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Ford Mustang – The Early Years

Ford Mustang – The Early Years

1964 to 1973

It was in 1961 that Vice President and General Manager of Ford Lee Iacocca had a vision of a four seat car with bucket seats with a floor-mounted stick shift that weighed less than 2,500 pounds and sold for only $2,500. Funding was approved for the project in the fall of 1962, but it wasn’t until March 9, 1964 that the first Mustang finally rolled off of the assembly line.

The Mustang was derived from the Falcon. Many of the components from the Falcon were incorporated in the first Mustangs to keep the cost down, including the drive train components. With many options available for the consumer to choose from, the advertising slogan was “the car to be designed by you.”

With an aggressive advertising campaign, over 22,000 Ford Mustangs were sold on the very first day that the car was available. By the end of 1964, over 250,000 Mustangs had been sold. In the first 12 months, the sales figure was over 400,000.


The first model was eventually called the 1964 ½ due to the short model year. The 1964 car was available in a coup and a convertible. The early engine choices included a 170 cu in/ 101 HP/ 6 cylinder, a 260 cu in / 164 HP / V-8, and a 289/ 210 HP/ V8. By June of 1964, Ford released a super fast version of the Mustang with a 289 cu in V8 with a four barrel carburetor and a solid lift cam which pushed the power up to 271 HP.

With a 4 speed transmission and weighing in at only 2,500lbs, this was a fast car in its day.


The Mustang 2+2 Fastback was introduced in 1965. This new model would eventually become the basis of the infamous Carol Shelby GT350. The standard 289 engine was upgraded to 225 HP.

This was also the year that the interior option known as the pony interior was introduced. The package included seat covers with running horses displayed across the seat back.


The 1966 Mustangs were very similar to their 1965 counterparts. Three body styles were sold, including the Mustang GT Coupe, the Mustang GT Convertible, and the Mustang GT Fastback. This was the year the three fingered rear quarter panel ornament was introduced. The number of color options available to customers increased to 34. Production in 1966 was over 600,000 units.


It was in 1967 that the first major overhaul of the body style took place. The height increased by ½”. The length increased by 2 ¾”.

A new power-plant was introduced, the 390 cu in big block generating 320 HP, enough power to smoke the rear tires at will. Ford introduced the new FMX transmission in 1967 as well allowing for manual or automatic shifting.

Production in 1967 had fallen back to 472,000 cars.


In 1968, several regional models were sold such as the California Special and the High Country Special. The 289 was replaced with a 230 HP / 302 cu in / V8. New for 1968 was an optional AM/FM stereo.


In 1969, Ford introduced 2 special engines: the Boss 302 and the Boss 429. This was also the first year for the new standard 351 cu in V8.


The 1970 models included the Mustang Coupe and the Mustang Grande. Ford eliminated the 390 cu in engine in 1970 and replaced it with the new 351 cu in Cleveland engine. The Cleveland was available in both a 2 barrel carburetor model and a 4 barrel version.

1971 & 1972

In 1971, Ford offered 3 body styles: the Mustang Coupe, the Mustang Grand, and the Mustang Mach 1. Power-plant choices included the 330 HP / 351 Boss and a robust 370 HP / 429 cu in engine.


This was the last year of the classic pony car. The popular muscle car would be replaced by a compact car with a small engine. The 1973 model was virtually the same as the 1971 and 1972 versions.