29 June 2020

More than an old car #148: Ford Mustang

Today's feature was a request by one of my followers who wanted to see/read about Ford Mustangs. I realised that it was high time to feature this legend after covering about other less well-known cars. Incidentally, this 1966 Ford Mustang is the only picture that I have so far...

The Mustang was conceived over a period of 18 months from September 1962 to March 1964, under the direction of renowned automobile executive Lee Iacocca. Ford's three design studios (Ford, Lincoln-Mercury and Advanced Design) were tasked to create proposals for the new vehicle, with these goals in mind: it would seat four, have bucket seats and a floor mounted shifter, weigh no more than 2,500 pounds (1,100 kg) and be no more than 5 m long, sell for less than US$2,500, and have multiple power, comfort, and luxury options.

The Ford design team produced the winning prototype under the guidance of Joe Oros, L. David Ash, Gale Halderman, and John Foster. Oros desired that the car should appeal to both women and men, have a Ferrari-like front end with the motif centered on the front and a sporty, European-like design. Its name was derived from an early prototype, which was inspired by the North American P-51 Mustang fighter plane. To decrease developmental costs, the Mustang used components from the Ford Falcon and Fairlane, although the body was entirely different. Although the hardtops accounted for the highest sales, a convertible and a fastback version was also designed.

The Mustang was first made available 4 months before the start of the 1965 production year, and although they were marketed as 1965 models, enthusiasts still refer to them as the 1964½ model year. The 1966 Mustang differed from the previous year by a new front grille (slotted pattern instead of 'honeycomb' styling), the lack of 4 bars extending from the 'corral' (horse logo), and the presence of 3 horizontal bars on the emblem in front of the rear tyre.

It was powered by a 4727 cc (289 cubic inch) Ford Windsor HiPo V8, allowing it to reach a top speed of 209 km/h with an acceleration of 6.6 seconds [0-100 km/h]. The HiPo engine was a more powerful version of the standard 289 block, with modifications done to the components that allowed it to produce a power output of 271 hp. It was 4613 mm long and weighed 1333 kg, with a hefty fuel consumption of 17.8 litres/100 km.

Production of the 1st-generation Mustang ended in 1973, with nearly 500,000 hardtops made between 1964 to 1966 alone. I believe that this unit is one of about 209 units converted to RHD by Ford Australia, and was imported here some time in 2017. I am aware of another unit in red which rarely appears. No Mustangs were ever sold in Singapore until in 2016, where the S550 (6th-gen model) was officially produced in RHD and sold by our authorised Ford dealer.

The 1st-gen Mustang has always been a mainstay in popular culture and is well-recognised by many. Although it is unfortunate that we never had them previously, it is nice to see that people have appreciated its value well enough to bring it to our shores. The Mustang also heralded the rise of the 'pony car' and the subsequent fascination by adolescents worldwide. Hopefully, you will be able to see this legend for yourself one day!

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