Amie Williams
Associate Online Editor
September 12, 2013
Photos By: Ford Archives

The running pony is the most identifiable symbol when it comes to the Ford Mustang. It may not have been if designers went with calling this new car the Avanti, Allegro or Torino. Even Gale Halderman’s design chosen for the basis for the production model was originally called “Cougar” until the Mustang name was finalized.

Phil Clark’s Sketchy Mustang

Starting in the early summer of 1962, Troutman and Barnes – a race car constructor based out of California – assembled the running version of the Mustang 1 Concept. That’s when Ford designers got together to review sketches for badging this new car. With a name like Mustang it needed to reflect the horse and America. Phil Clark was busy sketching ideas for the badge for several years and the team preferred the galloping horse with a red, white and blue tri-bar design.

Gale Halderman’s Cougar Design

While this Mustang concept was being finalized in September of 1962, a competition was held between Ford designers where Gale Halderman’s design was chosen as the basis for the running pony logo. Each design had a name and Halderman’s was called “Cougar.” The grille featured a stylized big cat inside what would eventually be called the pony corral. There was a debate on which way the Cougar or pony should face, so various design models from 1962-1964 can be found with the logos facing in either direction.

Charles Keresztes Model

In 1963, Ford was getting ready for a second concept based on the first production prototype body that would sport the Mustang II name. The first pony logos were too tall to fit into the grille corral. Design studio modeler Charles Keresztes created a new version of the pony for the grille and pony car. Here is his final wooden sculpture of the grille pony.

Here is the 1963 Mustang II concept that made a public appearance (October 1963) with the pony in the grille.

Other Grille Ponies (3 photos facing different ways)

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Lee Iacocca said: “the Mustang is a wild horse, not a domesticated racer,” so the designer Gene Halderman felt that the pony should always face left. Frank Thomas who worked on the name research, is quoted as saying that Mustang rose to the top “because it had the excitement of the wide open spaces and was American as all hell.” No concrete evidence can be found, but numerous anecdotes have been told that the left-facing pony represents a wild horse running west.

1965 Production Grille Pony

The pony that graced the 1965 production Mustang showed more of a running stance than a galloping one. The head and neck are more horizontal and the tail flows out behind.

1965-66 Mustang Side Badge

A revised version of the grille pony on the front fenders was placed on top of a red, white and blue tri-bar. The modeler, Wayno Kangas, designed the horse to be somewhat flatter for the fender badge than in the grille.

Mustang II Badge

For the Mustang II in 1974, the tri-bar was changed to a Roman numeral II and the horse was re-sculpted with its head more upright and the tail straightened out.

1994 SN-95

The side tri-bar emblem disappeared for the Fox-body models, but reappeared for the fender of certain models of the 1994 SN-95 Mustang.

Warriors in Pink

Special edition badges appeared over the years including the 40th and 45th anniversary editions. Whether it was a horseshoe or the 2009 Warriors in Pink edition, which featured a pink ribbon under the pony to raise awareness for breast cancer awareness, special badges graced the fenders of a number of Mustangs over the years.

2010 Grille Pony

This would be the most recent revision for the last model change in 2010. The pony appears to have a crisper, more muscular profile.

Can't wait to see if the Mustang badge is going to change again for 2015!