CONCORD, N.C. – The Charlotte Motor Speedway AutoFair will honor the 50th birthday of the Ford Mustang with an exhibit highlighting all five generations of the famous “pony car.”
“The Ford Mustang is an American institution,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “Five decades of drivers have grown up aspiring to own these cars and they’ll love being able to see some of the rare Mustangs we’ll have on display at the AutoFair.”
The 50th anniversary display at AutoFair will feature five generations of Mustangs as desirable and diverse as a 1965 GT 350, 1967 coupe in Playboy Pink, 1969 Boss 429, 1978 Mustang II Ghia, 1982 GT, 1996 Cobra and 2013 Boss 302 Laguna Seca, to name only a few. In addition, movie buffs will enjoy a 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT replica from the dramatic thriller “Bullitt” and a 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback “Eleanor” replica from the 2000 hit film “Gone in Sixty Seconds.”
When Ford sold its first Mustang on April 17, 1964, the company had no idea it was giving birth to a legend that would still be capturing young hearts a half-century later; it was simply trying to fill an empty spot in its lineup.
Lee Iacocca was Ford Division’s vice-president and general manager in the early 1960s, and he pushed for a model that would fit between the Falcon economy car and Thunderbird luxury coupe. Ford felt that this stylish and sporty new Mustang should be built on the Falcon platform, saving millions of dollars in development money.
An unprecedented amount of effort went into promoting the new Mustang before it was even available for sale. The pre-introduction campaign played heavily on the car’s biggest selling points – its low price of $2,368 and a long list of standard features. Such a frenzy developed over the Mustang that more than 100,000 units were sold in the first three months of production and it would take only 18 months to put one million Mustangs on the road.
A lexicon of names has been created over the years to identify Mustang models, and today collectors pay extra when they find a Sprint, GT, Cobra Jet, Super Cobra Jet, Mach 1, GT 350, GT 500, Boss 302, Boss 351, Boss 429, California Special, High Country Special, Roush, Steeda or Saleen.
Although the Mustang is considered a high-performance machine, there has been a broad range of engines available over the last 50 years. From the sturdy gas sipping, standard six-cylinder with 101 horsepower to rubber burning V-8s displacing anywhere from 260 to 429 cubic inches, owners had a big choice on which engine box to check.
In the 1970s, changing buyer preferences and rising gas prices created the small Mustang II, which could be ordered as a fuel efficient four-cylinder model. In the mid-’80s, Ford began pushing the edge of the Mustang’s performance envelope once again, offering buyers better handling and acceleration. Since then, Ford continued to push Mustang to new levels, bringing back models like the Shelby GT500 and Boss 302 and the developing the newest Mustang, the 2014 GT which features a 5.0-liter V-8 that puts out 420 horsepower.
In addition to the Mustang anniversary display, the AutoFair which runs April 3-6, features more than 50 car club displays and more than 10,000 vendor spaces offering an array of automotive parts and memorabilia. More than 1,500 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile speedway.