In 1963, engineers at the Ford Motor Co. turned a Ford Falcon into a sporty four-door coupe. Then they took two doors off, made it sportier still and, on April 17, 1964, hit the market at the New York World's Fair with the now-iconic Mustang.
The original pony car turns 51 today. In celebration, Ford is releasing a birthday video and filmmaker David Gelb -- known for "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" -- will unveil his Mustang documentary "A Faster Horse" at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday.
The celebrated Mustang, whose 2015 incarnation is the latest of six design generations, has been in continuous production since its inception.
According to legend, Ford didn't know what it had created. The car might have been called the Cougar, Torino or even Thunderbird II. The company reportedly had hoped to sell 100,000 in the first year, at an MSRP of under $2,400. It sold more than 300,000. Ford then rushed production and built more than 1 million Mustangs in the first 18 months.
The rest is history. To date, Ford has sold more than 9 million Mustangs. Though the 77,000 units the company sold last year represent less than 5% of its total sales, the car is still the company's poster child -- and the 29,811 Mustangs sold in the U.S. this year, according to data company True Car, are a 52% increase over the same period last year.
The Times' review last year of a 450-horsepower V-8 2015 GT model called it "a surprisingly nimble muscle car."
"The GT is surprisingly lively and fun on tight roads," David Undercoffler wrote. "The power and size of this car are perfectly matched."
The 2015 Mustang is not as inexpensive as the original. The entry-level model V-6 starts at $24,425, with the top-of-the-line V-8 GT model at $32,925.