millionth Mustang was completed, and if anyone still harbored doubts about the car by that time, they were either out of touch or out of their minds. Not that any of Ford’s domestic rivals could be accused of that: the moment the Mustang’s massive success became clear, all of them began work on pony cars of their own, and the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, AMC Javelin, and reborn Plymouth Barracuda were all directly inspired. All sought to tap into that youth-oriented market, whose existence Ford had so amply proved. But all were at least two years behind Ford, which left the Mustang with the entire happy hunting ground to itself, at least for a while. The secret of the Mustang’s success was simple. It was a reflection of the fact that mainstream American car buyers might actually want a little sports car glamour. For decades, U.S. car makers had given buyers what they thought they wanted: two- and four-door sedans of ever-increasing weight, power, and gaudiness. Though still heavyweights by European standards, more compact sedans had been built more recently, such as Ford’s own Falcon in 1960, and the Chevrolet Corvair. But these were merely smaller versions of the same thing. The Mustang, with its long hood and short trunk, offered the sports car image at something close to saloon-car price. It was able to do this by taking most of its components from the Falcon, thus keeping costs down. Also, it was reassuring for buyers to know that under that Italianate styling lay reassuringly familiar components: straight-six and V8 engines, which everyone (including their parents) had been driving for years. Another Mustang strength was its breadth of appeal. It may have been a youth-oriented car, but times were changing, and such products were not always confined to the young. “Within four months,” wrote Car and Driver of the Mustang’s early prophets of doom, “those oracles were watching 65-year-old retired druggists, school teachers, and just about the whole population of every semi-fashionable suburb in the country, standing in line to buy a Mustang.” It was sporty and radical, but not over the top, and thus appealed to a wide spectrum of buyers. This was backed by a large range of engine and transmission options: by 1967 Ford was listing 13 different combinations. So, the retired druggist could have a cheap, skinny-tired, three-speed manual straight-six, which was nice and docile for shopping, but was still different enough to cause a stir as he rolled up for the bridge game; but his 20-something grandson also bought a Mustang, if he could afford it, in the form of the latest 390 big-block GT, with four-speed, full instrumentation, fat tires, and fancy wheels. In short, the Mustang had created something completely new: the pony car. Sense of Vision It was all Lee Iacocca’s idea. Countless others were involved, of course, and not everyone agrees as to just whose idea the Mustang originally was. Product planner Donald Frey and production expert Hal Sperlich, marketing man Donald Petersen and stylists Joe Oros and Dave Ash were all part of the Mustang project from an early stage. “That car was developed seven months before [Iacocca] saw it,” said styling chief Gene Bordinat years later. “That car would have made it to the marketplace without Lee.” But even if the idea for a smaller, sportier Ford had been around before Iacocca became involved, there can be no doubt that he was the power behind its transformation into something with massively wide appeal. Looking back, it is easy to see big corporations like Ford as giant monoliths, led from the top (in this case by Henry Ford II). In reality, there was intense competition between senior executives to move higher up the ladder, with more intrigue and political maneuvering than in any medieval royal court. So, gray suits on the way up (of which Iacocca 10 Mustangs & Camaros

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