Few cars are more iconic to Ford, and to America, than the mighty Mustang. Launched in 1964, its legacy has shaped not only car enthusiasts for the past 57 years, but the entire automotive industry. Like the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette, the Ford Mustang is just as much a piece of automotive culture as it is a tool of transportation. To celebrate this, Ford is kicking off its annual Mustang Week with some never before seen images and documents from the design and development behind the original pony car.
The 1964 Ford Mustang was born out of Ford’s need to add a sporty, two door personal vehicle to its lineup. But unlike some other vehicles that fit that criteria, it needed to be relatively inexpensive so young people could afford it. Lee Iacocca, one of the leaders on the Mustang project, saw what the Corvair Monza was doing for Chevrolet, and knew Ford needed the same. Having a stylish, sporty and affordable car would draw customers to the Ford brand for years to come.
In the beginning, the primary source documents show they once considered making a rebadged and rebodied Ford Falcon for their sporty two door, which is why early development referred to the vehicle as the codenames “T-5” or “Special Falcon Project.” Once the product planning and placement was nailed down, they could move onto design. Three studios: Ford, Lincoln Mercury and Advanced Product, all submitted their ideas.
As you can probably tell, Ford Studios’ design is what eventually went through. The photo at the top of this post is the Ford pitch, which has a clear connection to the 1964 Mustang. But there are key differences, such as the oval headlights. The clay model actually featured a different driver’s and passenger’s side to show two possible options.
The Lincoln Mercury design pitch (pictured above) has a similar roofline to the Mustang, but is much different in the front and rear. It features some distinct fender fins front and rear, something totally foreign to Mustang as we know it. Finally, there’s the Advanced Product Studios design, which has a less distinctive dual headlight and grille design up front. While none of the other designs are even close to ugly, we are happy Ford went with the look they did.
You can see all the pictures, and fascinating primary source documents from the first-gen Ford Mustang development process here.