1964.5 Ford Mustang: A Look Back

Though we're still eager to learn even more about the forthcoming 2015 Ford Mustang, we decided to take a brief look back at where the nameplate's history started almost 50 years ago. After introducing the Ford Mustang at the New York World's Fair in April 1964, the Blue Oval then had journalists drive test cars from Westchester County, New York, back to Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. The idea was for the 750-mile trip to demonstrate just how reliable the all-new Ford Mustang was in real-world use.

The car's specifications, however, provide a stark contrast to what we expect from the 2015 Ford Mustang. The 1964.5 car offered buyers a choice between a 101-hp, 2.8-liter I-6; a 164-hp, 4.3-liter V-8; a 210-hp, 4.7-liter V-8; and a special high-compression version of the 4.7-liter V-8 good for 271 hp. A three-speed manual transmission was standard on the V-6 and 4.3-liter V-8, while a four-speed manual came with the 4.7-liter V-8s and as an option on the V-6. All but the high-compression engine could also be optioned with a three-speed Ford "Cruise-O-Matic" automatic transmission.

The base 1964.5 Ford Mustang weighed as little as 2585 pounds (a 2014 Mustang V-6 coupe tips the scales at 3501 pounds) and had far less equipment than modern Ford pony cars. Drum brakes, recirculating-ball steering, and rear leaf springs were standard. Unless buyers paid extra for 14- or 15-inch ones, the Ford Mustang came with 13-inch wheels measuring just 4.5 inches wide; today's Mustang wears wheels no smaller than 17 inches in diameter and seven inches in width.

Back in 1964, the Ford Mustang was offered in no fewer than 15 paint colors and there were five different choices for the vinyl seat upholstery. Convertible buyers could pick from black or white fabric roofs, while hardtop buyers could pick black or white vinyl tops. There was also the option to upgrade from a manual convertible top to an electrohydraulic unit. In a sign of the times, Ford's press materials gleefully note that the top-hinged accelerator pedal, "improves foot comfort -- especially for women wearing high heels." Some of the items of the car's options list also seem archaic compared to how many features come as standard on today's Ford Mustang: a radio (no Sync, Bluetooth, or iPod connections here), power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, and windshield washer jets were all extras for the 1964.5 car.

While the press kit makes the original car sound crude, and our spy shots of the 2015 Ford Mustang look nothing like it, the 1964.5 Mustang was still a groundbreaking car. It was a hit for Ford that quickly racked up four times as many sales as Ford expected, set the stage for a much-loved vehicle that remains an American icon today. Now we just can't wait to see what changes 2015 will bring for the half-century-old Ford Mustang.

So far, our spy photos reveal that the 2015 Ford Mustang will have styling influence by the Evos concept car, with squinty headlights and a pointed nose with a narrow grille. A peek beneath the rear revealed that the Mustang will ditch its live axle in favor of independent rear suspension, while a look under the hood showed that the 5.0-liter "Coyote" V-8 engine will live on. As for other engine options, we believe the 3.7-liter V-6 will continue, and a turbocharged four-cylinder could join the mix at a later date. Back in 2012, Ford's Derrick Kuzak refused to rule out the possibility of turbo-four engines: "Let me put this in context," he told us. "When we talked about downsizing to six-cylinders in F-series trucks several years ago, people looked at us like we were crazy. You can take the same view about Mustang." And in keeping with the fact that the original launched as a "1964.5" car, reports indicate the first 1000 units of the new Mustang could be labeled a 2014.5 model.

Fortunately, we won't have to wait much longer to find out more about the production car: the 2015 Ford Mustang could debut at the Detroit auto show in January 2014.

Source: Ford

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