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Ford Mustang history FAQ

Don Frey And Lee Iacocca pictured with the Falcon and the Mustang.

With the 50th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang fast approaching (April 17, 2014 to be precise) here's the Carsguide quick reference guide that you can use to impress and bluff neighbours and friends.

Who really devised the Mustang?

In late 1961 Lee Iacocca, the then President of Ford America, gathered a group of smart young managers and engineers who met regularly at the Fairlane Inn in Dearborn, Detroit.  They called themselves the Fairlane Committee. Their purpose was to brainstorm ideas for new cars.

From this skunksworks came the concept of a small, sporty car priced to appeal to women and men aged 18-35, who were predicted to account for 50 per cent of new car buyers in the 1960s.

How did the Falcon help the Mustang?

The Mustang was really a Ford Falcon under the skin. All the chassis and running gear was pure Falcon. That made the Mustang very cheap to make, easy to produce and allowed Ford to price it low and still make huge profits.

Who engineered the Mustang?

Don Frey was a key member of the Fairlane Committee and he directed all the engineering activities of the 1st generation Mustang. It was Don who decided to use the Falcon as the base for the Mustang. Frey had a PhD in metallurgy and spoke three languages (English, French and Russian). He left Ford in 1968 and was CEO of Bell and Howell where he was instrumental in the development of CD-ROM technology. He was also a board member of movie studio 20th Century Fox. He died in 2010.

What did Hal Sperlich do?

Hal Sperlich was Ford's Product Planning Chief during the 1964 Mustang's development and launch. He used market research data to identify the Mustang's target consumer segment and established the "package" for the car  its dimensions, pricing and options. Hal left Ford in the early 1970s and went to Chrysler, where he made automotive history again with the Minivan concept.

Who styled the Mustang?

As always, success has many fathers, but generally, the two names most commonly associated with the iconic Mustang look are Gale Halderman and Joe Oros. Oros was Ford's design chief while Halderman was a design director in one of Oros's styling studios. Both men received Industrial Design Society Design Awards for design of the 1964 Mustang.

How many times did Henry Ford II reject the idea of the Mustang?

Still feeling bruised after the Edsel fiasco, Henry Ford II went into ultra conservative mode whenever the idea for a new car was mentioned.  He rejected the Mustang four times before Iacocca, Sperlich and Frey convinced him to do it, by basically putting their careers on the line.

David Burrell is the editor of www.retroautos.com.au