Ford needs your help identifying this mystery 1966 mid-engine Mustang prototype

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Photo by Ford Performance/Courtesy John Clor

If your first reaction to the image of this odd two-seat, mid-engine Ford Mustang prototype is to squint, furrow your brow, and scratch your head, then take solace that you’re in good company. In fact, even Ford is stumped as to the story behind this 1966 mid-ship pony. After consulting Ford and Mustang experts for more than five years, the Blue Oval is hoping you, dear reader, are sitting on the scoop.

Here’s what we do know. According to Ford Performance, now-retired Ford Archives manager Dean Weber began his investigation into the unknown ’66 prototype about five years ago. Weber reached out to author and columnist John Clor, as well as Mustang marketing and PR veteran John Clinard, for any possible leads. Based on the image, Weber could tell it was dated May 2, 1966, and that it was a two-seat mid-engine machine based on a 1966 Mustang platform. From what we can make out, it had storage in the front, a three-spoke Mustang steering wheel, a Windsor V-8 mated to some kind of transaxle, and storage for a spare wheel in the back. Not much to go on. Weber thought maybe it was later re-skinned as the Ford Mach 2 concept.

[UPDATE: A possible answer has emerged!]

1966 mid engine mustang protype hood concept
From the looks of it, and the date, the engine here is likely a 289 Windsor V-8. Ford Performance/Courtesy John Clor

Neither Clor nor Clinard recognized the car, but it piqued their interest. From there they prodded several other Ford veterans, including Mustang designer Gale Halderman, Ford Design VP Jack Telnack, and first-gen Mustang product planner Hal Sperlich. None had a clue (and possible options like the drivable Ford Research Mustang I Concept were ruled out), but Ford Irvine design studio alumnus Greg Gutting was able to identify the location as the rarely-seen International Studio in Dearborn. A start?

Neither automotive author Marty Schorr nor “Godfather of the GT40” Roy Lunn, now deceased, could shed any additional light. Eventually Clor ruled out the Mach 2 theory—that concept was based on a ’67, not a ’66 Mustang, which is the foundation for this mid-engine mystery vehicle.

1964 mustang styling negative two seater profile concept mystery
A separate April 1964 two-seater Mustang concept. This photo was taken just six days after the production reveal of the Mustang on April 17, 1964. Ford Performance/Courtesy John Clor
1967 mid engine mustang mach 2 rear three quarter staged concept
1967 Mach 2 Concept Ford Performance/Courtesy John Clor

That’s where the trail ends. For now, anyway. Ford Performance is banking on the deep knowledge of the automotive community to solve this mystery. “That’s when it comes time to ask the real experts—you,” reads the online plea. Yes, the real history of Ford isn’t housed in some corporate museum—it’s stored in your garages. Fact is, many owners of classic Fords know more about their cars than even many so-called historians, and sometimes we tap into that knowledge base to help us uncover mysteries that we can’t solve on our own.”

Ford Performance is asking that if you know anything, please email ClubHub@Ford.com. If your information solves the puzzle you’ll be in for a “special prize.” However, you’d be welcome to post your thoughts, theories, and insider info to the comments section below. Let’s solve this thing together.

mystery mustang protype side illo concept
Ford Performance/Courtesy John Clor

 

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