By Ford Media
Apr 16, 2003 - 4:43:00 PM
Mustang has become an icon of American culture, thanks to 40 years of innovative design and affordable performance:
- The very first Mustang – the 1962 Mustang I Concept – was a two-seat, mid-engine sports car whose name was a tribute to the legendary North American P51 Mustang fighter plane from World War II. It made its debut in October of that year at the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, New York where it was driven around the circuit by race driver Dan Gurney.
- The world debut of Mustang occurred at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York on April 17, 1964. The price at launch: $2,368.
- The first regular production Mustang was a Wimbledon White convertible with a 260-cubic inch V-8 that rolled off the assembly line on March 9, 1964. While on a promotional tour of Canada, a Ford dealer in St. John’s, Newfoundland “mistakenly” sold the car to Capt. Stanley Tucker, a pilot with Eastern Provincial Airlines. Ford reacquired the car from Capt. Tucker in 1966 in exchange for Mustang number 1,000,001, and the original car is now on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.
- Mustang sales exceeded even Ford’s most optimistic projections. At the car’s launch, the company expected annual sales of about 100,000 units. But 22,000 Mustang orders were taken on the first day, and sales reached an astounding 417,000 in car’s first 12 months.
- A Chicago Ford dealer closed early and called the police when Mustang prospects stormed the dealership, and in Garland, Texas, 15 customers bid on the same Mustang. The winner insisted on sleeping in the car overnight to guarantee that it wouldn't get sold from under him before his check cleared the bank.
- Mustang-crazed parents in the United States bought 93,000 pedal-powered children's Mustangs during the 1964 Christmas season.
- The least expensive 1965 Mustang (apart from the pedal cars) was the $537 “Mustang Jr.,” built for Ford by the Powercar Company of Mystic, Conn. This 70-inch “fun” car could be ordered with a 2 ¼-horsepower, two-cycle gasoline engine good for 20 mph, or as a battery-powered model that cruised at a more sedate 5 mph.
- Mustang was the first – and perhaps only – car to park on the 86th floor observation deck of New York’s Empire State Building. In October 1965, Ford engineers disassembled a 1966 Mustang convertible and took it up in four sections using the building’s passenger elevators.
Mustang sales reached the one million-mark in 1966. To-date, more than eight million have been sold, and it has been the best-selling sports car for 17 years straight years.
- Racing legends associated with Mustang include Parnelli Jones, who drove a Mustang Boss 302 to win the 1970 SCCA Trans Am title, John Force, the most successful driver in NHRA drag racing history and Carroll Shelby, who built high performance Shelby Mustang GT350s and GT500s for the street and track.
- Mustangs have figured prominently in the movies, including the James Bond films “Goldfinger” and “Diamonds are Forever,” “Bullitt,” starring Steve McQueen, “Gone in 60 Seconds (both the original 1974 film and the 2000 remake starring Nicholas Cage).
- A brand new Mustang GT concept will be on display at this year’s New York Auto Show, along with the Mystichrome Cobra and a 40th Anniversary Mustang GT Coupe.
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