Tue May 27 2014 19:44:37 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
"Maserati officially turns 100 this year – and in celebration of the centenary, we dissect an eventful history, explore the most beautiful models, and uncover some of the marque's lesser-known facts....."
Ford Motor Company has launched an electronic birthday card for the Mustang’s 50th, and it’s hoping to smash the world record for the most signatures on an e-card by recruiting more than 50,000 signees. Want to get in on the fun? Sign Here:
"Celebrating in style the Mustang Club of America is organizing five-day celebrations at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada, where thousands of Mustangs from each decade will meet.
The following account of the Mustang's hyperbolic debut is excerpted from "Engines of Change", a 2012 book by the managing editor of Reuters, Paul Ingrassia.
On the night of April 16, 1964, Ford blitzed the airwaves by buying the 9:30 to 10 p.m. slot (Eastern time) on all three American television networks to tout the Mustang. The company also bought ads in 2,600 newspapers, including special ads for the "women's pages," as they were then known, to celebrate the Mustang's Tiffany Design Award, the first ever given to a commercial product. The official introduction came the next day, April 17, at the New York World's Fair..."
" Coca Cola vs. Pepsi, Jay Leno vs. David Letterman, Microsoft vs. Apple, these are the great American rivalries of our time. Sometimes, rivalries between two companies become so bitter, they lose sight of what they were trying to accomplish in the first place. But most rivalries are healthy, forcing both sides to continuously better themselves as well as their product, and in the end, the consumer becomes the real winner. A perfect case in point is another famous American rivalry, Mustang vs. Camaro.
The Mustang and Camaro have been battling it out for pony car supremacy since 1967. Just uttering the words “Mustang, or Camaro?” at a car meet or around enthusiasts of either side can spark an argument. But as bad as the blood between the two groups may be, they have each other to thank for how successful both nameplates are.
“For five decades, the Camaro and the Mustang have been battling it out in every possible setting,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of GM Global Product Development. “These two cars have been striving to beat each other on the track, on the drag strip and on the streets. That competition is a big part of why both cars are so amazing, and so popular, today.”
Ford rolled out the Mustang 50 years ago this week, creating a whole new segment of transportation, the pony car. Three years later, Chevrolet answered back and introduced the Camaro as a direct competitor to the Mustang. It’s only appropriate then that Chevrolet wishes its most bitter-sweet rival a happy birthday as both cars look forward to another 50 years of healthy competition.
“The new Camaro hit the ground running, and it’s been a battle royale ever since with the bowtie vs. the blue oval,” said Ken Gross, a veteran automotive journalist. “Chevy readily admits its Camaro is constantly getting better, thanks to intense competition from Ford, and I’d agree.”
PRETORIA, South Africa -
"To mark the occasion, Mustang fans in the Western Cape gathered on Sunday (April 13) to celebrate the car’s half-century. Fans were treated to a display of more than 60 of the legendary sports coupés at the historic Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town.
The gathering, arranged by the Mustang Club of South Africa, saw Mustang models from 1965 all the way through to 2013 on display. The models represented a selection of cars that were sold in South Africa as well as modern models that enthusiasts have made an effort to import.
This celebration is just one of many around the world marking the birthday of the historic Stallion.
When the father of the Mustang, Lee Iacocca, first showed off his 18-month-long secret project to Ford employees in Dearborn, he couldn’t have anticipated the product’s imminent success. Nor could he have anticipated that 50 years later his sports coupe - a lightweight, two-door car with seating for the whole family, as well as performance credentials in the form of a four-speed manual and a V8 under the bonnet- would be celebrated as a global icon.
The Ford Mustang was publicly unveiled on April 17 at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, and within a year it was shown to the South African public at the 1965 South African Grand Prix in East London.
In 1965 the Mustang started its South African racing career. With local drivers, Ford South Africa entered two Mustangs to compete in the competition, and the Mustang won the South African Saloon Car championship in both 1966 and 1967.
After its launch the Mustang quickly became a household name. However, the joy was short-lived, in Ford’s official capacity. In the early 70s, with both the oil crisis and sanction from international governments, the Mustang story came to an early end.
While die-hard enthusiasts have been able to be part of the Mustang story by importing models, both old and new, a new generation of Mustang fans will soon join their ranks. In 2015 Ford’s flagship will officially return to South Africa in full force, with a suitably updated range to carry on the legacy."
"Fifty years ago, the first Baby Boomers hit 18 with a ravenous appetite for anything outside the mainstream. The U.S. economy was booming, and the country was yearning to shake off the November 1963 assassination of President Kennedy.
