50 nifty things you may not know about the Mustang
1. Ford Motor Co. built two midengine Mustang-badged concept cars: the 1962 Mustang 1 and the 1968 Mach II.
2. After the Edsel flop, Ford formed a committee to create and review future products. It was called the Fairlane Committee because it met in the Fairlane Motel close to Ford's Dearborn, Mich., headquarters. The Mustang was the committee's first major hit.
3. Various names were evaluated before Mustang was chosen. At least two of the rejected names eventually appeared on Ford vehicles: Cougar and Torino. Frank Thomas, a J. Walter Thompson account executive who worked on the name research, once said Mustang rose to the top "because it had the excitement of wide open spaces and was American as all hell."
4. Gale Halderman's design that was selected as the basis of the production Mustang was originally called Cougar. Halderman and his boss, Joseph Oros, pushed hard for the Cougar name.
5. Buhlie Ford, a nephew of Henry Ford II, took a ride in an early Mustang convertible in the spring of 1964 and left the car in a downtown Detroit parking lot. The Detroit Free Press published photos of the car in what was considered a major scoop before the official unveiling.
6. On April 16, 1964, the day before its public unveiling in New York, Ford sponsored simultaneous programs on the three major TV networks as part of a national marketing blitz. The Mustang was seen by 29 million people during prime time. The next day, Mustang ads ran in more than 2,600 newspapers.
7. Ford took the Mustang on the road since many people could not see the car at its New York debut or at a dealership. The Mustang was put on display at 70 high-traffic metropolitan sites nationwide, 15 major airport terminals, in 100 Holiday Inns and on billboards in more than 170 markets.
8. In 1964, the Mustang's base price — $2,368 — was featured prominently in the company's initial advertising. It was $1,000 lower than that of the closest competition.
9. Ford originally forecast about 100,000 Mustang sales in the first year. More than 400,000 were sold.
10. Ford Division General Manager Lee Iacocca credited the Mustang's simultaneous appearance on the covers of Time and Newsweek in April 1964 with selling an extra 100,000 Mustangs.
11. Once the name was selected, the horse logo in the Mustang grille took on many forms, including what resembled a knight on a chessboard. Ford designers had the Mustang galloping to the right, similar to the way horses race on a track, and also moving left. Ultimately, Lee Iacocca said, "the Mustang is a wild horse, not a domesticated racer," and designer Gale Halderman felt the pony should always face left, the way designer Phil Clark first drew it.
12. Just weeks before the car's debut, there were still Mustangs featuring the galloping horse badge in the grille facing right instead of left.
13. After the Mustang's debut at the New York World's Fair in April 1964, 124 journalists were the first to drive Mustangs as part of the Ford Mustang Road Rally from Westchester Country Club in suburban New York to Dearborn, with a stop at Niagara Falls along the way.
14. In addition to plants in Dearborn and Flat Rock, Mich., the Mustang has been built in San Jose, Calif., and Metuchen, N.J.
15. Ford sold a million Mustangs in the first 24 months after it went on sale — the fastest time for a new nameplate to produce that amount of sales volume.
16. In the 1960s, a limited number of Mustangs were produced at plants in Mexico and the Netherlands.
17. Approximately 250 right-hand-drive Mustangs were sold in Australia between 2001 and 2003. They were all converted in Australia by Tickford Vehicle Engineering under contract from Ford.
18. Mustang serial No. #001, a preproduction model used for a promotional tour and not meant to be sold, was inadvertently sold by a dealer to a Canadian airline pilot, Capt. Stanley Tucker. In March 1966, Ford traded the 1 millionth Mustang to Tucker in exchange for the first car.
19. The 2015 Mustang is the first to have independent rear suspension across the board, but not the first to have the technology. The SVT Cobra from 1999 to 2004 had an independent rear suspension, and in 1963, three first-generation Mustang prototypes were tested with an independent rear suspension system.
