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Ford unveiled the first Mustang to a stunned and captivated public at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. Before the 1965 Mustang rolled off the assembly line and into Americans’ hearts, baby boomers had limited options for their fun car fantasies, like the venerable Chevrolet Chevelle or Ford Falcon. However, the Blue Oval took a chance on the galloping horse and created one of the most recognizable badges in the business. 

When did Ford unveil the Mustang?

Ford unveiled the first Mustang to the public on April 17, 1964. Lee Iacocca, one of the creative minds behind the then-new model, had been advocating for an accessible alternative to the posh and flashy Thunderbird, and the new pony car on the Ford Falcon platform answered baby boomers’ prayers. 

A first-generation 1965 Ford Mustang, what fans call the 1964 1/2 model, shows off its white paintwork and Ford Falcon platform on a stage.
Ford Mustang | Underwood Archives, Getty Images

At first, the new pony car wasn’t beloved by all; famed racing driver and car-building royalty Carroll Shelby referred to the Ford model as a “secretary’s car.” The moniker doesn’t age well, but it was well-founded. The first Mustang was underpowered, heavy, and numb compared to spirited European roadsters. 

Still, the American public voted with their wallets. In its first year, Ford sold around 419,000 units. In fact, the pony car was the best-selling compact car in America just six weeks after its launch, according to MotorTrend.  

Where was the Mustang revealed?

The public first laid eyes on the Ford Mustang at the Ford Pavilion, also known as the Wonder Rotunda, of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Moreover, Ford says 15 million visitors rode in a then-new Mustang Convertible on the Magic Skyway ride.

Walt Disney and his staff designed the attraction. Ford says Disney wanted the ride to be “a fantasyland of the past, present, and future.” Still, the pomp and circumstance surrounding the pony car’s unveiling isn’t what made it such a success compared to the Ford Falcon. Instead, the Blue Oval says the car’s “affordability, performance, innovative look, and spirit of fun and freedom” made it a sales titan. 

What is the biggest engine in a 1964 Mustang?

The 1965 Ford Mustang, or the 1964 ½ model as fans call it, had similar engine options to the Falcon. 

  • 170 cubic-inch I6
  • 260 cubic-inch V8
  • 289 cubic-inch V8

The base inline six-cylinder mill produced 101 horsepower, per MotorTrend. Moreover, the 260 cubic-inch and 289 cubic-inch V8s produced 164 and 210 horsepower, respectively. Finally, the Blue Oval added a 271-horsepower high-performance 289 V8 in mid-1964. 

The first Ford Mustang was an instant success due to its affordability and appeal. The base model started at around $2,368, which made the pony car an accessible option for young buyers of the time. 

A couple recline next to a the a Ford first, the 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible in bright red.
A couple sits next to a Mustang Convertible | FPG, Getty Images

Is an old Mustang a good investment?

Today’s fans can find an old Mustang coupe or convertible without breaking the bank. However, the prized fastback demands more of a premium. For instance, Hagerty says a 1965 Ford Mustang Coupe with the 170 cubic-inch I6 in good condition has a value of around $16,800. 

However, a 1965 GT Fastback with a 289 cubic-inch V8 is worth around $63,500. What do you think of the classic ‘Stang? Tell us in the comments below!


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