7 Facts You Might Not Know about the First-Gen Mustang

Ford

April 17 marks sixty years since the Ford Mustang’s public debut at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The original pony car immediately became a pop-culture and automotive phenom, and it remains one of the most impactful cars in history. We’re celebrating with stories of the events surrounding the Mustang’s launch, the history of the early cars, and tales from owners. Click here to follow along with our multi-week 60 Years of Mustang coverage. -Ed.

This week, which marks 60 years since the debut of the original, we’re looking back at our digital archives and realizing … we really, really like the first-gen Mustang. We’ve written dozens of stories centered on Mustangs built between 1964 and 1973, from member stories to a buyer’s guide to that one time we found the O.G. Bullitt Mustang.

We’ve rounded up a handful of these memorable stories that you might want to share with a friend. If they’re somebody who likes trivia, we’ve extracted a fun fact from each story. If they’re a committed reader who likes to take the long way home, we’ve included links to the full articles.

Whether you’re a history buff, a niche collector, or a casual fan, a story in this list is bound to delight you.

1964 1/2 Ford Mustang coupe side profile
Ford

Between 2011 and 2021, more than 20,000 examples of the first-gen Mustang were shipped abroad from the United States to collectors in other countries, making the original pony car the most popular export among American classics. Around the world, people love them for the same reasons: parts are easy to find and affordable, and everyone knows what you’re driving. No matter where you live, a Mustang sings “America.”

Discover which overseas country loves the Mustang most here.

The First American to Buy a Mustang Was an Elementary School Teacher

Gail Wise first american to buy mustang
Ford

On April 15, 1964, an elementary school teacher in Park Ridge, Illinois, decided she needed a car. Her name was Gail Wise, and the Wises had always owned Ford convertibles, so she headed to the Ford dealer and asked what drop-tops they had in stock. She paid $3447.50 and left with a blue, 260-powered Mustang … two days before Lee Iacocca would unveil the car at the New York World’s Fair. Gail’s husband Tom restored her Mustang himself during retirement in 2006 and 2007. “When I’m driving it,” says Gail, “I feel like I’m 22 years old again.”

Read Gail’s full story here.

Ford Traded the Millionth Mustang for VIN #001

Ford

Anyone looks good in a Mustang, no matter what they do for a living. Captain Stanley Tucker of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, wrangled his way into buying a display model: a Wimbledon White convertible with the 260 V-8 and a three-speed automatic. Turns out, writes the Detroit Free Press, it was a preproduction model that Ford wanted shipped back to Dearborn. Preproduction models are often crushed, but this one was lucky: One Canadian dealership didn’t get the news, and Tucker drove home with the car.

Read here about Ford’s change of heart, and the Mustang it offered to get #001 back to Dearborn.

These Lesser-Known Mustangs Are Surprisingly Uncommon

1964-Mustang-Indy-Pace-Car-Replica-side
Ford

Given the popularity of the original Mustang, it’s no surprise that the model paced the Indianapolis 500 in 1964. As would become tradition, Ford supplied a small number of cars to the Speedway and then built a run of replicas to sell. Confusingly, the 1964 1/2 Indy Pace Car Replicas were not sold to the public but used in dealer incentive contests.

To read about six other lesser-known Mustangs of all ages, click here.

23 First-Gen Mustangs Traveled through Time

Okay, so this 1965 Mustang didn’t really see the future. One of 23 used by Ford in its Wonder Rotunda at the 1965–65 World’s Fair, this Mustang went round and round on the Disney Magic Skyway, taking an animatronic trip from the Stone Age to a vision of the future: Space City.

Discover what happened to this particular convertible here.

This Boss 429 Was Sent to War in the Pacific

Lawman Boss 429 Ford Mustang historical car beside USMC battle tank
Courtesy Marcus Anghel

Even if you didn’t know the history of this Boss 429, it would grab your eye: Fat drag racing slicks, a parachute out back, a giant blower sticking out of the hood, and four exhaust pipes jutting from each side. If you know the history, the car gets infinitely cooler.

In 1970, Ford worked with Goodyear, Motor Wheels, Hurst, and other speed-parts suppliers to create six “Lawman” vehicles: performance-oriented Mustangs that would travel to various military bases in Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea, and Japan “to bring the latest in automotive performance activities ad equipment to American Servicemen by conducting safety seminars, driving clinics, performance exhibitions and static displays,” according to a period brochure. The 1970 Military Performance Tour, as it was called, wasn’t just an exercise in entertainment: Ford wanted the tour to “create a genuine understanding” of what it took to be a good driver.

