3rd Gear Member
Join Date: Jan 2007
Vehicle: 93 notchback
Location: South Jersey
History of the Mustang - Research Paper
Heres a research paper i wrote about the history of the mustang that i found on my computer while cleaning out all the ****. Feel free to read it if youd like
The Ford Mustang
When you talk about American history, one of the most exciting and revolutionary eras were the 1960s. With the Vietnam War, the moon landing, civil rights movement and the assassination of JFK, the 60s were full of commotion. One of the most looked over events of the 60’s was Ford’s introduction of the Mustang. The Ford Mustang not only revolutionized the automobile industry it also defined a generation, and era, of American History.
In 1957, the word “teenager” was added to the dictionary (Clarkson). After WWII, there was a substantial increase in the number of babies being born. By 1965, over 40% of the U.S. population will be under 20 years of age (Lacocca, Lee). This new generation was completely different from their parents. “Ford saw America was getting younger, cleverer, and richer. They saw the baby boom coming,”(Clarkson). “As the baby boom turned 18 in 1964 they were ready for the part. The beach boys brought the music, the Mexicans brought the spoken materials, Mary Quant brought the clothes, and Ford brought the car,”(Clarkson).
Ford saw the potential of this revolutionary car and launched an all out advertising campaign. They wanted to build up as much public hype as they could about the Mustang. ‘On march 11th, two days after the first production Mustang was built, young Walter Buehl Ford II, nephew of chairperson Henry Ford II, was allowed to drive an undisguised prototype convertible to a luncheon in downtown Detroit,”(Forty Years of Fun 25)The car was quickly spotted by Fred Olmsted, auto editor for the Detroit Free Press, and was soon photographed by Ray Glonka. Newsweek and other publications quickly picked up the picture and ran cover stories(Forty Years of Fun 25).
The big day was coming soon for Ford, the day the mustang would be revealed. On April 16th, Ford purchased the 9pm spot on all three TV networks. Some 29 million people watched the unveiling of the first Ford Mustang(Lacocca, Lee). On April 17th, over 2600 newspapers ran announcement ads and articles while the Mustang was revealed to the public at the New York World’s Fair. The advertising reached over 75% of American households. Twenty-four top magazines ran cover stories as well, with a circulation count of over 68 million(Lacocca, Lee). There were over 150 journalists at the event, which ford sent off in a 750 mile road trip to Motown. But this was not the end of the advertising; Ford managed to get a Mustang as the pace car for the 1964 Indy 500 and recreated over 200 of the Indy pace car to be given away in dealer-sponsored contests (Forty Years of Fun 25).
“Public reaction was beyond even Ford’s expectations, and ‘Mustang Fever’ was soon a national epidemic,”(Forty Years of Fun 25). The Mustang created such a frenzy that thousands of people were rushing to the dealerships to buy one. One trucker got so distracted by the mustang in a San Francisco showroom that he drove right through the window (Forty Years of Fun 25). A Pittsburgh dealership had one of their mustangs hoisted on a lube rack, only to find that so many people crammed into the showroom they could not get the car down until dinner time. One Chicago dealer had to lock his doors to stop the crowds from crushing the cars, and each other (Forty Years of Fun 25). Another dealer had 15 people offer to buy the same mustang, so he auctioned it off. The winning bidder insisted on sleeping inside the car until his check cleared. Ford originally aimed to sell 100,000 in the first production run, but they sold 100,000 in the first 4 months (Forty Years of Fun 25). By mid-September, 1965, Ford has sold 680,989 mustangs only a few months later, they had sold their one-millionth Mustang in a total of 17 months (Lamas, Jonathan). It was the most successful vehicle launch in history, and still holds the record for most cars sold in one year, a record that has never been broken(Clarkson).
The Ford Mustang was also the first vehicle to offer what we call today an options list(Clarkson). This made the car configurable for all types of people, slow to fast, basic to stylish, there were hundreds of variations of the Ford Mustang. There were three base models: the coupe, the convertible and the fastback. From there, you had options to change everything from the wheels, dash, engine size, body style, differential, windows, down to mechanically assisted seat-belts and warning lights (Clarkson). This made the car customizable for just about everyone; “Yes, It was for your father, but with 4 seats it was for your mother, and with a price tag of $2,300 it was for your sister too. There was even a version for your delinquent drag racing brother,”(Clarkson). Ford also offered many limited edition models such as the GT350, GT500, GT500KR, Cobra, March and the Boss 302/429. These versions were aimed at the high performance crowd, offering mind blowing performance for the race tracks. These cars were the “Kings of the Road,” hence the “KR” tag on the GT500KR (Ford Mustang).
You didn't even have to buy one of the high performance Mustangs; one could hop on down to your local Hertz dealer and rent one. For 17 dollars a day and 7 cents a mile, one could drive your very own GT350H. These cars became known as the infamous Rent-A-Racer. This hold true even today, one can still head on over to your local hertz dealer and rent a ford GT500, the high performance model of today’s Mustang (Clarkson).
The 1960s introduced the muscle car and hot rod era. Along with the fast cars came ‘car hops,’ a popular hangout spot to show off your ride, as well as drag racing. Car hops became a haven for fast cars, sport cars, and muscle cars, the perfect place to show off (Clarkson).
The success of the ford mustang caught the attention of other car manufactures such as Chevrolet, Dodge and Pontiac. Soon, every car manufacturer was producing muscle cars. Chevy released the Camaro, Pontiac released the Firebird, dodge released the Challenger, Mercury released the Cougar and AMC created the Javelin (Pony Cars).These cars became known as “pony-cars,” a tribute to the car that started it all, the ford mustang. The requirements of a pony car were attractive sporty styling, affordable base price, extensive options including a six and an eight-cylinder engine and aggressive youth-orientated marketing and advertising (Pony Cars). The muscle cars and pony cars were known for their “long hood-short deck,” with a large engine bay for the motor and the seats near the back axle. Soon, car hops and roads would be saturated with these loud, fast, cars. These cars were used as status symbols, almost on the same level as cell phones and gadgets are today. If you were cool, you drove a muscle car. This idea was pushed by aggressive advertising towards teens and young adults.
Classic rare Mustangs are worth a pretty penny today with so few still in existence. Some of our greatest celebrities are proud classic Mustang owners. These include Jay Leno, Tim Allen and Patrick Dempsey (Lamas, Jonathan). Not only do celebrities own Mustangs, but Mustangs have been featured in countless films since it was created. These include Bullit, Gone in Sixty-Seconds and is even the star vehicle in the new remake of a series, Knight Rider (Mustang in Movies)
In fact, the Mustang chase scene through the streets of San Francisco of Bullit is considered the best car chase scene in any film. “What made it stand out for me, is that unlike any other car chase, there was no music to enhance the action. Apparently the director heard the noise these engines made and thought, ‘that’ll due’,”(Clarkson).
Even today, the Ford Mustang lives on as the only pony car to be in continuous production since its release, 44 years ago (Classic Mustangs) It still remains as the most affordable sports car in its class and still has countless customizing options whether factory or after-market. There are thousands of Mustang clubs and hundreds of thousands of members and over 500,000 hits on Google for “Ford Mustang.” It is truly a historical car, owning a Mustang is more than just owning a vehicle, its being part of a long lasting heritage. “Greatest car ever? Well, it has changed the world, mobilized a generation, redirected the way we thought about cars and sounded like God, shouting. So I should say so, yeah,”(Clarkson).