Here are 17 fun facts about the popular Ford Mustang that you probably didn’t know.
The original idea for Ford’s pony car came from product manager Don Frey.
Mustang was originally intended to be a two-seater that would serve as a lower cost competitor for Chevy’s Corvette.
First Mustang was a two-seatconcept car with a mid-engine V4 and cut-down racing windshield.
Lee Iacocca suggested the Mustang be converted to a four seater and relentlessly pushed the car through a thicket of skeptical Ford executives including CEO Henry Ford II, who feared another Edsel disaster.
Bean-counting financial executives opposed the Mustang during every step of its development and nearly succeeded in killing the project altogether.
Basing the Mustang on its Falcon compact’s frame and mechanicals saved money, making it a high profit earner from the start.
Though Henry Ford II wanted to call the new car a “Thunderbird II”, early production prototypes were called Cougars and bore an image of a stylized cat in their grilles instead of a horse.
Ford made a billion dollars profit off the Mustang in its first year, and that’s in 1960s money.
Though the Mustang’s list price was $2368, the average buyer added $1000 in options, which were hugely profitable for Ford.
Conducting a publicity campaign for the new Mustang, Lee Iacocca flew to New York to promote it to Time and Newsweek. Newsweek editor Jim Cannon was so impressed by Iacocca’s enthusiasm for the car that he bought a Mustang on the spot.
Iacocca appeared on both Time and Newsweek covers the same week.
When Henry Ford II was shown the original Mustang prototype, he thought the back seat too crowded and ordered designers to add another inch of length to its roofline.
Ford’s original sales estimates for the Mustang were 100,000 units for its first year. It actually sold over a million units in its first 18 months.
After Mustang created the “pony car” genre of automobiles, it was soon joined by the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, AMC Javelin, and Mercury Cougar.
Plymouth’s sporty Barracuda actually launched two weeks before the Mustang but sold miserably in comparison.
Iacocca drove Ford to make succeeding models of the Mustang bigger and plusher, resulting in the bloated 1971 model. Then he reversed course, pushing to make it a small economy car, the 1974 Mustang II.
1974-78 Mustang IIs were based on the much maligned Pinto. Now thought of as the pony car’s weakest iteration, the Mustang II was actually one of its best selling models.
Ford’s 1989 Probe was originally designed as a new generation Mustang, but owners objected to the idea of a Japanese engineered, front-wheel drive car wearing the galloping stallion logo so the Probe was launched as a separate model.
In 1969 Serge Gainsbourg released his song Ford Mustang with the lyrics:
We kiss each other
In a Ford Mustang
We kiss the trees
Mus on the left
Tang on the right
Mustang Sally was released by Wilson Pickett in 1966 and soared to number six on the R&B charts. Rollingstone magazine ranked in #434 out of the greatest 500 songs of all time.
Chevrolet’s Corvair sold indifferently until GM introduced the floor-shift equipped, bucket-seated Monza model and uncovered a market for affordable, sporty coupes with a dash of luxe—a market that Iacocca realized an all new car like the Mustang could capture. As the Mustang prospered, the Corvair withered.
The original Mustang’s rear fender side scoops were originally designed to send cooling air to the rear brakes, but Ford’s bean counters nixed it when they computed that they could save $15 per car with fake scoops.
The Mustang’s first movie appearance was in Goldfinger, released in September 1964.
Written by Jim Cherry.