The Ford Mustang I is a small, mid-engined (4-cylinder), open two-seater concept car with aluminium body work that was built by Ford in 1962. Although it shared few design elements with the final production vehicle, it did lend its name to the line.[2]

Ford Mustang I
Ford Mustang I Concept car.jpg
Ford Mustang I at the Henry Ford Museum
DesignerEugene Bordinat, Roy Lunn, John Najjar
Body and chassis
ClassConcept car
Body style2-door roadster
Layoutmid-engine layout
Engine91 cu in (1.5 L) V4 [1]
Wheelbase90 in (2,286 mm)[1]
Length154.2 in (3,917 mm)[1]
Width62 in (1,575 mm)[1]
Height39.2 in (996 mm) (over roll bar)[1]
Curb weight1,544 lb (700 kg)[2]

Design and developmentEdit

The original Ford Mustang was a product of the Fairlane Group, a committee of Ford managers led by Lee Iacocca. The Fairlane Group worked on new product needs and, in the summer of 1962, the Group laid out the framework of a new sports car. The automaker made a "tentative bid to fill a vacuum between Go-Karts and the Corvette" as well as to compete in FIA category 9 (SCCA Class G)."[1] Popular Mechanics compared it to the imported MG 1600 Mark II and Sunbeam Alpine Mark II sports cars.[1]

Designer Eugene Bordinat envisioned a low-cost sports car that would combine roadability, performance, and appearance in a radical layout. Ford designer Philip T. Clark had been working on the low-slung Mustang design in varied forms for years.[3] Bordinat coordinated the development of the styling and oversaw the first drawings into a clay model in three weeks.[4] A 90 in (2,286.0 mm) wheelbase, 48 in (1,219 mm) front and a 49 in (1,245 mm) rear track were the working dimensions.[1] The body skin was a one-piece unit that was riveted to a space frame. To increase rigidity, the seats were part of the body. The driver could adjust the steering column and clutch/brake/accelerator pedals.

Roy Lunn was put in charge as product planner for building the car. His racing car design experience together with his engineering really brought the concept to life.[5] Lunn, working with Herb Misch as the project engineer, "designed the chassis to accommodate four-wheel independent suspension, rack and pinion steering, and front disc brakes."[2][4][6] A lightweight and dimensionally small German Ford Cardinal 1,500 cc 60 degree V4 engine powered the Mustang I. [Note 1] The front-wheel-drive powertrain from Ford Germany's mainstream Cardinal/Taunus sedans was mounted directly behind the cockpit with the engine and 4-speed transmission in a common housing with an axle and conventional clutch.[8]

Ford Lead Designer and Executive Stylist John Najjar favored a mid-engined configuration, cooled through two separate radiators on the sides of the car. Najjar also proposed the name "Mustang" for the concept vehicle.[9] As an aviation enthusiast, Najjar was familiar with the North American P-51 Mustang fighter.[10] He saw some design similarities in the diminutive but sleek profile of the new sports car.[11]

The car featured a plastic racing-type windshield and an integral roll bar. Other unique features included a dual-brake line system, telescoping steering wheel, and adjustable foot pedals.[12] Two versions of the V4 engine were available, an 89 hp (66 kW) street and a 109 hp (81 kW) race engine. Racecar builders, Troutman-Barnes of Culver City, California, used the clay and fiberglass body bucks to create an aluminum body. Lunn and his team of engineers finished the prototypes in just 100 days.[13] A total of two cars were built: a detailed, but non-running fiberglass mock-up, and a fully functional car.[2] The "exotic was never close to becoming a production car" was completed in August 1962.[14]

Schematic view of Ford Mustang I

Public debutEdit

The Mustang I made its formal debut at the United States Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, New York on October 7, 1962, where test driver and contemporary Formula One race driver Dan Gurney lapped the track in a demonstration of the prototype. He reportedly drove the car "to 120 ... causing the automotive rumor mill [to begin] churning even faster" with reports by Motor Trend that "Ford will produce a sports car to compete with the Corvette" which was exactly the publicity stunt Lee Iacocca was hoping to achieve.[15]

For the next two years, both Mustang Is appeared at car shows and automotive events as show cars. The model attracted attention, "but was too complex for regular production."[2] An unusual use for the cars was to tour colleges as a marketing tool for Ford. After reactions from potential customers and focus groups had demonstrated that the original concept of the Mustang I had limited appeal to the general public, a completely new concept car, the Mustang II, appeared in 1963. With the appearance of this Mustang II concept car, the original "Mustang" concept car became the Mustang I. Both cars were from Eugene Bordinat's Advanced Design group, which developed 13 Mustang concepts. The original code name for this group of cars was also "Allegro". One of the cars from this design project actually became known as Allegro.

