The Ford Mustang I was a compact, lightweight roadster
which the company debuted at the 1962 US Grand Prix held
at Watkins Glen.
The Mustang I prototype is plainly nothing like the production
Mustang which was revealed just a few short years later.
About the only things the two cars have in common are
the lateral intakes just forward of the rear wheels -
much smaller on the production car, the galloping horse
'Mustang' badge, and the name.
Unlike the steel bodied, front-engined, four-seat production
Mustang, the Mustang I concept was a two-seat, aluminium
bodied sports car with a mid-mounted engine.
The car's styling was inspired by the WWII American fighter
aircraft the P51 Mustang - probably where they got the
name too! The aerodynamic bodywork was a single piece
unit which was riveted onto the underlying space frame
chassis. One of the more unusual engineering solutions
used on the chassis were the seats. The framework of the
seats were actually integral to the body to increase rigidity.
The driver could adjust the steering column and pedal
assembly to suit their size.
The engine itself was also highly original. It was a 1.5
litre V-4 which came in 89 hp and 109 hp flavors. This
was mated to a 4 speed manual gearbox which sent the power
to the rear wheels. And while 89, or even 109 horsepower
isn't much compared to a V8 engine's output, in a lightweight
car with a well engineered chassis it was more than adequate.
The car was so fast in fact that when it lapped the Watkins
Glen circuit it posted lap times only a fraction slower
than the F1 cars of the day. Just imagine if this had
been the design proposal which got accepted!
After its introduction, the Mustang I concept spent the
next couple of years making motor show appearances across
the US, before more feasible-for-production Mustang concepts
were revealed and it was surplus to requirement. It remained
in storage for several years until it was 'rediscovered'
by a couple of Ford executives. Thankfully it was fully
restored, and as of 1982 it has been a part of The Henry
Similar and related vehicles:
2005 Ford Mustang Concept
Ford Mustang GT 5.0 (2011)
Ford Mustang GT
Ford Mustang GT-R Concept