Mustang became one of the representative of American muscle car with its powerful appearance and strong power system. Perhaps it’s neither the car with the largest horsepower, nor the best seller, however, it’s the reflection of American automobile culture and humanistic culture.
What’s in your mind when we mention American muscle car? Most people would firstly think about V8 engine, large displacement, rear guard and American liberalism. However, the first , muscle car must be Mustang. We can also say, that Mustang is the brightest one among the American classical muscle cars in the history. Mustang is not only a car, but also the symbol of American spirit, it represents American’s desire for liberty and courage to face challenge, and that’s what have created Mustang.
The first generation（1964-1973）
After World War II the national power of America was improved, and cars became American’s necessities. Those born during the postwar baby boom gradually became the main force of vehicle consumption. They desired for a car which is able to show their personality, with outstanding performance and low price. Then a special team consisted of elites from every departments of Ford had a brain storm meeting in Fairlane Hotel, which is near to the headquarter of Ford. There was only one object in the meeting : how to launch a car that is popular among the young people.
The team confirm the the orientation of this new car soon. They decided that this car should be a compact coupe with a fashionable and sport appearance, as well as an affordable price. Then they immediately began to work on it, and after rounds of discussion and selection, the design by the designer Gale Halderman was chosen. However, this project (Mustang I ) wasn’t approved by the top management. Henry Ford II, the grandson of Henry Ford and the boss of Ford at that time, thought that the two-seat Mustang I wouldn’t be liked by the consumers, so he didn’t approve this project.
Though failed, the designers’ team didn’t give up, and they began to adjust the original design. They added rear seats and some other functions to the car. Finally their design was approved and put into production on Falcon, meanwhile the cost of the car was further controlled so that normal younger consumers were able to afford it. However, the process was not easy, during which Donald Frey made a great difference. As the chief engineer of Mustang, Donald Frey insisted in supporting his designers’ team at the risk of being fired. He kept persuading the top management to accept this project and led his team to constantly modify and improve the design of Mustang, eventually Henry Ford II approved it, but he didn’t see much of a future for this project, and he mentioned in the interview in 2004 that if Mustang didn’t succeed, then Frey would have been fired.
As we all know, Mustang I gained a great success. Donald Frey led the designers’ team to make a lot of improvement to the Mustang I. The first Mustang was produced in 1964, with Straight-six engine and V8 engine, weighed between 1170 and 1400kg. And the second Mustang launched in 1965 was different from the first one in many ways. In terms of power, the second Mustang had 3.3 L straight-six engine, 4.7L dual-carburetor V8, four-carburetor V8 engine and Cobra Jet with a high-performance V8 for choice.
Mustang GT, which is still famous and popular nowadays, was also released with the “GT optional package “ including the four-carburetor V8 engine, flog lamps on the grill shutter as well as the disc brake system.
Since 1967, Ford launched a new Mustang with a new V8 engine. Compared with previous models, the whole vehicle size, the inner space and the storage space of the new car were improved; The style of taillights and the shape of the rear view mirror were also changed.
In 1969, the Mustang was introduced, with a slightly larger body size but the same wheel base. The most obvious feature of the new car was the first use of four round headlights inside and outside the grid. By 1969, over 80% of Mustang cars had V8 engines, and the legend of the classic V8 American muscle car began.
The second generation（1973-1978）
Although the first Mustang was a huge success, Ford anticipated the impact of the oil crisis and the new environmental law in 1971, and in 1973, many Mustang fans demanded for a new design of Mustang which would be smaller and back to the “ original size ”. Therefore, when developing the new Mustang, Ford used Pinto, a more compact model insread if Falcon, as a prototype.
The second generation of Mustang ( Mustang II), released in 1974, was much similar to the original 1964 model than those in the previous years. Although it coincided with the world oil crisis and the new environmental policy with stricter emission regulations, its compact and lighter body and smaller engine just met the social demand at that time, and nearly 300,000 units were sold within the first year. American professional magazine Car and Driver awarded the "Car of the Year" title to Mustang II in 1974.
In addition to increased body weight, the Mustang II 's engine has also been adjusted. To meet the demand of the market for economical vehicles during the energy crisis in the early 1970s, the 1974 Mustang II was introduced, with a Straight 4 engine, and the 2.8L V6 as an option.
Because of the absence of V8 engine and convertible models for a period, the sales of Mustang II decreased once. To stimulate the market and increase sales, Ford introduced new models in 1976 with optional packages such as front and rear spoilers.
"If you look at the history of the Mustang as a whole, the second generation of the Mustang was not a spectacular generation, but if you look at the social context of the time,it was crucial," John Clor, the author of a car biography Mustang Dynasty, commented, : "It was with the second generation that the Mustang model and culture were able to be preserved and smoothly transformed, forming this classic car and resulting in the 50 years of uninterrupted production."
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