The Ford Mustang just turned 50, and she’s looking really good. The 2015 version of that iconic American automobile has a whole new design, with a return to the fastback look as a key element and a ton of sexy new engine dynamics and innovative technologies, too. There’s always been a lot to love about the Mustang, but here are 10 things you might not know about the beloved pony car.
1. THE MUSTANG WAS INTRODUCED AT THE NEW YORK WORLD’S FAIR ON APRIL 17, 1964.
Henry Ford II unveiled the car at the Flushing Meadows fair, while at the same time, dealers across the United States and Canada debuted the vehicles in their showrooms. Twenty-two thousand of them were snapped right up, at an MSRP of $2,368.
2. THE CAR MAY HAVE BEEN NAMED AFTER AN AIRPLANE, NOT THE HORSE.
Quickly nicknamed the “Pony,” the Mustang name has a surprisingly complicated history. According to designer John Najjar, he suggested the name Mustang after the World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane. That was rejected because it was too "airplaney," so he pitched the name again as a type of horse, and everyone loved it.
But Lee Iacocca remembers it differently. He says there was a trend of naming cars after animals, so an advertising consultant gave them a list of mostly animal names for the car. And one of them was Mustang. Whichever version is true, according to Ford Motor Company, other names considered for the car as it was developed in 1962-63 were Cougar, Torino, Allegro, and Avventura.
3. MUSTANG NUMBER 1 WAS ACCIDENTALLY SOLD TO A CANADIAN .
The “Wimbledon White” Mustang convertible with serial number 5F08F100001—serial number 1—was a preproduction model built in Dearborn, Mich., that was not supposed to be sold, only used for promotional purposes. But Eastern Airlines pilot Stanley Tucker talked a dealer in St. John's, Newfoundland, into selling it to him. It took Ford two years and the promise of car number 1 million in exchange (another white convertible built in 1966) to get that baby back from Tucker. Number 1 now resides in the Henry Ford Museum.
4. GOOD GUYS (AND GALS) DROVE MUSTANGS IN THE MOVIES.
Mustangs have always been cool cars for cinema heroes to drive, as Steve McQueen proved in the 1968 classic Bullitt. That was a 1968 390 GT Fastback that he roared through the streets of San Francisco. But the first look at a Mustang in a major movie happened in 1964, when Tania Mallet went wheel-to-wheel with Sean Connery's Aston Martin-driving James Bond in Goldfinger.
5. CARROLL SHELBY, CREATOR OF THE MUSTANG COBRA, NEVER ACTUALLY WORKED AT FORD.
Champion race car driver and car designer Carroll Shelby used the first Mustang V8 as part of his famed “Cobra,” built at his design shop in Southern California using a different chassis than the Mustang. Later, he and Ford joined up to create the Mustang GT350 as well as the Cobra version, creating a legendary driving machine. But Shelby always worked for his own company, Shelby American, Inc., not directly for Ford.
6. FOR 10 YEARS, THE MUSTANG CONVERTIBLE DID NOT EXIST.
In 1973, for some mysterious reason, Ford Motor Company quit making Mustang convertibles. It took the company a decade to realize that Mustang lovers really wanted to feel the wind in their hair. Production began again for their 1983 models.
7. MUSTANG HAS GONE PINK FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS.
In 2007, Ford released a special “Warriors in Pink” Mustang with pink highlights. It was designed to raise money to fight breast cancer and donated proceeds to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and other charities. There have been subsequent Mustang editions, as well as a full Ford line of clothing; Ford has raised over $120 million toward the cause.
8. THE PONY IS WINNING THE LONG RACE.
In 2002, Mustang was going strong as the brand’s two biggest competitors—the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird—both ceased production. It seemed that the pony had won the long race to the top of its class, but Camaros went back into production in 2009. After a few slump years, the Mustang roared back into the lead in 2014, beating Camaro sales by more than 35,000 cars sold.
9. FORD’S 300 MILLIONTH CAR BUILT WAS A SPECIAL-EDITION MUSTANG.
When Ford rolled car number 300,000,000 off the assembly line in Michigan in 2003, and it was a Mustang. A Mustang GT convertible, to be exact, complete with a powerful V-8 engine and commemorative markings celebrating its 40th anniversary of existence.
10. MUSTANG GOT HIGH FOR ITS 50TH BIRTHDAY.
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In 2014, the newly redesigned 2015 Mustang GT convertible was taken in pieces up a freight elevator to the top of the Empire State Building and then assembled high in the sky, commemorating the marque’s return to the city that started it all when the ‘Stang debuted at the World’s Fair there 50 years prior.