Editor's note: This story is part of a special section in the April 14 print edition of Automotive News marking the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang's debut.
Fifty years ago, Lee Iacocca gamely predicted the Ford Mustang would represent "more things to more people than any other automobile on the road."
But even Iacocca, the young but masterful head of Ford Division, couldn't predict the sensational success of the first pony car.
Backed by an unprecedented marketing blitz, the Mustang became an overnight symbol of personal freedom and moderately priced mobility to young people with big expectations.
An emerging generation of car buyers bored by the staid cars of the Eisenhower era helped generate Mustang sales of over half a million units each in 1965 and 1966 -- unheard of for a new model at the time.
The golden shine from the Mustang's spectacular launch has long since faded. But with a series of anniversary celebrations planned this week from coast to coast, Ford aims to shower at least some of the original pony car's magic dust on the redesigned 2015 model, the first Mustang crafted for global markets.
In New York, where the car was unveiled 50 years ago this week, Ford will stage a 2015 Mustang on the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building and hold a ceremony Thursday at the Flushing Meadows site where Henry Ford II introduced the Mustang at the 1964 World's Fair.
At racetracks in Concord, N.C., and Las Vegas, Ford and the Mustang Club of America will host more than 5,000 Mustangs and about 100,000 owners and fans.
"If we look at what Mustang was originally, it appealed to the masses," says Mark Schaller, Mustang product marketing manager. "It had a certain appeal we're trying to recapture with the 2015 model."