Mustang: the original pony car.
The Ford Mustang created and defined an entire class of automobile dubbed the “pony car”. These cars had certain characteristics such as long hood/short deck proportions, compact sporty styling, and a wide range of options at an affordable price. GM’s Camaro and Firebird models were also examples of pony cars which were created on the heels of the Mustang, along with other models including the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda.
The Mustang was designed quickly and went from prototype to showroom in just 18 months. This was due to its design being based on the Ford Falcon’s platform and using many of the same parts. Ford debuted the Mustang at the World’s Fair in New York on April 17, 1964 with a major media campaign – one of the most successful product launches in history. Sales were projected at 100,000 units for the first year but that number was surpassed in 3 months, with over 1 million sold in just 18 months.
The original Mustang had a 170hp 6 cylinder engine with a 3 speed automatic transmission. A 260hp V8 and 4 speed automatic were available. Body styles included a coupe or convertible available in 18 different colors and were very affordable with a base price of just $2,350. Several features were added for the start of the traditional 1965 model year in August 1964 such as backup lights, alternators (instead of generators), and a larger V8 engine (289 cubic inch) and, while Ford considers all of them to be 1965 models, the 121,000 early models are unofficially referred to as 1964 1/2 models.