20. The 1974-78 Mustang II was considered by many to be an underperformer, but when it was launched, it offered performance comparable to the much larger and heavier 1971-73 models, despite having a smaller engine.
21. Between 1964 and 1978, the Mustang was sold in Germany through a limited number of Ford dealers and the U.S. military PX system as the Ford T5. The Mustang trademark in Germany at the time was owned by truckmaker Krupp.
22. More than 161,000 Mustangs — including T5s — have been sold outside North America, and there are nearly 100 owners' clubs overseas from New Zealand to Poland and from South Africa to Iceland.
23. The most valuable Mustang to sell at auction was a 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake, which went for $1.3 million last May. The top 10 Mustangs sold at auction have fetched a combined total of nearly $7.6 million.
24. Famed Italian designer Giorgetto Guigiaro has created two Mustang-based concepts in his career. The 2007 Giugiaro Mustang is the better known. In 1965, when he was still working at the Bertone studio, Guigiaro designed the Bertone Mustang, which was commissioned by Automobile Quarterly.
25. At least three Mustang shooting brakes, or station wagons, have been designed in the Ford studio and made it at least as far as full-sized clay models — one was even a functional prototype — during the past 50 years.
26. At least one four-door Mustang sedan was created, in 1964, presumed to be a potential replacement for the Falcon.
27. A late pre-production black Mustang hardtop was customized for Henry Ford II and included a custom Lincoln leather interior and hand-painted pinstripes. Ford later gave the car to his driver, who kept it until he sold it to the current owner, a Farmington Hills, Mich., man who still owns it.
28. The first Mustang sold to a retail customer, Ford says, was purchased by Chicago schoolteacher Gail Brown on April 15, 1964, two days before the official on-sale date. Brown, who became Gail Wise when she married her husband, Tom, still owns the car.
29. The first turbocharged engine in a Mustang debuted in the 1979 model, a 2.3-liter with 132 hp, under far less stringent emissions standards than today. By 1985, the limited production, fuel-injected Mustang SVO was up to 205 hp. The 2015 Mustang with EcoBoost will have more than 305 hp and 300 pounds-feet of torque from the same displacement.
30. In 1989, Mustang nearly went front-wheel-drive with a coupe based on the Mazda MX-6. Late in the program, the decision was made to preserve the Mustang and redesign it on a rear-wheel-drive platform. The fwd coupe became the Probe, which lived only until 1997 before being replaced by the Mercury Cougar, which was discontinued in 2002.
31. The Mustang is one of fewer than 10 nameplates to survive in continuous production for more than 50 years without missing a model year.
32. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a 1964½ Mustang. Starting from serial No. #001 — the car inadvertently sold to Stanley Tucker — all the cars produced had 1965 VIN codes. There is a gap of 80,000 to 100,000 in the 1965 VINs around June-July 1964 that coincides with the switch from a generator on the engines to an alternator. The gap is considered by many Mustang aficionados to be the dividing line between '64½ and '65 models.
33. Mustangs have appeared in films and on TV shows more than 3,300 times in the past 50 years, according to mustangimdb.com. The site was started by the founder of the Icelandic Mustang Club.
34. In 1968, Ford introduced the Mustang Cobra Jet, a factory-built turnkey drag-race car with 335 hp from a big-block V-8. At 662 hp, today's GT500 nearly doubles that while meeting modern emissions standards on the street.
35. In October 1965, Ford engineers sliced a 1966 Mustang into four sections and took it up on a passenger elevator to the 86th floor observation deck of New York's Empire State Building, where it was reassembled and placed on display.
36. The third-generation Mustang — the so-called fox body — was produced from the 1979 to the 1993 model year, the longest run of any Mustang. However, the only example from that generation that featured the pony badge on the exterior was the 1993 SVT Cobra, which had a small one placed in the grille. Other Mustangs of that generation featured a pony on the passenger side of the dashboard only.
