networks the night right before the launch at the World’s Honest.

The automobile and the government who stewarded its beginning land on the addresses of Time and Newsweek magazines. It is a hit. Ford sells 22,000 Mustangs in the initial day, peddling 418,000 in its very first calendar year of production. It would spawn a host of imitators, and a complete new course of car or truck — the Pony Automobile.

It’s this week that we salute the birth of an icon that survives until now, a reminder that autos that cater to the younger and youthful-at-coronary heart stay an everlasting portion of the automotive sector.