In 1961, Lee Iacocca, vice president and general manager of Ford Division, had a vision. His vision was a car that would seat four people, have bucket seats, a floor mounted shifter, be no more than 180 inches long, weigh less than 2500 pounds, and sell for less than $2500.00. Out of this vision, the Mustang was born. After many months of meetings, discussions and market surveys, funding was finally approved for the Mustang in September of 1962. On March 9, 1964 the first Mustang rolled off of the assembly line. Only 18 months had elapsed since the Mustang had been approved for production. In order to keep production costs down, many of the Mustang's components were "borrowed" from the Falcon, including most of the drivetrain. With a multitude of different interior, exterior, and drivetrain options, the Mustang would be able to be ordered as plain, or as fancy, as economical, or as fast, as the buyer wanted. In general, the Mustang was designed for everyone and was advertised as "the car to be designed by you".
The Mustang was heavily advertised during the latter part of it's development.
On April 16, 1964, the day before it's release, Ford ran simultaneous commercials at 9:30pm on all three major television networks, ABC, NBC, and CBS. The following day, April 17, 1964, people "attacked" the Ford showrooms. Everyone was in a frenzy to be one of the first to own the Mustang. Ford sold over 22,000 Mustangs the first day. By the end of the year, Ford had sold 263,434. By the end of the Mustang's first anniversary, April 17, 1965, Ford had sold 418,812 Mustangs. The Mustang had made a name for itself, and it was here to stay!
The First Mustang Prototype: Mustang I
The aluminum-bodied Mustang I made its debut in October 1962 at the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. Dan Gurney, in a non-competitive demonstration drive, drove the 1,200lb two-seater at speeds in excess of 100mph. Only the Mustang name and emblem from this prototype found their way to production vehicles. The Mustang I, an aluminum bodied, tube frame mid-engine V4 with a transaxle, independent suspension, and a 90in wheelbase, debuted October 7, 1962, at the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. Dan Gurney drove the fresh 1,200lb prototype around the track at speeds approaching 120mph, while Chevrolet's nonfunctional styling exercise sat aside, ignored.
When Ford took aim at the younger sports car buyer, they did it with a Mustang I -- a fully functional, hand-built prototype designed by Roy Lunn and crafted by Troutman-Barnes of Culver City, California. The engine was a rear mounted 60° V4 with 4-speed transaxle taken from the FWD Taunus, a Ford of Europe product. It's 1,498 cc's produced 89 hp @ 6600 rpm, good for 0-60 times of 11.1 seconds and quarter mile ETs of 17.4 @ 76 mph.
The Second Mustang Prototype: Mustang II
Eugene Bordiant's Advanced Styling Studio created the Mustang II in 1963 to test consumer and press reaction. Looking more like what would become the production Mustang, with a 108in wheelbase, the car ran a 271 hp High Performance V-8.
This car bore a closer resemblance to the production Mustang still six months away from introduction, though styling cues, such as the rear quarter chrome trim, taillights, and jutting grille, provided a number of detail hints of the 1966 and 1967 models. Touted as the prototype for a 'two-plus-two...that might sell for less than $3,000, the car ran a 271hp High Performance V8, identical to the one used in the Shelby Cobra sports car. Its wheelbase measured 108in (the same as the production Mustang), and its overall length of 186.6in was 5in longer than the production model.