If you’re a Ford Mustang fan or an automotive history buff (we’re both), then you’ll love the preamble to both the Ford Mustang’s 50th anniversary and the debut of the 2015 Mustang. Ford has quite the archive of historic Mustang materials, and as we march closer to the dawn of the new Mustang, the automaker grows increasingly happy to share them. After publishing an array of early design sketches the other day, Ford circled back with a number of design proposals and concepts that, for one reason or another, never quite made it to the Mustang production line.
Upon being named vice president of the Ford Division in 1960, Lee Iacocca quickly began pressing for a pet project of his: a youthful, compact, sporty car. The missive went out in mid 1961, but design director Gene Bordinat already had his secretive advance styling studio working on a few similar ideas, all leveraging mechanical components shared with the compact Falcon sedan. The design shown here, photographed in August of 1961, was one of several ideas under development, and has a slight European — dare we say Triumph-esque? — feel.
This four-seat design wasn’t photographed until 1962, but according Gary Witzenburg’s Mustang: A Complete History of America’s Pioneer Ponycar, both Bordinat and designer Don De La Rossa had been working on this car — code-named Allegro — for at least a year prior. From some angles, Allegro looked like a slightly sharper Falcon hardtop. Few of its lines carried into the finished Mustang, but it did lock in the long hood, short deck proportions and the strong shoulder line that would reappear in the production car. Though this photo shows a notchback coupe, a fastback version, complete with a wrap-around backlight not unlike the original Plymouth Barracuda, was also mocked up at the same point in time.
Another proposal stemming from the Allegro project was known by several names, including Median, Avanti, and Avventura. This car was a significant departure from the Allegro, showing considerable European influence up front, thanks to pontoon fenders, round headlamps, and an oblong grille. The thin fins and Jell-O-mold tail lamps in back, however, were pure American Ford styling cues. The rakish roof boasted thin pillars and large expanses of glass. A two-seat version was mocked up, complete with a standard trunk, but interestingly, a proposal for a four-seat hatchback, complete with rear-facing passenger seats, was also under consideration.
Talk about a non-sequitur — not only does this rendering stick out like a sore thumb from the more realistic designs included in this batch of images, it also seems to have been a departure from Ford’s design work towards the production Mustang. This sketch is dated June of 1963; by that time, the majority of the first-generation Mustang’s styling and engineering had been locked in place. EVen so, it seemed some designers still toyed with the mid-engine theme of the original Mustang I show car. Given the date, we wouldn’t have been surprised if Chevrolet’s gorgeous Corvair Monza GT concept helped incite a bit of an intellectual turf war. Though this drawing got nowhere, it did likely influence the shape of the early Ford GT40 prototypes, which sported a similar pointed snoot and rising tail.
Although Iacocca’s team and the design studios had essentially locked in on a four-seat configuration by late 1962, stylists continued to play with the idea of a two-seater variant, if the April 1964 date on this photo is any indication. Although still a departure from the finished Mustang, this model’s windshield rake, “C-scoop,” and coke-bottle rear fenders evident in the first-generation Mustang reappear here.
Let’s play the name game, shall we? If this red coupe looks familiar, it’s because it’s the very same design that previously wore Median, Avanti, and Avvantura badges. Look closely and you’ll see Allegro script emblems on the rear quarters. By the time Ford wanted to show this as a concept to the buying public in 1963, Studebaker had already locked down the Avanti name, forcing the automaker to recycle the working title bestowed on early Falcon-based sports car prototypes. The Allegro was shown alongside a number of other concepts, including the Shelby Cobra-based Cougar II, the ungainly Aurora station wagon, and the Mustang II — a thinly-disguised version of the production Ford Mustang. At the time, publicity materials suggested the car could be powered by either a V-4 from the German Ford Taunus, or an inline-six cribbed from the Falcon range.
Your eyes don’t deceive you — this is a mockup of a four-door Ford Mustang notchback. While designers and product planners tried to lock down what bodystyles the Mustang would be offered in, a sedan was briefly considered. The idea was rejected, likely because it encroached too much on the Falcon’s territory.
