|Home||Welcome Center||Exclusives||Tech Center||Parts||Photo Gallery||Multimedia||Registry||Merchandise|
|Designing the Mustang II | Cobra II Silver Anniversary | One of a Kind II | Pre-Production Press Kit|
|74 Mustang - Young Car With a Tradition and a Future|
|THE FIRST MUSTANG|
In 1961, a youthful Ford Division management team, haed by then division General Manager Lee A. Iacocca, had its finger on the quickening pulse of America. That team was developing a proposal to build and market a sporty little car to match the youthful mood of the nation.
The Division's market researchers were turning out a new chart almost weekly - plotting the growth of the youth market and its buying patterns. And youth was casting a ballot for a car with a sporty flair.
The charts showed other trends, for example one toward higher education. In addition, consumers as a whole were becoming increasingly sophisticated and discriminating through improved communications, including the growing influence of television; there was astounding growth in multiple car ownership, spawned by increasing affluence; and women had increasing influence in car purchasing - especially among multiple-car families. Women wanted a second car, one that was small and manueverable, easy to handle and park. With two cars, it was not necessary for both to be able to transport the entire family. One could be a small, specialized vehicle.
To the market watchers at Ford Division, trends both sociological and economic helped explain a subtle, undefined change in the U.S. automobile market.
At the beginning of the 1960's, the U.S. car makers had made their move to reverse the tide of imported cars. The American offerings had been well-received, but some anomalies had begun to appear.
The U.S. compacts had been developed in response to obvious consumer demand for economical transportation. But apparently the customer's ideas of an economy car didn't jibe with classic concepts of what was economical.
For example, the Ford Falcon - a straightforward, businesslike economy compact - had been an immediate sales success, setting a record for a new car in its first 12 months on the market with 417,174 retail deliveries.
The Chevrolet Corvair - a less conventional, rear-engined, more dramatically styled car - had a less auspicious start, but the offering of bucket seats and sport trim in the "Monza" package boosted its sales appreciably.
Meanwhile, European sports cars were doing better than should have been expected in a U.S. market that had been clamoring for economy cars. And Ford was getting letters from people who had owned or fancied the original two-passenger Thunderbird - far out of proportion to the volume of the 1955-57 Thunderbird sales, which had totaled less than 53,000.
Text and photos in the Exclusive Feature Stories section may not be reproduced in any manner without express written permission from the Mustang II Network.