Standard tire size is 6.50 x 13, with 6.50 x 14 optional. The body panels are made to allow 15-in tires to be used, and 15-inch wheels are available with the “handling package”. These are steel disc wheels with 5-1/2-in wide rims (available in black only).

We were able to drive some other Mustangs to get a reliable basis of comparison between the different models. There was no high-performance version when we blew the dust off the more interesting parts of Ford’s proving grounds at Dearborn and Romeo, Michigan, but Ford expects its performance to rival that of the Pontiac GTO. We did, however, get complete performance figures on the 260 V-8 with automatic transmission, and the standard 289 V-8 with four-speed:

260 Automatic 289 4-speed
0–30 mph 3.6 sec 2.2 sec
0–60 mph 11.6 8.2
0–90 mph 32.0 21.0
Top speed 105 mph 110 mph

The small difference in top speed is due partly to the gearing (both cars had 3.00 to one final drives), partly to aerodynamic drag. The drag coefficient of the Mustang is no better than that of the standard Fairlane (although it has considerably less frontal area).

Styling the Mustang was a job that Gene Bordinat entrusted to Joseph Oros, chief stylist of the Ford Division, who joined the company in 1946 and has been responsible for some of the more noticeable styling changes in Ford cars over the years. He studied design in Sweden as a young man, came to GM styling in 1939 and worked in the Cadillac studio for many years. Today he heads a group of about 125 exterior stylists (Damon Woods is in charge of interiors and only has a 100-man staff). We can well understand Ford management’s wish to give the Mustang a distinctive or possibly unique appearance, but the result strikes us as inexplicably amateurish. There is a non-functional air scoop along the body sides and a clumsy, protruding grill between the single headlamps. The hood lands on the grille with a fit that reminds us of the lid on one of our mother’s more experienced saucepans, and the grille side panels have an air of scatterbrained afterthought. The wheel covers are more-than-slightly reminiscent of the ill-fated Avanti. Better preparation for future improvement could hardly be devised. On the credit side, let’s mention the bumper treatment and the taillights, which are very neatly contrived and blended with their surroundings.

The most attractive thing about the Mustang is its handy size and sensible proportions. The driving position is suitable for most people, but nearly all would prefer to see the steering wheel closer to the windshield so as to obviate the need for pushing the seat all the way back (4.5-in of travel) to be able to drive with straight arms, as this encroaches on the rear seat legroom. With the front seats in a middle position, rear seat legroom is acceptable, and the car qualifies as a genuine four-seater on all counts. Well, there is one thing. Elbow room in the back is a bit tight, and there are no armrests on the sides of the bench seat. Seat height, especially in front, is just about right, and all the controls are easy to reach and use. All the pedals, including the accelerator, are of the pendant type, and heel-and-toeing is no problem.

The speedometer has a horizontal dial with a needle and is accurate within one or two percent, and a tachometer is available as part of the optional “rally pac” (their spelling), comprising a clock and a tach in a twin-pod housing with black camera-case finish that straddles the steering column, just aft of the instrument panel.

The Mustang brakes depend on engine size for drum diameter: 9-in with six-cylinder units, 10-in with V-8s. An optional power booster reduces pedal pressure by over 50%, but the brakes have nothing like adequate fade resistance—four consecutive complete stops from 80 mph reduces braking efficiency drastically. We were not able to test the disc-braked version but wish to applaud Ford Division for seeing the necessity of making discs optional.

It’s interesting to contemplate briefly the progress made at Ford since the 1957 T-bird. The Mustang seats two more persons within a 6.0-in longer wheelbase and an 0.2-in greater overall length. The Mustang is 0.5-in lower and more than 400 lbs lighter (curb weights are 3323 lbs against 2861). The engine is fractionally smaller (289 cu in vs the T-bird’s 292) but will run on regular fuel while the older car needed premium gasoline. On top of that, the Mustang averages 16.6 mpg against 13.7 for the old ‘bird.

The Mustang constitutes an entirely new and separate line of Ford cars (bringing the total up to five, not counting the products of the Lincoln-Mercury Division). It will be produced exclusively in a factory within the River Rouge plant. Its production capacity is not stated, but Ford aims to sell about a quarter-of-a-million Mustangs in its first 12-month period on the market. With the versatility of this design and the plentiful options, the demand might even exceed that figure.

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