Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
April 13, 2014
Photos By: Source Interlink Archives, Ford Archives

Joe Oros

Chief Stylist for the Mustang

I was at a management development conference, a one-week seminar. One day when I called the studio, I was told that we, along with the Lincoln-Mercury Studio, had been asked to come up with a proposal for a sporty car project. I finished up my required week at the conference, but I could barely keep my mind on the lectures because I was totally absorbed by the new sporty car assignment.

“In the Ford Studio, we could only afford one (clay) model due to our continuing design load for cars and heavy trucks. We split our model to have two sides to hedge our bet, two sides coming off the same greenhouse (roof) with the same front and back.”

I asked Dave Ash to stop the sporty car (clay) model, cover it with a tarpaulin, and then meet with me in my office with the managers. I had a long discussion, beginning in my office and later extending the dialogue in the design building, requesting to see all the designers of the Ford Studio, along with the execs and managers. We spent that day talking about the design of this sporty car. We then started a new, unique effort from scratch.

I asked that we give consideration to three design elements. Number one was a Ferrari-type front end with a Maserati-type front-end casting detail. Number two was that we give serious thought to an air intake just forward of the rear axle that might direct air to the rear brakes. And three was to have consideration for a personal Thunderbird-like greenhouse in a sporty four-seater configuration.

On August 16, 1962, the various clay proposals – three from Advance Project’s studio, two from Lincoln-Mercury, and one with two sides from our Ford studio – were presented in the courtyard to Henry Ford II, Lee Iacocca, and the viewing committee. The Ford Studio model was approved and selected as the Ford sporty car for continuing development.

The car seemed alive as it was being modeled with its long hood, short deck, and sophisticated greenhouse. I could tell that Iacocca was pleased by the sparkle in his eye and the way his cigar rolled around in his mouth. (Mustang Monthly interview, July 1987)

Gale Halderman

Mustang designer

“The corporate response was initially negative for a derivative car, so I did the design on the fastback and didn’t tell anyone about it until it was finished and ready to show to Iacocca.”

The Mustang was successful originally because it was right on target and met expectations. However, after 1968, the car lost its identity for a few years. The corporation was trying to do all things for all people and the public didn’t know what the car was.

It (standardized bumper height for the ’71-’73 Mustang) made the front-end static and stiff. Iacocca was very disappointed with the bumpers and their impact on styling during the ’71-’73 period. He originally said the drawings looked good, but when he saw the clay models, he said, “You’ve got to be kidding.” (Mustang Monthly interview)

Hal Sperlich

Ford Product Planner

“I knew Charlie Baldwin, who had done the Falcon, probably the most boring car on the planet. But it was a good car on a good platform – lightweight, efficient, and low cost. So I said, ‘Why don’t we make it off the Falcon?’”

On the day Iacocca was made vice-president, he came over to Design. I heard about it and got myself invited. And here’s this super-young guy with a big cigar, like a Mafia don. Very impressive. Then I was working with him.

With all this youthful energy, we needed a car that we could sell to this new market. As the one-man Special Studies guy, I got that job. We spent six months trying to concept it, first making it off the original two-seat Thunderbird, which was a dumb idea that took three of four months to disprove.

We got all the Falcon drafts together and figured out how to stretch the front, chop the rear, still get a back seat, and keep as many of the inner sheetmetal panels as we could because Henry II was not going to spend any money. We did it for $75 million, a very inexpensive program because it was on the Falcon base. We put together the business plan and presented it to the Product Planning committee – about 20 executive vice-presidents and Henry Ford II. Nobody would raise their hand until they saw what Henry wanted to do, and he finally said “Okay.” When Henry came out of the meeting, he grabbed Iacocca and me and said,” You got your damn car. It better work!” (Motor Trend Classic interview, Spring 2012)