Five of the cars were Cobra Jets. The sixth was a Boss 429 … and you can discover its full story here.

The World’s Most Prolific Mustang Shop Is Run by 30-Year-Old Twins

Mustang Brothers Restoration shop
Cameron Neveu

Based in Chicago, Mustang Brothers is the world’s largest Mustang restoration business, measured by builds completed annually. Founded by Christopher Ingrassia, the shop was originally called Mustang Restorations; now that Christopher is handing the business to his twin sons, Preston and Cody, the shop is called Mustang Brothers. They do everything from ground-up restomods to oil changes on daily drivers.

Stroll along with us as we talk with both generations of the Ingrassias and tour of their sprawling, professional-grade shop.

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Comments

    “Confusingly, the 1964 1/2….” Yep, you’re definitely confused as there is/was no ‘1964 1/2’ model. The first Mustangs were 1965 model years, as per all of the Ford official literature and designations. Guess that makes “Little known fact #8”, except any car-nut already knows this.

    A car nut” as you would say, would actually know that there were Official Ford memos and service directives, and parts code numbers sent around to those that needed to know at the NY Worlds Fair, and dealers. These directives and parts memos containing very specific numbers concerning paint codes and related items. Ford did INDEED refer to these first, early released Mustangs as 1964 1/2 models. There were numerous memos and charts sent around from these people tasked with the full blown introduction of what they didn’t even realize would be the most successful new model intro ever; and, again, these Ford technicians and likely some engineers DID put the model as 1964 1/2.

    The internet will show me a “1964 1/2 Mustang Shop Manual Supplement” page… 1090-1 model changes is in the upper right hand corner of the page in the screen capture.

    Not sure if it is legit.

    Probably someone with a 1965 Mustang owners manual could confirm if 64 1/2 is stated in there anywhere?

    There are numerous vintage model kits of 64 1/2 Mustang though… so it exists in pop culture as a distinct thing.

    3 Differences between 64 1/2 and 65. Radiator support battery ventilation holes, spare tire tiedown, and the sharp curved part of hood in front 64 1/2 was not folded under as the 65 was folded under.

    Yup, Wayne is correct. I picked up my new Mustang on April 15, 1964 at Jack Madden Ford in Norwood, MA It was a 1965, but the dealership called it a 64 1/2…not so said the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I had to pay new car Massachusetts excise taxes in 1964 and again in 1965, because the tax department said it was a new car in both years!

    my uncle bought 2 for his daughters, both 6 cyl 3 speed sticks. I remember my first ride in one he brought to show us,it was bright yellow,the other daughter picked out powder blue. I was twelve years old. this thing was so noisey on the road, the family cars at the time my dad had a 62 Pontiac my mom his old 59 chev.

    Dear Chevy enthusiast: WHY are you commenting on something that is probably not true? Take a hike…..

    MarineBob. I rode in my brother’s brand new, 1965 6 cylinder convertible – dark blue, w. white interior. Granted, I was just 15 yo, but it was fun to me. And I also associate an empty beer can or two, with fun as well. Many years later, he got a similar model, but with the 289

    Gary,…. I just got this quote today from Larry Webster with Hagerty.- – – – – – – – There’s also a ladder of racing models built and sold by Ford. Amazing. Later this year, the wildest street Mustang ever imagined, the Mustang GTD , will go on sale for about $300,000. Order books are now open. Who would have guessed 60 years ago that there would one day be a Mustang priced like a Ferrari?
    Happy birthday, Mustang!

    If you repeat something enough times it becomes true. I have a 63 1/2 Ford Galaxie and a 64 1/2 Ford Mustang. See how that works.

    Works fine.
    Ford in early press releases, memos to service personnel, and whoever was getting cars ready at the NY Worlds Fair did refer to the Mustangs in the early parts and color code updates as 1964 1/2.

    please show me one piece of Ford corporate logo’s info that states 1964 1/2. If you have ever been to a dealership, you know how “knowledgeable” they can be. They would call blue black if it would sell a car

    Ed,…….. I have an image of a Ford Technical Service bulletin date June-22 1964, Bulletin #20004 referring to “paint and prep’, 1964 1/2 Mustang Article #8. It addresses the availability of special color white acrylic enamel for the Indy 500 Pace Cars for the 1964 race. Gives info on availability and a specific part number as regular production cars were alkyd enamel, not acrylic. Again it is an official FORD tech bulletin, and it INDEED addresses the cars as 1964 1/2. I would copy the image in here but it won’t let me.

