Ford Mustang 50th Anniversary Is Pure Gold | Edmunds

Ford Mustang 50th Anniversary Is Pure Gold

2014 New York Auto Show


2014 New York Auto Show

Just the Facts:
  • Ford, the Mustang Club of America and enthusiasts around the world are preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang on April 17.
  • Two main events will take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada beginning on April 16.
  • Nationwide, dozens of other events are being sponsored by Mustang clubs, civic groups, manufacturing facilities, suppliers and aftermarket retailers.

DEARBORN, Michigan — Excitement is building as Ford, the Mustang Club of America and enthusiasts around the world prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang on April 17.

The redesigned 2015 Ford Mustang won't arrive at dealerships until the fall, but in the meantime, the champagne corks are about to pop for all the Mustangs that have come before it.

Two main events, the Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration, sponsored by Ford and the Mustang Club, will take place simultaneously at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada beginning on April 16. Together, these sites are expected to attract more than 100,000 fans and 5,000 examples of the iconic pony car.

Each location will feature garage displays of Mustangs from every year of production, as well as track events, drag races, cruises, history sessions and Ford ride-and-drive programs. Important figures from Mustang history will attend these events, as well as current Ford luminaries, including Executive Chairman Bill Ford and Henry Ford III, who heads Lincoln sales and marketing for Western states.

But those are just the biggest "official" celebrations. A quick Google search turned up dozens of other state and local events nationwide, being sponsored by Mustang clubs, civic groups, manufacturing facilities, suppliers and aftermarket retailers.

One independent event that has gained a lot of traction is the Mustangs Across America 50th Anniversary Drive. This caravan, which departed from Los Angeles on April 10, is expected to draw more than 500 Mustangs on the way to Charlotte Motor Speedway on April 16.

Another highly publicized caravan is the Great American Pony Drive, which organizers believe will be the largest event of its type in history. Mustang owners from around the world will gather with their cars in Norman, Oklahoma, on April 13 and depart in two groups, one heading to Charlotte and one to Las Vegas.

Although there are a staggering number of 50th-anniversary celebrations planned, a smaller one that seems especially noteworthy is the 2015 Ford Mustang presentation at Flushing Meadows, New York. The original Mustang was first revealed there at the 1964 World's Fair, and Ford plans to return for a ceremony in which local Mustang club members welcome the latest version of their favorite car.

The base 1964.5 Mustang, so-called because of its mid-year introduction, was priced at $2,368 for the coupe with a 101-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine and three-speed manual transmission. But the list of options was enormous, so buyers could turn it into whatever their imaginations desired.

Young folks on a budget were thrilled to find a good-looking, sporty car in their price range. Witness the very first Mustang buyer, Gail Wise, then a 22-year-old schoolteacher from Illinois, who was thrilled to get her Skylight Blue convertible with a V8 and a few factory options for $3,447.50. So potent is the appeal of a Mustang that she still owns the car 50 years later.

At the other end of the scale in that first year was the 289-cubic-inch V8 engine that bumped performance up to 271 hp and, coupled to a floor-mounted four-speed transmission and a handful of other factory-available goodies, completely changed the vehicle's DNA.

The Mustang wasn't, technically, a sports car, but it could behave like one for those who wanted a bit of excitement yet still needed a backseat. It wasn't designed as a racecar, but it has been raced successfully, in every type of motorsport competition, for its entire lifespan.

Through the years the Mustang has proven its ability to be virtually all things to all people. And it kicked off a "pony car" revolution that forced other manufacturers, domestic and foreign, to respond in kind and that is still influencing automotive design today.

Edmunds says: If any car deserves a gala 50th anniversary celebration, it's the Mustang.

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