15 Facts About the Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang is an iconic American vehicle. It's been a part of American history for more than 50 years, and more than nine million Mustangs have been sold to date. This sporty pony car has broad appeal and has been beloved by many since its introduction. But even if you consider yourself a die hard Mustang lover, you may not know everything about them. We've discovered 15 interesting and important facts about the Ford Mustang, from its explosive sales to its legendary racing prowess. Read on to learn more about the pony car that America fell in love with.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #1: The Ford Mustang was a breakout hit.
The Ford Mustang was introduced in 1964. On the first day of its release, more than 22,000 Mustangs were sold. In the first year, 418,810 Mustangs were sold, and more than one million were on the road within the Mustang's first two years -- which is still the fastest time for any new nameplate to reach that sales volume. In its early days, the Mustang was sold just as fast as Ford could build them. In fact, the fervor for Mustangs was so intense that there's a legend floating around of one Texas driver who slept in his new Mustang at the dealership overnight while his check cleared just to be sure the car wouldn't be sold out from underneath him.
By 1965, the Mustang was the most popular car in America. By 1966, nearly 2.5 million Mustangs were produced, and the Mustang moved Ford into the biggest selling domestic line in America, ahead of Chevrolet. Original sales forecasts expected the Mustang to sell less than 100,000 units in its first year, a benchmark that the model blew past at only three months old. The Mustang was so popular that even thousands of children wanted to get to drive one: in the Christmas season following the Mustang's debut, 94,000 pedal powered toy Mustangs were sold. The Mustang remained incredibly popular for decades, with six figure sales from 1964 to 1990.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #2: The very first Mustang was sold on accident.
The first Mustang, a convertible model with the VIN 5F08F100001, was intended to be used as a model to be sent on a tour of dealerships. But in Newfoundland, the vehicle was accidentally sold to a customer. That customer was an airline pilot who kept it and drove it for about 10,000 miles before trading it back to Ford for an equally auspicious numbered Mustang: Mustang number 1,000,001. Fortunately, Ford was able to preserve the first Mustang after the customer returned it, and the vehicle is on display at the Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
There are a number of other stories about the "first" Mustang, including a claim by Southern Methodist University's head coach Hayden Fry
, who said that Ford's vice president Lee Iacocca sold him the first Ford Mustang painted in SMU's colors for just $1.
And then there's Gail Wise, an elementary school teacher who bought a Mustang to make her commute to the suburbs more fun
. A salesman revealed it to her from under a tarp, and she bought it two days before the Mustang was introduced at the New York World's Fair. It was the first Mustang to be sold to the public -- and she has the dated bill of sale to prove it. Wise and her husband Tom still own the Mustang today, and it was fully restored in 2007.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #3: The Ford Mustang created a car class of its own.
When the Ford Mustang was released, there was no such thing as a "pony car." But once Ford's sporty automobile was introduced, a new class was born. Dubbed the "pony car" with reverence to the Mustang's equine roots, this class of sporty coupes have long hoods and short rear decks. These vehicles are typically affordable, compact, and highly styled with an image that reflects performance. Typically marketed to younger drivers, most fell short of true muscle car power with six cylinder engines or regular V8s without performance power.
Eventual competitors in this class included the Pontiac Firebird, Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro, Plymouth Barracuda, and AMC Javelin. And while pony cars dipped in popularity in the 70s as buyers moved toward smaller compact cars or large luxury models, the Mustang brought excitement for the class back again in 2005 with the new Mustang. This led Dodge to bring back the Challenger in 2008, and Chevrolet reintroduced the Camaro in 2010.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #4: Mustangs have been in uninterrupted production since the model's introduction.
Since its debut in 1964, the Ford Mustang has continued to be in production, unlike close competitors like the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird. Until 2004, the Ford Mustang was built at Ford's Dearborn Assembly Plant. Also in 2004, Ford produced the Mustang GT convertible 40th anniversary edition: the 300 millionth car to be produced by the manufacturer. In 2005, production of the new Mustang began at the Flat Rock, Michigan Plant.
