Automotive

Published on July 12th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Picture Of The Day, Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang was named after the American World War II fighter plane, the P-51 Mustang. Surprisingly, for all its style and well-marketed sporty design, the Mustang was based heavily on familiar, yet simple components. Much of the chassis, suspension, and drive train was derived from the Ford Falcon and Ford Fairlane. The car had a unitized platform-type frame from the 1964 Falcon, and welcoming box-section side rails, including five welded crossmembers. Although hardtop Mustangs were the majority in sales, durability problems with the new frame led to the unusual step of engineering the (necessarily less rigid) convertible first, which ensured adequate stiffness. Overall length of the Mustang and Falcon was identical, at 181.6 in (4613 mm), although the Mustang’s wheelbase at 108 in (2743 mm) was slightly shorter. With an overall width of 68.2 in (1732 mm), it was 3.4 in (86 mm) narrower, although wheel track was nearly identical. Shipping weight, about 2570 lb (1170 kg) with six-cylinder engine, was also similar. A full-equipped, V8 model weighed about 3000 lb (1360 kg).

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Because the timing of the car’s introduction coincided perfectly with the first wave of the postwar “baby boom”, the Mustang entered the market with a strong force, which was heading off to work in a strong economy. Incredibly, no domestic manufacturer up until that time had anything that remotely resembled an affordable, yet youthful and sophisticated automobile aimed at this burgeoning market, and Iacocca knew it. Despite his repeated attempts to receive the go-ahead to produce such a car, his proposals fell on mostly deaf ears. Although the company was still smarting financially after the demise of the Edsel Division in late 1959, upper management at Ford under Robert McNamara (later United States Secretary of Defense under Lyndon Johnson) wasn’t willing to take such a major risk.

Still, Iacocca persevered and was given the green light to produce the Mustang in mid-1962, which gave the design team only eighteen months to design and develop the car. Not only did the project wrap up in under eighteen months, it wrapped up under budget, thanks to the decision for the use of many existing mechanical parts as possible. As far as the design itself was concerned, Ford stylists basically threw out the company handbook on design limitations. This single handedly pushed the stamp of technology of the time to its limit in such design areas as the sweep of the rear lower valence and the remarkably complicated front end stampings and castings. Curved side glass was used as well, but at a stern price considering the technology to produce distortion-free curved safety glass was still in its early stages. Though most of the mechanical parts were directly taken from the Falcon, the Mustang’s body shell was completely different from the Falcon’s, sporting a shorter wheelbase, wider track, lower seating position, and overall height. An industry first, The “torque box,” was an innovative structural system that greatly stiffened the Mustang’s unitized body construction and further helped contribute to its excellent handling; at least compared to other cars of the time.

When the Mustang hit the market, there was nothing like it. It was perfect for young hip adults and the talk of the new teen power scene.

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