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a fearless horse that almost called itself… Cougar

At the end of the 1950s, Lee Iacocca (Chairman and CEO of Ford) intended to restore Ford’s image after the war years. He decides to produce a sports car.

We have to wait until 1962 to see a concept car with a mid-engine (the V4 of the German Taunus) and fiberglass bodywork; her name ? Mustang!. On October 8, 1962, she opened the GP at Watkins Glen.

It’s a successful publicity stunt, but not enough. In fact, Ford wants a 4-seater. Henry Ford allocates 40 million dollars for the project and only 18 months to release the car.


The definitive logo on the Mustang’s first full year; we are in 1965. Photo DR

A sedan chassis

For the technique, we start from the chassis of the Ford Falcon sedan and the V8 260 ci (Cubic inches) block of the Sprint version.

More than a dozen different models were offered; Gale Halderman’s project was chosen: code name Cougar… Torino even appears on a few advertisements. It will ultimately be Mustang, named after the concept car.

You also have to find a logo; it will be the famous horse that will gallop on the grille. An early drawing by Philip Thomas Clark makes it appear too large; designers Charles Keresztes and Waino Kangas create a new version for the Mustang II.

The wooden model is due to Waino Kangas.  Photo DR

The wooden model is due to Waino Kangas. Photo DR

Canter left or right?

The position of the horse, facing left or right, generated many questions.

Among the speculations, it would be the observation of horses running from right to left on a racetrack or the horse heading west, representing the wild and free American spirit.

Consequently, several 1962 through 1964 models can be found with Mustang logos pointing in either direction.

On April 16, 1964, the Mustang, with a 2.8 L V6 and 3-speed automatic transmission, went on sale for $2,368. It’s a rush at the dealerships. 22,000 Mustangs are sold on the first day.

An unexpected success

Ford’s top management hoped to sell 100,000 Mustangs a year in a full year. In 1964, 318,000 Mustangs were registered and more than 550,000 the following year.

The 1964 ½ Mustang (the name of the first models released in mid-64) comes standard with a 2.8 L inline-6 ​​engine and an optional 260 ci (4.2 L) V8 or a 289 ci (4.7 L) which would later become standard.

It is available as a hardtop coupé or a convertible and the catalog of options is enormous in order to be able to personalize your car. A golden age that will last until 1973, despite unsuccessful aesthetic developments.

1979, the dark years of the Mustang.  From this date, we find the Ford logo at the end of the hood or the letters on the grille.  The fiery horse deserted as if refusing to appear.  Photo DR

1979, the dark years of the Mustang. From this date, we find the Ford logo at the end of the hood or the letters on the grille. The fiery horse deserted as if refusing to appear. Photo DR

From 1974 to 1992, the Mustang loses its soul

The second generation of the Mustang begins with the 1974 vintage. Since the origins of the first Mustang, things have changed a lot. The massive invasion of small Japanese women and the oil crisis will get the better of her.

The new Mustang is only a shadow of itself and it’s the tumble in engines: 4-cylinder 2.3 l and V6 for the top of the range. In 1979, the third generation of Mustang is probably the most disappointing; its steep lines might as well have been drawn in Germany or Japan.

The little galloping horse is no longer even affixed to the grille. Despite a 5-liter V8 or the turbocharged 2.3-liter V6, the Mustang is outdated.

From 2005, the myth is reborn and the Mustang is simplified with a straighter neck.  Photo DR

From 2005, the myth is reborn and the Mustang is simplified with a straighter neck. Photo DR

Back to grace

In January 2003, Ford revealed two concept cars inspired by the 1964 Mustang, a Mustang GT and a Convertible.

The strongly slanted front grille, the three-part rear lights, the hollow sides with a symbolic hearing in front of the rear wheels, all the ingredients are there to make those who had already succumbed to the charms of the Mustang dream in 1964.

Under the hood nothing less than a 400 hp 4.6-litre V8. In 2005, Ford revived the myth.

A cinema myth that we find in the Gendarme de Saint-Tropez but especially in Bullit, with Steve McQueen at the wheel.

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