The Ford Mustang changed the world. While it wasn’t the first muscle car, it made the segment both desirable and attainable for America. That notion has held true for over 50 years. Much of the appeal of the first generation Mustang was, and still is, down to its iconic styling. With that, we are sad to announce the designer of the first generation Mustang, Gale Halderman, has died at age 87 after a fight with cancer. Ironically, he passed away on April 29, known as “429 Day” to many Mustang fans, in honor of the Mustang Boss 429.
In 1962, Ford wanted to add a new sports car to its lineup. To find a design, it held a competition between its designers to come up with a design. On his front porch, Halderman sketched a sleek, edgy two door vehicle with a long hood, short rear overhang, and characteristic side scoop. Halderman’s design would eventually become the 1964 Ford Mustang.
Halderman worked on the design team for the original Mustang, and stayed with Ford on other projects for the next 40 years. He lead the Mustang design team until 1973, and was also worked on the Fox body Mustang. Halderman also designed the Lincoln Mark VII and VIII. He retired in 1994.
To say his contribution to the automotive world was important is an understatement. The Ford Mustang is not only an automotive icon, but a central piece of American culture and history. There are few cars that anyone can picture. The Mustang is one of them. Since 1964, over 10 million have been sold, and the Mustang is now the best selling sports car in the world. Many of the design elements in the original Mustang are still seen today, like the three-bar taillights.
In Halderman’s retirement, he turned his childhood barn in Tipp City, Ohio, into a museum. Inside, there are vehicles he designed, awards, sketches and photos of his work. The museum has also hosted many Mustang events in the past.
Halderman follows the last year’s passing of Lee Iacocca, who is credited as being the “father” of the original pony car.