Ford Mustang Turns Forty - 40 Years Of Mustang Milestones
These Things Have Kept The Mustang Running Strong For The Past Four Decades
August 1964:Fastback IntroducedThe Mustang's sporty image was further enhanced in late summer 1964 with the introduction of the 2+2, a fastback version with a sleek roofline that swept back to the trunk. With functional vents on the C-pillars and a fold-down rear seat that opened into the trunk for increased cargo area, the fastback added yet another reason for people to purchase a Mustang. Fastbacks added 68,784 units to the Mustang's already record-breaking 1965 sales figures.
January 27, 1965:Shelby GT350 IntroducedIntroduced in the midst of Ford's Total Performance campaign, the Mustang needed more of a performance image than a 289 High-Performance engine in a standard fastback. The answer came from Carroll Shelby, who was successfully campaigning Ford-powered Cobras at racetracks around the world. Iacocca wanted the Mustang to be involved in SCCA production racing, so he approached his old friend Shelby about turning the Mustang into a race car. The result was the '65 GT350 with a 306hp version of the 289 Hi-Po, numerous suspension modifications, side-exiting exhaust, and a fiberglass panel in place of the rear seat to turn the GT350 into a two-seater sports car to fit into SCCA's production class rules. All '65 Shelbys were Wimbledon White with Guardsman Blue side stripes, although the optional LeMans stripes over the top quickly became synonymous with Shelbys. The Shelby Mustangs, with a GT500 model added in 1967, would anchor the Mustang's performance image for the next five years.
February 14, 1965:Shelby R-Model Wins First RaceOn Valentine's Day, 1965, driver Ken Miles showed the love to other SCCA B/Production competitors at Green Valley Raceway in north Texas by winning the first race the GT350 ever entered. The R-Models, as the race versions were known, went on to capture the B/Production championship in 1965.
April 17, 1965:GT and Interior Dcor Group DebutExactly one year to the day after the Mustang's official introduction, Ford added to the option palate two new and attractive packages. The GT option, available only with the 289 4V and High-Performance engines, added grille-mounted fog lights, side stripes and emblems, trumpet exhaust tips, standard front disc brakes, a five-dial instrument cluster, and a quicker steering ratio. For the inside, the Interior Dcor Group jazzed up the cockpit with luxury seats (with running ponies embossed into the seatbacks, thus inspiring the "Pony Interior" name), molded door panels, woodgrain on the five-dial instrument cluster and glovebox door, and other premium components.
November 2, 1965:Hertz Orders First GT350H ShelbysAdding to the legend of the Mustang was the fact that the Hertz Corporation offered a GT350H version of the Shelby Mustang as a rental car to members of the Hertz Sports Car Club. The first 100 cars were ordered in early November 1965, followed by a subsequent order for 100 more, then a final order for another 800, bringing GT350H production to 1,000. Most were painted in the Hertz corporate colors-black with gold-although some were built in other Shelby colors, but always with the gold stripes. Most of the cars were equipped with automatic transmissions, and some later versions were fitted with piggyback brake master cylinders to assist with the nonpower metallic-lined brakes.
February 23, 1966:One-Millionth Mustang ProducedNothing underscored the Mustang's runaway success better than the fact that one million were sold in less than two years. Both Lee Iacocca and Product Planning Manager Donald Frey showed up at the end of the Dearborn Assembly Plant line for the One-Millionth Mustang celebration photo op with a specially lettered '66 convertible. That's Iacocca opening the door for Frey in the photo