Ford Mustang - A LEGEND IS BORN
Unveiled at the New York Fair on April 17th, 1964 and two days later over the most important American TV networks, the Ford Mustang was born from a brilliant idea of Lee Iacocca (the General Manager of Ford at that time) and Donald N.Frey (Ford Designer and Engineer). This incredible "duo", despite the contrary opinion of Robert McNamara, Ford President at the time, had the brilliant idea of launching a visionary project thinking about the desires of the American baby boomers' generation that was born after the Second World War. The development of the Mustang, also known as the most courageous, elegant and successful of all the "Pony Cars" was immeasurably more relevant than Ford imagined (1 million vehicles sold in the first 18 months?) and even if most of the parts used to build it were "borrowed" from other Ford vehicles (including the mythical chassis of the Ford Falcon), the car developed its own identity for an entire generation of young Americans. The very first concept car, called Ford Mustang I, was made in just 100 days and launched on October 7th,1962 at Watkins Glen, New York, during the Grand Prix of the United States. The car, a two seater spider with a central engine, originally created to compete with the Chevrolet Corvair Monza, was then deeply transformed in the model that we all know. The design of the final car was entrusted by Iacocca to David Ash and Joseph Oros, both designers for Lincoln-Mercury, a brand owned by Ford. The story goes that Ash and Oros, as it often happens in car factories, won an internal race organized for the Ford group designers.
The basic version was a hardtop car with a 2.8 liter and 6 in-line cylinder engine able to develop 105 hp. The sale price was 2,368 dollars without accessories, and one of the reasons for the great success of this car was a very high possibility of customizations, including limited slip differential, sport trims, air-conditioning, front disc brakes and the mythical PONY INTERIORS.
Two types of bodywork were available: the convertible and the hardtop versions.
THE COLLABORATION WITH CARROLL SHELBY STARTED
In 1965, the first important changes were introduced, these included a brand new range of engines including the 3.3 liter and the 4.7 liter V8 versions with two or four-barrel carburetor. Another important variant consisted of the introduction of the FASTBACK body, two doors and hatchback, and the new sport optional package called GT was introduced, too (here in a beautiful photo by Rick Mack). But, again in 1965, the legendary 350 SHELBY GT version was born from the brilliant collaboration between Ford and Carroll Shelby. As a matter of fact, Shelby was an American pilot and then an entrepreneur. Shelby, after participating in the Second World War within the USAF, became a pilot and raced for Maserati and then in 1958 and 1959 for Aston Martin in Formula 1; he won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1959 driving an Aston Martin. The bodywork selected by Shelby for the GT 350 was obviously the fastback one, which had just been introduced at that time. The cars were produced (without hood, back seats and interior equipment) in the Ford plant in San Jos? (California) and then shipped to Carrol Shelby's body shop in Los Angeles to be "transformed"...
The vehicle was equipped with a 4.7 liter engine suitably modified to develop 306 hp, front disc brakes, rear drum brakes (from the Ford Galaxy) and a 4-speed engine. The hood was in glass fiber and the car was equipped with 15'' trims in magnesium, Koni shock absorbers and a limited slip differential. Other interesting changes consisted of a strengthened cabin, a more resistant triangular support under the hood able to absorb any front shocks and a tank in glass fiber replacing the back seats where the spare tire and the tools required for the races were placed.
THE FORD MUSTANG AND THE CINEMA
The Ford Mustang is certainly one of the legendary cars in the history of cinema that was driven in many successful films. We cannot forget the yellow and black version (the Ford Mustang Grande of 1972) used in "Grundhouse" by Tarantino, the Mustang GT500 of 2011 driven by Ryan Gosling in "Drive" in 2011, the "Eleonor" (a Shelby Mustang GT500 of 1967) used by Nicholas Cage in "Gone in 60 Seconds" in 2000 (the car was then sold by auction in 2013 for 1 million dollars), the Ford Mustang Cobra 2 of 1976 driven by Farrah Fawcett in "Charlie's Angels", the Ford Mustang Convertible of 1964 used by the Bond girl Tanya Mallet in "Goldfinger" in 1964 and - above all - the wonderful Ford Mustang GT390 Fastback in the legendary Greenlight version with the registration plate no. JJZ109 of 1968 used by Steve McQueen in "Bullit" by Peter Yates.
On this account, watch "Bullit" again and pay attention on how Steve McQueen drove without using stuntmen...