Ford Motor couldn't have timed the entirely new car better.
On April 17, 1964, the Ford Mustang sporty car went on sale — and exploded into American culture as no other car had since the Model T.
The Mustang gave Ford a vehicle with a halo that to this day outshines less-exciting models. And it made Ford executive Lee Iacocca look like a genius for promoting production of the iconic model.
The Mustang, which was introduced at the New York World's Fair, carried a price tag starting at $2,368 — or $17,934 in today's dollars.
This week, Ford will mark the birthday at the New York Auto Show by recreating the 1964 public relations stunt of disassembling a Mustang, taking it up in elevators and reassembling it on the Empire State Building's observation deck.
Mustang fans also plan big events, including at the speedways in Charlotte and Las Vegas.
FULL TIMELINE WITH PHOTOS: 50 years of Mustangs
YOUR TAKE: Show your 'Stang's sporty style
Iacocca, attuned to the value of symbolism, pushed to sell 417,000 Mustangs in the first 12 months, to mark the 4/17 launch. The car hit 418,812, according to Ford archives. That marked a huge success, considering that auto sales at the time were about half of what they are today. Sales of Mustang — a specialty car — were about even with today's mainstream, high-volume family sedans such as Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
The car became so popular that just about everybody at Ford in those days had a story about the car. The favorite of the late Don Frey, the engineer who conceived the Mustang, was a letter he got from a Texas janitor shortly after the launch: "I've been courting this 5,000-acre widow for years. I finally got her in my red pony. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Iacocca, known for his marketing savvy, pitched the Mustang as "the car designed to be designed by you." That was his way of inviting buyers to add high-profit options that did not come with the base vehicle, such as power windows.
A tough sell for Iacocca
Frey collaborated with Ford product engineer Harold "Hal" Sperlich under Iacocca's sponsorship to finally get the green light to build the Mustang — on their fifth try.
Iacocca "took the major burden of getting the thing (Mustang) sold to the top brass" — not an easy task, because Ford still was smarting from the spectacular failure of its 1958-1960 Edsel line, Frey recounted in a past interview with USA TODAY.
Frey, who died in 2010, had said came up with the Mustang concept after his children razzed him about Ford's boring lineup. As a big shot at Ford product development, he was singularly positioned to do something about it.
Sperlich quickly saw the potential in Frey's idea. "Hal Sperlich took the Ford Falcon economy car and used as many parts as he could," recalled fast-car guru and Mustang hop-up artist Carroll Shelby in a 2004 interview, as the car celebrated its 40th birthday.
YOUR TAKE: Show your 'Stang's sporty style
Using the Falcon undercarriage to save money, Frey's crew and that of Ford styling chief Joe Oros made numerous prototypes until Oros' stylists finally got the desired "Italian" look: thin and elegant wrap-around bumpers, air scoops on the sides, a long hood to imply a big engine, small trunk to suggest an impetuous buy-what-we-need-when-we-get-there attitude, and a hefty medallion on the grille as Italian maker Maserati might use.
Company chief Henry Ford II finally gave the OK. He showed up at a styling studio in the fall of 1962, and in typically salty fashion, as Frey recalled it, said: "Frey, I'm tired of hearing about your (expletive) Mustang. I'm gonna approve it, and it's your ass if it doesn't sell."
In a past interview with USA TODAY, Oros, who died in 2012, said that Mustang was "the most exciting car that I worked on at Ford. It was just unbelievable."
Mustang's appeal is unique. It lures everybody from hot-rodders smitten with the car's hop-up potential to the mild-mannered who can have that same kick-butt image in a tamer model at a bargain price.
Purists might accuse Ford of stretching the truth by claiming the Mustang has been in continuous production since 1964. Yes, there have been cars called Mustang since the start. But the infamous 1974-1978 Mustang II was wholly different.
That car was a shrunken version of the traditional Mustang, built atop the Ford Pinto economy car chassis with a four-cylinder standard engine. It kept the name alive through the oil embargo of 1973 and the fuel shortages and small-car import invasion that followed.
Adding "II" to the name makes it clear that even Ford had trouble keeping a straight face calling that one a Mustang.
The car also almost died after the 1993 model. But Ford engineer John Coletti and other company Mustang enthusiasts, dubbed the Gang of Eight, couldn't imagine Ford without Mustang.
