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THE ORIGINAL FORD MUSTANG PROGRAM WAS CODENAMED “SPECIAL FALCON”

Ford Seriously Underestimated The Potential Of The “Special Falcon” Project.

1964 Ford Mustang
Ford Studios 1964 Ford Mustang Design. Photo via Ford

In anticipation of the new S650 Ford Mustang we’re taking a look back at the last 60 years of the vehicle’s history, starting at the very beginning with a couple of internal letters that spurred on the program. The first note is titled “Special Falcon”, and carries a date of December 11, 1962.

That title, of course, comes from the use of the Falcon platform as a basis for the upcoming sports car. By using a platform that is already in production, Ford was able to maximize profits for the new car and cut down dramatically on research and development.

1963 Ford Mustang Special Falcon Project
Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks

The letter outlines a presentation to justify the case of the sports car and states that it would be built in two different body styles (coupe and convertible) and be available with six and eight-cylinder engines.

Interestingly, while Chevrolet had originally designed the Camaro as a response to the success of the Ford Mustang, it seems that Ford was trying to outdo Chevrolet originally with the Special Falcon project, with the note stating that the forthcoming car would “improve our position in the compact sporty car market now dominated by the Corvair Monza.” As history remembers, the Mustang would go on to blow the Corvair out of the water, with Chevrolet having to answer back with the first-generation Camaro for the 1967 model year.

With a modest suggestion that the brand would be able to sell 150,000 units per year of the Ford Mustang, the automaker got to work bringing the car to market, with the hope that it would bring profits in the neighborhood of $14 million annually.

Ford Mustang Special Falcon Project
Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks

The second letter is simply titled “SPORTY CAR” and focuses on the name of the forthcoming automobile. Early ideas for the car involved using some sort of bird as a base to go along with the Thunderbird or Falcon theme, including the name “Thunderbird II.” However, they pretty much nailed the name right away with Mustang and had also begun to think about the sister car to Mustang, the Mercury Cougar.

Obviously, history shows just how much the executives underrated the potential of the Mustang. For the 1964.5 model year, Ford sold over 120,000 units, with that number increasing to over 500,000 units for the first full year. In 1966, even more people put down their hard-earned cash and increased the total sales numbers to over 600,000 vehicles.

It’s incredible to think that the legacy of one of the greatest sports cars ever made can be essentially traced back to just two pieces of paper, and the ideas of a few great minds. Further details can be found in Ford’s published Heritage Vault archives, recently made available online to the public.

The 2024 Ford Mustang will be unveiled at the 2022 Detroit Auto Show, following a massive stampede of pony cars traveling from Tacoma, Washington to Hart Plaza in Detroit.

Image via Ford.
S650 Ford Mustang Push Button Start GT EcoBoost Performance Pack 1 Fighter Jet F-22 Font
Image via Ford.
S650 Ford Mustang GT Badge
Image via Ford.

Written by Alex

Alex is a freelance automotive journalist hailing from the Toronto area. He considers Michigan to be a warm place.

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