The first-generation Ford Mustang was manufactured by Ford from March 1964 until 1973. The introduction of the Mustang created a new class of automobile known as the "Pony Car". The Mustang’s styling, with its long hood and short deck, proved wildly popular and inspired a host of competition. It was initially introduced on April 17, 1964, as a hardtop and convertible with the fastback version put on sale in August 1964.
At the time of its introduction, the Mustang, sharing its underpinnings with the Falcon, was slotted into a compact car segment. With each revision, the Mustang saw an increase in overall dimensions and in engine power.
The 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback reached iconic status after it was featured in the 1968 film Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen. In the film, McQueen drove a modified 1968 Mustang GT 2+2 Fastback chasing a Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco.
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY:
As Lee Lacocca's assistant general manager and chief engineer, Donald N. Frey, was the head engineer for the Mustang project — supervising the development of the Mustang in a record 18 months — while Iacocca himself championed the project as Ford Division general manager. The Mustang prototype was a two-seat, mid-mounted engine roadster, styled in part by Phil Clark.
The Mustang was later re-modeled as a four-seat car styled under the direction of Project Design Chief Joe Oros and his team of L. David Ash, Gale Halderman, and John Foster — in Ford's Lincoln–Mercury Division design studios, which produced the winning design in an intramural design contest instigated by Iacocca.
To decrease development costs, the Mustang used chassis, suspension, and drivetrain components derived from the Ford Falcon and Fairlane. It used a unitized platform-type frame from the 1964 Falcon, and welded box-section side rails, including welded cross members. Although hardtop Mustangs accounted for the highest sales, durability problems with the new frame led to the engineering of a convertible first, which ensured adequate stiffness. Overall length of the Mustang and Falcon was identical, although the Mustang's wheelbase was slightly shorter.
The design team had been given five goals for the design of the Mustang: it would seat four, have bucket seats and a floor mounted shifter, weight no more than 2500 pounds and be no more than 180 inches in length, sell for less than $2500, and have multiple power, comfort and luxury options.
Since it was introduced five months before the normal start of the production year and manufactured among 1964 Ford Falcons and 1964 Mercury Comets, the earliest Mustangs are widely referred to as the 1964 model. A more accurate description is the "early 1965" model because it underwent significant changes at the beginning of the regular model year. All the early cars, however, were marketed by Ford as 1965 models. The low-end model hardtop used a 170 cu in (2.8 L) straight-6 engine and three-speed manual transmission and retailed for US$2,368.
Things changed little outwardly between the 1967 and 1968 Ford Mustangs, apart from the obvious side reflectors that were now mandated. Production dropped to 317,148 from 472,121, thanks to a 60-day strike between September and November, and the model slipped from second place to seventh in domestic production.
Hardtops remained the most popular model with 249,447 sold, followed by 42,325 fastbacks and 25,376 convertibles. Base hardtop price was $2,602, fastback $2,712, and convertible $2,814. The majority of cars featured standard interior trim, though about 5 percent had deluxe interiors and a handful were ordered with bench seats. Two-tone louvered hoods were optional on all models. Dash panels now featured wood grain appliques, front head rests were optional, and seat backs now locked in the upright position. A collapsible spare tire was available.
The big news was mostly mechanical, with a 220/230 bhp, 302 cid V-8 introduced, though the 289 was still the base V-8 and the 200 cid six was available. The 325 bhp, 390 cid engine was now a new “FE” block and 11,475 buyers stepped up for that motor. The top engine option was a low riser version of Ford’s 427 cid V-8, only available with an automatic transmission and only until December 1967. It was rated at 390 bhp and cost a whopping $622. Very few were sold; look for a W in the VIN.
On April 1st, drag racers were happy to learn that a 335 bhp, 428 cid Cobra Jet V-8 could be crammed in for $434 extra, though you might want the $54 tachometer as well. The Cobra Jet engine was a 428 with 427 heads and actually produced more than 400 bhp. The Cobra Jet had a functional ram air hood scoop, power front disc brakes and staggered rear shocks for 4-speed cars. A total of 2,253 fastbacks and 564 hardtops were so equipped. Before the Cobra Jet was introduced, 50 pre-production cars were sold in Wimbledon White primarily to racers. They were stripped-down models with 428 engines and aluminum intakes. The sticker announced “Cobra Jet Program” and the package cost $507.40.
An oddball extra model was sold on the West Coast called the California Special GT/CS. Only available as a coupe, it attracted 5,000 buyers and combined some GT features with Shelby-style sequential taillights, a deck lid with a spoiler, blacked-out grille, Lucas or Marchal fog lights, fake rear fender intakes and GT hubcaps without the letters. Colorado buyers were offered the High Country Special, which is considerably rarer.
Two stripes were offered this year with the $147 GT package. The rocker panel stripe as before, or a “C’ Stripe which ran to the top of the rear fender sculpture, then curved under it and ran forward. Reflective stripes were optional. The GT package included fog lights in the grille, a GT gas cap and GT wheel covers. Disc brakes were extra cost unless you ordered a big 390 or 428 cid V-8 in which case they were standard. A total of 17,458 GTs were sold.
A total of 16 colors were offered, but without production figures. They were Raven Black (Code A); Royal Maroon (B); Acapulco Blue (D); Gulfstream Aqua (F); Lime Gold (I); Wimbledon White (M); Diamond Blue (N); Seafoam Green (O); Brittany Blue (Q); Highland Green (R); Canbdyapple Red (T); Tahoe Turquoise (U); Meadowlark Yellow (W); Sunlit Gold (Y); Pebble Beige (6). 16 interior colors were offered and convertible tops were black or white.
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