1965 Ford Mustang GT
8-cyl. 289cid/271hp 4bbl Hi-Perf
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
If the Volkswagen Beetle was the most significant car of the twentieth century with 21.5 million sold, and the Ford Model T was second with 14.7 million produced, the Ford Mustang must occupy third place. For one thing, it’s still in production in the 21st century, with nine million built to date, but it’s also right up there with the other two in terms of cultural significance.
Lee Iacocca’s brainchild was a brilliant combination of humble Ford Falcon underpinnings with a long-hood, short deck coupe that still looks just right. Introduced in April of 1964 as an “early” 1965 model, its European flair could be traced to designer Roy Lunn, who had worked for Aston Martin, ex-Packard engineer Roy Misch and Ford stylist Eugene Bordinat. The first prototype was built in 100 days in the summer of 1962.
Iacocca’s aim was a car that cost $2,500, weighed 2,500lbs and could carry four people. He got pretty close, as a base 6-cylinder hardtop coupe, with a 3-speed manual gearbox cost $2,320 and weighed 2,449 lbs. It was based around a strong, lightweight unibody, with multiple bracing, minimal brightwork and a European-style recessed sporty grille.
Equipped with bucket seats and also available as a convertible for only $2,557, it could be as humble as a 101 hp 170 cid, 6-cylinder grocery-getter, or as fast as a 220 bhp 289 cid V-8. Starting in June 1964, a hi-performance 271 bhp version of the 289 was introduced, equipped with a 4-speed, quick steering and special handling package.
TV ads teased the model three weeks before launch and 22,000 orders were taken the first day. By mid-August when the 1965 model year usually began, 120,000 Mustangs had already been sold. A 2+2 fastback joined the lineup in September for $2,553 to complete the lineup, and sales for the 1965 model year would total 680,989 units. There were no 1964½ models, they were either “early” or “late” 1965s. The easiest way to tell them apart is early cars had a generator, though many were updated to alternators.
Despite the low-priced entry-level model, most cars were well-equipped with a veritable blizzard of options, including a $75 vinyl roof and $18 wire-wheel caps. Only 27 percent of buyers chose the 6-cylinder engine (bumped to 200 cubic inches later). About 73 percent preferred the 164 bhp 260 cid 2-barrel V-8 or the 289 cid 4-barrel, good for 210 bhp. Almost all cars had heaters, 78 percent had radios, 49 percent had automatic transmissions and 31 percent had power steering.
More expensive high-performance and luxury items were not as common. The K-code V8 was fitted to only 1.3 percent of cars, the 4-speed transmission was chosen by only 14.5 percent of buyers, dual exhaust by 3.9 percent and air-conditioning by only 9.1 percent.
The embossed “Pony Interior” was available from March 1965 and the GT Equipment package followed in April, with the option of a 225 bhp or 271 bhp V-8 and including a five-instrument panel replacing the strip speedometer. It also consisted of the Special Handling Package, quick ratio steering, manual front disc brakes, GT emblems, rocker panel stripes, and grille-mounted foglights.
While 13-inch wheels were standard on both six-cylinder and V-8 models, the V-8s got 5-lug wheels. 14 inch wheels were optional, and standard with the Special Handling Package, which offered 15-inch wheels as an option.
A total of 21 colors were offered for 1965 Mustangs, ranging clear across the spectrum. They included Wimbledon White, Rangoon Red, Caspian Blue, Ivy Green, Vintage Burgundy, Silver Blue, Raven Black, Honey Gold, Prairie Bronze, Poppy Red, Twilight Turquoise, Springtime Yellow, Arcadian Blue, Silversmoke Grey, Dynasty Green, Phoenician Yellow, Tropical Turquoise, Champagne Beige, Cascade Green, Sunlight Yellow and Chantilly Beige.