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Ford Mustang History (1964)

Article by Mark Trotta

Aimed squarely at America's youth market, the Ford Mustang was compact, stylish, and offered great performance at an affordable price.

Ford Mustang history

Debuting at the New York World's Fair in April of 1964, over 22,000 orders were received on the first day of sales. First-year projections of 100,000 units were surpassed in three months.


Back Story

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 from Mustang's original two-seat concept to 2+2 coupe and convertible versions.

1964 Ford Mustang history

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

Because sales began in the middle of model year, 1964 Mustangs are sometimes referred to as 1964½ models. The starting suggested retail price was $2,368.

Consumers 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. In June of 1964, a 4-barrel 289-cid V-8 engine was added to the options list.


1964 Indy 500 Pace Car

Although Ford's full-size Galaxie was originally chosen for the honor, due to it's unprecedented popularity, the Mustang became the 1964 Indy 500 pace car.

1964 Ford Mustang Indy 500 pace car

All pace car Mustangs were painted white and came with special striping. Interior choices were either red, white, or blue vinyl. The special Indy 500 door graphics were installed at Ford dealers.



Convertible pace car replicas were equipped with the 271-horsepower 289-cid V-8, with coupe versions getting the 260-cid engine. Transmission choices were the Cruise-O-Matic automatic or four-speed manual.

First-Year Sales

First-year Mustangs were produced from March 1964 to August 1964, with 121,538 sold.


"Mustang-mania" quickly sparked a whole new breed of cars, and soon the new pony car market was off and running. Many worthy opponents followed, such as the AMC Javelin, Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Mercury Cougar.

What Is A Pony Car?

Popular in the 1960's and 1970's, pony cars were two-door coupes or convertibles with long hoods/short trunk lids, powered by either a six-cylinder or V8 engine. They were unique in that they could be different things to different people.



Being fairly small and light, reasonable gas mileage was attained with a six-cylinder engine. Many became popular platforms for sports car racing, and when fitted with the larger V8's, quarter-mile acceleration runs. They often competed with each other on NHRA drag strips and Trans Am road race courses.

First Pony Car

The Plymouth Barracuda debuted on April 1, 1964. Sales were lukewarm. Two weeks later, Ford debuted the Mustang. More than one-million were sold in the first eighteen months of production.

Ford Mustang history

Because of its popularity, and the fact that it inspired so many competitors, the Mustang sits in automotive history as the original Pony car.


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Ford Mustang History (1965)