16 concepts and design sketches of proposed Ford Mustang variants
It was 58 years ago on April 17, 1964, that the Ford Mustang debuted at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. It was an immediate sales success — but there were many concepts, design studies, and prototypes that were considered along the way. Some of those were codenamed the “Bruce Jenner” and the “Rambo” and there was a station wagon, a four-door and two-seater body styles.
Ford Motor announced today, April 14, that for the seventh year in a row, the Mustang is the world’s best-selling sports coupe, according to Ford analysis of registration data from S&P Global Mobility.
According to Ford internal data, the United States remains home to the strongest demand for Mustang representing 76 percent of global sales. Other markets that saw growth in Mustang sales in 2021 include New Zealand, up 54.3 percent, Brazil, up 37.3 percent, and South Korea, up 16.6 percent.
Here are some images and captions from the Ford Motor archives that show some of the ideas that were considered. Most were wisely resisted.
1965 Mustang Four-Door
While Mustang used the platform of the compact Falcon as its starting point, the four-door Mustang could have brought the idea full circle by adding two doors to the pony car. Fortunately for Mustang fans, cooler heads prevailed.
1966 Mustang Station Wagon
In the mid-1960s, Ford designers considered at least a couple of different concepts for a Mustang station wagon, with at least one running prototype based on a 1966 coupe getting built. Another design study included elements for refreshed models that were coming later that decade. All of the known Mustang wagons were three-doors that were closer to a European “shooting brake” than a traditional American family station wagon.
1961 Avventura, Avanti, Allegro Concepts
From late 1961 into mid-1962, Ford designers tried out a wide range of themes for a sporty coupe based on the platform of the new Falcon compact. Each design was given an internal name for the purpose of discussion. One fastback design actually went through at least three different names starting with Avventura before moving on to Avanti and finally Allegro. The fastback design was originally sketched with a hatchback and rear-facing second-row seat. While this car never made it to production, a variation of the fastback profile was eventually adopted as the third body style for Mustang.
As Avventura moved from sketch to physical design model, the hatch was replaced with a trunk and the rear seat was switched to a more conventional forward-facing orientation. Originally shown internally as Avanti, the name was eventually changed to Allegro, likely because Studebaker had introduced its own production Avanti coupe around the same time.
1962 Allegro Design Study
In 1962, the design team, led by Gene Bordinat, worked on several iterations of another design called Allegro. While the production 1965 Mustang was a very different car in almost every visual detail from Allegro, the design study established the basic proportions that would define most Mustangs for the next five decades. The notchback coupe had the same long-hood, short-deck layout with a compact greenhouse that would roll out of the Rouge factory two years later.
The Millionth Mustang
For the 1966 celebration of the millionth Mustang produced: Airline pilot Capt. Stanley Tucker, the owner of the first ordered Mustang, with Ford design chief Gene Bordinat (left), Ford President Lee Iacocca, product manager Donald Frey and an unnamed Ford exec.
1967 Allegro II Concept
In 1967, Ford designers decided to reprise one of the original Mustang design concepts from 1962 with a new form and repurposed name. Starting with the Avanti/Allegro fastback coupe, the greenhouse was removed and replaced with a low-cut speedster-style windshield, roll bar, flying buttresses on the rear deck, and a new rear end. The reworked concept was dubbed Allegro II.
1967 Mach 2 Concept
With the Mustang having already set sales records following its launch in 1964, Ford design chief Gene Bordinat and the Special Vehicles Group decided to try rearranging the pieces for the Mach 2 concept. The 289 Hi-Po V-8 was shifted from the front to behind the two seats to evaluate the layout as a possible successor to the Shelby Cobra. Despite its midengine layout, the Mach 2 retained the long-hood, short-deck proportions of a Mustang. Unfortunately, the Mach 2 never went much beyond the auto-show circuit.
1966 Mustang Mach I Concept
The two-position hatchback was intended to accommodate longer objects in a near-horizontal position or open wider for cargo loading.
1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Engine
1966 Mach 1 Concept
As the first-generation model transitioned from a pony car to a larger and heavier big-block muscle car, the Mach 1 concept was created as a preview of the 1968 model. The original nose of the concept drew inspiration from the 1963 Mustang II concept.
1970 Mustang Milano
First shown publicly at the February 1970, Chicago Auto Show, the Mustang Milano concept previewed the nearly horizontal rear deck and sharp, extended nose that would be seen on the production 1971 model. However, aside from those two elements, the Milano didn’t really bear much resemblance to any production Mustang. In fact, the car that probably drew most heavily on the Milano profile was the Australian-market Falcon XB coupe of the mid-1970s.
‘Bruce Jenner’ design study
In 1990, Ford designers evaluated a number of themes to replace the long-running third-generation Mustang. The notchback and hatchback body styles would be replaced with a single fastback coupe format. After departing from many of the original design cues on the third-generation models, the upcoming fourth-generation would return elements like the galloping pony in the grille, the side scoops and the tri-bar taillamps. This softer concept, known as “Bruce Jenner” wasn’t considered aggressive enough to be a Mustang.
‘Rambo’ Design Study
This alternative proposal dubbed, “Rambo,” was deemed too extreme for production.
1980 Mustang RSX Concept
Created at the Italian Ghia design studio, the RSX was conceived as a rally special based on the new Fox-body third-generation Mustang that debuted for the 1979 model year. With a 1-inch-wider track and 5.6-inch-shorter wheelbase than the road-going Mustang, the RSX had extra ride height that would be needed for dealing with the off-tarmac stages of European rallies.
1961-62 Two-Seater Studies
Early in the gestation of the original Mustang, Ford designers considered a number of two-seater studies. These were seen as a more affordable return to the roots of Thunderbird, which by this time had grown into a much larger four-seater. The idea of a two-seat Mustang was something designers returned to frequently in the period between the original Mustang 1 concept and the 1992 Mach III. Aside from some track-oriented Mustangs that had the rear seats removed to save weight, there has never been a strictly two-seat production Mustang.