If there is one car that needs no introduction, it is the Ford Mustang. An iconic automobile that has maintained an association with the ultimate in everything cool, young, powerful and fast. Car enthusiasts will know much about the specs, but what about its history? How did this one car become the emblem it is today? Let’s go through the history the of the Ford Mustang to learn how it was an instant hit, and how it has continued its success more than 50 years later.
In 1964 at the New York World’s Fair, history was made with the unveiling of the world’s first pony car. The Ford Mustang was a sports car of its own kind. Becoming an instant hit with the public, well over two million cars were sold within the first two years of production. Originally, the Ford Mustang was a four-seater sports car, based on the Ford Falcon framework, which in later years was redesigned. The world had never seen a car of this type, and the Ford Mustang led the way in creating a new category – the pony car. Soon after its reveal, other manufactures began mimicking the well-thought out design of Ford. American competitors such as GM, Chrysler and AMC all came out with similar reproductions of the original pony car. Since its first entrance into the market, Ford has produced six generations of Mustangs – a car that quickly became an American classic.
The First Redesign
The original design of the Ford Mustang was bulky and heavy, getting even more so well into the 70s. The demand was for wide, large luxury cars with lots of room, and the Ford Mustang complied. However, as much as sports and leisure cars were appreciated, the early 70s saw a tough time for automobiles. Government regulations on emissions and safety were becoming stricter, and insurance costs were rising.
The impending oil crisis was also a major factor in car-purchase decisions, thus in anticipation of this with foresight and a keen sense of predicting needs, Ford redesigned the original Mustang. In 1973, almost ten years after the original had been released, Ford came out with the Mustang II, a smaller, more fuel-efficient design that was based on the Ford Pinto. The car was released just two months before the 1973 oil crisis, allowing it to compete with other imported sports coupés. This downsizing of the original Ford Mustang was a newly set precedent in a tough time, an example that would be followed by other car manufacturers in the years to come.
The Third Generation
1979 saw the third redesign of the Ford Mustang. Based on the longer Fox platform and the Ford Fairmont, the third generation of Mustang proved to be a better performing car. In efforts to offer an American model that competed with the sleeker and more efficient designs coming from Japan and Europe, a four-cylinder engine was put in place of the original V8. Later that year, in May of 1979, this brand-new Ford Mustang was chosen as the Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500. To commemorate and capitalize on this win, Ford released a special and limited-edition Indy 500 Pace Car sports model. The third generation Ford Mustang lasted an impressive 14-year span, with the next redesign occurring in the 90s.
The SN-95 Chassis
Entering the early 90s, 14 years after the last redesign, the Ford Mustang was heavily altered. With a combination of brand new features as well as re-incorporating certain design aspects from its first model, the 1993 Ford Mustang, dubbed the SN-95 Chassis was born. With rear-wheel drive, and a modern, high-revving modular V8 engine, this was the most powerful Mustang the world had ever seen. Working to increase efficiency, this engine was not just powerful, but refined in its fuel economy. Ford retired the original small-block V8 engine after nearly 30 years, replacing it with this newer, modular one.
The Fifth Generation Throwback
Another decade later, the Ford Mustang decides to go vintage. The 2005 model was built to resemble the renowned 1969 Mustang fastback, in a design scheme dubbed “retro-futurism”. Despite the resurgence of past-designs, the car was even more powerful than ever, with an unprecedented speed capability. The 2007 model was capable of a staggering 500 horsepower speed engine, something that had never been seen in Ford’s history.
Currently, we are in the sixth generation of Ford Mustangs. 2015 models brought back the turbocharged four-cylinder engines seen in the 1980s, however with modern upgrades. The engine is called the EcoBoost Mustang a name chosen for the engine’s superior performance and excellent fuel-efficiency. It also became the first version designed as a right-hand drive automobile for export to be sold overseas, making its global presence more attainable.
To this day, April 17, 1964 is celebrated by car enthusiasts in Dearborn, Michigan. A day a truly legendary car made its way into the market, and one that has lasted more than 50 years.