It takes a lot of time, energy, and money to design and develop a brand-new car. Committing to one design is a hard decision considering hundreds of millions of dollars will be needed for such a project.
Ford engineers and designers have drawn, built and tested more cars than you can count over the past five decades, and some could have been chosen to carry the running pony badge. But just a tiny fraction of the cars designed have actually made the cut into production.
It’s time again to dig back into those old Ford archives and see what could have been. A slight change in the design decisions on these concepts could have changed the Mustang evolution from what it is today.
1964 Two-Seater Clay Model
The first car seen here was a 1964 clay model of a two-seater Mustang with design cues from the production 1965 car such as the side scoops.
1961 Avventura, Avanti, Allegro Concept
The second drawing seen here came from late 1961 into mid-1962 when Ford designers were trying to come up with a sporty coupe based on the (then new) Falcon compact. Names were thrown around such as the Avventura, Avanti and Allegro. The design was a fastback with a hatchback and featured rear-facing second row seats.
The Avventure sketch was one design that made it to a physical stage. They ditched the hatch and replaced it with an actual trunk while changing the seats to the conventional front-facing position. Internally they called it the Avanti, but when Studebaker introduced its own production Avanti coupe, the name was changed to Allegro.
1961-1962 Two-Seater Studies
Two-seaters were the focus of study during 1961 and 1962 for a new sporty coupe. Ford seemed to be returning to the roots of the two-seater Thunderbird, which by then made the change into a larger four door. The two-seater idea was thrown around and designers would revisit the idea from time to time from the original Mustang 1 concept to the 1992 Mach III.
1962 Allegro Design Study
Back in 1962, the design team led by Gene Bordinat was working hard on another design, the Allegro. While it looks nothing like the first production 1965 Mustang, the design study helped define the basic proportions for the Mustang over the next fifty years. The Fox-body notchback featured the same long hood and short-deck layout.
1963 Mid-Engine Concept
This super sporty concept may have never been seriously considered as a production Mustang, but the hardtop variation of the Mustang I concept from ’62 provided some inspiration for the GT40 MK I that competed at Le Mans and elsewhere, which started back in 1964.
1965 Four-Door Mustang
Believe it or not, a four-door Mustang idea was thrown around between the designers at Ford. While the compact Falcon platform was used as the starting point, the four-door Mustang was a possible option. Good thing this thing never did make it into production.
1966 Mustang Station Wagon
Did you say Mustang station wagon? In the mid-60s, Ford designers kicked around the idea of a Mustang station wagon as the ultimate grocery getter. Based on a 1966 coupe, this design study included elements to be featured later on that decade. All of the wagons were three-doors and were closer to a European “shooting brake” than a traditional American family wagon.
1967 Allegro II Concept
In 1967, Ford designers resurfaced a design that was first brought up back in 1962, but with a new look and repurposed name. Starting with the Avanti/Allegro fastback coupe, this crazy looking concept featured a speedster-style windshield, roll bar, flying buttresses on the rear deck as well as a whole new rear end. This new concoction was called the Allegro II.
1966 Mach 1 Concept
We just brought you this interesting car, the 1966 Mach 1 concept. From the first-generation Mustang transitioning into more of a big-block powerful muscle car, the Mach 1 concept was born. The nose was inspired by the 1963 Mustang II concept. Not to be confused with circular quarter windows, the racing-inspired fuel doors were placed above the rear fenders.
1967 Mach 2 Concept
With the Mustang grabbing the sales numbers and galloping with them, Ford Design Chief Gene Bordinat, and the Special Vehicles Group tried to rearrange some things to make way for the 1967 Mach 2 concept. The 289 Hi-Po V-8 was moved from the front and relocated behind the two-seats, and was made as a possible successor to the Shelby Cobra. Even with the engine relocated, the Mach 2 still kept the long hood and short-deck Mustang profile. This car never made it past the auto show circuit.
1970 Mustang Milano Concept
The Mustang Milano concept first made a public appearance at the February 1970 Chicago Auto Show. It featured the nose that would be seen on the 1971 model. Besides that, the Milano did not resemble any production Mustang. If anything, the Australian Falcon XB coupe from the mid-1970s took a few design cues.
1980 Mustang RSX Concept
The RSX concept was created at the Italian Ghia design studio as a rally special based off of the new Fox-body Mustang that debuted for the 1979 model year. It featured one-inch wider track and 5.6-inch-shorter wheelbase than the production Mustang. It featured the extra ride height that was needed to deal with the off-tarmac stages of the European rallies.
“Bruce Jenner” Design Study
Back in 1990, Ford designers were ready to jump on the fourth-generation Mustang design. Leaving the Fox-body stage, they came up with this gem. Designers brought back the running pony in the grille, the tri-bar tail lamps and side scoops. This concept never made it since it looked like it belonged in grandma’s garage rather than an aggressively-styled Mustang.
“Rambo” Design Study
From one extreme to another, the “Rambo” design study turned out to be a little bit too aggressive for a production Mustang.
1992 Mach III Concept
This was the first fourth-generation design concept to show actual hints of the SN-95 production car. The pony grille, side scoops, and tri-bar tails were included in the 1994 Mustang.