Up Close: 1963 Mustang II Prototype
A Pair of Mustang Sleuths Get a Rare Look at the Original Prototype
Mustang II Specifics
The most noticeable feature is the nose with its grille-covered headlights and curved valance. Adam pointed out that the nose is integral to the two front fenders—they are all one piece. I commented that it was an amazing fiberglass creation, but Mark Haas set me straight—the nose is all steel. He added that the fenders are steel with generous amounts of body filler added to produce the final shape. Both the front and rear lack a bumper, but it’s not all that obvious. Another unique feature is the removable hard top. The car also sits four inches closer to the ground than a production ’65 Mustang.
The “II” came with an electric trunk release, an emergency brake concealed underneath the car, and 5-lug wheels. The frame was cut to fit certain items, and rubber was placed between each leaf spring to keep them from squeaking at the auto shows. The 4-speed transmission is original. The gas pedal is hinged at the base like the Falcon instead of free hanging as found in Mustangs. All four tires are original. The fiberglass-backed Naugahyde two-tone seat covers showed some cracking, but were still very attractive.
The Mustang emblem in the middle of the back seat rest, and originally found on the front fenders, is more graphically detailed than the ones on mass produced Mustangs, and the running horse is in more of in a bucking position. The original front shocks are stamped, and the chromed oil dip stick has a fancy handle and some nice engraving near the tip. Because the seats were farther back than the Falcon to give it a sportier look, the Mustang II got Mustang floor pans. The two bullet chromed side mirrors are a nice touch.
The original 289 Hi-Po engine is equipped with dual Holley four-barrels, a high-rise aluminum intake manifold, and vintage ’65 Shelby valve covers and air filter. Someone had crudely formed galvanized sheet metal to make the air filter cover. The Holley 4672 carbs were date stamped to indicate they were manufactured the fourth week of March 1966. According to former Ford carburetor department employee and Owls Head Museum volunteer Jim Westervelt, they were added to the Mustang II later. Westervelt recalls setting up the Mustang II’s original 4-barrel carburetor after DST returned the completed product; he was one of the few who drove the Mustang II on the Ford test track.
Peter Curtis, Automotive Conservator at Owls Head, befriended several DST employees over the years and learned that the Mustang II began life as a hardtop, was later set up as a convertible, and finally switched to a removable hardtop before being delivered to Ford. You can still see the convertible brackets and hinges.
Peter also learned from DST employees that the lifters on the 289 are unique; they contain a special wax that expands when hot. “When the engine is cold, it sounds like a normal 289,” Peter points out. “When hot, it sounds like a dragster.”
The passenger side inner front fender holds the car’s serial number, X 8902-SB-208, with “X” denoting it as an experimental model and “208” as the sequential number for prototypes. The radiator has a date tag of August 23, 1963, and the export brace behind the air filter has a long string of stampings that we could not decipher. The heater core hose has been disconnected, and the radiator hoses and clamps have been replaced.