Ford Advanced Studio's 1965 Mustang design proposals - The ones that didn’t make it

Ford Advanced Studio's 1965 Mustang design proposals - The ones that didn’t make it

In this special Mustang supplement, Classic American shares some rare Ford Advanced Styling Studio Concepts submitted on the day the original Mustang design proposal was chosen. You’ll be amazed at what the Mustang could have looked like… Words: Huw Evans. Photography: Ford Motor Company.

The ones that didn’t make it

Recognised as one of the most famous automotive designs of all time, what emerged as the original 1964½ Mustang originated from a series of design proposals done in the early Sixties. Ford product planner Hal Sperlich, under the direction of division general manager Lee Iacocca, asked Ford’s Advanced Design Studio to come up with a variety of different concepts for a small, sporty car. At the time, Sperlich felt that the Falcon, although very popular with buyers, didn’t satisfy the market and something with more pizazz was needed.

Ford Advanced Studio's 1965 Mustang design proposals - The ones that didn’t make it

In particular, Iacocca and Sperlich felt that the Baby Boomer generation (those born after the Second World War), were on the cusp of driving age and would want vehicles radically different from those of their parents. In fact, Ford’s marketing research division, run by Chase Mosley Jr., showed that 18-34-year-olds were expected to represent more than half of all new car buyers between 1960 and 1970.

European sports cars, which had been snapped up in small but growing numbers since the end of the war, were seen as both an inspiration and starting point for a home-grown, affordable sporty car that would slot in the line-up above the Falcon. Under the codename T-5, various concepts were created.

Early examples included evolutions of the two-seater Thunderbird theme such as the Thunderbolt (penned in 1961) and the radical, mid-engine Mustang I which, although emerging as a fully functional concept, was deemed to have very limited appeal.

By 1962, the original concept of a new, sporty Ford car had evolved from a two-seater into a four-seat coupe and convertible. Numerous styling exercises were created and reviewed by Ford’s infamous Fairlane Management team. In August of 1962 a fresh set of guidelines (180-inch overall length, four seats, floor-mounted gear lever, Falcon mechanicals with taut, sporty, personal styling) were given to come up with a final design.

Four different design teams got to work, representing the Ford and Lincoln-Mercury Division studios, Corporate Projects and Ford’s Advanced Design Studio. Ford vice-president of styling Eugene Bordinat gave each team just two weeks to come up with their designs. All would be displayed on August 16, 1962 and a winner selected.

Although the design ultimately chosen came from the Ford Division studio under the direction of Joe Oros, with executive designer L David Ash and studio manager Gale Halderman, numerous other proposals were submitted. Here, we share those from Ford Advanced Design that were displayed on August 16, 1962. It makes you wonder that if the Ford Division studio design wasn’t selected, how radically different the Mustang might have turned out…

Ford Advanced Studio's 1965 Mustang design proposals - The ones that didn’t make it

This styling exercise combines a formal roofline with an almost streamlined flow along the lower body (note those front fender curves).

This design bears a strong resemblance to the then-current Thunderbird, with cigar-type design cues and rocket ship-inspired rear quarters and tail-lights.

With the winning design visible in the background, this Allegro concept embodies much more European themes. It looks svelte and smart but perhaps was too close in design to the existing Falcon (note the circular tail-lights).

A further evolution of the Allegro theme offers an even more formal roofline and sloping tail-light treatment.

Ford Advanced Studio's 1965 Mustang design proposals - The ones that didn’t make it

Although a four-seat concept, this one borrows heavily from the Mustang I two-seater created under the direction of Eugene Bordinat and is by far the most radical of the styling proposals submitted by Advanced Design.

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