    Regardless of what you (and others), say – ALL 1964…1964-1/2, & (OF COURSE), THE 1965’S ARE 1965 MODEL YEARS… The 1st numeral in the V.I.N. is a “5” AS-PER FOMOCO! END OF STORY…

    Part numbers don’t lie. The car is full of C4 part numbers which indicate 1964. If you don’t believe me look in a parts book. end of STORY!!!

    Sorry JD. For Ford – C4 prefix means the part was first used in ’64. If there was no technical or aesthetic reason to change the part it could be used for future model years and would still carry a C4 number even if the car was a ’65, ’66, ’67 etc. model. Only the date code or casting date would update, not the part number.
    Personally I don’t care what you call the early cars 64 1/2 or “early production” or just 65. All means the same. It’s a distinction without a difference.
    For your 63 1/2 that was a significant running change going from generator to alternator electricals which required engine part casting changes, mounting bracket and belt changes, wiring changes, etc. and those 63 1/2 cars still had a ’63 VIN

    My convertible has C4 on the tail light lens, unique only to the Mustang, no crosspollination to any other car except maybe the Manx dune buggy!

    The reason some of the part numbers started with C4 is that some of the parts used in the early production Mustangs were from the same platform as the 1964 Ford Falcons. C4DE was a production designation, C4DZ was part of the full Part number in the parts manual. There were even C2DZ and C3DZ
    parts used up into the 70’s. But the C5ZZ or C5ZE were unique to 1965 and later Mustangs.

    As a former Ford Parts Manager- There are NO C4ZZ part numbers which would be unique to a Mustang. Any Mustang specific part numbers would be C5ZZ.
    There are many C4 part numbers for other Ford products.

    I forgot to put in my first reply:
    There were 10 differences between the 64.5 and 65…I don’t remember all of them…..the inside door lock colors…the way the threaded hok for the spare tire attached to the trunk floor…the short flange(on each side) on the leading edge of the hood between the headlights and center of hood and of course the year model date on the title. Unfortunately that’s all I remember. AND..new model years for car back then came out in august/September…AND why does indy 500 museum call the 1964 pace car a 1964 1/2 mustang?

    perry, …. They likely decided the emblem was cosmetically too busy with all the decal graphics. Just as likely could have built 1 example just as a display and grabbed a 6-cylinder car. Or, companies were even known to build display models that they didn’t even put an engine in. They just made them pretty, left the hood closed and pushed it on and off a trailer with the other display stuff they trucked around.

    I remember being told when I first became involved in the Digital Equipment Corp marketplace in the early 1990’s that only two products grossed one billion dollars in their first year of production, the Digital Microvax II mini computer and the Ford Mustang.
    Does anyone know if this is true or false?

    GM,….. Ford actually right on the window sticker called the ’65 Mustang 2 door a “hardtop”. not a coupe. But yes, we always wish we “still had it”. So as soon as I retired, I bought another ’65 GT hardtop that I still have.

    Mustang coupes are hardtops.

    Ford’s use of the word hardtop doesn’t make them correct.

    A coupe is a two-door vehicle with a roof. No roof you have a convertible. Doors don’t open or at least offer no weather protection via roll-up windows (or pull up screens if you accept really primitive) you have a roadster (granted that specific roadster definition has fallen by the wayside for nearly 100 years –the Tesla Roadster is an interesting design convertible, but it’s not actually a roadster).

    Hardtops are roofed vehicles with no B-pillar. GM made a lot of 4-door hardtops 55-70s. There’s one generation of Thunderbird that offered this I believe. Hardtop is upscale, sporty or both depending on the marketing aim of the vehicle.

    Ford marketing has often liked to force a marketing term: “Sportsroof” is a great example. Generally it seems they pick a name that GM isn’t using (just look at the naming conventions for regular cab, extended cab and crew cab pickup trucks or styleside vs. fleetside, etc.).

    Sometimes marketing does things we shouldn’t accept as truth…

    Fastback is clearly the consensus word for that style of roof in the design world –now modern marketing people even apply it to 4-door sedans and try to market them as coupes…

    But back to that 1965 Ford window sticker. Some would read convertible. Others sportsroof. The use of “hardtop” is a placeholder to denote that it isn’t the prior-mentioned optioned. But since a sportsroof is also a hardtop-style roof it’s an incorrect label to have used. Should have read “coupe”… or Notchback if one was going to be future-looking Ford lingo.

