Intensive market research in 1960 revealed that the postwar population boom would expand by 40 percent before the decade was over and this category would account for more than half of the new car sales in the time period.
These demographics established that there was a sizable, young, affluent market ready and waiting for something distinctively new, sporty and exciting, but not too radical or expensive. Lee Iaccoca is reputed to have described the climate in 1961 as that of "a market in search of a car."
The T-5 (Mustang 1) was introduced in October, 1962 at Watkins Glen for those attending the U.S. Grand Prix. Dan Gurney and Sterling Moss each piloted the model for several demonstration laps around the raceway. Capable of 115 mph and covering a quarter-mile in 18.2 seconds, it enjoyed an immediate, enthusiastic reception from the racing fraternity.
At this point, management realized their breakthrough car needed identification. Throughout its development phase, the car was variously called the T-5, the Cougar, the Aventura, Allegro, Stiletto, Turino, Torino, even XT-Bird.
What better image for a new, rugged breed of car than that of a wild, free roaming spirit. And the distinctive Mustang logo -- the pony with is mane and tail flying, galloping across vertical red, white and blue bars left no doubt concerning its American roots. Of interest is the fact that the original sketch had the pony running to the left. When the artwork was converted into a metal die for stamping, it was inadvertently reversed and the pony would forever gallop from right to left.
Armed with the success accorded both the 1962 and 1963 prototypes; the commitment from top management approving production, and market studies and all forecasts indicating an enthusiastic reception, a Spring '64 launch date was targeted.
And the rest ... as the popular expression goes ... is history!
When it was finally released to the public on April 17, 1964, the Mustang touched a nerve in the American psyche. Its appeal was universal -- to young and old, men and women, Republicans and Democrats. Overnight it became the most popular car ever, selling over one-half million in that first year and 3 million in its first decade.
At its inception, It became a talisman for the youthful idealism and exuberance of the early 1960's. Its classic styling, coupled with its unpretentiousness and dependability, have made it a favorite over the past 35 years. In that time, it has taken on its own aura, a radiance, a certain magic, for want of a better description ... the MUSTANG mystique.