Ford Mustang (1964-1965-1966)
Aimed squarely at America's youth market, the Ford Mustang was compact, stylish, and offered great performance at an affordable price. Debuting at the New York World's Fair in April of 1964, over 22 thousand orders were received on the first day of sales. First-year projections of 100,000 units were surpassed in three months. Mustang-mania quickly sparked a whole new breed of cars, soon the pony car market was off and running. Many worthy opponents followed, such as the AMC Javelin, Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Plymouth Cuda, and Mercury Cougar.
As success is always measured in dollars at a corporate level, the low sales experienced with the original Thunderbirds influenced Ford Motor Company to switch the Mustang's original two-seat concept to 2+2 coupe and convertible versions. By borrowing chassis, suspension, and drivetrain components from the Ford Falcon and Fairlane models, costs were kept low, allowing the projected sale price of under $2,500 to be met. Although primarily engineered from existing parts, the Mustang's good looks and long hood/short deck body proportions gave it an identity all its own.
1964 Ford Mustang
Commonly referred to as 1964½ models, Mustang sales began in April of 1964, starting at a suggested retail price of $2,368. Buyers were given a long list of options to choose from, unusual at a time when only higher-priced models were given so many choices. Standard engine was a 170-cid six-cylinder engine. Base transmission was a manual three-speed with a floor shift, nestled between standard bucket seats. A 260-cid V-8 engine, four-speed manual or three-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic were optional. A 4-barrel 289-cid V-8 engine was added in June. First-year Mustangs were produced from March to August of 1964, with 121,538 sold.
1964 Indy 500 Pace Car
Ford's full-size Galaxie was originally chosen for the honor, but due to it's unprecedented popularity, the Mustang became the pace car for the 1964 Indy 500. Convertible pace car replicas were equipped with the 271-horsepower 289-cid V-8, with the coupe version getting the 260-cid engine. Transmission choices were the Cruise-O-Matic automatic or four-speed manual. All Indy 500 Mustangs were painted white and came with special striping. Interior choices were either red, white, or blue vinyl. The Indy 500 door graphics were installed at Ford dealers.
1965 Ford Mustang
The Mustang received several minor changes for the 1965 model year, which began in August of 1964. Alternators replaced generators, the oil-filler cap was relocated, and an integral power-steering pump and reservoir replaced the remote-mounted style found on most earlier models.
Find Early Mustang Parts At Mac's Auto Parts
Other changes for 1965 included a 120 horsepower, 200-cid six-cylinder engine replacing the 170-cid motor as standard. A 2-barrel, 200-horsepower 289 V-8 replaced the 260 2-barrel version, and the 4-bbl 289 was now rated at 225-horsepower. Inside the car, Ford and Motorola jointly introduced the eight-track tape player.
Initially offered as either notchback or convertible, a handsome fastback was added to the Mustang line-up for 1965. Ford designers made the exterior lines similar to those of the Jaguar XKE, with trunk space being traded for increased interior room. There were 77,079 Mustang fastbacks produced in 1965. Along with 409,260 coupes and 73,112 convertibles, a total of 559,451 Mustangs were produced for the 1965 model year.
1965 Mustang GT
First offered in April of 1965, the extra-cost GT Equipment Group option gave the buyer a quick-ratio gearbox, stiffer front coils and rear springs, heavy-duty shocks, front disc brakes, and a larger front sway bar. Exterior features included special stripes on the lower fender, doors and rear quarter panels, GT badging, and grille-mounted fog-lamps. Inside, the GT dashpod had five round gauges. Base motor was the two-barrel 289-cid V-8, with two optional engines offered; a 225-bhp 289 V-8 or the high performance K-code 289.
K-Code 289 Mustang
The K-Code 289 engine, rated at 271-horsepower, was first seen on Ford models in 1963, with 10.5:1 compression, smaller combustion chamber heads, solid-lifter camshaft, dual-point distributor, and low-restriction exhaust manifolds. A 595-cfm carburetor was used with a manual choke. Chrome valve covers set off the motor visually, with "289 High Performance" lettering atop the chrome air cleaner.
K-Code equipped Mustangs wore special badging on the front fenders, reading "High Performance 289", and had dual-exhaust exiting through the rear valance panel. First year K-Code Mustangs came with a 4-speed transmission only, and were not available with air conditioning or power steering. K-Code buyers received a three month/4,000 mile warranty instead of the standard Mustang 12 month/12,000 mile plan.
1966 Ford Mustang
The 1966 Mustang saw minor cosmetic changes. A grille redesign had the Mustang emblem floating in the center, a new gas cap and wheel cover design replaced the originals, and side scoops were revised. Last year's optional backup lights became standard. The 260-cid V-8 was gone, replaced by two and four-barrel versions of the 289-cid V8.
Also gone was the Falcon-based instrument cluster, all Mustangs now had the five-dial unit from the GT model. Buyers could select either an optional AM/8-track player or an AM/FM radio. Sales for the year included 499,751 hardtops, 35,698 fastbacks, and 72,119 convertibles, adding up to a total of 607,568 units for 1966.
In 1999, the U.S. Postal Service asked Americans to vote on the most memorable and significant events and trends for each decade of the 20th century. Fifteen commemorative stamps were issued to celebrate the sixties, which included the Beatles, first Man on the Moon, and the Ford Mustang.
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