[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he hype surrounding the Ford Mustang before it was launched in 1964 was unlike anything Ford had ever experienced.
The concept vehicle was put on show and numerous pictures were circulated to the worldwide press, leading to thousands of letters pouring in from across the globe from people wanting to know if Ford was really going to build this dream machine.
This in turn created the opportunity for Ford’s very first International Press Introduction of an automobile on April 13, 1964. The event was broadcast to 11 European cities and covered by over 2,000 reporters.
Ford Executive Lee Iacocca, who spearheaded the development of the Mustang, introduced it as a new line for Ford, with versatility as its key attribute. The Mustang was to be an economical, compact car with the style of an expensive European model along with high performance capabilities – the muscle car as we know it today.
“We don’t claim the Mustang is a universal car, or that it can be all things to all people,” Iacocca told the press. “But we do believe the Mustang will be more things to more people than any other automobile on the road… We like to think that in the process we have achieved a new dimension in American motoring – perhaps in world motoring.”
Four days later, on April 17, 1964, the Mustang went on sale and the demand and the hype for Ford’s new baby skyrocketed. Mustang sales were huge: 22,000 cars on the first day, 418,810 Mustangs in the first year, and two years later more than a million Ford Mustangs were on the road.
The all-new Mustang has received a similar reception: according to global IHS Automotive registration data, during the first six months of 2015 the Mustang was the best-selling sports car in the world. Customers globally registered 76,124 vehicles. Then the Mustang beat its rivals in Germany to become the top-selling sports car on the autobahns for March 2016.
The First One
In 1964, 22-year-old Gail Brown was touring the showroom floor at Johnson Ford in Chicago with her parents, looking for a car of her own. She was an elementary school teacher, and had been using her mother’s 1957 Ford Fairlane convertible to get to work.
The salesman, took her to the storeroom where, still under a cover, was a new Skylight Blue 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible. Brown borrowed money from her parents and bought the Mustang for US$3,419, becoming the first recorded buyer of what went on to become an American icon.
The Extreme One
Tuned generously and handsomely modified, a 1965 Ford Mustang notchback is the base of professional rally driver and Gymkhana legend Ken Block’s “Hoonicorn RTR”. With its 4.7-litre Roush Yates V8 producing 485hp, it’s a far cry from the 164hp 4.2-litre V8 engine of the Skylight Blue that caught the attention of a young schoolteacher in 1964.
Block’s unique, one-of-a-kind, world’s first all-wheel drive 1965 Ford Mustang notchback features a six-speed Sadev SC90-24 with a hydraulic handbrake system, a custom ASD Motorsports-designed geometry and components suspension system, and 18-inch wheels. Since being unveiling in 2014, the Hoonicorn Mustang has become a star in its own right, alongside drifting superstar Block, in the Gymkhana series.
The Young One.
For the first time in its history, the Ford Mustang is officially available in Nigeria with limited left-hand drive Mustangs having been allotted to the country.
Today the 2016 Mustang GT with its 5.0-litre V8 engine pumping out 435 hp features the return of hood vent-integrated turn signals, something fans have been clamouring for, influencing Ford to bring back the popular feature as standard equipment on the new model.
New colour options make the Mustang more personalised than ever, while added features like SYNC®2 with conversational voice recognition, smartphone-like touch screen, and intuitive graphical interface proving that the old certainly does mesh beautifully with the new.
An American Icon
Today’s Mustang has a 52-year-old legacy and is considered one of the greatest automotive success stories of all time.
Snce Iacocca’s speech at the World Fair in New York, more than 8.7 million have been sold globally – a new dimension in world motoring indeed.