However, the Mustang wasn't originally planned to be assembled in Michigan. Ford vice president Lee Iacocca convinced Ford board members to develop a second assembly plant in California -- which turned out to be a financial failure. On April 17, 2014, the Mustang officially turned 50 years old. The Mustang is one of fewer than 10 model nameplates to have continuous production for more than 50 years without missing a model year.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #5: Racing has always been in the Mustang's blood.
The original prototype of the Ford Mustang was driven around the Grand Prix circuit at Watkins Glen, and in the end, the time was only a few seconds off from the times of Formula 1 cars, establishing the Mustang as a capable speedster. In 1964, just about a month after the model was introduced, a Mustang served as pace car for the Indianapolis 500. And through the years, racing's love affair with Mustangs has only continued. Mustangs won their first visit to the Tour de France, and won the Factory Stock Eliminator Class at the 1965 National Hot Rod Association's Winternationals.
Racing wins for the Mustang continued through the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s, with notable wins including the NHRA Pro Stock title and 67 short track oval feature races with Dick Trickle. John Force's Ford Mustang hit a 4.72 second quarter mile pass in the 2003 NHRA Sears Craftsman Nationals. Force's mustang is the winningest Mustang in the world with 44 wins. In 2010, Ford Racing worked to design the new Boss 302R race car, and the Ford Mustang joined the NASCAR Nationwide Series for full time racing.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #6: Ford has built almost a countless number of special edition Mustangs, variants, and options.
Within each model release, most Mustangs have a common outward appearance, but as one of the most customized models in history, there's almost no telling how many different engine packages, styling options, and third party modifications are available in any particular model year. The Mustang has a virtually unlimited number of variants, including the GT, Shelby, Saleen, Cobra, SVT, Bullitt, Mach 1, and Boss. There's even the Special Service Package designed for law enforcement.
Many were made with limited production or offered alternative styling or performance upgrades, and others offer experimental concepts. Under the hood, engine power ranges from 101 horsepower to 390 horsepower or more. Of course, individual owners may also make modifications to styling and performance that further permeate the amazing number of options available to Mustang owners.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #7: The Mustang was almost called a Cougar.
The car that created the pony class was almost named after a cat. Early sketches show the Mustang model named as a Cougar, and there were a number of badges and emblems designed with the name as late as 1963. In fact, the cougar silhouette looks similar to the mustang horse emblem that Mustangs have. Other names that were considered include the Torino, Bronco, Puma, Colt, Thunderbird II, and Panther.
But thanks to intense market research, Ford settled on the Mustang, and the rest is history. Of course, Ford later debuted the Mercury Cougar, so the name wasn't entirely lost -- just misplaced for a while. Many say the Mustang name came from the World War II fighter plane with the same name, others maintain that it's named after the half wild American Mustang horse.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #8: An all American car, the two most popular Mustang colors throughout history have been red and blue.
For more than 50 years, red and blue have been the color preference of Ford Mustang owners. In all time overall color popularity
, red comes in first with 21% and blue is a close second at 17%. Silver is not far behind at 14%, and white garners 13% of Mustang colors. Blue was particularly popular when the Mustang was introduced, while white took over in the mid to late 70s. By the 80s and 90s, red was established as a clear winner for Mustang colors. In fact, about one in five of all Mustangs built have been painted a shade of red. Now, black has become the most popular color in late generation mustangs.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #9: The Mustang was introduced to serve as an affordable option for drivers who want it all.
You've probably heard that it's impossible to get anything that's good, fast, and cheap all at the same time. Instead, you'll have to pick two. But Ford designed the Mustang to appeal to young car buyers who wanted it all. They wanted a sexy car with racing roots at a cheap price, and they got it in the Mustang, which originally sold for less than $2,500. The Mustang was marketed not just to men with a muscle car image, but women as well. Mustangs appealed to secretaries, teachers, and stay at home moms.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #10: Mustangs are movie stars.
