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Everyone recognizes the Ford Mustang as it’s driving down the road. It’s one of the manufacturer’s most iconic sports cars and has been for more than 50 years. You probably already know a few facts about this famous car, but chances are good we’ve got at least one fact here you’ve never heard before. Read on for some fascinating and lesser-known facts about one of the most famous cars in the world.
The Mustang quickly earned the nickname “Pony Car” because it was named for a type of wild horse. But it wasn’t always Pony-related. According to one designer, the name was pitched in honor of the P-51 Mustang fighter plane used in World War II. This suggestion was rejected because it was too “airplaney.” Yes — yes that’s the word they used. The same name was pitched again, instead as a reference to a horse. It was accepted.
The Missing Years
There’s nothing quite like feeling the wind in your hair as you’re driving your Mustang down the highway. But if you picked one up between the years of 1973 and 1983, you were out of luck. For some unknown reason, Ford stopped producing Mustang convertibles for that 10-year period. They started offering the convertible option again during the 1983 model year.
Pie in the Sky
For the Pony Car’s fiftieth anniversary, the Mustang ascended higher than it ever had before. The new-at-the-time 2015 Mustang was taken in pieces to the top of the Empire state building and assembled there. The placard accompanying the car stated that this enormous climb started in New York, 50 years prior, at the 1964 World’s Fair.
Ford did the same thing with the original Mustang in 1965 — and they had to bring it up to the observation deck the same way they had all those years ago. The building is too tall to use a crane and the spire makes it impossible to drop the car on the deck by helicopter. So they cut it into six pieces, carried them up the freight elevator and assembled it in place!
A Lasting Legacy
The Mustang Shelby Cobra is one of the most famous versions of the Pony Car — it’s a Mustang built with racecar specifications. The man behind the legend is one Carrol Shelby. While heart problems put an end to his racing career at the young age of 37, that didn’t stop him from creating one of the most legendary cars that has ever come off the Ford assembly lines. The first version of the Shelby, the GT 350, was released in 1965.
He continued working with Ford on various incarnations of the Shelby until his death in 2012.
The very first Mustang — the one that had the VIN number 5F08F100001 — was supposed to have been used as a model that could be sent to dealerships around the country so they could see the new car before they took delivery. Unfortunately, while it was being showcased in Newfoundland, one savvy buyer convinced the Ford dealership to sell the model to him.
Ford did eventually get the model back. It’s currently showcased in the official Ford Museum.
What’s in a Name? (Part 2)
The Mustang almost wasn’t the Mustang at all — it almost became the Ford Cougar! Some early sketches showed the model for the Mustang marked with the name and there were badges and emblems crafted for the early models with this cat-based name.
It wasn’t just Cougar, though — the Mustang was also almost called “Torino,” “Bronco,” “Puma,” “Colt,” “Thunderbird II” and even “Panther.” Thankfully, they decided to go with “Mustang” and the rest is history. The original name for the Pony Car was later repurposed to become the Mercury Cougar.
A History of Wins
The Le Mans race in France is one of the biggest races in the world. It’s been held every year since 1923 and requires drivers to race for a full 24 hours around one of the most famous tracks in the country. While American manufacturers had sent cars to be part of the race for a majority of its history, it wasn’t until 1966 that an American manufacturer managed to secure a win.
Technically, the GT40 that won the race that year wasn’t a Mustang, but it included so many Mustang innovations and components that we felt it deserved a place on this list.
300 Million and Counting
2003 was a special year for the Mustang. Not only was it quickly approaching the Pony Car’s fortieth anniversary, but it was also the year the assembly lines reached a monumental milestone. The three-hundred-millionth car rolled off the assembly line — a Mustang GT convertible, if you want to be precise. Not only was it decked out with custom accessories marking it as the 300 millionth car produced by Ford, but it was also driven off the assembly line by CEO Bill Ford, Jr. — a descendant of the original mind behind the company, Henry Ford.
Nowadays, a new Ford Mustang will probably run you between $20,000 and $30,000 depending on the specific model and the customizations you choose. Back when the Pony Car was new, though, you could pick one up for relative pocket change by today’s standards. When the first 22,000 Mustangs were ordered at the World’s Fair in 1964, the MSRP for the car was a paltry $2,368.
If you account for inflation, that’s still cheaper than most new Mustangs. In today’s dollars, $2,368 would cost you about $19,000.
Breaking the Bank
While a new Mustang in 1964 might not have cost you much, the Pony Car has a history of running up a serious tab for coveted models. The most expensive Mustang ever sold was a restored 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake. There was only one of this particular model ever made, as it was built as a test car. The final price tag? It sold at auction for $1.3 million.
Did you learn something new about the illustrious Ford Mustang? We hope so! If we missed your favorite obscure fact about these famous Pony Cars, let us know!