Thursday Trivia

Thirsday Trivia
Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: What car was considered for resurrection to become the first production Mustang?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you’re right.
There is perhaps no greater success story in the post-war automotive world than that of Ford’s Mustang. The Ur Pony Car was introduced to the Public on April 17th 1964, creating one of the first sales crazes, going so far as to have customers leaping onto the car carriers arriving at dealerships to claim their prized pony.
That’s all well known history, as is the evolution of the pre-production Mustang from two-seater mid-engine sports car, ostensibly to compete with Chevy’s new Corvair, into Falcon-based four-seater. Less well known is that at the same time the Mustang 1 was being considered, the Budd Company proposed to Ford that a model be brought back from the dead to become the personal car for the working class.
From How Stuff Works:

Fast-forward to late 1961, when a young new president of Ford Division named Lido Anthony Iacocca began searching for sportier stuff to add to his wares. As it happened, division engineer Thomas B. Case, who had worked on the original T-Bird, was now planning manager for Ford’s just-launched Falcon compact.
Well aware that Ford had been besieged by dealers and customers for a new two-seater since the last 1957 Thunderbird, Iacocca instructed Case to investigate the feasibility of a Falcon-based sporty car using the old two-seat T-Bird body.
Case called Budd, which happily advised that all 1957 T-Bird body tooling was still intact — and available. Seeing the chance for a lucrative new Ford contract, Budd promptly ran up a prototype of Iacocca’s concept. They called it “XT-Bird.”
Starting with a 1961 Falcon, Budd engineers trimmed the understructure to fit the 1957 T-Bird bodyshell, which included slicing wheelbase from 109.5 inches to the original 102. Styling was updated by snipping off the old tailfins and lowering front fenders, though Budd ingeniously managed to retain the vintage dashboard and cowl.

Budd was intimately familiar with the two-seat T-bird having been Ford’s body supplier for the car for all three years of its existence. Both that car, and the proposed re-worked edition were body-on-frame designs, this despite the fact that Budd had patented a unit-body automotive design all the way back in 1933.
After Ford rejected the plan to resurrect the T-bird for their new personal car, Budd pitched a reworked version of the car to American Motors as the XR-400, the R being for Rambler although the prototype was built on an Ambassador chassis. That one too went nowhere.
Image: Automobile Magazine

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  1. Alff Avatar

    I’d never heard this story. The successor to the XT-bird that Budd pitched to American Motors is quite fetching.

    1. Batshitbox Avatar

      was it based on the Champion? They have a similar feel.

      1. hubba Avatar

        Budd’s proposal to AMC was to base a new sporty car on the new ‘uniside’ platform that AMC introduced for all of its cars exc American in 1963 (the 64 American was adapted from the uniside platform. The actual XR-400 was built from a 62 Ambassador, which was the last iteration of the 108″ wb 1956 Rambler.

  2. JayP Avatar

    I just started re-reading Iacocca’s first book and finished up the Mustang chapter. He did mention Ford wanted to bring back the 2 seat coupe TBird.

  3. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    This really is automotive trivia! Excellent work!
    This is why we have Hooniverse.

  4. outback_ute Avatar

    Definitely an interesting story, but I can see why Ford rejected what would have appeared to the market as re-heated leftovers

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