37. Two teams of designers at Ford's Dearborn headquarters and a third from the Ford-owned Ghia studio in Italy began competing in 1975 to create the all-new third-generation Mustang that became the fox body Mustang.
38. "Thou shall never do a slantback front end." That was the house rule from Gene Bordinat, Ford's longtime head of design, as planning for the third-generation Mustang got under way in the mid-1970s. "Henry Ford II only wants vertical front ends, and he'll show us the door if we ever try anything like" a slantback. The final design — championed by Jack Telnack, who had returned to Dearborn from a stint as head of design for Ford of Europe, resulted in a lean, 2,700-pound curb weight and improved outward visibility. The Mustang's new European-influenced shape was Ford's first serious stab at reducing air resistance with the lowest drag coefficient on the road at the time — 0.44 for the fastback and 0.46 for the notchback.
39. The Mustang has served as official pace car of the Indianapolis 500 on three occasions — in 1964, 1979 and 1994. Benson Ford, grandson of Henry Ford, drove the Mustang pace car at the 1964 Indy 500. The Mustang served as official pace car of the Daytona 500 just once — in 2010.
40. Former President Bill Clinton owns a 1967 Mustang convertible — ice blue with a white interior. Clinton said it was the hardest thing to leave behind when he moved into the White House in 1993. In April 1994, during a celebration marking the 30th anniversary of the Mustang, Clinton drove the car briefly at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Bill Dillard, then president of the Mustang Club of America, introduced him as "a rabid Mustanger like the rest of us."
41. Red has been the most popular exterior color on Mustang through the years, followed, in order, by blue, silver, white, black, green, brown and yellow. The 1967 Mustang was available in two shades of pink: dusk rose and Playboy pink.
42. While yellow has been the least favorite color over time, it has inspired deep passions among Mustang owners. The Yellow Mustang Registry, founded in 2001, is dedicated to owners and enthusiasts of yellow Mustangs. It has more than 8,932 members and 8,984 registered vehicles worldwide, and it has hosted more than 60 events since its founding. The yellow Mustangs in the registry range from early Springtime Yellow, offered in 1965 and 1966, to Zinc Yellow, introduced in 2000.
43. Black is the best-selling Mustang exterior paint color today, up 10 percent over the past decade, and it accounted for 28 percent of all 2013 Mustangs sold.
44. A removable hard top was planned on the redesigned 1994 Mustang — code-named SB95 — but costs and painting problems limited its application to just 1995 SVT Mustang Cobras, which were all black.
45. The Mustang has been honored with a U.S. postage stamp twice: in 1999 with a first-class stamp valued at 33 cents, and in 2013 when the 1967 Shelby GT-500 was featured as part of a set of stamps commemorating muscle cars.
46. Janine Bay was the first woman to serve as chief engineer for the Mustang. From 1994 to 1999, she was responsible for the design and development of the 1999 Mustang as well as the 1999 Cobra. She is the only female member of the Mustang Club of America's Hall of Fame.
47. The Mustang has more than 5 million Facebook fans, the most of any nameplate, Ford says.
48. Sam Pack, a car collector and north Texas Ford dealer, paid $300,000 to secure the first retail production unit of the 2015 Mustang GT when it goes on sale this fall. He made the winning bid at Barrett-Jackson Auction Co.'s sale in Scottsdale, Ariz., in January as part of a charity drive.
49. At various times over the years, Ford has studied whether to build or support an official Mustang museum in the United States, only to conclude that such a project would not be financially feasible over time.
50. In the 1960s, Sonny and Cher had famed Los Angeles car customizer George Barris design for them his and her modified Mustangs that featured wild headlights, leopard-skin interiors and eye-popping colors. The pair sold in 2010 to a collector for $137,000.
Sources: Automotive News archives; Ford Motor Co.; Robert A. Fria's 2010 book, Mustang Genesis: The Creation of the Pony Car; and Donald Farr's 2013 book, Mustang Fifty Years.