Steve Magnante's 1001 Mustang Facts. Steve Magnante

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Название Steve Magnante's 1001 Mustang Facts
Автор произведения Steve Magnante
Жанр Автомобили и ПДД
Издательство Автомобили и ПДД
Год выпуска 0
isbn 9781613254004

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model rollout, Mustang’s second year of production.

      10 The October 1966 Empire State Building Mustang publicity stunt centered on a new 1966 convertible. Rather than attempt a lift using a helicopter, Ford’s Experimental Garage took a stock vehicle, removed the engine and transmission, and then sliced it into four sections. The stunt car was shipped to NYC and unloaded on the street in front of the Empire State Building at 10:30 p.m. Then the car was disassembled for loading into passenger elevators to the observation deck. By 4:30 a.m., the car was reassembled and ready to be photographed by waiting news helicopters. At 11:00 a.m. the car was disassembled and brought inside the observation tower, where it remained to greet more than 14,000 visitors in the months that followed.

      11 Timed and priced perfectly to appeal to baby boomers, Mustang’s success was so newsworthy it caught the attention of the traditionally non-automotive press. Time, and Newsweek ran simultaneous cover stories on the Mustang phenomenon. It was not the last time Iacocca appeared on Time’s cover. Two decades later, the March 21, 1983, issue featured Lee’s illustrated mug sprouting from the grille of a Chrysler Town & Country convertible. The headline read “Detroit’s Comeback Kid.” By then, Iacocca was Chrysler’s chairman and savior.

      12 Wilson Pickett’s 1966 hit R&B single “Mustang Sally” isn’t one of the great car guy songs (packed with meaningful gearhead tech lyrics), but its infectious backbeat and stylized keyboards more than make up for it. But did you know Pickett’s version was actually a cover of a song originally written and performed by Mack Rice in 1965? According to music historian Tom Shannon, the song was initially titled “Mustang Mama,” but Aretha Franklin suggested the name change. Although Pickett seemed fine singing the lyric, “I bought you a brand-new Mustang, a 1965 h’uh!” when the subject car would have been last year’s edition, the Young Rascals updated the model year to “1966” in their same-year cover of the tune. Years before Mack Rice wrote and sang the first version of “Mustang Sally,” he was part of an R&B group called The Falcons (1957–1960). That’s ironic when you remember the fact that Ford based the Mustang on its compact Falcon economy car platform.

      14 The Falcon (Mustang’s platform donor) was Ford’s answer to growing public demand for compact cars in the late 1950s. Spurred by successful imports such as the VW Beetle and Renault Dauphine as well as existing domestics including the Rambler American and Studebaker Lark, the Falcon joined the Plymouth Valiant and Chevrolet Corvair for a 1960 model year rollout. Falcon’s most popular 1960 models were the two-door sedan (193,470 built) and four-door sedan (167,896 built), followed by station wagons with two doors (27,552 built) and four doors (46,758 built). So, with the Falcon platform’s ability to accept a station wagon body, did Ford ever make a Mustang station wagon? Yes and no. Although Ford stylists rendered numerous long-roof design proposals in-house, each was quickly shot down by Ford styling chief Eugene Bordinat, who saw Mustang as a sporty personal car and nothing else. By the way, Falcon convertibles were not offered until the 1963 model year.

      15 Car and Driver magazine started the Mustang station wagon rumor mill churning with its October 1966 cover shot depicting a dark green Mustang station wagon. Looking very much like a teaser for the real thing, the car was actually built in Italy by Intermeccanica, a Turin-based custom vehicle outfit. A collaboration between automotive journalist Barney Clark, Detroit stylist Robert Cumberford, and car enthusiast Jim Licata, the wagon began life as an early 1965 coupe (289/C4 automatic) to which a steel roof extension was added. Looking very stock and fully detailed, the carpeted cargo space measured 44 inches wide and 36 inches deep with the rear seat folded down.

      16 Sadly, Clark and Cumberford were rebuffed by Ford, which turned a blind eye to their Mustang station wagon project. Undeterred, the Car and Driver story published Cumberford’s mailing address, should interested parties elect to have Intermeccanica build one for them. It is not known whether any orders were taken. Today, Robert Cumberford’s written design critiques can be seen every month in Automobile magazine. The informative column is called “Cumberford by Design.”

      17 Were any four-door Mustangs built by Ford? The idea was certainly tossed around, and a photo of a full-size styling buck, dated January 7, 1963, depicts the passenger’s side of a very austere-looking Mustang coupe with four doors, 13-inch whitewall tires, base Falcon hubcaps, and a front license plate marked “Falcon SP 9C 03.” A look through the clear windows reveals that the driver’s side of the body has the standard Mustang two-door configuration. Likely built to allow decision makers to easily see how two- and four-door treatments worked on the same model, the four-door was probably nixed for fear it would cannibalize Falcon sales.

      18 The secrecy surrounding Mustang’s launch was so tight, even Motor Trend magazine wasn’t given the whole story when it awarded its coveted 1964 “Car of the Year” trophy to the entire Ford lineup. That’s why the cover image on the February 1964 issue of MT depicts a Galaxie, a Falcon, a Fairlane, a Thunderbird, and no Mustang. In those pre-Internet days, as many as three months passed between the words on the reporter’s typewriter and their arrival at the local magazine stand. When editor Charles Nerpel visited Ford to photograph and write the Car of the Year story, he did so in November 1963, nearly a half-year before Mustang’s Friday, April 17, 1964, launch date.

      19 It very likely pained Ford’s PR team deeply to have to keep quiet about Mustang as Motor Trend’s Nerpel conducted his many interviews with Ford design and engineering staffers while writing the 1964 Car of the Year story. But they did throw him a bone in the form of a two-page story (pages 34 and 35) titled “Future Total Performance.” The story correctly predicts an April launch at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and that the offering was a four-seater priced below $3,000. That much he got right. In hindsight, the misinformation Ford allowed the magazine to publish was stunning.

      20 Among the many incorrect predictions found in Nerpel’s Motor Trend story are that the new Ford personal sporty car would be called Turino and that it would have a Corvette-like fiberglass body riding on a separate steel frame. The story made numerous references to Ford precursor show cars including the Allegro, Cougar II, Mustang I, and Mustang II but remained steadfast in its assertion that the car was going to be called the Turino. In the auto industry, misinformation can be a vital tool in spurring public interest (and throwing off the competition), even if it does cause temporary embarrassment for journalists.

      21 Was the Fairlane Group responsible for the Mustang? Yes, but I must explain. I’m not referring to the design and engineering team behind Ford’s various Fairlane-badged production cars, but rather a group of 8 to 10 executives who met weekly at the Fairlane Inn Motel, located on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, Michigan. Formed in 1960, the Fairlane Group (a.k.a., the Fairlane Committee) met off-campus and was thus free to brainstorm fresh, new ideas, such as Mustang, in secret. This was only five years after the Edsel fiasco, a car with unprecedented levels of “think tank.” Iacocca was wise to do his free-thinking away from the risk-averse, conservative post-Edsel atmosphere taking hold in Dearborn.

      22 The Fairlane Group included Ford vice president Lee Iacocca, product planning manager Donald Frey, special projects manager Hal Sperlich, marketing manager Frank Zimmerman, public relations manager Walter Murphy, market research manager Robert Eggert, and executives from J. Walter Thompson, Ford’s advertising agency. With powerful representatives from every facet of the automaking and marketing process in one room, the stage was set to answer Iacocca’s 1960 query, “There must be a market out there looking for a car.”

      23 Is it true that one of the Fairlane Group’s