The birth of the Ford Mustang also saw the birth of the phrase ‘pony car’, which is a term used to describe an American car that is sporty and affordable. Most Pony cars are characterized by their low cost, their small compact size and their overpowered engines.
In the late 1950s, Ford saw sales of its 2-seat Thunderbird decline and in 1958 it introduced a new, larger 4-seat version which, after its introduction in 1958, was incredibly successful.
Competition between Ford and Chevrolet has always been fierce with both large companies trying to attract similar markets. This led to the introduction of the Chevrlet Corvair in 1960, which was the catalyst that forced Ford to create the successor to the Thunderbird, which was called the Futura and Futura Sprint. The competition led the other manufacturer to follow Ford’s lead with Plymouth introducing the Valient Signet and Dodge creating the Dart GT and it wasn’t long before Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Buick joined the competition.
All of these cars were commercially successful, but some top auto executives, including Ford’s Lee Iacocca, believe there was a larger market they could capture. They saw that there was a younger car buying niche market with disposable income looking to buy affordable cars with a sportier image.
This led to the creation of the Ford Mustang in 1964, which turned out to be a great success. Ford initially forecast sales of just 100,000, but orders totaled 22,000 on the first day alone. By the end of that year, sales had reached a staggering 618,812 units.
The Ford Mustang became the car that every other manufacturer wanted to emulate and led to the new phrase “pony car” being adopted. The term was first used by Dennis Shattuck, who was the editor of Car life magazine at the time and created it based on the equestrian-sounding Ford Mustang.
The Ford Mustang is one of Ford’s oldest names along with the F Series and the Falcon, which is still made in Australia. Over the years, there have been 5 generations of Mustangs and the 1970s saw a departure from the original lightweight Mustang urging fans of early 1964 design to force Ford back to its 1960s roots.
The first generation Mustang was created under the watchful eye of Ford’s Lee Iacocca and Chief Engineer Donald N. Frey and took 18 months. In the original prototype, the car had a mid-mounted V4 engine and only 2 seats, but this was dropped in favor of a 4-seat 2 + 2 design due to low sales figures for the Ford Thunderbird. The 2 + 2 design was believed to have been chosen due to the success of cars such as the Jaguar E-Type.
The new body design was created by Joe Oros, who produced a winning design in a competition presented by Iacocca.
“I told the team that I wanted the car to appeal to women, but I wanted men to want it too. I wanted a Ferrari-like front end, with the motif centered at the front, something heavy like a Maserati, but, for Please, not a pitchfork, and I wanted side air intakes to cool the rear brakes. I said it should be as sporty as possible and it seems to be related to European design. ” – Golds
To keep development costs to a minimum, the car relied on components from cars that were already in production, such as the Ford Fairline and Ford Falcon.
The second-generation Mustang was boosted by the 1973 energy crisis, which caused previous big, gas-hungry cars to fall out of favor due to rising fuel costs.
The new smaller Mustang II was launched in 1973 and Ford’s goal was to compete against small Japanese imports like Toyota Celica. However, the final car was much heavier than its previous counterpart, which negatively affected performance.
In 1979, the third generation Mustang was introduced relying heavily on the Japanese market for its design. The car was designed to be more comfortable for 4 passengers, the size of the trunk was increased and the engine compartment was enlarged for easier maintenance.
In 1994, the third-generation Mustang underwent a major redesign based on the original 1964 design, and for the first time since 1973, the hatchback version would no longer be available.
The original engine was a 3.8 OHV V6 rated at 145PS, but over the years it was upgraded to a 4.6L V8 producing 225PS in 1998.
2005 saw the introduction of a completely redesigned Mustang based on Ford’s new D2C platform. The bodywork borrowed many details from the Mustangs of the earlier ’60s that Ford’s vice president of design called “retro-futurism.”
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