Happy Birthday, Ford Mustang!

Happy birthday, Ford Mustang! Today in 1964 the first Ford Mustang rolled off the assembly line in the Motor City.  The first-generation of the iconic vehicle was manufactured from April 1964 until 1973. It’s birth ushered in the era of the pony car. The design was instantly popular and spun up a host of competitors with long hoods, short decks and increasingly powerful engines.

While the first production models were produced in March of 1964 the Ford Mustang formally introduced on April 17 with two configurations, hardtop and convertible. A fastback version went on sale in August.

Ford sold over than 22,000 Ford Mustang coupes and convertibles at launch, with over a million sold during the first two years of production. The vehicle list price was $2,368. Here’s a link to the television commercials Ford created to introduce the Mustang to the world.

The Ford Mustang actually shared its platform with the Ford Falcon and was considered a compact car. But the two vehicles couldn’t have been more different. Edsel Ford coined the brand “Falcon” for a sumptuous 1935 model. When he determined that the design didn’t fit with the Ford line, the Falcon became the Mercury.

As with every vehicle of the day, each year brought a revision. The Ford Mustang got bigger and more powerful with each iteration. The Mustang underwent a major redesign in 1971. When the sales of gas guzzlers declined with the advent of the oil crisis, Ford was ready. They had already designed a smaller Ford Mustang II for 1974. With vague visual similarities to its predecessors, the Ford Mustang II shared no common components with its ancestor.

The Ford Mustang in Bullitt – Click Image to watch the chase Mustang Sally – Wilson Pickett

The Ford Mustang has been a frequent source of popular culture iconography. “Mustang Sally“, recorded by Wilson Pickett in 1966, the tale of a guy who buys his ungrateful girlfriend. One observer noted that the tune was the essence of product-placement: “Free advertising for the Ford Motor Company.” The Mustang made a notable appearance in the 1964 movie Goldfinger (Video). But the most famous Ford Mustang in cinema was the The 1968 GT Fastback that Steve McQueen, drove in the feature film Bullitt. The specially modified 2+2 Fastback pursued a Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco in a chase scene that has since earned cinematic immortality.

The Mustang is now in it’s 6th generation, still selling well among muscle car enthusiasts, with no end to production in sight.

Today in History: Mar 9

1954: Edward R Murrow criticizes Sen Joseph McCarthy (See it Now)
1959: Frankie Avalon‘s “Venus” hits #1
1959: The Coasters‘ single “Charlie Brown” peaks at #2 on the Billboard Top 100.
1959: Barbie makes her debut at the American Toy Fair in New York. Over a billion have been sold worldwide since.
1961: The Supremes first single, “I Want A Guy,” is released. Despite a push from their label, Motown, it flops, as does their next several singles.
1963: The Beatles began 1st British tour, supporting Tommy Roe & Chris Montez
1964: 1st Ford Mustang is produced.
1964: The Beatles filmed the last day of train scenes for the movie A Hard Day’s Night. During their six days of filming aboard a moving train, The Beatles travelled a total of 2,500 miles on the rails.
1966: The Beach Boys started recording the Brian Wilson and Tony Asher penned song ‘God Only Knows‘, which when released in May 1966 was the eighth track on the group’s album Pet Sounds.
1970: Having recently changed their name from Earth to Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward made their concert debut at The Roundhouse, London.
1975: Steely Dan releases ‘Katy Lied‘.
1976: Keith Moon collapses onstage at the beginning of a Who concert at the Boston Garden.
1981: Dan Rather becomes primary anchorman of CBS-TV News
1986: Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith go to Magic Ventures Studios in New York, where they record parts of their song “Walk This Way” so Run-D.M.C. can transform it into a hip-hop jam.
1988: Actress Audrey Hepburn is appointed a UNICEF Special Ambassador (Goodwill Ambassador 1989)
2011: Eric Clapton auctions off 75 guitars and 55 amplifiers, with proceeds going to his Crossroads rehab center in Antigua. Items sold include a vintage 1948 Gibson L-5P guitar and a Fender Twin amp.
2015: Eugene Patton, known as Gene Gene the Dancing Machine from the classic ’70s Gong Show, dies at age 82 in Pasadena, California.
2020: An appellate court upholds a 2016 ruling that Led Zeppelin‘s “” did not infringe on the Spirit song “Taurus,” bringing an end to the lawsuit that was filed in 2014.

Today’s Birthdays:

Mark Lindsay

1902: Will Geer [William Aughe Ghere], American actor (Salt of the Earth, The Waltons), born in Frankfort, Indiana (d. 1978)
1918: Mickey Spillane [Frank Morrison Spillane], American mystery writer (I the Jury), born in Brooklyn, New York (d. 2006)
1921: Carl Betz, American actor (The Donna Reed Show, Love of Life), born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (d. 1978)
1936: Country singer Mickey Gilley is born in Mississippi.
1936: Marty Ingels, American comedian (I’m Dickens He’s Fenster), born in Brooklyn, New York (d. 2015)
1942: Gary Walker, drummer of The Walker Brothers, is born Gary Leeds in Glendale, California.
1942: Experimental musician John Cale (of Velvet Underground) is born in Wales.
1942: Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere & the Raiders is born in Eugene, Oregon.
1945: Guitarist Robin Trower is born in London.
1945: Ron Wilson, drummer, The Surfaris, (1963 US No.2 & UK No.3 single ‘Wipe Out’) (1989).
1948: R&B singer Jeffrey Osborne (lead singer of LTD) is born in Providence, Rhode Island.
1948: Jimmie Fadden (guitarist, drummer for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is born in Long Beach, California.
1949: Trevor Burton of The Move is born in Birmingham, England.
1951: Frank Rodriguez, the keyboard player who comes up with the famous riff on “96 Tears” for ? and the Mysterians, is born in Bay City, Michigan.
1960: Linda Fiorentino, American actress (Jade, Last Seduction, Moderns), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1971: Emmanuel Lewis, American actor (Webster), born in Brooklyn, New York.

Today’s Quote Worth Re-Quoting:People like to have their cars reflect their personalities – young, vivacious, outdoorsy, wanting to get out and go do things. That’s why this car has lasted for so long. People just resonate with what it stands for.”~ John McElroy – Michigan Radio: The past and the future of Ford Mustang

One for the Road: Let’s hear that 1966 three minute and five second commercial for the Ford Mustang, Wilson Pickett’s rendition of Mustang Sally. The tune was written and first recorded by Mack Rice in 1965. Pickett’s version climbed to #6 on the R&B charts and #23 on the pop charts in 1966.

Thanks for listening!

Scott Westerman
Curator: Keener13.com
Host and Producer – Rock and Roll Revisited
Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit