Video: Marketing the 1965 Ford Mustang

This 12-minute Ford film from the spring of 1964 provides the blueprint for the car—and the marketing campaign—that changed the Motor City forever. 



Released in the spring of 1964 and originally intended for dealer and factory personnel, this old Ford film prefigures one of the most successful product launches in Motor City history. “Here is a completely new breed of car,” says the announcer. But the Mustang was far more than that. Here was also a new way to market the automobile.

Critics were quick to point out than in many ways, the Mustang was not much more than a repackaged Falcon—a dowdy economy sedan with its components moved around to create a sporty coupe (or convertible). True enough, but with its long hood, short deck, and vibrant styling, the Mustang projected an entirely new and different image to buyers. And with its nearly endless list of appearance, comfort, and performance options, the Mustang could be most anything its owner wanted it to be—from a cute six-cylinder commuter to a V8, four-speed street racer.

Lee Iacocca, often called the father of the Mustang, and his crack Ford product team didn’t stumble across this marketing plan by accident. It was the strategy from the start. At the two-minute mark in our film, the blueprint is unrolled and laid out before us. “Here is a completely new concept in cars,” the narrator reports, “designed to appeal to all classes and income brackets.”  In 1964 this was a revolutionary concept in selling cars, and the market answered back with a roar. Ford was hoping to sell 100,000 Mustangs the first year, but instead sold one million in the first 18 months, and a Motor City legend was born. Video below.


8 thoughts on “Video: Marketing the 1965 Ford Mustang

  1. “Here is a completely new concept in cars,” the narrator reports, “designed to appeal to all classes and income brackets.”

    It doesn’t seem much different from ten years earlier when you had one car that served everyone from the 210 to the Bel Air buyer. I was slightly too young to o grasp the significance of the Mustang, but I still can’t understand how this car succeeded over the restyled Corvair. The Barracuda was more distinctive, but the styling wasn’t as crisp as the competition and the Valiant front clip was a handicap compared to the unique Mustang one.

  2. Are the cars carrying sand bags in the trunk? I would think that they would use cars that don’t sag in the back.

    • All those 60s Ford are bum down, a bit unusual for a passenger car which usually are tail up to carry weight. Though a Mustang boot [trunk] was fairly small as was the back seat room.
      Bring the nose down a bit and they handle better at high speed.
      I feel some of that was filmed on Pikes Peak, the background looks the same.
      With the Mustang, T Bird and Galaxie together the Mustang looks modern, the Galaxie looks elegant and the T Bird old!
      Mustangs used a lot of Falcon parts for sure. But it is NOT a Falcon floor though the basic design is very similar. I have friends with both 66 Mustang and 66 Falcon Coupe [Australian] and they are quite a deal different in undercar dimensions. And drive quite differently too.
      The clip almost made me want to go buy one! But they are common unlike my 71 Galaxie! Here in South Australia

    • Interesting thing, those early six cylinder Mustangs with 4 stud wheels also had different suspension to the V8s. It must have cost more to build 2 models in one car than use the same rolling chassis.
      Lots of people have learnt that thinking a 6 is a cheap way of building a V8. It is the most expensive!

  3. The cars have pre-production grille inserts minus the horizontal bars. The film must be very early.

  4. Very interesting film. There is no doubt that the advertizing campaign for the ‘64 Mustang literally, not figuratively, literally created the “Pony Car” market. Even though, as you correctly point out, it was basically a glorified Falcon.

    Mentioning Lee Iacocca made me think of some of the other legendary auto exec’s, the people who had a vision and a passion and a love of all things automotive. As opposed to the current crop of auto exec’s that seem to be a bunch of biz school MBA’ers whose vision and passion extend to ( but not beyond ) what the stock price will be at the end of the next quarter.

    This is a little OT but what I found interesting was where the film was shot and who made it. It was shot in Colorado Springs Colorado. I recognized Pikes Peak in the background of several shots, Garden of the Gods park, the Pikes Peak highway and the Flying W ranch. I am positive that it was done by Alexander Film Company, located in the Springs. Alexander Film did a bunch of Ford and GM films. They were responsible for the famous 1964 Chevy on top of the spire in Monument Valley ad, which won a bunch of awards.

  5. Chris – not familiar with the filmmaker but you’re right about the backgrounds – Garden of the Gods (Balanced Rock) and Pike’s Peak Highway.
    Like you, OT – Zora Arkus-Duntov drove a 1955 185hp “small block” Chevy V8 up Pike’s Peak and set an elapsed time record, then, for the 1956 model year and a 205hp “small block”, broke the previous year’s time leading to Chevy’s advertising slogan “The Hot One’s Even Hotter.”
    BTW I’m retired from the Chevrolet Engineering Center in Warren, MI.
    On a trip down south in April, 1964, the countryside was flooded with billboards advertising the Mustang with a price of $2499.00

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