1964.5-1968 original pony car


Introduction: It seems everybody has a favorite Mustang. With so many different generations to choose from the list is varied. To some, a '66 convertible, red with a white top, a Pony interior and a 289 is the best ever. Or how about a fastback with the HiPo V8 and GT package? Ever heard a Boss 302 thunder around a race track? Others consider the 5.0L Mustangs the best ever largely because of the variety of low cost add-on parts available. These cars are relatively inexpensive to buy and to modify. The 4.6L DOHC Cobras come ready to run from the factory.

Mustang "Pre-History" In the early '60s the only American sports car was the Corvette at a price too high for most. The Thunderbird had grown into a large luxury car (and Ford heard many complaints about this). Imported sports cars, mostly from England, were selling well. Within a few years the post-war baby boomers would be buying their first car. The Mustang II concept car generated a lot of excitement and led directly to the first Mustang less than a year later. Ford was not unaware of how popular the car would be. They announced when the first television commercial would be shown and 29 million people tuned in to see it. The next day, the first day of availability, Ford sold 22,000 Mustangs.

First Mustang off the assembly line One of the first magazine ads The Mustang, introduced in April 1964, was built on the compact Falcon's platform and came with a Falcon suspension--soft springs and four-wheel drum brakes. The '64½ was actually considered a '65 by Ford, but many people now use the terms to differentiate changes made by Ford after mid-August 1964. At this time there were engine changes, the Mustang switched from a generator to an alternator plus interior and exterior color revisions.

The car was 181 inches long. It was originally offered with three engines—a 170 C.I. six cylinder, a 260 C.I. 2 bbl V8 or a 289 C.I. 4 bbl V8 and came with a three-speed, four-speed or automatic. In '65 the 170 six and 260 V8 were dropped for a 200 six and a 289 2bbl V8. A GT package available on the two versions of the 289 4bbl V8's tightened up the suspension. The High Performance 289 helped straight-line fun with a gross HP rating of 271, probably about 200 net. In '65 the first Shelby prepped Mustang, the GT350, became available. The early Shelbys were the most race-like of the Shelby Mustangs. In later years they were done in house by Ford and and lost some of their sporting edge. Shelby built an average of 2,000 cars a year from 1965 to 1970. The '65 Shelby GT350 came with a 306 HP version of the HiPo motor. In '66 a 400 HP supercharged version was also available.

Prices? The base price upon introduction was \\$2320 (6-cylinder, 3 speed). A '65 fastback "K code" GT with a 4-speed (271 HP engine package and the GT handling package) was less than \\$3200. A GT350 was $4550. The base price of a Corvette was \\$4320. The GT was a $150 dollar option that included quick ratio steering, front disc brakes, dial guages and fog lights. Related Events 1962 Shelby introduces his new car based on a ten year old British sports car with an American V8, called the Cobra.

Ford unveils a new car at the start of the U.S. Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, the Mustang. 1963 While waiting for the introduction of the Mustang, Ford introduced the Falcon Sprint package with a V8, tachometer and special trim. Ford tries and fails to buy Ferrari. 1964 First of the Post WWII Baby Boomers entering their late teens. 1965 Ralph Nader's "Unsafe at Any Speed" published 1966 Unemployment drops to 4% and stays there until 1970 The millionth Mustang is built just before its second birthday in March 1966. First legislation requiring exhaust emission control devices enacted. In September 1966 Chevrolet introduces the Camaro. Wilson Pickett releases the hit single "Mustang Sally" Mustang sales were over 6% of the total U.S. car market. The Mustang grew about 2 inches in length and width. The engine compartment was able to take a big block now. This was in response to the pony car competition--the Camaro SS 396. A 390 C.I. V8 was offered in '67 and the 428 in '68. The 390 didn't match the Camaro's power, but the 428 did. The 428's HP rating of 335 was very conservative in order to "fool" the insurance companies (it was dyno'ed at the time to be about 400 HP). These big blocks had lots of torque and HP, but the cars were nose heavy and didn't handle as well as the 289's. Before the 428 came along a race bred 427 was offered for a short while, but this engine was too expensive to build and maintain. In '68 the 289 was stroked to 302 to help keep HP up as smog controls were already starting to eat at the power.

The Shelby offered the 428 in '67 as a GT500. In late '68 the GT500KR (King of the Road) came out with the Cobra Jet version of the 428. The 428CJ was mostly the work of Tasca Ford, a dealer in Providence, RI. The car dominates the NHRA "stock" classes.