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Mustang History


Original First Pizza Hut Commercial featuring a Mustang Jr.


Where did the Ford Mustang get its name?


The Concept and Design (1960-1963)

In the early 1960s, Ford General Manager Lee Iacocca pitched his vision of a fun-to-drive compact car to Ford board members. His emphasis was on a vehicle that would appeal to the Baby Boomer generation and would be based off of the popular Ford Falcon. Although it was a tough sell, Iacocca, along with supporters Donald Frey, Hal Sperlich, and Donald Petersen convinced Ford to move forward on the project.

Frey, an Executive Engineer for Ford, conceived the first prototype, the 1962 Mustang I concept, which was a mid-engine two-seater roadster. The name of the car was based on the legendary P-51 Mustang fighter plane from World War II. It debuted in October at the Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, New York, and was driven around the circuit by legendary racecar driver Dan Gurney. Iacocca, however, was looking for something different, and asked the designers to come up with a new design. In the spirit of competition, he devised an intramural design contest between three in-house studios. David Ash and John Oros of the Ford Studio took the prize.

Based on the Falcon, their Mustang featured a long-sweeping hood and a high-mounted grill with a Mustang prominently featured as its centerpiece. It also featured air-intakes in front of the rear wheels, with chassis, suspension, and drivetrain components taken from the Ford Falcon. The idea was to design a vehicle that was cheap to produce, while offering up the product quality of the Falcon. In fact, the Mustang and the Falcon shared many of the same mechanical parts. It was also identical in overall length, although the Mustang had a shorter wheelbase (68.2 inches). In spite of its many similarities, the Mustang did look completely different on the outside. It also had lower positioned seats and a lower ride height. And with that, the Ford Mustang was born.
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In the beginning...................................

Virtually every day we receive numerous phone calls from Mustang enthusiasts who are curious as to just how rare their classic Mustang might be. One measurement of rarity, of course, is how many similar Mustangs were produced. Below you will find the production numbers for all 1965 through 1973 Mustangs by body type.

There are no records available for 1964-1/2 through 1966 Mustangs that would provide detail such as the number made with a particular color combinations or number made with a certain interior color. Today, for 1964-1/2 through 1966 Mustangs only production numbers are available.

1967 through 1973 is a completely different story. Very accurate production figures are available by color, engine, interior, options, etc. This detailed information is available through Marti Auto Works (623-935-2558). The nice people at Marti Auto Works can provide just about anything you want to know about 1967 through 1973 Mustangs. They do charge a fee for their reports but the prices are very reasonable and the documentation very valuable when documenting your Mustang's rarity.


   03/09/64 - Production begins Dearborn, Michigan assembly plant - F
   04/17/64 - Mustang sales begin
   05/08/64 - First adjustable passenger seat
   06/01/64 - Shelby's revamping begins
   07/13/64 - Production begins San Jose, California assembly plant - R
   07/31/64 - Last documented 1964-1/2
   08/01/64 - First documented 1965
   08/17/64 - Believed to be last 1964-1/2
   08/20/64 - Engine change 5 to 6 bolt

   01/27/65 - Shelby introduced for sale
   02/01/65 - Production begins Metuchen, New Jersey assembly plant - T
   02/28/65 - First documented GT built
   04/17/65 - GT vehicle sales begin
   08/16/65 - Begin production of 1966 model in Dearborn and San Jose
   08/25/65 - Begin production of 1966 model in Metuchen

   01/01/66 - DSO (district sales office) codes changed
   02/03/66 - Earliest Sprint 200
   03/02/66 - One millionth Mustang
   03/08/66 - Engine change; valve train


  1. Buck Tags were used in Dearborn and Metuchen; Broadcast Sheets were used in all three assembly plants
  2. Consecutive unit numbers are not necessary built in that order but rather were the ordered sequence.
  3. Mustangs built between 3/64 and 8/64 are considered 1965 Mustangs and titled as such.


