The media has been abuzz with news and notes on the 50th anniversary of the introduction of Ford’s Mustang. We’re celebrating this milestone in our own way with some lesser lights that have galloped through the years. Thanks to Feral Cars field scouts Rip Masters, Andrew Keeler and Matthew Reader for some of these examples of automotive horse flesh. The Mustang II which supplanted the original Mustang for the ’74 – ’78 model years has been called “the lost pony.” Fielded by the Dearborn brain trust in the wake of the ’73 oil crisis, it was based on the much reviled Pinto. Unlike its donor car, the Mustang II was ultimately available with a V8 which is kind of paradoxical since its original purpose was to be economical while fronting as sporty. There’s an analogy to be made with NBC’s Tonight Show. Typically, when there’s a review of hosts — Steve Allen, Jack Parr, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno — leading up to Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien’s tenure is given short shrift; same goes for the Mustang II. It’s part of history so just accept it.
The Mustang II was in reaction to “the fat years” Mustangs of ’71 – ’73. These cars were more than 800 pounds heavier than the original and bigger in just about every way except interior space. On reflection of the original (’55 – ’57) Thunderbird having been transformed from lithe little roadster to four passenger luxury barge, this should have come as no surprise since Detroit’s collective wisdom back in those days usually equated to “bigger is better.”
Even first generation Mustangs could be desecrated such as this vinyl top-metal mudflap- chrome rim-full moon wheel cover wearing example: a lily gilded or, if you like, a stallion gelded.
Except for the big deal wheels, this first year Mustang wears its age proudly. What’s a little surface rust when you’ve reached a milestone like this?
There are so many old Mustangs around that they don’t seem all that remarkable but the fact is this car launched the ‘pony car’ movement, begetting such followers as Camaro, Firebird, Barracuda, Challenger, Javelin, Cougar and Celica.
As seen above, Mustang is a ‘big tent’ kind of phenom with lots of room for different looks and sizes over the years. Maybe this kind of inconsistency is the secret to the name having endured over the course of the last half-century. Certainly, something worth celebrating.
Let’s set the Wayback Machine for 1964 when this teaser commercial ran in advance of Mustang’s launch 50 years ago.
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