Fifty years ago today, the Ford Mustang made its official debut. To remember the event, we feature five Mustangs that history has largely forgotten.
To great fanfare, the Ford Mustang was officially introduced at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964, exactly 50 years ago today. Naturally, the enthusiast media will be marking the anniversary with loads of Mustang-related feature material.
As you know, here at Mac’s Motor City Garage, we like to celebrate the orphans and oddballs of the automotive scene. So to mark the golden anniversary of America’s favorite ponycar, we focus on five fascinating Mustangs that maybe aren’t so well known today. Happy birthday, Ford Mustang. May you enjoy 50 more.
The one-of-one Mustang Bertone was created when Automobile Quarterly publisher L. Scott Bailey suggested that the brand new Ford Mustang would make an ideal canvas for the renowned Italian design house of Nuccio Bertone. (The car’s lead designer was a young Bertone stylist named Giorgetto Giugiaro.) Shown once in America at the 1965 New York Auto Show, the Mustang Bertone hasn’t been seen since, but rumors abide that the car still exists.
This is the notorious 1989 design concept that, in the eyes of many enthusiasts, nearly killed the Mustang as we know it. Based on the Ford Probe/Mazda 626 platform, this Mustang featured a transverse front-drive layout with I4 and V6 engines. But in the 11th hour, Ford elected to stay with the traditional V8 rear-drive Mustang format, fortunately.
On the one-off LID Mustang prototype, constructed from a 1969 Mach 1 Sportsroof, LID was short for Low Investment Drivetrain—mid-engine layout done on the cheap. A Boss 429 engine and C6 automatic transmission were turned around backward and installed over the rear axle centerline, connected to Ford 9-inch center section via a marine-type transfer case. Note the Lincoln wheel covers, used to hide Toronado-style reverse-offset wheels. However, the mid-engine configuration didn’t perform significantly better than the standard Mustang layout, and the single test mule was crushed, reportedly.
Ford has experimented with sport wagon versions of the Mustang on several occasions, including this 1966 studio model, and again in 1976 with a Fox-based prototype complete with vinyl wood on the sides. Does a Mustang shooting brake make sense? What do you think?
A parts-bin special, the 1970 Mustang Quarter Horse, also known as the Composite Mustang, featured a Boss 429 body shell married to the underutilized Shelby front doghouse, a Cougar dash assembly, and a 428 CID Cobra Jet engine. Two proof-of-concept vehicles were built: this Grabber Blue example and the snappy red job in the lead photo at the top of this page. Both cars survived and reside in private collections, reportedly.