It started as a piece of marketing genius and grew into America’s most famous muscle car.
Launched in 1964 at the New York World’s Fair the Mustang took America by storm. Hotshot executive Lee Lacocca arranged for it to be displayed in a giant Disney-designed pavilion called the Wonder Rotunda which traced wonders through time from the dinosaurs and the pyramids to… the Mustang. 22,000 orders were taken on the first day alone; an unequalled feat to this day. One reason why this emblem of the baby boomer generation sold half a million cars in a year was that it broke dramatically with the style of the obese, finned, chromed cars of the late 1950’s.
Instead the Mustang was a sleek and sporty passenger car that became a pop culture icon. Ford ruthlessly exploited this by offering a myriad of trim and engine options, and the Mustang was available with anything from a 100bhp ‘six’ to a 450bhp V8 which was practically race ready.
The Mustang created a whole new market segment named in its honour as ‘Pony Cars’. The Pontiac Trans Am, Chevrolet Camaro, AMC Javelin, Dodge Challenger and even Fords own European Mustang – the Capri, all came along in its wake but none could beat the original. The science of car marketing would never be the same again.