Ford Mustang
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Photos: 50 years of Ford Mustangs

In early 1962, one of the many proposals for the Mustang was essentially a mini version of the Thunderbird that borrowed many cues from the upcoming 1963 model. (Ford)
With no one entirely satisfied with the proposals that had emerged, a new design competition was held in September 1962. Each of the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury studios put together sketches and clay models for the final evaluation. Gale Halderman in Joe Oros’ Ford studio did several sketches, with Oros and his executive designer selecting this one. (Ford)
Initially only the hardtop and convertible were approved for production. In early 1963, Halderman sketched several proposals for a fastback inspired by the earlier Allegro/Avanti concepts. Halderman wanted the roofline to extend all the way to the rear edge of the car, a design that would later be adopted on the 1967 fastback. (Ford)
With the basic design of the Mustang finalized, Ford decided to produce a new concept for October 1963 that would preview the look of the production model. (Ford)
Each of the design models was given a name to help distinguish them. The design details of the Allegro did not meet with management approval, but its overall long-hood, short-deck, hardtop proportions did inspire the production model. (Ford)
At the end of the competition, Halderman’s design was selected as the basis for the new production model. Oros selected Cougar as its name. Aside from the badging, the most prominent visual difference from the final production model were the oval headlights from the European Ford Taunus. (Ford)
Like many clay models, the Cougar had an asymmetrical design with a different treatment on each side to save time. The right side of the car had different scoops and shorter doors than the left side, which ultimately won out. Note the three-piece tail lamps were replaced by a simpler one-piece design for production. (Ford)
On the original clay model from September 1962, the side scoops were intended to be functional but engineering issues eventually precluded that. By December, models had adopted an ornamental scoop design. (Ford)
Different scoop treatments and more squared-off wheel arches were also tried out. (Ford)
While the Mustang concept was being completed in September 1962, a competition was held among the Ford designers for a four-seat sporty car. More than a dozen designs were proposed but ultimately one by Gale Halderman was selected as the basis of what would eventually be sold as the 1965 Mustang. Each design had a different name to distinguish them and Halderman’s proposal was called Cougar. The grille featured a stylized big-cat contained by a surround that would eventually be known as the pony corral. (Ford)
There was considerable debate about which direction the Cougar or pony should face; left or right. Various design models during 1962-1964 can be found with logos pointing in either direction. (Ford)
Just as the Cougar logos could be found at various times facing left or right, so too with the pony. This design prototype used the right-facing horse because some felt that was the way people were used to seeing horses run on racetracks. (Ford)
Ultimately, Lee Iacocca said “the Mustang is a wild horse, not a domesticated racer” and designer Gene Halderman decided the pony should always face left, the way Phil Clark had almost exclusively drawn it. J. Walter Thompson account executive Frank Thomas, who worked on the name research, is quoted as saying that Mustang rose to the top “because it had the excitement of the wide open spaces and was American as all hell.” Although no concrete evidence can be found, numerous anecdotes have been told that the left-facing pony represents a horse running west corresponding to that direction on a typical map. (Ford)
Other logos considered included a horse head reminiscent of a chess knight. (Ford)
During 1963, Ford prepared a second concept based on one of the production prototype body shells that would eventually be called Mustang II. The proportions of the pony logo as used on the Mustang I were deemed too tall to fit nicely in the production-style grille corral. Design studio modelers Charles Keresztes and Waino Kangas were tasked with creating new versions of the pony for the grille and fender of the Mustang II concept and the 1965 production car. Here Keresztes works on a further revision of the badge for the production of the 1974 Mustang II. (Ford)
The Mustang II concept featured the first public appearance of the pony in the corral on the grille in October 1963. (Ford)
On April 17, 1964, the production Ford Mustang debuted at the New York World’s Fair on its way to more than 400,000 sales in the first year and 1 million in the first 20 months.  (Ford)

A 1965 Mustang Fastback 2+2

The Shelby GT-350 Mustang of drivers Hugh Kleinpeter, Ray Mummery and Bruce Hollander sits on the pit road prior to the running of the 24 Hours of Daytona at Daytona International Speedway in Florida. (ISC Archives / Getty Images)
The sixth-generation of the car had to have what Ford designer Joel Piaskowski called the three hallmarks of a Mustang: the shark nose, the tri-bar tail lamps and the fast-back roof profile. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)