The mental image of the word “mustang” can be divided into pre- and post-1964 eras. Before 1964, it calls to mind a galloping, odd-toed ungulate mammal. Since 1964, when Ford released a sporty car named after those equine wanderers, the term became synonymous with one version or another of the car. And now, more than half a century later, the Ford Mustang minted number 10 million of the herd—the milestone vehicle rolled off the line at the Flat Rock (Michigan) Assembly Plant today. Who knew in ‘64 that a car would redefine an entire species?
To celebrate the occasion, a Mustang from every year of production joined Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett at the automaker’s global headquarters. Yes, that’s 54 iterations of ponies alongside a select group of special guests, including the first Mustang sold (a ’64 baby blue convertible still owned by Gail Wise), the original and recently uncovered movie car from Bullitt, as well as a limited-edition 2019 Mustang Bullitt.
Even though 10 million Mustangs have roamed the planet at one point or another, getting an example from every model years proved to be as hefty of a task as it was historic. The Mustang is an icon, but it’s not bulletproof when it comes to sales, and plenty examples are now ghost riding in the sky. According to a Ford spokesperson, model years 1980-82 were the most difficult to obtain, which is no surprise as sales were not breaking any records during the first half of that decade.
There is something to be said about word-of-mouth, however, and at the eleventh hour (as in literally the night before the event), the last few vehicles were sourced. In fact, the majority of the privately-owned vehicles are from the greater Michigan area thanks to outreach to local owners’ clubs and social media.
Following the executive address of gratitude and recognition, drivers started their engines and, with police escort in tow, formed a convoy toward Flat Rock, where Mustang number 10 million was waiting. And sharing the stage with VIN 001, the latest landmark Mustang sports the same color (Wimbledon White), trim (GT), summer-fun nature (convertible), and enthusiast-approved manual transmission (now with six gears versus the original’s three). Also, power has grown a smidge, with the standard 2019 model sporting a 460-horsepower V-8 versus the 164 hp V-8 of 1965.
And as a final nod to the inspiration behind the Ford Mustang and one other pre-1964 association with the name, a flyover of World War II-era P-51 Mustang fighter planes took to the skies. Regardless of which mustang travels through your imagination, you can bet there’ll always be some kind of horse power involved.