Looks better in colour.

How the Mustang got its clothes

Just how the Ford Mustang came to be is an oft told story.

In short, back in early 1960s Ford President Lee Iacocca saw a gap in the American car market for a stylish, inexpensive sporty four-seat coupe that would appeal to the biggest population bubble in history — then baby boomers.

He had no reason to believe they wanted to drive anything like the cars their parents bought. And he was so right.

No car has had as much post war impact as the Mustang. Released for sale on 16 April 16, 1964 it stopped traffic outside of dealerships and sold a mammoth one million in two years

And yet, getting to the final shape was a struggle for Ford’s entire design team.

By late July 1962 they had not been able to develop a shape that Iacocca liked and a car which Henry Ford
II, fresh from the Edsel debacle, would approve.

With a the crucial capital investment decision deadline looming, Iacocca ordered a “bake off” between a dozen
different proposals which had been developed.

He set August 16,1962 as styling decision day.

Ironically, the winning design, was a very late entry and shaped in just 11 days by Ford’s Joe Oros and his team.

Legend has it that when Oros was rolling the clay model out into the viewing courtyard at Ford’s Detroit headquarters his team was still sticking bits of trim to the back end.

It went into production with very few changes.

Initially only the hardtop and convertible were approved for production.

In early 1963, Gale Halderman sketched several proposals for a fastback inspired by the earlier Allegro/Avanti concepts.

Halderman wanted the roofline to extend all the way to the rear edge of the car, a design that would later be adopted on the 1967 fastback.

Despite the fact Mustangs have almost a god like presence today, back in the day they were made just like any other car on fast moving production lines alongside Falcons and Fairlanes by workers who probably wanted to be
somewhere else.

Mustangs were meant to be disposable. After all, they were a fashion item. But what a fashion item!

I have not met anyone who does not think the original Mustang looks sensational. It did back then and it still does now.

But what of those other designs? What did they look like?

Well, we’ve searched Ford’s vaults and found a few of those early design proposals.

We’ll leave it up to you to decide, but we think they made the right choice.

David Burrell is the editor of


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