Little Bits of History

Ride, Sally, Ride

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 9, 2011

1964 Mustang

March 9, 1964: The first Ford Mustang rolls off the assembly line at the Dearborn, Michigan plant. The car was introduced at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964 and made its national debut on all three major television networks on April 19. It was one of the most successful car launches of all time, selling over 1 million cars in the first 18 months of production. This was gratifying, coming on the heels of the miserable failure that was the spectacularly unsuccessful launch of the Ford Edsel just a few years earlier.

The car was first conceived as a 2-seater, mid-engine roadster by Donald Fry. The design was championed by Lee Iacocca and remodeled as a 4-seater by David Ash and Joseph Oros, winning an intramural design contest sponsored by Iacocca. To cut down on production costs, the car was based on familiar, simple components used in the Falcon and Fairlain models, both already in production. The insides were very similar to the above cars, but the Mustang’s body shell was all new. Both convertibles and hardtops were produced. Since the car was introduced six months ahead of a model year, it is often erroneously called a 1964 ½ model.

In the first two years, three plants with one each in California, Michigan, and New Jersey produced nearly 1.5 million Mustangs. The car was selling like hotcakes. Both GM and Chrysler were caught without a competing model. Chrysler had the Plymouth Barracuda that would eventually make for strong competition within muscle car sales. GM eventually responded with the Camero and the Firebird.

There have been five generations of Mustangs with each new generation showing innovations in design. The last generation debuted in 2005 with a new, sleek design. The car remains classified as a muscle car. That means that it contains a high performance engine, usually a V8, and has special engineering qualities that ensure maximum torque making the cars ideal for street or drag racing. These mid-sized cars are not to be confused with smaller sports cars, also built for speed, but usually with two seats and made more for touring at speed.

“You can even look at the hot-selling Mustang as kind of a glorified economy car.” – Patrick Anderson

“Ford Mustang is the hottest car in the industry, and its performance on the street and in the showrooms is beating everyone’s expectations.” – Steve Lyons

“This is how we allocate all our vehicles and have done so for 20-some years. What’s unusual is the demand. I don’t think there’s been anything this hot since the ’64 Ford Mustang.” – Dominic Infante

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” – William Pollard

Also on this day:
Glamour Doll – In 1959, Barbie was shown at the American International Toy Fair.
Jean Calas – In 1765, Jean Calas was exonerated.


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One Response

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  1. GYSC said, on March 9, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Nice post. The Chevy D/Z-302 motor was built for the Camaro with the single goal in mind to beat the Mustang in Trans-Am racing. Of course that became the legendary Z-28.

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