The Ford Mustang is an automobile manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. It was initially based on the second generation North American Ford Falcon, a compact car. Introduced early on April 17, 1964, as a "1964½" model, the 1965 Mustang was the automaker's most successful launch since the Model A. The model is Ford's third oldest nameplate in production and has undergone several transformations to its current fifth generation.
The Mustang created the "pony car" class of American automobiles—sports car-like coupes with long hoods and short rear decks—and gave rise to competitors such as GM's Chevrolet Camaro, AMC's Javelin, and Chrysler's revamped Plymouth Barracuda. It also inspired coupés such as the Toyota Celica and Ford Capri, which were exported to the United States.
Production of the 1965 Mustang (VIN coded by Ford and titled as 1965 models) began in Dearborn, Michigan on March 9, 1964 and the car was introduced to the public on April 17, 1964 at the New York World's Fair. It is Ford's third oldest nameplate currently in production next to the F-Series pickup truck line (which has undergone major nameplate changes over the years) and the Falcon that is still in production in Australia.Executive stylist John Najjar, who was a fan of the World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane, is credited by Ford to have suggested the name. He was involved in design work on the prototype Ford Mustang I. An alternative view was that Robert J. Eggert, Ford Division market research manager, first suggested the Mustang name. Eggert, a breeder of quarterhorses, received a birthday present from his wife of the book, The Mustangs by J. Frank Dobie in 1960. Later, the book’s title gave him the idea of adding the “Mustang” name for Ford’s new concept car. The designer preferred Cougar or Torino (and an advertising campaign using the Torino name was actually prepared), while Henry Ford II wanted T-bird II. As the person responsible for Ford’s research on potential names, Eggert added “Mustang” to the list to be tested by focus groups; “Mustang,” by a wide margin, came out on top under the heading: “Suitability as Name for the Special Car.” The name could not be used in Germany, however, because it was owned by Krupp, which had manufactured trucks between 1951 and 1964 with the name Mustang. Ford refused to buy the name for about US$10,000 from Krupp at the time. Kreidler, a manufacturer of mopeds, also used the name, so Mustang was sold in Germany as the "T-5" until December 1978.
The 1965 and 1966 Mustangs are differentiated by variations in the exterior, despite similar design. These variations include the emblem on the quarter-panels behind the doors. In 1965 the emblem was a single vertical piece of chrome, while in 1966 the emblem was smaller in height and had three horizontal bars extending from the design, resembling an "E". The front intake grilles and ornaments were also different. The 1965 front grille used a "honeycomb" pattern, while the 1966 version was a "slotted" style. While both model years used the "Horse and Corral" emblem on the grille, the 1965 had four bars extending from each side of the corral, while on the 1966, these bars were removed. 1966 saw introduction of 'High Country Special' limited edition, 333 of them were sold in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska.
As Lee Iacocca's assistant general manager and chief engineer, Donald N. Frey was the head engineer for the T-5 project—supervising the overall development of the car in a record 18 months—while Iacocca himself championed the project as Ford Division general manager. The T-5 prototype was a two-seat, mid-mounted engine roadster. This vehicle employed a Taunus (Ford Germany) V4 engine and was very similar in appearance to the much later Pontiac Fiero.It was claimed that the decision to abandon the two-seat design was in part due to the low sales experienced with the 2-seat 1955 Thunderbird. To broaden market appeal it was later remodeled as a four-seat car (with full space for the front bucket seats, as originally planned, and a rear bench seat with significantly less space than was common at the time). A "Fastback 2+2" model traded the conventional trunk space for increased interior volume as well as giving exterior lines similar to those of the second series of the Corvette Sting Ray and European sports cars such as the Jaguar E-Type.The "Fastback 2+2" was not available as a 1964½ model, but was first manufactured on August 17, 1964.
The new design was styled under the direction of Project Design Chief Joe Oros and his team of L. David Ash, Gale Halderman, and John Foster—in Ford's Lincoln–Mercury Division design studios, which produced the winning design in an intramural design contest instigated by Iacocca.Favorable publicity articles appeared in 2,600 newspapers the next morning, the day the car was "officially" revealed. A Mustang also appeared in the James Bond film Goldfinger in September 1964, the first time the car was used in a movie.
To cut down the development cost and achieve a suggested retail price of US$2,368, the Mustang was based heavily on familiar yet simple components, many of which were already in production for other Ford models. Many (if not most) of the interior, chassis, suspension, and drivetrain components were derived from those used on Ford's Falcon and Fairlane. This use of common components also shortened the learning curve for assembly and repair workers, while at the same time allowing dealers to pick up the Mustang without also having to spend massive amounts of money on spare parts inventories to support the new car line.