There’s no doubt that the Ford Mustang forever changed the automotive industry, creating an entire new ‘pony car’ class along the way. and while we see the pretty outcome of a product with a lot of thought and development behind it, here are a few things about the Mustang that you haven’t heard.
Ford considered making the Mustang front-wheel drive on several occasions, but luckily the idea never made it to production. The leaping fuel prices had put a damper on all the muscle car fun in America, so manufacturers were looking for ways to make their products appeal to the public the way their Japanese competitors did. Plans were drawn and scrapped throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and a concept FWD model was made in 1989. By the time the next model appeared, America had already fallen in love with RWD muscle again. Ideas for a four door model and a station wagon Mustang were also shot down.
This is a huge deal for an auto maker. They obviously did something right in the first year to lead to a second, third and so on. Harder yet is continuing to produce the same level of enthusiasm with consumers through the years. It takes a certain combination of innovation and tradition to keep a model running strong for over 50 years.
Naming the newest creation in the Ford plant couldn’t have been an easy task, especially with some of the proposed names. The Stiletto, Comet, Allegro, Torino, Cougar, Panther, Cheetah, Bronco, Colt and dozens of other names were discarded at the final cut.
Before the Mustang name was even decided on, designer Phil Clark drew up the galloping horse emblem. The red, white and blue bars represent (you guessed it) the Mustang’s American heritage. The horse’s body was eventually reworked to look as if it were running faster.
The common myth behind the pony running right to left is that it symbolises the spirit of Manifest Destiny in America when colonists settled from east to west. Ford has revealed that wasn’t the case. Clark simply drew the horse running left more often, and it was preferred among the staff. Now, it’s hard to imagine it any other way.
A partnership between Ford and McLaren sprang suddenly, and in 1980, production was set to begin on 250 limited edition M81 Mustangs. The cars were been built by hand and were priced at a whopping $25,000, which was more than most were willing to spend. Only 11 cars were built in four colours.
Ford was working on a new 1994 Mustang, but it was lacking a certain style. The Rambo, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Jenner Mustangs were the final three prototypes from a pool of designs that were considered in 1990. The Jenner car lacked aggression, while Rambo was too extreme. It left only the Schwarzenegger to be developed into a production model.
Henry Ford II (Ford President) was not amused by suggestions to build the Mustang from some of his highest valued staff. He reportedly shot the idea down numerous times, but a few of his most valued employees couldn’t leave the idea untouched. They met secretly until they were sure to convince the boss that it was right for the company. He seemed to like it much more when the sales exploded.
We don’t know if it was the brilliant design, aggressive marketing or the burning desire to own a piece of ‘Murican muscle, but the opening day was tremendous for Ford. Dealerships were selling out of Mustangs and taking waiting lists around the clock during those first few days. Most impressive was the opening day, when 22,000 units were sold.
After packing such a heavy V8 into a light car, some folks at Ford were realised something: the weight distribution was horrible. Hoping to give better handling and control back to the driver, a small team made a rear-engined Mustang. More weight was centred over the rear wheels, but there was no significant change in performance. Mission failed.
Lee Iacocca, then Vice President and GM of the Ford Division, envisioned a four-seater car that was sporty, light and easy for women (yes, even women) to drive. He wanted the Mustang to satisfy newly-weds and young families by starting at a reasonable price. Early marketing campaigns heavily targeted women, showing the Mustang as the ideal stylish ride for running to the grocery store.