The new Ford Mustang has taken design cues from the ‘60s icon. When introduced in April 1964 (as a 1965 model), the Mustang was an instant hit. CARtoday.com charts the making of a legend.

When introduced in April 1964 (as a 1965 model), the Mustang was an instant hit. Even standing still it looked fast, sporty and expensive.

It cost $2 368, and reaction to its arrival was tremendous – dealers could not get enough. Early cars were sold at or above retail. Ford had originally projected first year sales of the Mustang to be around 100 000, but it took only four months to reach that figure and the 1965 production total was 680 992, an all-time record for first year sales.

Mustang reached the one million mark by March 1966. This sales record is more impressive considering that until September 1964, there were only two body styles, the coupe and the convertible. The fastback was then added to the mix.

The Mustang was certainly a start of a Detroit revolution. A legend was created overnight – but it followed years of planning and effort by Ford.

In 1961, Lee Iacocca, vice president and general manager of Ford, had a vision: a car that would seat four people, have bucket seats, a floor mounted gear lever, and sell for less than $2 500. His orders for this new car were simple: it had to be sporty, affordable, with a good power to weight ratio. Style had to include a long bonnet, short rear deck and low profile. And it had to be new, exciting, and different from every thing else on the streets. Out of this vision, the Mustang was born. After many months of meetings, discussions and market surveys, funding was finally approved for the Mustang in September 1962. On March 9 1964 the first Mustang rolled off the assembly line.

In order to keep production costs down, many of the Mustang's components were "borrowed" from the Falcon, including most of the drivetrain. With a multitude of different interior, exterior, and drivetrain options, the Mustang could be ordered as plain, or as fancy, as economical, or as fast, as the buyer wanted. In general, the Mustang was designed for everyone and was advertised as "the car to be designed by you".

The Mustang was heavily advertised during the latter part of its development. On April 16, 1964, the day before it's release, Ford ran simultaneous commercials at 9.30pm on all three major television networks, ABC, NBC, and CBS. The following day, April 17, 1964, people "attacked" the Ford showrooms. Everyone was in a frenzy to be one of the first to own the Mustang. Ford sold more than 22 000 Mustangs the first day.

The following year, Ford refined the Mustang. New for '65 was the natural evolution, a fastback design. It had a very practical foldaway rear seat and functional rear air ducts on the rear quarter panel. It was called the 2 plus 2.

Also new were front disk brakes and limited slip differential. It was the first year for the GT package, with a choice of two V8 (four barrel carb) engines. It had dual exhausts, improved suspension, disk brakes, five gauges instrument panel, rally pack, exterior GT badges, fog lights, and integrated exhaust horns into the rear valance.

But the big news for '65 was the introduction of the Shelby GT 350. It was based on the production Mustang GT fastback, with a different scooped glass fibre bonnet, the whole car stripped down for weight improvement. Other modifications were the suspension, the Hi PO 289 enginewider rear track and custom interior. A hot rod Mustang from the factory! (The next Shelby Mustang arrived in 1968, and differed a lot from its other Mustang stablemates. Its styling was simply stunning. It had different lights front and back, a redesigned bonnet, and front and rear ends. For the first time since '66 Shelby had a convertible available. Shelby Mustangs could be had in two models the GT350 and GT500.)

1967 brought the first major restyling to the Mustang. Length and height were increased, and the wider body allowed for the installation of a tyre-smoking, 390ci engine, the first big block engine in the Mustang. Among new options were an overhead console, power disc brakes, and an all-new transmission, the FMX, which allowed fully automatic or manual shifting. The fastback's roof line was extended to the rear of the boot.

1969 brought another major restyling. The Fastback 2+2 was gone - replaced by the new SportsRoof model. The new Mustangs were again longer than their 67/68 predecessors, yet they retained the wheelbase of the original 64½. Two special engines were offered for ‘69, the Boss 302 and the Boss 429. New features included quad headlights, new quarter panel ornaments, side scoops and integral rear spoiler on the SportsRoof models.

The biggest and baddest of the Bosses, the Boss 429, was primarily built to satisfy NASCAR requirements. It had a Semi-Hemi 429 powerplant. To compensate for the massive engine, the front shock towers were moved out 2,5 cm, and the front A-arms were lowered 2,5 cm. The Boss 429 featured a huge bonnet scoop (the largest ever offered on the Mustang), front spoiler, flared fenders, dual racing mirrors, and F60x15 tires, mounted on chrome, Magnum 500 wheels, competition suspension, rear stabiliser bar, power front disc brakes, power steering, and an engine oil cooler.

The Boss 302 was built mainly to qualify the Mustang for the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) Trans-Am series. It had four-speed manual transmission, low-gloss, black bonnet and deck lid, Boss 302 "C" stripes, front spoiler, flared fenders and Magnum 500 wheels with F60x15 tyres.

Another new model for 1969 was the Mach 1, which was available only with one of the five larger -8 engines. It featured a low-gloss black bonnet, hood scoop, dual racing mirrors, side stripes, pop-open petrol cap, and dual exhaust ending in chrome, quad outlets.

However, the bulk of interest in Mustangs still hovers around the first two model years. They were the quintessential Mustangs, the real thing, the grand original, and there is still a very good supply of these cars

The most notable styling characteristic of the Mustang is its long bonnet and short rear deck. The Mustang started a wave of personal cars with sporty characteristics to be known as "pony cars". There was really no such thing as a typical Mustang, due to its long list of options. This may be the reason there was varied reactions by the motoring press to the Mustang's introduction as the personality of the car greatly depended on how the car was equipped. This adds to the Mustang's collector value today and it is probably safe to say that the large option list contributed a major part in the Mustang's success.

Mustangs in movies:

2001 Vanilla Sky - Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz & Penelope cruz (‘67 Mustang Fastback)

2000 Nicolas Cage - Gone in 60 seconds (‘67 Shelby GT500 Modified)

1999 The Thomas Crown Affair - Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo (‘67 Shelby Mustang convertible)

1997 Assassin – Antonio Bandeira s (‘97 Mustang GT)

90's Marked For Death - Steven Seagal (1973 Mustang Mach 1, black)

80's The Jerky Boys (‘88 Mustang GT, stretch limo)

80's Inner Space - Meg Ryan & Dennis Quaid. (‘67+ - convt)

80's Basic Instinct - Sharon Stone (‘91 GT convt)

1988 Twins – Arnold Scharzenegger and Danny DeVito (‘88 GT convt)

1988 Bull Durham – Kevin Costner (‘68 convt)

Spencer for Hire - Robert Urich. (‘66 Mustang)

80's Malone - Burt Reynolds. (‘69 Fast Back)

1985 Starman - Jeff Bridges (Mustang II)

1978 Coming Home - Jon Voight & Jane Fonda (Customised ‘68 GT500)

(76 - 81) Charlie's Angles (various Mustang IIs)

70's Nightmare in Badham County - Max Baer Jr (‘77 Mustang II)

1970s' Original - Gone in 60 Seconds (‘71 Mach 1)

1971 James Bond, Diamonds are Forever (‘71 Mach 1)

1968 Bullitt - Steve McQueen (‘68 fastback)

1965 James Bond, Thunderball (‘65 convt)

1964 James Bond, Goldfinger (‘64 convt).