By BP Kelly
With the introduction of the Ford Mustang in the middle of 1964 there was a nation wide sensation. This was of course due to the nature of the car design however the manner in which the media was handled and the marketing blitz that took place before, during, and after the official launch. A huge turnout in positive newspaper reviews, numbering the thousands, and an appearance as the Official Pace Car of the 1964 Indianapolis 500 coupled with an attractive purchase price of around $2,300 launched the Mustang into the American automotive limelight.
1965 was the first full official year of production of the Mustang. In addition to the primary Coupe design several variations on this model were available on the 1965 Mustang. For example Ford introduced a Fastback model for the Mustang that year to augment the existing hardtop coupe and the convertible. Two famous variations on the Mustang appeared in 1965 as well. The famed Shelby Mustang first appeared at this time. A Shelby Mustang in 1956 was a Fastback model with no rear seat. The spare tire was located in the back in the area of the rear window and the gas tank flap had the Mustang icon on it. They also added some more power to the 289 engine getting it up to a 306. The second variation was the 1965 Mustang GT introduced in the second quarter of that year and at a cost an additional $165! The GT option was available on the coupe, convertible or fastback models and came with a few variations of its own. As for the power train there was a choice between a 225 horsepower or a 271 horsepower V-8 engine.
Another choice to be made was between a three or four speed manual transmission or an automatic transmission called the Cruise-O-Matic. All GT packages came with an upgraded instrument group, striping on the lower part of the body sides. Finished out with "GT" badges on the front fenders, large fog lights mounted inside the front grill and a dual exhaust the 1965 Mustang GT really stood out! While the Shelby and GT packages got a lot of attention during 1965 the coupe body style was what really sold. The Ford Motor Company had first anticipated sales of the 1965 Mustang to be some where around the 100,000 and let's just say they sold a few more than that!
The Mustang was produced to compete in the emerging muscle car segment at the time. While it's the main competition the 1960's were such cars as General Motors Camaro and Chryslers Barracuda the Ford Mustang is the only muscle car from that era that has seen a continuous production run. While this early Mustang earned wide acclaim and several recognitions perhaps the most memorable is the Tiffany Medal. Tiffany & Co. presented a medal each year for excellence in American design and the 1965 Mustang was the very first automobile ever to win this award. This Mustang remains a true favorite in the eyes of casual fans and collectors alike. With the emergence of many Mustang oriented car clubs, the growing population of Car Auctions on television and an overall increasing interest in classic cars the 1965 Mustang is sure to remain an American icon for generations to come.