The Mustang has always been a good looking car, and those looks and legendary performance have propelled it to star status. The Mustang received star treatment in Bullitt
, featured on the action thriller movie's poster right along with Steve McQueen. Ford loaned two Mustang GT fastbacks to Warner Brothers as part of a promotional agreement for the film, and in late 1977 McQueen unsuccessfully attempted to buy one of them, which was originally sold to a Warner Brothers employee. It's rumored to be kept in a barn by an unknown owner. In 2008, Ford released the Mustang Bullitt model in honor of the film's 40th anniversary.
The Mustang has also starred in movies including James Bond films such as Goldfinger
and Diamonds are Forever
. And in the original Gone in 60 Seconds
, the Ford Mustang received star billing as Eleanor. Eleanor was revived as a 1967 Mustang fastback in the 2000 remake of Gone in 60 Seconds
with Nicolas Cage. All told, the Ford Mustang has appeared in more than 3,000 different movies and TV shows.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #11: A Mustang was at the heart of the first American LeMans win.
In 1966, the Ford GT40 won the Le Mans race in France. This win was the first Le Mans win for an American manufacturer and started a new era of performance racing for Ford. Following this win, famous racers including A.J Foyt and Mario Andretti won races with Ford powered engines. While the Ford GT40 was not a Mustang, it did have many of the design and engineering innovations that were a part of the original two seat Mustang prototype unveiled in 1962.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #12: Ford considered making a station wagon version of the Mustang.
Let's not forget that the sporty Mustang was marketed not just to young hot rodders, but young adults with families, too. At one point, Ford considered offering a family car that could haul more than groceries with the Mustang Aspen station wagon. In fact, Ford is rumored to have created two Mustang Aspen station wagons in 1966, but if they exist, few if any people have seen them in the light of day. Still, a handful of custom Mustang station model builds
exist, and even a yacht builder planned to build a custom sport wagon based on the Ford Shelby GT500
Facts About Ford Mustangs #13: Mustang boasts a long list of awards.
The Mustang has been honored with awards since its creation. The 1965 Mustang was honored with the Tiffany Gold Medal of excellence in American design. It was the first car to ever win this award. Through the years, the Mustang has racked up a number of other awards, including spots on the Car and Driver
Ten Best list multiple times in 1983, 1987, 1988, 2005, 2006, and 2011. Additionally, the Mustang won the Motor Trend
Car of the Year award in 1974 and 1994.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #14: The most expensive Mustang sold at auction went for more than $1 million.
An iconic vehicle, rare and notable Mustangs often command top bids at public auctions. In May 2013, a 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake sold for $1.3 million. The vehicle is incredibly rare: only one initial test car was built, and this one is it, making it an incredibly rare and sought after Mustang. There is one other Mustang that's believed to be worth more: a 1968 Shelby EXP 500 Green Hornet with a number of notable experimental upgrades. The last time it was up for auction, it reached a top bid of $1.8 million in a January 2013 auction -- but that still wasn't enough to meet the reserve price. The vehicle remains with its original owner until a suitable offer can be found. Several other Mustangs have reached sales prices between $500,000 and $1 million, making this model incredibly valuable at auction.
Facts About Ford Mustangs #15: Mustangs were marketed heavily at their introduction and many were placed on display throughout the United States and Canada.
Ford designed a major marketing blitz to kick off the initial release of the Mustang. The day before it was unveiled, Ford developed programs for three major TV networks that were seen by 29 million people during prime time TV. The Mustang was also taken out on the road quite a bit, with displays in major metropolitan sites including airport terminals, hotels, and on billboards. And in 1965, Ford went so far as to slice a 1966 Mustang into four parts to take it up the Empire State Building's passenger elevator to the 86th floor observation deck. The Mustang was then reassembled on the deck -- and later disassembled and brought back down.