September 12th, 2000
The original Mustang did not gallop, it flew...
ACCORDING to Ford Motor Company archives, the famous American pony car, Mustang, originally took its name from the World War II fighter plane, the P-51 Mustang, and not the wild pony.
Although the abiding Mustang image is that of the legendary American wild pony, the first approach by designer John Najjar was inspired by the famous fighter plane he personally admired so much.
Najjar was a great fan of the P-51 Mustang, and felt that Ford had produced a car with lines worthy of the same name. Although the name was initially cleared with the companys styling and legal departments, somewhere along the line someone preferred the pony image. They felt it fitted better with everyones concept of the car.
Next step was the galloping horse logo, arguably one of the most enduring automotive icons of all time and one that has remained true to its original lines for 35 years.
And the new car was unveiled with a teaser campaign that announced a new horse in Fords corral.
Today, the pony image is as strong as ever. Ford in North America even supports a campaign to provide for Mustangs in the wild to be fed and cared for.
So whats in a name, be it fighter planes or ponies? Perhaps the change in direction proves that the enduring appeal of Mustang is as much in what the car brings to its driver than in any of the clever marketing campaigns featuring the car.
Arguably, the car has now established a greater claim to the name than either the WWII fighter plane or the wild ponies of North America.
To see a 1966 Mustang that takes `as new to a different level, click here.
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