History on the Classic Mustang

The Mustang History

How it all got started

First conceived by Ford product manager Donald N. Frey and championed by Ford Division general manager Lee Iacocca, the Mustang prototype was a two-seat, mid-engine roadster. This would later be remodeled as a four-seat car penned by David Ash and John Oros in Ford’s Lincoln–Mercury Division design studios, which produced the winning design in an intramural design contest called by Iacocca. To cut down the development cost, the Mustang was based heavily on familiar, yet simple components. Much of the chassis, suspension, and drive train components were derived from the Ford Falcon and Ford Fairlane. The car had a unitized platform-type frame, which was taken from the 1964 Falcon, and welcoming box-section side rails, including five welded cross members. Although hardtop Mustangs were the majority of the sales, durability problems with the new frame led to the unusual step of engineering the (necessarily less rigid) convertible first, which ensured adequate stiffness. Overall length of the Mustang and Falcon was identical at 181.6 in (4613 mm), although the Mustang’s wheelbase at 108 in (2743 mm) was slightly shorter. With an overall width of 68.2 in (1732 mm), it was 2.4 in (61 mm) narrower, yet the wheel track was nearly identical. curb weight, about 2605 lb with the six-cylinder engine, was also similar. A fully equipped V8 model weighed about 3000 lbs (1360 kg). Though most of the mechanical parts were taken directly from the Falcon, the Mustang’s body shell was completely different; sporting a shorter wheelbase, wider track, lower seating position, and overall height. An industry first, the “torque box” was an innovative structural system that greatly stiffened the Mustang’s construction and helped contribute to better handling.

1964 ½Since it was introduced five months before the normal start of the production year, this first model has become widely known, although incorrectly, as the 1964 1/2 model. A more accurate description is the “early 1965” model, as the car underwent several significant changes at the start of the regular model year. All the early cars, however, were touted as 1965 models. The base, yet well-equipped Mustang hardtop with its 170 cid straight-6 engine and three-speed manual transmission listed for US$2,368. With its “long hood/short deck” styling, it gave the impression of a costly car.

1965 – Brought no major changes in the Mustang occurred: the brief period since it introduction as an early 65 model found the demand for the car insatiable and Ford was hard pressed to keep up with the demand. With three plants making the Mustang. Dearborn (MI), Metuchen (NJ), San Jose (Ca).  Now with the start of the normal 1965 model year production, a mere five months after its introduction. These cars are known as “late 65’s,” as opposed to the “early 65’s” built from April through September. First, there was an almost complete change to the engine lineup. The 170 cid engine made way for a new 200 cid version which produced 120hp. Production of the 260 cid engine ceased with the end of the 1964 model year, when a new, two-barrel 200 hp 289 cid engine took its place as the base V8. A 225hp four-barrel was next in line, followed by the unchanged Hi-Po 271hp 289. The DC electrical generator was replaced by a new AC alternator on all Fords (the quickest way to distinguish a 64 1/2 from a 65 is to see if the alternator light on the dash says “GEN” or “ALT”) and the now-famous Mustang GT was introduced. A four-barrel engine was now available with any body style. The one piece cast MUSTANG on the side of the fender are now slightly longer.  The Mustang was originally available as either a hardtop or convertible, but during the car’s early design phases a fastback model was strongly considered. The Mustang 2+2 fastback made its inaugural debut with its swept-back rear glass and distinctive ventilation louvers.


1966 – Mustang accordingly there only moderate trim changes with the grill ornamentation was simplified with the removal of the side arms and the grill now emphasizes horizontal lines replacing the hexagonal pattern  and the side trim revised perhaps the biggest “change” was in the gas cap which had a new emblem. A few new options such as an automatic transmission for the “Hi-Po,” a new interior and exterior colors, an AM / eight-track sound system, and one of the first AM/FM monaural radios available in any car. Certainly the use of the five-dial instrument panel and the hood lip has been anticipated on the GT models. Mustang was fly high! Almost 700,000 units now had been built .With production continued to be high with the best year ever with 607,568 units be a ten percent more then in 1965 Ford would see the one millionth Mustang roll of the line On march less then 24 months after introduction of the Mustang.