    I was in first grade in 1964. We had an older female cousin living with us for a while at the time. When she graduated high school, she got a job as an operator at Ma Bell and bought herself a brand new six-cylinder automatic Mustang coupe in that light yellow color. I thought it was the coolest car I had ever ridden in. I clearly remember telling her one day when she was taking me to school in it that I was going to buy a Mustang when I turned 16. (I did, mine was a ’67 289 powered coupe)

    Back in 1970 I had Judy graduated from college. Our next door neighbor had a 1967 Mustang 289 coupe that he had finished paying off and was going to trade it. I bought it from him for the $1,600 trade in value. I loved that car! Like so many others on these comment threads, circumstances conspired to force me to sell it 4 years later. Sold it to my boss who bought it for his son. Three months later he totaled it. I want that car back!…any Hagertites know of a nice one for sale?😁🤞

    When our daughter graduated high school, we bought her a 64 1/2 Mustang. After a few months a neighbors son had an a accident and the other driver died. One of the car was a Mustang. When we saw the pictures of the wrecked cars, we got rid of the Mustang. I found her a 1964 Chevy Impala hardtop. Now we felt more safe.

    Lads —
    You might like to know that the gentleman pictured with the “Lawman” Stang in Nam was Elton (“Al”) Eckstrand who started out his drag racing career driving Plymouths while employed by Chrysler as an attorney (hence the “Lawman”). His first big win was getting the SSA honors at the 1960 NHRA Nats in a ’60 Fury and barely losing Top Stock Eliminator to Jim Wangers of GTO fame. The next year, he was part of the Ramcharger team that tore up the SS competition at the 1961 NHRA Nationals with a ’61 Dart. He continued his winning ways driving Dodges with the them until he retired from competition in 1970 and went to FOMOCO.

    Didn’t they run the ‘Lawman’ on the deck of an aircraft carrier when it was doing it’s tour?

    I don’t know about the ‘Lawman’, but Don Garlits ran one of his AA fuel dragsters on the deck of an aircraft carrier. I don’t remember where this was, but it was at sea, not just moored to a dock somewhere.

    Mustangs were a part of my family growing up. Had a 65 and 67 fastback. Had a 70 Mach 1 in high school. Traded the 70 in on a red 69 gt350 Shelby in April of 72. Still have the gt350 52 years later…..

    My Mustang memories are somewhat different. In 1966 I was ready to buy my very first new car and it was going to be a Mustang convertible. At the time I was driving a 1962 Corvair that had been quite satisfactory, but I planned to give it to my mother. At the Ford dealer I toured the lot with a salesman and was lured to a convertible sitting there with the top down. I couldn’t wait to get into that car. I jumped in and was envisioning all of the fun I was going to have when suddenly….the horn button assembly fell into my lap. That completely turned me off. I got in my car and drove to Tropical Chevrolet (Miami) and ordered a 1966 Corvair convertible with every single option that was offered by GM (including AC). It took six weeks before it was delivered because I also ordered the head restraint option. The Corvair was a fun car too, but I later wished I had bought the Mustang. In 1970 I finally got a new Mustang convertible. The quality was poor. It was beset with minor problems almost from day one. In late 1972 I replaced it with a ‘73 Cougar RX7. Now that was a class act car!

    I believe there were 64 1/2 as the first GT came out in April 65
    Prior to that to have a GT The dealer had to turn it into one.
    It was not called a GT, it had GT options.
    It did not have the dash cluster

    JAY, there were no GT options. The car was either built as a GT, or it was not. The fog lights and exhaust trumpets you refer to were never available as factory options. But, yes, they could be purchased in the dealer parts dept and installed later. These items were not available until early Spring of 1965 when the GT model was actually made available to order.

    perry and Gene – They may have left the front engine emblem off because it was “too busy” but I don’t think so. Seems more likely that it was just good marketing. Ford probably wanted to ‘profit’ from the Mustang being the Official Pace Car on those 6 cylinder units too. At least that’s my thinking, what I’d have suggested .

    Paul Murray, you seem to have overlooked the likely reason I also included. Companies were even known to build display models that they didn’t even put an engine in. They just made them pretty, left the hood closed and pushed it on and off a trailer with the other display stuff they trucked around. Again, some show cars were strictly for DISPLAY PURPOSES ONLY.

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