Happy 50th birthday, Ford Mustang

1965 Ford Mustang Assembly Line

Assemblymen examine the first generation of Ford Mustang in an Assembly Line located in Dearborn, Michigan, circa 1965.

If you're in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday and look way, way up, you might see a Mustang perched on the observation deck of the Empire State Building -- a triple yellow, 2015 model. It's Ford's way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic car. The Mustang's design was so innovative it had a huge impact on auto makers and car culture, and Ford is still making the cars today.

Mark Takahashi, an editor with automotive website Edmunds.com, says the first Mustangs sold for around $2,300. When the first Mustang came out, in 1964, it was a hit.

"People driving around the first Mustangs were being hunted down on boulevards, being asked to pull over, so they could take a look at the car," he says. "You pull into a parking lot and you're just swamped with people – it was just such a big deal back then."

The Mustang's sales, he said, blew away expectations. "They expected to sell 100,000 the first year, and they ended up selling 100,000 the first three months."

David Whiston, an equity analyst with Morningstar, says the Mustang was built on the platform of another car, the Falcon, which saved a lot on development, engineering and design costs.

"It was sporty, it was cool. It was something you wanted to drive, or take to the beach, but it was also -- and the key thing for why it was still around -- it was affordable."

A lot of automakers today, notes Whitson, are interested in building multiple models on the same platform. Luckily he says, they won't have to reinvent the wheel.

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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