1967Model year would see the first of the Mustang’s grill and a new rear end treatment. Wheelbase was unchanged the car had a heavier look as a result of the widening of the bodies (70.9”in1967 vs. 68.2”in) for the installation of big-block V8 engines in mind. And slightly increasing the overall height (51.6” against the earlier 51.1”) the fastback 2+2 featured a “full sloping roof “eliminating the distinctive break in the roof lines of the earlier model and a number of new features were included in Ford’s new standard. Positive door locks (Door lock button must be up before door can be opened). A “lifeguard design safety” package including a dual hydraulic brake system, along with a energy – absorbing steer wheel padded impact areas and other. Like a new pop open gas cap with the exterior decor group.  The high-performance 289 271 hp option now took a back seat to the 20% more power to the Thunderbird special v-8 390 cubic inch giant boasting an unbelievable 320 hp, which was equipped with a four-barrel carburetor. Stock 390/4speed equipped Mustangs of the day were recording ¼ mile times of mid 13’s, with trap speeds of over 105 mph testing this model option in Nov. of 1966 ,by a outstanding automotive publication Car & Driver  had noted “it fastest of the current sporty couple  type cars from Detroit – including Camaro, Barracuda, Marlin, and cougar



1968Mustang have been restyled in 1967 so for 1968 emphasized it new equipment and optional offerings rather than the changes appearances some of the new items an am/fm stereo radio an a rear window defogger for the fastback and hard top, a re-designed floating–caliper power front disc brakes. The fastback gained pop culture status when it was used to great effect in the crime thriller Bullitt. Lt. Frank Bullitt drove a modified Mustang GT-390 fastback, played by legendary actor Steve McQueen, chasing two hit men in a Dodge Charger in the film’s famous car chase through the streets of San Francisco. An attractive version of the coupe was offered for 1968 only. The California Special Mustang, or GT/CS, was visually based on the Shelby and was sold only in the Western states. Its sister, the High Country Special was sold in Denver. While the GT/CS was only available in coupe form, the High Country Special was available in a fastback version. Some of the big news was brand new engine option the 302cid, 4v with 230 hp was to replace challenged special 289 of earlier years, by Dec of 1967 the 289 2v was replaced with a 302 2v so now the obsolescent 289 was then discontinued as a Mustang option an even larger 427 cid in cobra v8 with 390 hp were offered but by Dec. was discontinued and the 390 option was limited to use with the GT group

Reactions from Dearborn

Mustang’s first two years of production, from the three Ford Motor Company assembly plants in san Joes California; Dearborn, Michigan; and Metuchen, New Jersey produced have now nearly 1.5 million Mustangs. With this tremendous success that left General Motors completely unprepared. Chrysler Corporation was only slightly less so. Where Chrysler had just introduced the Plymouth Barracuda a few weeks before, and though the “‘Cuda” would grow into one of the most revered muscle cars of all time, it started out at as just a Plymouth Valiant with a hastily grafted fastback rear window. About for GM, they were certain that they had the Mustang covered with there rear-engine Corvair Monza, but there sales figures didn’t even come close.    The Monza was a fine performer, but it lacked a V8 engine and its reputation had been tarnished by Ralph Nader. It took GM until the 1967 model year to counter with the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird. Even Lincoln-Mercury joined the fray in 1967 with the introduction of an “up- market Mustang” (and subsequent Motor Trend Car of the Year), the Mercury Cougar. The Cougar name had originally been given to the Mustang during the development phase. In 1968, American Motors (AMC) would introduce the Javelin and later, the 2-seat high-performance AMX. This genre of small, sporty, and often powerful automobiles was unofficially dubbed the “pony car” as a tribute to the car that started it all.



1969 Saw the first substantial redesign of the car’s third body style. Along with some new terminology longer by almost 4 inches making the car 187.4” overall received a styling change emphasized its “bigger” look. The term fastback 2+2 is gone now being replaced a new sports roof. New body style with it rear deck spoiler, door with new vent- lees side window, a new quad head light is a first for the Mustang, a new grill with new emblem that is not in the center like in the peeves years. The sports roof mach 1 brought special trim and styling as well as the GT- type equipment to the body style and was considered to be a separate model, A dressed up hardtop version having special upholstery and interior wood trim, was designated the luxury Grande model, and as previously, a convertible was also available .The coupe is now longer than previous models and sported convex rather than concave side “lines. The mach 1 see the 428 CJ engine with the new shaker hood scoop.


1970 Mustang keep it look of the “69” with some small changes to look smoother and cleaner. Ford Continuing the familiar theme “Mustang’s the car a’esighned to be designed by you”, the 1970 model was offered as “hot, Cool, Quick, Slick, or Rich”. With bright new “grabber” colors and interior featuring upbeat stripes and hounds tooth checks, a new oval steering wheel ( to ease entrance and exit ), a locking steering column, standard front and rear side marker lights that flash with the turn signal ,standard high backed bucket seats in all seats in all models, A new 351 4v Cleveland with 300 hp  engine. A single pair of headlights returns back for the replaces the four lamps used in 1969 a redesign front fender cap conceals the location of the other pair of headlamps with an interesting new simulated air scoop ,Tail lamps are now recessed, rather than protruding like earlier models .1970 also saw Ford drop the Shelby Mustang .

