The Classic 1965 Ford Mustang Rocks

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Just look at that beauty! Since it was introduced on April 17, 1964, it’s considered by auto enthusiasts to be the “1964 1/2” edition. We’re talking about the 1965 Ford Mustang, the classic two-door “pony” car that kick-started a whole line of rivals from other U.S. auto manufacturers. Nearly 60 years after it was introduced, and long after numerous redesigns and subsequent generations, the 1965 Mustang still elicits swoons when a prideful owner takes her out for a spin.

The first people to swoon on that April day in 1964? They were at Ford’s pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, where various U.S. corporations including IBM and Westinghouse “wowed” attendees with their latest innovations.

The man ultimately in charge of introducing the Mustang was none other than Lee Iacocca, Ford’s General Manager at the time. The auto executive died July 2, 2019, at the ripe age of 94. He had joined Ford in 1946 and had a flurry promotions as he rose up the ranks. He ultimately became president of the company in 1970.

Eight years later, Iacocca was fired by the company after clashing with Henry Ford II. He famously joined a prominent competitor, Chrysler, which was in the midst of a significant tailspin. He resurrected the company, becoming the public face of the automaker in a series of well-received TV ads, often with his closing line, “If you can find a better car, buy it.”

Iacocca, born Oct. 15, 1924, soon became a best-selling author of multiple titles. His Iacocca: An Autobiography (written with William Novak) was reportedly the top-selling hardcover non-fiction title of both 1984 and 1985. It’s said that he donated his share of the proceeds to diabetes research.

Back to the ’65 Mustang… The model’s list price was $2,368 but before you marvel at what a steal that was, the price, adjusted for inflation in 2023 dollars is $23,858.

It came in 18 colors, like “Arcadian Blue,” “Wimbledon White” and “Raven Black.” But we’re biased by the two red editions, particularly “Rangoon Red.”

The manufacturer forecast 100,000 units sold in that first year; that number is reported to have been met within three months. More than 400,000 were sold during the first year, representing Ford’s most successful launch since the Model A… in 1927. In all, the 1965 edition sold over 680,000 cars, an all-time record.

Watch how Ford advertised their popular new model

In 1966, Ford introduced 8-track cartridge players as standard equipment in all its Mustangs and Thunderbirds. (Despite its shortcomings, the 8-track nonetheless became popular with music consumers and car players become a symbol of hipness.)

In 1966, Wilson Pickett had a hit with “Mustang Sally.”

Sales of the Mustang peaked in that 1966 model year with 607,000, dipping each year through 1972 when it sold 125,000. Amid the oil crisis, a more fuel-efficient model was introduced for the 1974 model year with sales immediately rising.

In 1968, a hot car, a movie star and an action movie were combined when Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen, was released. The famous San Francisco chase scene with the star behind the wheel of a 1968 Mustang GT is one for the ages.

By the way, that ’68 Mustang set an auction record on Jan. 10, 2020, when it sold for an astonishing $3.74 million. The seller’s family had purchased the car in 1974 for – get this – $3500 after seeing a classified ad for it.

Since 2008, most years have seen sales of under 100,000 as Ford has become increasingly reliant on its highly profitable light trucks and sport utility vehicles. But on those increasingly rare occasions when you see a 1965 Mustang on the street, you’ll be transported.

Ford Mustang coffee mugs, and other items, are available here.

Best Classic Bands Staff

3 Comments so far

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  1. DrBOP
    #1 DrBOP 3 July, 2019, 13:33

    My pop was in charge of the tool and die manufacturing for the ’65 Mustang in Walton Hills Ohio. During the process (about 9 months), I never heard my dad swear more than he did when he came home from work. The quarter panels (front right and left) had to be re-designed and re-tooled 4 times, and my dad thought the hood never did close properly.
    He hated all the “suits” coming around all the time, bustin/ his chops. The whole experience turned him off to ever accepting promotions for the remainder of his 38-year long career at FoMoCo. And he always loved the “working man’s Corvette” description of “the ‘stang”.

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  2. JennyB
    #2 JennyB 8 November, 2021, 22:32

    My first car was a ’68 Mustang and I loved that car! It was a tank! I never got stuck in any snowbank and ice patch…I could always drive it out! My only problem was that the door locks would ice up and be hard to open and then they wouldn’t close until the car warmed up! LOL! I hated to lose that car! It was the best car I ever had, better than the Camaros I had, a Cougar that I hated, and a big-power Firebird that was insanely expensive to maintain. The Mustang was easy to repair and I could do all of the work myself. Great car!

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  3. Old guy
    #3 Old guy 18 April, 2023, 16:25

    I owned a 68 red hardtop with a black vinyl roof. The driver’s door had significant rust earning it the nickname ‘Rustang.’ But simple to maintain and lots of fun to drive.

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