Model YearBody Style


196563AFastback, Standard71,303 
 63BFastback, Luxury5,776 
 65AHardtop, Standard372,123 
 65BHardtop, Luxury22,232 
 65CHardtop, Bench Seat14,905 
 76AConvertible, Standard65,663 
 76BConvertible, Luxury5,338 
 76CConvertible, Bench Seat2,111559,451
196663AFastback, Standard27,809 
 63BFastback, Luxury7,889 
 65AHardtop, Standard422,416 
 65BHardtop, Luxury55,938 
 65CHardtop, Bench Seat21,397 
 76AConvertible, Standard56,409 
 76BConvertible, Luxury12,520 
 76CConvertible, Bench Seat3,190607,568
196763AFastback, Standard53,651 
 63BFastback, Luxury17,391 
 65AHardtop, Standard325,853 
 65BHardtop, Luxury22,228 
 65CHardtop, Bench Seat8,190 
 76AConvertible, Standard38,751 
 76BConvertible, Luxury4,848 
 76CConvertible, Bench Seat1,209472,121
196863AFastback, Standard33,585 
 63BFastback, Deluxe7,661 
 63CFastback, Bench Seat1,079 
 63DFastback, Deluxe Bench Seat256 
 65AHardtop, Standard233,472 
 65B Hardtop, Deluxe 9,009 
 65CHardtop, Bench Seat6,113 
 65DHardtop, Deluxe Bench Seat853 
 76AConvertible, Standard22,037 
 76BConvertible, Deluxe3,339317,404
196963ASportsroof, Standard56,022 
 63BSportsroof, Deluxe5,958 
 63CMach 172,458 
 65AHardtop, Standard118,613 
 65BHardtop, Deluxe5,210 
 65CHardtop, Bench Seat4,131 
 65DHardtop, Deluxe Bench Seat504 
 65E Grande22,182 
 76A Convertible, Standard11,307 
 76B Convertible, Deluxe3,439299,824
197063ASportsroof, Standard39,470 
 63BSportsroof, Luxury6,464 
 63CMach 140,970 
 65AHardtop, Standard77,161 
 65BHardtop, Luxury5,408 
 76AConvertible, Standard6,199 
 76BConvertible, Luxury1,474190,727
 63RMach 136,499 
 65F Grande17,406 
 76D Convertible6,121149,678
 63RMach 127,675 
 65F Grande18,045 
 76D Convertible6,401125,093
 63RMach 135,440 
 65F Grande25,274 
 76D Convertible11,853134,867
 Total 1964 1/2-1973 Units2,978,271


1964-1/2 WORLD'S FAIR
Twelve 1964-1/2 wimbledon white convertibles with red interiors, which were equipped with 260 V8, auto and front and rear seat belts, were used on the revolving line at the 1964 World's Fair. The DSO for all of these vehicles was 840027. After the fair, in November 1964, they were returned to Detroit for resale. Only one is known in existence.

INDY 500 PACE CARS - 1964
There were three identical actual Pace Cars - Convertible 289 V8 K-codes with beefed up suspension and painted with a "special" white code C paint. All three cars had blue stripes and door decals. There were 225 replica cars produced; 35 convertibles with 289 V8 D-code (auto and/or 4-speeds with P/S) with the wimbeldon white paint and either a red or white with blue interiors; the remaining 190 Pace car replicas were hardtop with F-260 V-8 engine and automatic transmissions. The hardtops were painted with the "special" white paint (code C). All the replicas had special Indy 500 graphics on the doors and blue stripes made by 3M. The hardtop replica cars were given to dealers who won a Checker Flag contest or discounted to dealers who won the Green Flag contest. The convertibles were returned to Ford and sold to dealers who offered the highest bid.

The Sprint 200 was a sale stimulator in January 1966 for Mustangs with 6 cylinder, 200 cubic inch engines. Ford could not produce enough V8 engines and this promotion helped. The Sprints were equipped with a 200 c.i., 6 cylinder chrome air cleaner cover, wire wheel covers, accent pin stripe and a center console.

These anniversary Mustang hardtops were painted "Anniversary Gold" and one was given to each Ford Sales District. All Anniversary Mustangs were assembled in San Jose on March 29, 1966 with DSO 33111.

These cars were exported to West Germany and cold not use the "Mustang" name because it was already being used by a German truck company. These vehicles were built with a heavy duty suspension for the European roads and all references to Mustang removed. There were eight places where Mustang was displaced: 4 wheel covers, 2 front fenders, gas cap, and the steering wheel horn cover. A rectangular T5 emblem was used to replace the "Mustang" fender badge. The running horse in the grill, and on the fenders and glove box stayed. Most of these vehicles have a DSO code 90 through 99.


Hey, don't forget us! 1974 - 1982.......

