In June 28 issue, Russell County News By Ron Cowell, Columnist
For a car enthusiast, knowing the history of the Ford Mustang is as basic as knowing when to get out of the rain in a downpour. The Mustang is a big part of American History, and the car that brought sporting styling at a price almost anyone could afford.
The Mustang has never been an exotic car. Even the rarest, most powerful Mustangs ever built, such as the ‘69 Boss 429, were assembled with care by a workforce facing a quick-moving, continuous production line with parts that were shared in common with six-cylinder Falcons, four-door Fairlanes and stripped Galaxies.
But that hasn’t kept the Mustang from capturing the hearts of drivers for nearly 40 years. As ordinary a car as the Mustang has always been, it has always been attractive. Baby boomers would rule the ‘60s and there was little reason to think they wanted cars that were anything like their parents’ cars.
The production Mustang was shown to the public for the first time inside the Ford Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964. It went on sale at Ford dealers that same day.
The 1964 1/2 production Mustang followed two Mustang concept cars. The Mustang I shown in 1962 was a two-seater powered by a V4. The Mustang II show car first displayed at the United States Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, N.Y., during October 1963, was a front-engine, four-seater.
That was the production machine that went on sale six months later. Compared to every other American car then in production, except the Corvette, the Mustang was gorgeously sleek.
To make the Mustang affordable it needed to share much of its engineering with an existing Ford product. That product was the smallest Ford of the time, the compact Falcon. In fact, the first Mustangs were built in the same Dearborn, Mich., plant as the Falcon.
Initially offered as either a notch back coupe or convertible, the Mustang’s uni-body structure was laid over a 108 inch wheel base and stretched out 181.6 inches from bumper to bumper. While it shared its front double-wishbone/coil spring and leaf spring rear suspension as well as its overall length with the Falcon, the proportions of the Mustang were different. Detailed with such touches as the running horse in the grille, the side scallops along the taillights divided into three sections, the Mustang became a car people were instantly passionate about.
A three-speed manual transmission was standard with every engine except the 271-horse 289, which was available only with the four-speed manual that was optional on other models. The Cruise-O-Matic three-speed automatic transmission was also offered. Nothing could stop the 1964 1/2 Mustang, especially not its four-wheel drum brakes and with Ford adding production capacity for the “pony car” at plants around the country.
The company sold an amazing 126,538 of them during that abbreviated 1964 model year — 97,705 coupes and 28,833 convertibles. The V8s outsold Mustangs equipped with the six by nearly three to one.
The three most significant additions to the Mustang for 1965 were the neat 2+2 fastback body, the optional GT equipment and trim package and optional power front disc brakes. Gone forever was the 260 V8 that few buyers were choosing anyhow.
Even Ford was shocked at the response for the Mustang during ‘65. It sold an astounding 409,260 coupes, 77,079 2+2 fastbacks and 73,112 convertibles that year. That’s a total of 559,451 Mustangs for the ‘65 model year. In Jan of 1965 Carroll Shelby came into the picture.
Shelby added such performance items as oversize front disc brakes, a fiberglass hood and a lowered suspension with oversize tires on 15-inch wheels. Shelby’s legendary series of modified Mustangs would be built through 1970 in various forms and are today considered some of the most desirable Mustangs ever built.
The easiest way to tell the 1966 Mustang from the ‘65 is the later car’s lack of horizontal or vertical dividing bars in the grille — the running horse logo seems to float unsupported in the ‘66’s slatted grille.
Other changes were limited to color variations, a revised instrument cluster and a few trim tweaks. The ‘66 was even more popular than the ‘65 and Ford sold 607,568 of them.
If your Car Club is having an event you would like us to tell everyone about drop me a line with all the information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All information on events needs to be turned in at least two weeks before the event.
Also with summer here you may want to have one of the Clubs in the County bring their cars for display at your club or church or function. Once again drop me a line and I will get you in touch with the Clubs in the area. The clubs of Russell County are more than happy to show off their cars. Till next time, Keep Cruisin'.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
P.O. Box 190
120 Wilson St.
Russell Springs KY 42642
Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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Jamestown KY 42629