Yes, this mock-up was built in 1966, but it wasn’t a precursor to the second-generation Mustang, which went on sale for the 1967 model year. Stylists began toiling on the third-generation Mustang as early as October of 1965, roughly a year after they’d already locked in the design for the 1967-68 Mustang range. For the third-generation Mustang, designers toyed with a number of different rooflines and body styles, including notchback, fastback, targa, and even a shooting brake/ station wagon shown here. The idea didn’t make it to production (though it would resurface in the design studio when it came time to shape the 1971-1973 Mustang), but much of this particular mockup — notably its tall, chunky form, rising rear fenders and air-intakes placed just aft of the doors — would carry into the 1969 Mustang.
You just can’t keep an old concept down. Automakers frequently found themselves toying with old show cars they aged, as a way to keep the public’s interest without incurring the expense of building an entirely new car. Ford dusted off the old Allegro concept car, hacked off its roof, replaced it with a wrap-around windscreen and cantilevered flying buttresses, and replaced the giant round tail lamps with tidy, wrap-around rectangular lenses. The car was merely meant to entertain auto show crowds, but another showcar on the same circuit helped preview the next Mustang.
Shown alongside the Allegro, the Mach II wasn’t intended to replace the Mustang, but rather, the Shelby/ AC Cobra. Built by Kar Kraft, a specialty vehicle engineering
shop that worked under contract to Ford (and would later go on to build Trans-Am Boss 302 Mustangs), the Mach II was a fully running vehicle, complete with a ___ and a fiberglass body that rose only 47 inches from the ground. The Mach II wasn’t called or badged a Mustang, but its tail, complete with ducktail spoiler and blacked-out valance panel, were incorporated into the 1969/1970 Mustang design.
Ford continued to toy with the idea of a mid-engined Cobra successor, going so far as to consider importing the DeTomaso Mangusta to America under the Shelby name. A later mid-engine sports coupe proposal, penned by Larry Shinoda, also bore the Mach II name but looked like the offspring of a first-generation Acura NSX and a GT40.
An interesting mix of cues, including a front clip and NACA duct inlets resembling those used on the 1969-1970 Shelby GT350/500 Mustangs, long sweeping curves, and an even longer, flat rear deck. The latter would appear in the 1971 Mustang, but the curves and sensuous character lines wouldn’t — but they would help influence the Australian XB Falcon coupe, which launched in 1973 (and ultimately became Mad Max’s ride of choice.
Ford purchased the famed Ghia studios in 1970 and leveraged the firm’s design and prototype manufacturing resources to the hilt over the next two decades. The Mustang RSX was one of many Ghia-penned (and built) concept cars from that era, and one of a few built from a Mustang. Built from a Fox-body Mustang, the RSX was designed to emulate a rally car, and saw its wheelbase cut by 5.6 inches and its width inflated by an inch. Sealed beam headlamps were protected by covers mounted flush with the rest of the nose, while custom wheels were engulfed by cartoonish flared fenders. Chalk this one up as a flight of fancy, though some elements did reappear in the oft-forgotten M81 McLaren Mustang/ Mustang Enduro.
After deciding it shouldn’t kill the Mustang in favor of the Probe, Ford set to work designing the 1995 Mustang, its first all-new Mustang design since the advent of the fox-body ‘Stang in 1979. These two proposals — nicknamed “Bruce Jenner” and “Rambo” were under consideration in early 1990. The Jenner Mustang, complete with soft curves and a rather Probe-like roofline, was deemed too soft to be a Mustang. The Rambo, on the other hand, was overwrought to the point it makes even a late-model Pontiac Bonneville SSE, complete with all the cladding and useless strakes, seem sensuous.
Like a real-world Goldilocks story, a third proposal — named “Arnold Schwarzenegger” — fell in between the two extremes, and was chosen to become the 1995 Mustang production car.