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The Gentlemen’s Curb

It’s The Gentlemen’s Curb a lifestyle blog where fashion meets fitness in a BIG way. In this post, we will do something a bit different. This post will talk about one of my favorite things. A Mustang.

The Muscular Mustang Through The Years

When Ford unveiled the Mustang back in 1964, they wanted to capitalize on the emerging muscle car market. The Mustang was a homage to masculinity, designed to be the beefiest car on the road. Ford didn’t realize it at the time, but the Mustang was to become an instant classic, marrying both killer looks with affordability and passion – a rare combination in the automotive world.

Initially, executives at the company hoped to sell in the region of 100,000 of the first iteration during the first phase of production. But it soon became clear that its popularity would exceed that, selling more than the original estimate in just three months, a remarkable achievement at the time. (Remember, the 1960s was before universal car ownership).

The Success Of The First Mustang

Why the Mustang succeeded was a mixture of sex appeal and high-tech features. Ford made no secret of the fact that the car was meant to go fast. They furnished the interior with bucket seats and gave the car a considerable engine which growled every time you depressed the gas pedal. By today’s standards, it is still a fast car, pulling away from traffic lights and stop signs at remarkable speed.

The styling of the car was also something to behold. It canonized the muscle car look, with the long bonnet and low headroom in the cockpit. And it came in a classic red, something that was new to many people in the American market. The prominent front grille and the rearing stallion on the front drew many young male buyers who wanted something that could excite. 

The car also appeared in a number of films, such as Bullitt starring Steve McQueen. It achieved cult status almost overnight, thanks to the memorable car chase scene.

Was it a driver’s car? Not particularly. Yes, it was fast and full of passion, but its weight meant that it was poor under breaking. It also struggled to get good mileage, as you might expect, making it costly to run. The original Mustang usually only lasted fifty thousand miles before needing a complete overhaul, wrecking bank accounts in the process.

The Need To Upgrade

Once it became clear to bosses at Ford that the Mustang was going to be a cult classic, they set about investing in the car, hoping to bring improvements that would help it sell more. The first thing they did was tinker with the engine. It was clear that the car needed more horsepower to propel its enormous weight. It looked the part, but early models, with just 101 bhp, didn’t have the power to match. Engineers upgraded the six-cylinder engine to 120 bhp and the eight-cylinder by more than 25 percent.

 

From the late sixties to the early seventies, Ford stopped adding more power to the car in favor of making it appear increasingly aggressive. They installed larger dials in the cockpit, introduced bigger bumpers on the front and rear, and offered block engine options. The idea was for the car to dominate the road and fend off the competition who had realized that there was a new niche car market in muscle cars. The 1969 model, for instance, included air scoops based on new aerodynamic technologies, and spoilers on both the wing and at the front of the car. In short, engineers beefed up the car considerably, and it proved to be a hit on the showroom floor.

The Second Generation

Ford realized that the second generation had to bring improvements over the first that wasn’t just aesthetic. After the oil crisis of 1973, executives decided to focus on fuel economy. By 1974, the second generation Mustang rolled off the production line and onto the street. This new car, dubbed the Mustang II, had to compete with cheaper, smaller Japanese competitors, like the Toyota Celica and Datsun 240Z. Stiffer competition in the 1970s meant that the second generation of the car didn’t sell as many as the first, around 300,000 in the first year, but it still proved to be a remarkably successful car.

The car was also a bit heavier than the first iteration. New US safety regulations meant that engineers had to reinforce the side pillars and add shock absorption material to the front and rear of the car. Ford responded by ensuring that consumers had a choice of engine size. The top of the line was the Ghia model, named after the company’s acquisition of the Italian automotive outfit. Ghia Mustangs came with luxury interiors and more substantial rear windows.

Later Models

By the time the new millennium came around, Ford had learned from many of the mistakes of the past. The fourth generation of the car had been a bit of a flop, lacking much of the style and drama of the original model, despite the improved performance. The fifth version, released in 2004, brought back some of the old masculinity and passion of the original car, featuring many of the design elements from the 1960s version. With improved tire installation, engine output, and power management, the car was more manageable on the road.

The lead designer of the vehicle, J Mays, wanted it to have a “retro-futurism” feel, and the car certainly achieved its aim. Built in Michigan. The fifth generation delivered more than double the original car’s horsepower and obtained a far lower coefficient of drag. Finally, the performance of the Mustang lived up to its incredible looks.

The latest version, the sixth generation, builds on the design language of the fifth but adds an eco-friendly engine option for those wanting to get the most mileage out of their vehicles. Ford still has a long way to go with the Mustang, especially in the safety department. Euro NCAP tests gave the car only two stars because of problems with airbag inflation and a lack of lane assist technologies. But it’s not entirely clear that the company cares. The Mustang is all about risk and power, making it one of the most politically incorrect vehicles on the market today.