True American Muscle
In today’s world, “a mere 8 percent of households do not own cars” (Exum). Most people not only own a car, but many people also have a favorite car or car company. Most of these companies are located in Asia and other foreign countries throughout the world, but there are still a few automotive businesses that remain in the United States. One of the most well known of those companies is Ford. Its excellent reputation can be credited mostly to its greatest creation, the Mustang. This high-speed car has been a favorite of Americans for years because it has adapted to our society’s changes and has helped the U.S. car industry through many hard times. The Mustang has changed and improved mechanically in many ways throughout the years of its existence. A deeper look into its history shows that the Mustang has paralleled U.S. history and society’s evolving desires for American muscle. The remarkable Mustangs that you see on the road today evolved from the 1964 ½ model which took more than three years to perfect. All of this hard work by the members of the Ford Motor Company was kept a secret for the most part. The public knew nearly nothing of this new car that would soon sweep the American automotive industry. Ford’s Italian-American entrepreneur, Lee Iacocca, formulated the idea to allow several different groups within the company to compete for the Mustang’s design. At this time, there were several names in the mix for Ford’s new wonder. Some of the top candidates were the Cougar, the Bronco, the Puma, the Cheetah, the Colt, the Turino (Italy’s capital at this time), and of course, the Mustang (Brinkley 610). Iacocca decided that their design had to be “distinctively sporty and distinctively styled – preferably with just a dash of foreign flavor. It had to be small and maneuverable, but capable of seating four passengers with room left over for a good-sized trunk. And last, but by no means least, the price had to be aimed at the mass market” (Brinkley 609). With this design, Ford hoped that they would be able to reach four main groups in society. They wanted to take aim at “two-car families with a little surplus cash to spend, young drivers with hardly any money at all, women who wanted something easy to maintain, and the sporty set in search of a fun new toy” (Brinkley 609). Ford worked diligently to perfect every aspect of the new car and have it ready for production the day of its unveiling. The day before the Mustang’s release, Ford decided to grab the attention of nearly every American by showing the Mustang in commercials aired on ABC, CBS, and NBC at the same time. These attractive commercials effectively reached millions of Americans and created lots of energy about the new car (Leffingwell 72). With its excellent marketing strategies, Ford had the population ready for the next big move in cars.
When the Mustang was unveiled on April 17, 1964 (Huffman), it was an absolute hit in the U.S. and Ford’s sales illustrated the success. In just the first day of sales, the Mustang sold 22,000 cars (Leffingwell 70). After the short “1964 ½” model year, as it is now called, the Mustang had sold a shocking 126,538 cars (Huffman). In its first full model year, Ford sold an astonishing 418,812 Mustangs and broke the record for most sales in a model year, previously held by the Falcon (Leffingwell 70). Not only did it break the existing sales record, but it also became the first car to ever receive the “Tiffany Gold Medal Award ‘for excellence in American design’” (Brinkley 613). The different engines for the first Mustangs were an I-6 engine with 101 HP, an I-6 engine with 120 HP, and a standard V-8 engine with 164 HP (Langworth 37). In the fall of 1964, Ford introduced a new model in addition to the two already in production. Now, to accompany the convertible and the coupe, they offered the fastback (Langworth 35). In the 1965 model year, Ford increased its sales to 559,451 Mustangs...
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