The four-seater Mustang was known beforehand to be the car that would actually be produced for sale using the first generation Ford Falcon platform. Based on a four-seater configuration and using a front-engine layout based on the Falcon, the Mustang II was much more conventional in design and concept and closely resembled the final production variant that would appear in 1964. Nearly the only design element that remained from the original Mustang I were the fake louvers that recreated the radiator scoops of the two-seater.

Final dispositionEdit

The one operational Mustang I was donated to The Henry Ford Museum in 1982.[16]



  1. ^ Derived from the Cardinal, it was a 60-degree V4 displacing 1,927cc (90 x 60mm), producing 90 bhp at 6,500 rpm.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Ford builds a bomb- The Mustang." Popular Mechanics, Volume 118, Issue 5, November 1962, pp. 93–95, 228. Retrieved: March 22, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Nick D. "1962 Ford Mustang I Concept.", April 20, 2016. Retrieved: March 22, 2016.}
  3. ^ Leffingwell 2003, p. 43.
  4. ^ a b Fria, Robert A. (2010). Mustang Genesis: The Creation of the Pony Car. McFarland. p. 39. ISBN 9780786458400. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  5. ^ Editors of Consumer Guide Automotive (7 February 2007). "John Najjar: Designer of the Ford Mustang I Concept Car". HowStuffWorks. Retrieved 19 December 2017.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^
  7. ^ Langworth 1984, p. 22.
  8. ^ Editors of Consumer Guide Automotive (3 February 2007). "1965 Ford Mustang Prototypes". HowStuffWorks. Retrieved 19 December 2017.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "Mustang Racing History". Ford Motor Company Newsroom (Press release). 2005. Archived from the original on 28 July 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  10. ^ Graff, Cory (2015). P-51 Mustang: Seventy-Five Years of America's Most Famous Warbird. Voyageur Press. p. 218. ISBN 9780760348598. Retrieved 19 December 2017. executive stylist and lead designer, John Najjar, who originally suggested the name for the 1962 concept sports car ... I was a nut for fighter planes - the P-51
  11. ^ Leffingwell 2003, p. 43.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Leffingwell 2001, p. 15.
  14. ^ Heasley, Jerry (August 2004). "The concepts behind the icon". Popular Mechanics. 181 (8): 66. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  15. ^ Mueller 2000, p. 21.
  16. ^ Davis 2014, p. 36.


  • Clark, Holly. The Man Behind the Pony Series, Finding My Father, with photography by Red Van. Rusk, Texas: ClarkLand Productions: Phil Clark Foundation, 2006. ISBN 978-0-7603-1085-4.
  • Davis, Michael W. R. Mustang and the Pony Car Revolution. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2014. ISBN 978-1-4671-1152-2.
  • Fria, Robert A. Mustang Genesis: The Creation of the Pony Car. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7864-5840-0.
  • Langworth, Richard M. The Mustangs, 1964-1973: A Collector's Guide. Surrey, UK: Motor Racing Publications, 1984. ISBN 978-0-9005-4981-6.
  • Leffingwell, Randy. American Muscle: Muscle Cars From the Otis Chandler Collection. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Motorbooks International, 2001. ISBN 978-0-7603-1085-4.
  • Leffingwell, Randy. Mustang: 40 Years. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Crestline; MBI Publishing, 2003. ISBN 978-0-7603-1597-2.
  • Mueller, Mike. Mustang, 1964 1/2-1973. Minneapolis, Minnesota: MBI Publishers, 2000. ISBN 978-0-7603-0734-2.