1969- 1970 Bosses

Only available from 1969 and 1970, the Boss 429, a hand-built muscle car intended solely to satisfy the homologating rules of NASCAR came standard with a Mustang Sports Roof and the new Mach 1 muscle car version’s deluxe interior. It sported none of the garish decals and paint schemes of the day; only a hood scoop and 15 in (380 mm) “Magnum 500” wheels fitted with Goodyear “Polyglass” tires, with a small “BOSS 429” decal on each front fender. Holding a big block with a huge bore and hemispherical combustion chambers, the motor had staggering potential for power. However, the brainchild of this car, the late Larry Shinoda, was disappointed with the finished product. He was quoted as saying that he wanted a 10-second capable car in factory form. For several reasons, the actual production Boss 429 certainly wasn’t capable of such times. The rev limiter, a small carburetor (the Boss 302 Mustang had a larger one), restrictive intake manifold, a mild solid lifter cam, and restrictive exhaust corked up the motor and kept it from revving. Furthermore, all of the smog equipment choked it down. The finished product was still strong, rated at 375 horsepower at 5200 RPM, but the power-band was narrow for an engine of this size, a result of the restrictions. Stop light drag racing was prevalent in the day, and owners of these Mustangs, as well as other cars such as Chrysler’s street Hemi, could be surprised by “lesser” cars of the day that produced broader power-bands and more low-rpm torque. 100+ horsepower can easily be added with the right cam/intake/carb/exhaust selection, along with a broader power-band. While power steering was a “mandatory option” on the Boss 429, neither an automatic transmission nor air conditioning was available. In the case of the latter, there simply wasn’t enough room under the hood.

The Boss 302 Mustang was Ford’s attempt to mix the power of a muscle car with the handling prowess of a sports car. The automotive press gushed over the result, deeming it the car “the GT-350 should have been.” Boasting a graphic scheme penned by Ford designer Larry Shinoda, the “Baby Boss” was powered by an engine that was essentially a combination of the new-for-1968 302 cid (5.0 L) V8 and cylinder heads from the yet to be released new-for-1970 351 cid (5.8 L) “Cleveland”. This combination meant that the Boss 302 Mustang was good for a conservatively rated 290 hp (216 kW) through its four-speed manual transmission. Ford originally intended to call the car the Trans Am, but Pontiac had beaten them to it; applying the name to a special version of the Firebird. In the ¼ mile, the Boss 302 posted very similar times to the Boss 429, despite the smaller displacement and an incredibly free-breathing induction system. It should be noted that the blocks from these cars are incredibly strong. Ford Racing plans on selling new Boss 302 Mustang blocks in the near future.


1971The Mustang grew two more inches long in the hood the new featuring concealed windshield wipers join with a thinner roof section and flush door handles to present obviously identifiable new feature. New options included a special instrumentation group, a rear window elec. Defrost with conductive strips placed directly in the glass. A protection group featuring body side molding with color-keyed vinyl inserts. A vinyl roof covering for the sports roof model. making the cars larger and heavier with each passing year, culminating with the 1971 models designed under the supervision of Ford’s new product design manager, Simon “Bunkie” Knudsen, originally of General Motors. Knudsen’s turn at the helm would see the last high-performance big-block Mustang, 1971’s 375 hp (280 kW) 429 Super Cobra Jet. Ford originally planned to install a 460 in the Mustang as well.  A new “BOSS 351” replaces the boss 302. the boss 351 is a new hi- performance version of the 351 4v Cleveland engine that was not available on any other models, it generated 330 horsepower, has a compression ratio of 11.0: 1 and used a new Ford 750 cfm carburetor.

1972 No new body changes just some small cosmetic changes. But Mustang would see the ELIMINATION of the performance – oriented cars and options, Gone were the boss cars and with them the big block motors and  the say good by to the cobra jet ram–air were no more with all the engine some what detuned, and burdened with the  new emission controls horsepower was no longer mentioned. So unfortunately, that the very same body style that was designed for the sole purpose of big-block installation versions was limited to a maximum of 351 cid (5.8 L)  due to extremely strict U.S. emission control regulations and low demand for big block muscle cars because of high insurance premiums. Introduced in 1972; the 351 “HO”.

1973 By 73 the Mustang had grown substantially was no longer the small car that had excited the market on it introduction in 1964.  Almost ponderous it had gained some 585 pounds ,over 22% of it its starting weight and now or a foot longer  aside from it softer, safer and more luxurious ride it was now limited by applicable legislation it could go no faster, further, or quicker, then the 65 model as more powerful engines that had been apart of it growth was now had been withdrawn . The 73 got a new 351 Cobra Jet to replacing the 351 HO.  Car companies switched from “gross” to “net” power and torque ratings in 1972, which coincided with manufacturers making low-compression motors with different, far more restrictive induction systems. Thus, making it difficult to compare power and torque ratings. Very much a different car than the 1964 models, Ford was deluged with mail from fans of the original car who demanded that the Mustang be returned to the way it had been. But Mustang would not be Happy with what is going to happen to there Mustang in 1974 Ford had big changes coming for the Mustang.

The all new smaller Mustang  for 1974