Gale Halderman, credited with the exterior styling of the original Ford Mustang, based on sketches he created some 21 months before the car's April 1964 public debut, died Wednesday. He was 87.
The cause of death, at a hospital in Troy, Ohio, was cancer, the Dayton Daily News reported, citing the family.
Halderman was a fairly young designer whose early sketch of the Mustang emerged the winner among a competition during a secret project to create what became the first so-called pony car.
Along with Hal Sperlich, an engineer and special projects assistant, Halderman was the last survivor among the small group of key players -- some called it a dream team -- that created one of the auto industry's most successful cars.
The Mustang, with a long hood and sleek body, proved an overnight sensation when it went on sale in April 1964. Celebrated in song, the movies and even postage stamps, it is one of the last remaining cars in Ford Motor Co.'s product lineup and one of the auto industry's few nameplates to be continuously produced for more than 55 years.
The Mustang name -- widely licensed over the years -- is today one of Ford's most recognized and valuable assets and one primary reason it will be used on an all-new electric crossover, the Mustang Mach-E.