Working on their own time in an old Montgomery Ward warehouse away from Ford's Dearborn, Mich., headquarters, they developed a plan to carry over some parts and mildly modify others, to keep costs down, while designing a new body and interior. Then-CEO, flinty Harold "Red" Poling, gave it the "Go" after a grueling interrogation of the Gang and a written promise from them to deliver the car on time, under budget.
The classic Mustang debate remains about the first one — launched outside the then-customary fall new-model launch — is a "1964½" or 1965?
Ford archivist Dean Weber says the vehicle identification numbers (VIN) were coded as 1965 from the very first, so, in the minds of DMV clerks everywhere, the issue's settled. But, he says, some internal Ford documents refer to "the 1964½ car," giving license to that designation.
Regardless, those earliest Mustangs were anathema to Shelby, who died in 2012. His reputation is woven throughout the Mustang story, but he said in the 2004 interview, "I had nothing to do with the original Mustang."
It seemed lame, he said: "Secretary's car ... They didn't even have the 289 high-performance engine then."
From mule to racehorse
The 289 cubic-inch V-8 — a 4.7-liter in today's reckoning — was among a Ford series of engines that didn't weigh much or take much space, but were robust enough to modify for extraordinary power: 271 horsepower from the 289 engine, Ford eventually reached.
But that wasn't enough. "Iacocca called me and said, 'Carroll, can you make this a sports car?'" Shelby said his reaction was, "These guys want me to make a mule into a racehorse."
Which he did, building it at his own Shelby American operation instead of at Ford directly. "It's a constant fight over stuff in those big companies," he said. "Built it on the outside because you can do things twice as fast for half the money."
Those 1965 through 1967 Shelby Mustangs today are coveted by collectors willing to pay more than $100,000 for a good example at recent classic-car auctions.
On the Mustang's 40th anniversary, Bill Ford, the company's executive chairman, said, "The Mustang's always made money, but its importance has always been way beyond financial. It's a halo car for other products. Its contribution to the company always has been greater than its sales."
As Ford Motor readies a redesigned, 2015 Mustang due later this year, Ford hasn't lost his enthusiasm. In a recent video to employees, he said: "This is the most important product we have, at least to me personally. Every time we unveil a Mustang, the stakes are raised."
"The Ford Mustang marks its 50th birthday this year. It was 50 years ago this month that the first Mustangs rolled out of Dearborn, Michigan—casting a spell on the American public and kicking off a hot-burning romance that’s never stalled out since. Of course, as in any half-century long relationship, there’s been growth and evolution (see: the racing-inspired Shelby Mustangs); mistakes we’d rather forget (e.g. the gaudy, boxy Mustangs of the ’80s); and moments when we remember why we fell so hard in the first place (the “retro-futuristic” 2005 Mustang resdesign). But through thick and thin—’80s King Cobra paint jobs and all—it’s clear that love has been involved in every step of the way. Here’s a look back at (nearly) a half century of the American car. "
Ford Mustang Celebrates 50th Anniversary at Empire State Building.
"Two modern American icons will come together when the latest generation of the Mustang convertible appears on the top of the Empire State Building in April to celebrate 50 continuous years of production of the Pony car by Ford.
The new, 2015 Ford Mustang convertible will be on display on the 86th floor observatory in the Empire State Building.
The publicity stunt requires that the car be cut into multiple sections, transported up the elevator on wheeled carts, and reassembled by a technical team in the display area. Because of the building’s stunning height at 1,454 feet, there is no portable crane to make the delivery easier. The spire at the top of the building makes a helicopter delivery equally impossible.
Ford managed the stunt once before in 1965 using a similar process, but the prototype Mustang displayed then was seven inches shorter and four inches narrower than the new model.
Working from computer engineering data, team members preparing the display car have found places to make the cuts in the car so everything can be loaded onto custom-made racks that can be rolled into the elevators.
Once everything is on the 86th floor and uncrated, the technicians will have less than six hours to reassemble the sections.
“Like all good craftsmen, our team is measuring twice and cutting once to make sure we can get this Mustang up in the elevators,” said Dave Pericak, Mustang chief engineer.
“Like the team that did this in 1965, the current crew visited the Empire State Building before starting and took careful measurements of its new elevators and doors before cutting up the car,” Pericak said.
The original Mustang was revealed for the first time in a television ad campaign on April 16, 1964, and then first shown to the public at the World’s Fair in New York on April 17, 1964. The car officially went on sale that day with a record 22,000 orders in sales that first day. More than nine million Mustangs have been sold in the past fifty years.
Visitors can join the celebration and view the 2015 Ford Mustang on display at the Empire State Building’s 86th floor observatory from from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on April 16 and 17."