In this edition of Dreams and Nightmares, we explore the car that founded the pony car movement, the Ford Mustang.
When the Ford Mustang was introduced at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, it marked a new turn in product development. The Mustang wasn’t a new kind of car. It was an old kind of car—the stodgy Falcon compact—dressed up in a new, sportier package, cleverly repurposed and remarketed for a younger generation of buyers. The hottest selling new car introduction in history, the Mustang instantly riveted the attention of product planners throughout the Motor City.
As these renderings, clay models, and concepts show, Ford designers took a few years to develop and refine the pony car formula: close coupled coupe sheet metal, long hood, short deck, 2+2 seating. And once the basic Mustang design was landed, they experimented with all manner of variants, including four-doors, wagons, and two-seaters. The pony car package didn’t have the bright line drawn around it that it has today.
All the more fun for us as we explore all the twists and turns in vehicle design. Even the Mustang name was in play early on. If you look closely at some of the first proposals, in place of the chrome horse in the center of the grille, there’s a stylized cougar. Gallery below.