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Mustang I Roadster Concept
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  Ford Mustang I Roadster Concept
 

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Country of origin:United States
Produced in:1962
Numbers built:One-Off
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:March 25, 2015
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Click here to download printer friendly versionFord Mustang has long since become a legendary nameplate and shortly after its launch had a category of cars named after it. The very first Ford to wear the Mustang badge, however, was by no means a 'Pony Car'. Instead, it was a refined, mid-engined sports racer, powered by a rather diminutive 1.5-litre V4 engine. It was created at a time when Ford looked at ways to improve its performance credentials short of actually going racing.

Ford would probably have been happy to create a competition program if it wasn't for a gentlemen's agreement between the 'Blue Oval', General Motors and Chrysler to refrain from doing so. Instead, Ford commissioned the construction of a compact sports car that could potentially rival with Chevrolet's new rear-engined Corvair. Among the executives involved in the project was Lee Iacocca, while racing car designer Roy Lunn was in charge of the engineering work.

Built by specialists Troutman-Barnes of Scarab and Chaparral fame, the Mustang I Roadster was built around a steel tubular spaceframe. Suspension was by double wishbones on all four corners. Sourced from a front-engined, front-wheel drive Ford Cardinal was a 1.5-litre V4 engine. Bolted directly to the four-speed gearbox, the compact engine was mounted amidships. In standard trim, it produced 64 bhp, while some massaging upped the power to 109 bhp.

The car was clothed in a beautifully crafted aluminium Roadster body. Several of the panels were riveted to the frame to further increase rigidity. With no need for front-mounted radiators, the design featured a striking sharp nose with pop-up headlights. Fresh air was fed to lateral radiators through intakes behind the doors. Showcasing its racing roots, the Mustang I featured cut-down front windshield and roll-over bar. The seats were moulded into the body, while the driver could adjust the pedals and steering wheel.

Completed late in 1962, the very first Ford Mustang broke cover during the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, where it was demonstrated by Dan Gurney. During the following years, it was demonstrated and shown throughout the country. The original Mustang was followed by several more concept cars that ultimately led to the production model introduced in 1964. In addition to the badge and name, several subtle cues like the side-intakes were carried over from the 1962 show car.

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