  • The completely redesigned Mustang II was introduced in 1974. Compared with the 1973 model, the Mustang II was 19 inches shorter and 490 pounds lighter. It was available in a notchback, including a luxury Ghia model and a 2+2 fastback. For the first time, there was no V-8 engine and no Mustang convertible option available.
  • An orange 1973 Mustang Mach I was featured in a prominent role in the action movie Gone in 60 Seconds, which debuted in 1974.
  • In 1975, V-8 power returned to the Mustang. But the 302-cid V-8 engine produced only 130 horsepower and came only with an automatic transmission.
  • The Cobra II package joined the lineup in 1976, replete with non-functional hood scoop, racing stripes and front and rear spoilers. Available in white with blue stripes, blue with white stripes, and black with gold stripes, the Cobra II was intended to recall the looks of the famed Shelby Mustangs.
  • In an attempt to appeal to convertible fans, fastback models became available with T-Top removable glass roof panels. A new Sports Performance Package added a four-speed manual transmission to the 302-cid V-8.
  • In 1978, the new King Cobra model was the first Mustang to wear a 5.0 badge – the metric equivalent of 302 cubic inches.
  • The new “Fox” platform made its debut in 1979. The new model was longer and taller than the Mustang II, yet it was 200 pounds lighter. A sleek, “Euro” design replaced many traditional Mustang styling cues. Engine choices included a 2.3-liter four-cylinder,
    a 2.8-liter V-6, a 3.3-liter inline six-cylinder and a 140-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8.
  • In 1980, the 302-cid V-8 engine was dropped and replaced by an economy-minded 119-horsepower, 225-cid V-8 derivative.
  • In 1981, performance headed to the back burner, as the turbo four-cylinder was dropped from the Mustang engine lineup and new emissions controls dropped the 255-cid V-8’s power to 115 horsepower.
  • In 1982, the Mustang GT returned after a 12-year absence. The 5.0-liter V-8, which delivered 157 horsepower was also back, and optional T-Tops returned.


Oh yes, the Fox Body Years.........................

The Ford Mustang: 1983 to 1993
The year is 1983. Ronald Reagan is serving his first term as President of the United States. Sally Ride makes history as the first woman astronaut in space, as a crew member aboard the space shuttle Challenger. The average household income is $20,885, and the cost of a postage stamp is up to 20 cents. Cabbage Patch dolls and Nintendo Entertainment Systems are big hits. The final episode of M*A*S*H airs, with a record 125 million people watching. Terms of Endearment captures Best Picture honors at the Academy Awards. And Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” wins the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

By 1983, the Mustang convertible was back. And so was the “Boss” performance attitude, as Ford’s pony car steadily rekindled its sporting heritage

Following the gas crisis and tighter emissions standards of the 70s, the Mustang lineup of the early 1980s was still unable to deliver on the on the kind of performance that driving enthusiasts embraced with the first generation. Some even felt that Ford product planners had forgotten the true meaning of “Mustang.”

Neil Ressler was Ford’s chief engineer of Midsize and Small Cars at the time. Ressler’s team decided to beef up the Mustang’s power by replacing the two-barrel carburetor with a four-barrel and upgrading the tires and the brakes.

“That began the resurgence of the Mustang GT,” said Ressler. “The horsepower rating jumped to 175.”

While Ressler’s team was reintroducing the GT model, another group at Ford was working on a special low-volume edition of the Mustang for the 1984 model year called the SVO (developed by Special Vehicle Operations). It sported a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a sports-tuned suspension, a unique front fascia with fog lamps and even a dual-wing rear spoiler.

In addition to the SVO model, Ford produced another limited-edition Mustang – this one to commemorate the nameplate’s 20th anniversary. All of those cars – coupes and convertibles – were painted Oxford White with Canyon Red interiors and powered by either a V-8 or a turbocharged inline four-cylinder.

Mustang power continued to accelerate from 1984 to 1986, which in turn helped to boost sales for that period. Customer preference for the 5.0-liter V-8 spelled the end of the SVO Mustangs.

By 1987, it was again time for Mustang to keep up with a changing market, so designers gave the Fox-body – the platform introduced in 1979 – a facelift with new “aero-look” design cues.

While Mustangs continued to evolve from the early to mid-80s, Ford’s product development team was already looking for alternatives to the Fox-body.

“There were people who thought Mustang was headed for the scrap heap,” said Ressler. “Sales were sluggish, and they thought that front-wheel drive modern-looking cars were the wave of the future.”

After Ford signed an agreement with Mazda to build the Mazda 626 and MX-6 at a new plant just outside of Detroit, the idea was to use the front-wheel drive Mazda platform as the underpinnings for the “new Mustang.”

“When news came out that the all-American Mustang was going to be based on a Japanese car and built by a Japanese company, plus move to front-wheel drive and again go back to losing its V-8 engine, the nameplate’s legion of fans could hardly believe it,” said John Clor, author of the book The Mustang Dynasty.

“By the time a cover story in AutoWeek magazine hit the newsstands on April 13, 1987 – questioning ‘The Next Mustang?’ – the Mustang-badged Mazda was already the target of a letter-writing campaign launched by the editors of Mustang magazines across the country.”

