The introduction of the 50th anniversary 2015 Mustang has re-focused attention on the iconic 1965 version. The original Mustang made quite a splash for a number of reasons. First, it was dubbed the “1964 1/2” because the first one rolled off the line on March 30 of that year. The 1965 Mustang was introduced to the world on April 17, 1964, the opening day of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The design of the new 2+2 fastback coupe certainly turned heads. More than 22,000 of the 1965 Mustangs were sold on the very day that it was introduced at the World’s Fair.
The Challenger High Performance Engine
Equipped with the most powerful V8 powerplant, the 1965 Mustang could make it to 60 mph from a standing start in just 7.5 seconds. The most powerful engine offered in the 1965 Mustang was the Challenger High Performance, a 271 hp V8. This engine could be selected for use in any of the three models, the hard top, the convertible and the 2+2 fastback coupe.
The GT package was also available in all three versions. The package included an upgraded handling package featuring a 22-to-1 steering ratio, a five-dial instrument cluster and a wood-grained interior. However, the Challenger High Performance engine was an additional option that had to be added to the GT package.
Mustang on the Empire State Building
Ford’s flair for the dramatic was further exemplified in October 1964 when iconic images of the new Mustang parked outside on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building appeared. The excitement that the Mustang already generated was undoubtedly amplified in a very visceral way by the sight of a Mustang inexplicably positioned with the Manhattan skyline looming in the distance. The 400-foot spire eliminated any possible use of a helicopter to achieve the feat. So, how did they do it? Ford contracted with a company, DST Industries, to literally chop up a brand-new Mustang so that the pieces would neatly fit in one of the elevators. Now, a half-century later, Ford went back to DST Industries to do the same thing to a 2015 bright yellow convertible Mustang to create another eye-catching image without resorting to digital tricks.
Extreme Popularity of the ’65 Mustang
The explosion in the popularity of the 1965 Mustang is legendary. Consumers snapped them up as fast as Ford could produce them. The 1964 1/2 Mustang accounted for just over 5 percent of overall Ford sales, but the 1965 Mustang accounted for over 27 percent of sales. A discussion of the 1966 Mustang would be very similar to this overview of the 1965. Ford execs were not about to mess with a winning formula!
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