Donald N. Frey was the head engineer for the T-5 project: Ford Mustang I, supervising the overall development of the car in a record 18 months, while Iacocca himself championed the project as Ford Division general manager. The T-5 Ford Mustang Iprototype was a two-seat, mid-mounted engine roadster.
The Ford Mustang has been on the Car and Driver Ten Best list five times: 1983, 1987, 1988, 2005, and 2006, and won Motor Trend Car of the Year award in both 1974 and 1994.
The Mustang created the pony car class of American muscle cars, affordable sporty coupes with long hoods and short rear decks, and gave rise to competitors such as the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, AMC Javelin, Chrysler’s revamped Plymouth Barracuda, and the second generation Dodge Challenger. The Mustang is also credited for inspiring the designs of coupés such as the Toyota Celica and Ford Capri, which were imported to the United States.
The Ford Mustang was brought out five months before the normal start of the 1965 production year. The earliest versions are often referred to as 1964½ models, but VIN coded by Ford and titled as 1965 models, though minor design updates for fall 1965 contribute to tracking 1964½ production data separately from 1965 data with production beginning in Dearborn, Michigan on March 9, 1964; the new car was introduced to the public on April 17, 1964 at the New York World’s Fair.
Executive stylist John Najjar, who was a fan of the World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane, is credited by Ford to have suggested the name.
Najjar co-designed the first prototype of the Ford Mustang known as Ford Mustang I in 1961, working jointly with fellow Ford stylist Philip T. Clark.
The Mustang I made its formal debut at the United States Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, New York on October 7, 1962, where test driver and contemporary Formula One race driver Dan Gurney lapped the track in a demonstration using the second “race” prototype. His lap times were only slightly off the pace of the F1 race cars.