Last revised: 26-1-2009

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Car of the Month - August 2006

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Ford Mustang GT - Fastback 2+2 body - model year 1965

This picture was submitted by Rae Simpson of the Taranaki Mustang Club from New Plymouth in New Zealand. It shows the Ford Mustang of Rae surrounded by breathtaking New Zealand scenery. This time the car of the month is not as exotic as the scene it is in; what a great picture!
Of course, the 1965 Mustang is a classic loved by many and maybe even as popular as it was more than 40 years ago at the time of its introduction. It was an instant hit when it appeared in April 1964 and people rushed to the dealers to buy one, creating an impressive waiting list. There a many speculations about why the Mustang was and remained so popular; my personal opinion is that it showed the perfect proportions together with simple but very well chosen lines for a sporty and youthful car. It looked good, performed well and was affordable, which made it a huge commercial success at just the right moment: at a time when social values shifted from mature and wise to young and dynamic. A new generation grew up enjoying or dreaming of these cars which made it an icon resounding through car history until the current day.
The fastback style was a later addition to the Mustang range. The basic Mustang was a hardtop (sometimes called notchback) which seemed like the most sensible choice to Ford management. It was Ford's styling chief Gene Bordinat who decided to develop a fastback style as well after the hardtop design had been selected. This design was an emotional one instead of sensible, but it turned out so appealing that Ford vice-president Lee Iacocca approved it as soon as he saw it. The fastback, or 2+2 as Ford named it, was presented in September 1964 and, together with an ever expanding options list which included disc brakes and a high-performance version of the 289 cid (4.7 litre) V8 engine, turned the Mustang in the performance car direction.
In April 1965 a next step in that direction was taken by the introduction of the new GT-package for the Mustang. It was a successful attempt to cash in on Ford's GT40 competition sportscar racing programme. On the exterior the triple racing stripes running from wheel to wheel on the lower sides were similar to those featuring on the competition GT40 and identified a Mustang with the GT-package, as did the additional fog lights in the grille and the dual exhausts with chrome ends sticking out the back. Under the bonnet there was a choice between the 225 hp 289 cid V8 or the 271 hp Hi-Po version of this engine, the last one only fitted with a 4-speed manual transmission. The GT-package also included the handling package with front disc brakes. In the interior the Mustang GT showed a five-dial instrument pod.

The GT-package could be had on all Mustang body styles, but was most popular on the Fastback 2+2. Up to then all Mustangs since April 1964 had been officially designated model year 1965 and this continued until October 1965 when the 1966 models were introduced. About 15,000 Mustang GT's were produced of the 1965 model. The GT-package was again available on the 1966 Mustang models and then sold about 25,500 times. The 1965 Mustang GT however is regarded as the original, and the Fastback 2+2 version as the most attractive.
The best proof of this is that Ford has recently reverted to this classic style and has a 2005 Ford Mustang GT on offer with fastback shape and looks reminiscent of the original Mustang GT. I guess it was just impossible to improve on the original Mustang design...

© André Ritzinger, Amsterdam, Holland

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