The 1960s was the era of youth, free choice and individualism.It was also the time, especially in the USA, of postwar wealth creation after the austerity years of the 1950s, which gave consumers far greater buying power. This had an effect on the auto industry: families were no longer restricted to one car and younger drivers were starting to clamour to own a car of their own. Ford in general, and its genius marketer Lee Iacocca in particular, saw this trend developing earlier than anyone else. Iacocca argued that if Ford could produce a car that looked good and looked as though it had plenty of performance, it would sell, even if, in truth,it was manufactured from low-cost, standard components.
The stylists at the Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn. Michigan. came up with a classic sports car look – two doors, choice of convertible or coupe body styles, a long bonnet and short boot – together with a reasonably practical four -seat cabin.Under that exciting -looking exterior were parts taken from Ford’s standard cars, including a rigid rear axle, though the car did have independent front suspension. The engine was lifted from Ford’s smallest car, the Falcon. It was a 2.8 -liter six -cylinder unit producing just 101 bhp, which meant top speed was under 100 mph / 161 km/h.
The Ford Mustang was launched in April 1964 and was an instant success, partly because it looked great, partly because it was cheap – just $2,320 – and partly because it was perhaps the first car in the world to be offered with a huge range of options and accessories that allowed buyers to customize their own cars. One of those options was a 4.2 -liter V8 engine mated to either a three -speed auto or four -speed manual gearbox, which produced 164 bhp and gave the Mustang reasonable performance.
On day one, 22,000 orders were taken, and more than 400,000 cars were sold in the first year, despite Ford having predicted maximum sales of 100,000 a year. With such a huge success on its hands, Ford’s biggest problem was finding ways of boosting production to meet demand. It also became clear that real performance was a desire of many buyers, so two more V8 engine options were offered, including the legendary 4.7 -liter V8, which churned out 200 bhp at the time of its launch and 270 bhp in its most powerful variant. Ford also introduced a third body variant, the Fastback, as a 1965 model. But the most visible signs of the Mustang gaining more power and more real sporting ability were the trademark racing stripes on the sills, dual exhaust pipes and GT badges.
As the 1960s progressed, so the Mustang became larger and heavier and needed ever -more powerful engines to maintain its performance potential. By 1968, a 6,997 cc V8 producing 390 bhp was offered, and the same year, a 7,014 cc Cobra Jet variant was made available for racing enthusiasts. In 1969, yet more engine options were offered, along with a range of special editions, such as the Grand Luxury with its vinyl roof, the Mach I, the Boss 302 and 429 and the Shelby G1350 and GT500.
In the early 1970s, the Mustang grew more portly than – it ever now weighed 600 lb / 272 kg more than the original. Worse the fuel crisis resulted in a rapid growth of demand for more fuel efficient vehicles, and the dinosaur muscle cars fell out of favour. The last f the first- generation Mustangs went out of production in 1973, but not before Ford’s first ‘pony car’ had promoted other manufacture to respond, with models such as the Chrysler Barracuda and Chevrolet Camaro. The Mustang is still in production today, though it’s a very the light and compact early cars, which still hav a true magic about them.
FORD MUSTANG 1964
ENGINE: 4727 cc V8
MAXIMUM POWER: 270 bhp at 6000 rpm
MAXIMUM TORQUE: 423 Nm at 3400 rpm
MAXIMUM SPEED: 128 mph / 206 km/h
0-60 MPH ACCELERATION: 7.3 seconds
TRANSMISSION: 4-speed automatic
LENGTH: 1811/2in / 4613 mm
WIDTH: 681/4 in / 1732mm
HEIGHT:511/4in / 1300 mm
WHEELBASE: 108in / 2743 mm
BRAKES: drum (f and r)
SUSPENSION: independent coil spring (f), live axle(r)
WHEELS: alloy, 14 in
TIRES: 7.00 x 14