The public had spoken, and Ford listened. The front-wheel drive Mazda became the 1989 Ford Probe, and the Ford Mustang lived on.

“It was the only time I can remember in my career when the will of the public affected a major decision in advance of the decision being made,” he said. “They brought about something I thought at the beginning was worth trying but wouldn’t work. But I was enthusiastic. I thought it was crazy to get rid of the only performance rear-wheel drive car we had.”

In the early 90s, Ressler and a group of performance enthusiasts within the company came up with the idea to build an increased-performance Mustang out of Ford Motorsports performance parts (now known as Ford Racing Performance Parts). Based on the lessons learned from the SVO Mustang program, this group's goal was to attract driving enthusiasts to the Ford brand.

“It was a confederation of people, all of whom had their own home organizations in different areas within the company, such as Marketing, Engineering and Product Planning,” Ressler explained. “When we worked together, we described our activities as occurring with the Special Vehicle Team or SVT.”

In 1993, SVT introduced the limited production Mustang Cobra that began a series of specialty models over the years which delivered ever-increasing performance capability – right on up to today's SVT-engineered Shelby GT500.

Interestingly enough, Ressler says many of the projects the team spearheaded at Ford – like the Mustang Cobra – were not formally approved by upper management.

“We just found the money and thought that as long as we were doing things that were good for the company, we were safe not to ask for permission,” he said. “We were prepared to ask for forgiveness, but we never had to.”

From 1994 - to the present day.............

  • The 1994 Mustang, which ushered in the fourth generation of Mustangs, was dramatically restyled to evoke its pony car heritage. The hatchback style was dropped, leaving the two-door coupe and convertible. The SVT (Special Vehicle Team) Cobra launched with a 240-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8.
  • 1995 was the final model year for the 5.0-liter V-8, which began life as the 260- and later 289-cid engine. The second SVT Cobra R was introduced with a 300-horsepower 5.8-liter V-8 and five-speed manual transmission.
  • In 1996, Mustang GTs and SVT Mustang Cobras were equipped for the first time with 4.6-liter Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC) V-8, which produced 305 horsepower.
  • Ford’s Passive Anti-Theft System became standard on all models in 1997.
  • In 1998, the output of Mustang GT’s 4.6-liter V-8 was increased to 225 horsepower.
  • A redesigned Mustang debuted in 1999. It sported sharper lines, pronounced wheel arches plus new hood, grille, fascias and lamps. The SVT Mustang Cobra became the first Mustang with independent rear suspension. The 4.6-liter DOHC V-8 produced 320 horsepower.
  • In 2000, the third Mustang SVT Cobra R was produced in a 300-unit run. It came with a 386-horsepower, 5.4-liter DOHC V-8 mated to Mustang’s first ever six-speed transmission.
  • Inspired by the 1968 movie, the first Mustang Bullitt GT model was offered. It featured unique side scoops, 17-inch “Bullitt”-styled wheels and lowered and specially-tuned suspension.
  • In 2002, production ended for two of Mustang’s closest competitors: Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird.
  • The Mach I returned in 2003 with a 305-horsepower V-8 under a signature ram-air “Shaker” hood scoop. The supercharged SVT Mustang Cobra produced 390 horsepower.
  • In 2004, Ford produced its 300 millionth car – a Mustang GT convertible 40th anniversary edition. The 2004 models were the last cars built at Ford’s fabled Dearborn Assembly Plant, which built Mustangs since the car’s 1964 introduction.
  • In 2005, production of the all-new Mustang moved to Flat Rock, Mich. Plant. The Mustang’s V-6 engine was increased to 4.0-liters and the V-8 increased to 300 horsepower.
  • The V-6 “Pony Package” debuted in 2006. GT models got 18-inch wheels, and owners could configure instrument panel lighting in 125 different colors, an industry first, using Ford’s MyColor instrument gauge.
  • In 2007, Ford introduced a special “Warriors in Pink” Mustang, designed to help raise funds for Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure breast cancer research. The vehicle lineup also included the Mustang Shelby GT and the Shelby GT500KR. The second limited-edition Mustang Bullitt was introduced in November.
  • The 9 millionth Mustang – a GT convertible – was built in 2008 and sold to an Iowa farmer.
  • The 2009 Mustang features a glass roof option and special 45th anniversary badging.
  • The 2010 Mustang was introduced in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It cleverly combines modern technology with Mustang heritage and a V-8 with even more horsepower and even throatier signature Mustang exhaust sound. It will be available at Ford dealerships later this spring.


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