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On April 17, 1964, the Ford Mustang was born

Antti Kautonen April 17, 2013 Nostalgia 20 Comments

1964 1/2 Mustang 

Ford just couldn’t wait for the 1965 model year, could they? They have to have been certain they had a winner in their hands, as the 64½ Mustang was unveiled five months earlier than other ’65 cars in Ford’s model lineup. But it was worth it, as the game was changed and ground was broken for forever more. The first cars had come off the line on March 9, and on April 17 at the New York World’s Fair the pony car that created pony cars was in the public eye.

In this post, I take a fast-forward look at the 49 years of the Ford Mustang.


The affordable, enviably good-looking Mustang quickly made it to the silver screen and worldwide presence. On two consecutive Bond films, Goldfinger and Thunderball, Bond girls give Mustang some well-earned screen time, and in the 1966 French film Un homme et une femme (A Man and a Woman) the GT40-testing racing driver protagonist hoons a permanently dirty hardtop example with the number 184 crudely applied on the sides. It’s the best-looking dirty car in any film I’ve seen.

A little-known fact about European Mustangs: Ford couldn’t use the Mustang name in Germany, since the German industrial giant Krupp had used the name to sell trucks between 1951 and 1964 – thus the Mustang was a “Ford T-5” in Germany until 1978.


Ford has been eager to evolve the Mustang over the years, to make it suit the times whenever necessary. The Mustang II of 1974 was almost a series reboot, since all the boldness and most of the power was suddenly gone, to be gradually brought back over the years.

By the third generation, often referred to as the Foxbody, the car had grown back its guts, and it’s here where I declare the Fox to be my favorite Mustang of the lot. I’d most happily go for a black SVO.


After nearly going for FWD in the late 1980s (that project ended up birthing the Probe), Ford re-designed the Mustang for 1994. The SN95 lived on until 2004, noticeably facelifted with New Edge design for 1999, and the decidedly retro-looking 2005 Mustang harks back to the good old days of late-60s design. In my opinion, the current iteration looks the best the Mustang’s looked for 20 years.

But at the 49th anniversary, one really can’t help but wonder – what will Ford unveil when the time comes for the big 5.0 a year from now?

[Photos: Ford, imcdb, Jose/Cargurus, Blueck/Wikimedia]

  • MVEilenstein

    Also noteworthy; the Maverick made its debut on this day just five years later, in 1969.

  • Devin

    Relevant: This month's Collectible Automobile has a ton of Fox-body prototype images. Some are kind of nifty, others aren't. It's pretty cool.

    I don't actually work for or subscribe to said magazine, but I did leaf through it when I went to buy some iced tea.

  • Matt Keegan

    Just to set the record straight there was no 64 1/2 model, the first Mustang was a 1965 model.

    • It's an informal designation, true, but it is a convenient way to refer to the distinctive early-production cars. Antti was careful to state that it was released "earlier than other ’65 cars in Ford’s model lineup" which does acknowledge it as being among the '65s.

    • Number_Six

      But there was a 1984.5, one of which I was lucky enough to own. Bordello red velour interior and louvers FTW.
      <img src="http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTUMBJp9IPkNCDNWj34JaZrGnqq4UgVN7eeeXzGfm2KoTbTyhP1xA&quot; />

      • JayP2112

        Was that part of the 20th Anniversary?
        I knew a guy in college who had a GT"350".

        • Number_Six

          Yep, it was a GT350 20th Anniversary edition. The stripes on the sills said GT350 and the horsey badges on the fenders were part of the package. I forget if it actually said anything about the 20th anniversary but it might have inside. Of course the GT350 part was total bullshit but mine did have a larger carb and a bit more power than the 1984 version.

      • I recently saw one of those in the junkyard, complete with TRX wheels. Made me sad. Also found a completely stripped SVO in the same yard, I ended up snagging the front sway bar to put on my LTD. It's actually smaller than my stock sway bar, which is what I wanted.

        • Number_Six

          I could barely find a pic of one still on TRX rims. I don't think I even have a pic of mine and that's really sad.

  • $kaycog

    Happy 49th Birthday, Mustang!

    [youtube r9XTjkO1IZA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9XTjkO1IZA youtube]

  • Devin

    Apparently the '90s Mustang almost looked like this:

    <img src="http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/1994-1995-1996-1997-1998-ford-mustang-7.jpg"&gt;

    I think I like it.

  • JayP2112

    Before the Mustang was released, my mom was all torn up about buying a new car. She's honed in on the Corvair convertible. My granddad tried to convince her to wait and see what the new Ford was going to be like. She got the Chevy but remembered the World's Fair commercial when it came on.

    Later dad got a '69 GT and I'd had a 2001 Bullitt and the 2005 GT I have now.

  • By far one of the best Mustang commercials yet…

    [youtube NhwWSw6oLX0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhwWSw6oLX0 youtube]

  • Rover 1

    And then of course there's this http://www.carscoops.com/2007/05/mazda-miata-mx-5

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