Saturday, April 17, 2004

Happy 40th, Mustang

I mean the automobile – I’m way beyond 40.

On April 17, 1964, the Ford Motor Company unveiled their new car, the Mustang, at the opening of the New York Worlds Fair at Flushing Meadow. It sold like crazy – over 600,000 in the first year alone – and changed the face of the American automotive scene. Just like the Beatles changed American popular music two months before when they arrived in New York, this car got us out of the 1950’s. It was labeled as a “sports car,” which raised the hackles of the true sports car enthusiast since they believe that a sports car is a two-seater with a powerful engine and tightly-sprung suspension. The original Mustang had room for four, a small six-cylinder engine, and the same suspension as the compact Ford Falcon; after all, the Mustang was a Falcon with a different body. But image was everything, and the long hood/short deck and clean lines made the car look “sporty,” and it was inexpensive – $2,300 got you a well-equipped version – and it had an option list that meant you could trick it out for a secretary or a teenager.

I have picture somewhere of me standing next to my first Mustang taken back in the spring of 1969. There I was in my long hair, fringe jacket, and boots at the end of my sophomore year in high school. (I’m glad I can’t post that picture; some things are just not meant for publication.) But I do have a picture of my current Mustang.

Happy birthday, Mustang – you’re in better shape than a lot of other forty-somethings.

Update: blunted via the comments tips me off to the next generation of Mustang. All I can say is Woof! And the previous owner of my Mustang tells me that the car was originally purchased to be the parade car for the Queen of the Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan in 1995. Whether that’s true or not remains a mystery. (And no snide comments about it still transporting a queen…)