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The history of an American classic, the Ford Mustang
For car enthusiasts and novices alike, it doesn’t get much more iconic than the classic Mustang. With its sturdy bodywork and sexy good looks, it’s got the best of both worlds, which goes some way to explaining the loyalty and devotion of the model’s die-hard fans.
Since it was introduced by Ford in 1964, the Mustang – which was originally based on the Ford Falcon compact car – has undergone many transformations and is now in its fifth generation, however it’s the earlier models which are treasured by collectors.
Often referred to as the “1964½” model by fans, the Mustang was released five months before the usual start of the 1965 production year and was introduced to the public on 17th April 1964 at the New York World’s Fair.
Produced by a car manufacturer which introduced innovative safety measures such as rear seatbelts, child safety locks and a padded dashboard, as well as the very first engine which had a removable cylinder head, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the Mustang was responsible for creating a whole new class of American vehicles. Inspiring the designs of the Toyota Celica, Pontiac Firebird, Chevrolet Camaro and AMC Javelin, as well as the first generation Dodge Challenger and Chrysler’s revamped Plymouth Barracuda, the Mustang, with its long hood and short rear deck, was the original coupé.
With favourable write-ups from thousands of newspapers and even making an appearance in the 1964 James Bond film, ‘Goldfinger’, it was thanks to the launch of the classic Mustang that Ford enjoyed a level of success it hadn’t seen since 1930 when it released its Model A car which was the first time safety glass had been used in the windshield. In fact, the Mustang was so well received that it became the first automobile to ever win the Tiffany Gold Medal for excellence in American design and in the first 18 months, more than one million were built. Other accolades for more recent models of Mustang include being on the Car and Driver Ten Best list six times, as well as being named the Canadian Car of the Year in 2005 and the Motor Trend Car of the Year in both 1974 and 1994.
The 1966 model remained pretty much the same as its predecessor, but from 1967 to 1973 the Mustang became bigger, with more pronounced styling, but not necessarily more powerful. In response to consumer demands, the Mustang evolved from being powerful and fast to being heavier and more luxurious. A result of this new styling was the 1973 Mustang Eleanor which featured in the original 1974 film ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’.
Although the classic Mustang is synonymous with American culture, the automobile has a special place in the hearts of Europeans too, appearing in car shows and rallies the world over, allowing like-minded enthusiasts and collectors to come together to sell, buy and trade vehicles and parts, take photos and meet other fans of this beautifully timeless classic car.