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”. 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 1964½, as it was later called, was available in only two models: the coupe and convertible. Both models featured a lengthened hood and shortened rear deck, chrome wrap-around bumpers, chrome grille with a running horse, and full wheel covers. Both models were available with a 170 cid, 101 horsepower, 6 cylinder engine, a 260-2V, 164 horsepower V-8, a 289-4V, 210 horsepower V-8 and, starting in June, a fire breathing, 4 barrel, solid lifter, 271 horsepower, 289 cid V-8 engine. The buyer had a choice of a 3 speed, 4 speed or automatic transmission, and a variety of rear end gear ratios. The interior featured “wall-to-wall” carpeting, front bucket seats or an optional front bench seat, rear bench seat, a sports car style steering wheel, floor mounted shifter, and full headliner. There were a total of 121,538 Ford Mustangs produced during the 1964½ model run.
1965 brought few changes for the Mustang. The biggest change was the availability of a new fastback model, which was to become the basis for Carroll Shelby’s GT350. A new interior option was added, the interior decor group (known as the pony interior), which featured special seat covers with running horses across the seat back, special interior door panes with integral arm rests and pistol grip door handles, five gauge instrument panel, woodgrain steering wheel, and woodgrain appliques on the instrument cluster, glovebox, and optionally on the center console. Another Mustang option introduced in April of 1965 was the GT equipment group. Available only with one of the two four barrel engines, the GT group included five-dial instrumentation, disc brakes, larger sway bars, quicker steering ratio, dual exhaust which exited through the rear valance panel, grill mounted foglights, and special lower body side stripes. A total of 559,451 Mustangs were produced for the 1965 model year.
1966 brought even fewer changes for the Mustang than did its predecessor. Most of the changes for 1966 were in the form of cosmetic refinements. A new grille which featured chrome edged, horizontal inserts, replaced the honeycomb grille of ’65. The chrome bars that extended horizontally and vertically from the running horse were deleted on the 1966 Mustang’s grille. A new three fingered rear quarter panel ornament was used. The lower rocker panel moulding became standard equipment, as did backup lights, and a chrome hood lip moulding. The fuel filler cap no longer included the plastic Mustang emblem insert found on the earlier models. On the inside, the Mustang was treated to standard five gauge instrumentation, and “woven” vinyl seat inserts. The choices of available interior colors and styles increased to thirty four varieties, giving the buyer even more ways to personalize “their” Mustang. Production increased to 607,568 units for 1966.
1967 brought the first major restyling to the Ford Mustang. The length and heigth were increased, 2.7″ and .5″ respectively. The wider body allowed for the installation of a tire smoking, 320 horsepower, 390 cid engine, the first big block engine in the Mustang. Among new options for the 1967 Mustang were the tilt-away steering wheel, an overhead console, power disc brakes, and an all new transmission, the FMX, which allowed fully automatic or manual shifting. The Mustang fastback’s roof line was extended to the rear of the trunk. Interior trim options were decreased from 34 in 1966 to just 20 in 1967. Production for 1967 went to just over 472,000 units.
Little was changed for the 1968 Mustang. Most of the changes were in subtle refinements to the interior and exterior. New options for the 1968 Mustang included an AM/FM stereo radio, rear window defogger, re-designed front power disc brakes, and the all new 302 cid engine. Other changes included the deletion of the horizontal grille bars, the deletion of the F-O-R-D letters at the front of the hood, simplification of the quarter panel ornament, and many safety features were added. Due to increasing governmental regulations, the 1968 Mustang now included front and rear side marker lights, folding, flush mounted interior door pulls, and an energy absorbing steering column. There were several “region specific” models offered from various dealers. Two of the most noteable were the Mustang California Special, and the Mustang High Country Special. Total production for 1968 was 317,404 units.