Model of the car: Ford Mustang I, 1962


The Ford Mustang might have become another esoteric oddball in the footnotes of motoring history, but for the intervention of brash Italian-American Ford product planner Lee Iacocca. When Iacocca first saw this prototype in 1962, his instinctive grasp of America’s unfolding demographics cut in immediately. The market craved a sporty car, not an actual sports car like this.

1962 Ford Mustang I

The Mustang that never was: only the name and copies of those distinctive air vents survived the transition to the “real thing” in 1964.

It featured a German Ford V4 engine mounted behind the driver and passenger, driving the rear wheels. In fact, it was the entire front-wheel drive, four-speed powerpack of the Ford Taunus 12M transferred to the back and cooled by radiators on each side, fed by two large air intakes. Suspension was by wishbones and coil springs, and there were front disc brakes.

1962 model of the car Ford Mustang I

1962 Ford Mustang I

The compact, dagger-shaped body featured an integrated rollover bar and retractable headlights. The seats were fixed as part of the structure, with steering wheel and pedals adjustable to suit any driver. The aluminum-skinned car was built by race-car preparers Troutman & Barnes, and named after the eponymous P-51 fighter plane.

1962 model of the car Ford Mustang I

1962 car Ford Mustang I

The compact, dagger-shaped body featured an integrated rollover bar and retractable headlights. The seats were fixed as part of the structure, with steering wheel and pedals adjustable to suit any driver. The aluminum-skinned car was built by race-car preparers Troutman & Barnes, and named after the eponymous P-51 fighter plane.

“When I looked at the guys praising it, the offbeat crowd, the real buffs, I thought: ‘That’s sure not the car we want to build because it can’t be a volume car. It’s too far out.’”

LEE IACOCCA, “FATHER” OF THE MUSTANG, IN IACOCCA: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY, 1984

Video: Model of the car Ford Mustang I

Specification: Model of the car Ford Mustang I

YEAR REVEALED: 1962
PLACE OF ORIGIN: Detroit, Michigan, and Culver City, California
HISTORICAL STATUS: prototype
ENGINE: V4-cylinder, 91ci (1,498cc)
MAXIMUM POWER: 109bhp
LAYOUT: mid-mounted engine driving the rear wheels
BODYWORK: two-door, two-seater roadster
TOP SPEED: 115mph (185kph)
NUMBER BUILT: two