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Inasmuch as the late John DeLorean is closely associated with spearheading the Pontiac GTO in 1964, Lee Iacocca (also an engineer as was DeLorean) is considered the father of the iconic Ford Mustang. And while today’s Mustang appears to have evolved into a less spectacular car that blends in – generally speaking – with the more homogeneous designs created by computer CAD software, it does well to remember that the evolution of the Ford Mustang began as a 1963 concept car.
In an ingenious move, the original Ford Mustang was based on the same platform as that of the Ford Falcon, a so-called compact car. The chassis, suspension, drive trains and certain of the interior parts were shared with the Falcon. This ensured a smooth transition for mechanics. Engineers and corporate executives alike were keen on noting that there was a pattern that emerged with the Ford Thunderbird as it expanded from a two-seat sports car to a four-seat sedan.
Unveiled in April 1964, and thus dubbed the “1964 ½ Mustang”, the automobile world responded with over 300,000 orders. Ford’s marketing team predicted a response closer to 100,000.
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The Mustang was youthful and exuded a sexiness and excitement only to be exceeded by the company’s 1965 launch of the “pony car”. Selling at a base price approaching $2,400, these affordable automobiles provoked Chevrolet to create the Camaro, Pontiac with the GTO and Firebird, Chrysler with the Barracuda, Dodge with the Challenger and AMC with the Javelin. The latter’s true answer, the AMX, would not appear until 1968.
While Lee Iacocca is a celebrity in the automobile world (as was John DeLorean) few knew that the executive stylist of the original Ford Mustang was John Najjar who was assisted by Philip Clark.
The Ford Mustang endured some rough years with the scaled down mid-1970s Type II versions, owing to emission concerns. However, the car’s re-design led to a comeback and today’s Mustangs, while less differentiated than the 1960s have retained a slightly slanted trunk and longer hood for sportiness. Power plants today can exceed 400 horsepower.
However, for the collector, it is the early Ford Mustangs that amass high dollars at nationwide auctions annually.