1962 Mustang Cougar Proposal
The design that started the legacy is certainly familiar, but that’s not a galloping horse in the grille. Ford held a design contest in the early 1960s for what would become the Mustang, but the winning shape was originally called the Cougar. We know the story from there, as the Mustang launched to considerable fanfare in 1964 and the Mercury Cougar would follow three years later.
1965 Mustang Shelby GT350 Prototype
The original Mustang wasn’t much of a performance car, even by 1960’s standards. But in 1965, Carroll Shelby created the first true go-fast variant in the form of the Shelby GT350. The original prototype didn’t stray much from the factory formula; an extra 35 horses were added to the 289 cid V8, and steering speed was improved by 14 percent. Shelby rolled out a limited run of 513 Shelby Mustangs in 1965, but it wasn’t until 1966 that the performance-oriented pony cars got the recognition they deserved.
1964 Mustang Shorty Concept III
The Ford Mustang has always been a two-door, 2+2 coupe. But in 1964, Ford attempted to reinvent its then-new pony car into a two-door, two-seat sports car dubbed the “Shorty Mustang III.” Designer Vince Gardner penned the new fiberglass bodywork, and underhood was a 302-cid version of Ford's V8. Unfortunately, the vehicle never made it to production. Ford called for the vehicle's disassembly shortly after completion, but its designer stashed it away. The one-of-a-kind Mustang sold for more than $500,000 at auction in 2015.
1967 Mustang Mach I Concept
Hitting the auto show circuits in 1966, this concept Mustang clearly showed where the first-generation design was headed. The rectangular headlights weren’t used, and thankfully the massive side scoops didn’t make it to production either. The rest, however, is almost spot-on for what the world would see on the 1969 Mustang Mach I.
1967 Mustang Allegro II Concept
This curious roadster was based on one of the original Mustang concepts from 1962 that was rejected. The roofless design was obviously never intended to be a production vehicle, but those headlights and front grille look suspiciously similar to what the world would later see on the Mustang II in 1974.
1970 Mustang Milano Concept
Just as the 1967 Mach I concept previewed what was to come, so did the 1970 Mustang Milano concept. Sort-of anyway – it debuted at the 1970 Chicago Auto Show with its extremely raked rear deck and stretched nose, elements which would appear on the 1971-1973 Mustangs. There are shades of Ford Torino in the style as well, and Max Max fans will also see a striking similarity to the Australian-market 1973 Ford Falcon XB.
1974 Mustang Sportiva II Concept
We all know Ford took its Pony Car in a completely different direction for 1974, and though it was extremely popular in the context of the 1970s, time hasn’t been kind to the second-generation Mustang. This targa-roof concept might have helped that a bit. Built from a pre-production 1974 model, this two-seater looks worlds better than the standard Mustang II.
1980 Mustang RSX Concept
Did you know Ford once considered taking the Mustang into the world of stage rally? This RSX concept was designed by Ghia and incorporated styling cues from the recently released third-generation Fox Body Mustang in 1979. The wheelbase was a bit shorter with a touch more ride height to handle European rally stages. It's certainly one of the more futuristic Mustang designs we've seen, and how about those DeLorean-esque side windows?
1993 Mustang Mach III Concept
While the factory-built two-seater Mustang never transpired, the 1993 Mach III concept featured all kinds of design cues that would surface on the fourth-generation SN95 Mustang in 1994. The narrow grille opening, hood vents, and side scoops appeared on the production model, albeit in slightly tweaked fashion.
2006 Mustang By Giugiaro Concept
At the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show, Ford handed over the designer’s pen to Italdesign Giugairo to create a unique vision of the Mustang. Fabrizio Giugairo, Giorgetto’s son, came up with this sharp-edged take for a pony car of the future. With a fifth-gen Mustang as a starting point, Giugairo tweaked every body panel in a way that accentuated the length of the hood and added brawnier fenders. Scissor doors and a glass roof created visual flourishes, too. A retro-inspired interior featured a pair of big, circular gauges and a bizarre, T-shaped gearshift. The horsehide upholstery was a step too far, though. We did a whole feature on this single concept, and it's definitely worth a read to learn more about this unique bit of Mustang history.
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