After Ford did away with the original two-seat Thunderbird, motorists started clamoring for a sporty replacement. The 1958 T-Bird added a back seat and, although it sold much better than the 1955-57 cars, simply wasn’t as much fun to drive.
Ford started playing around with ideas almost immediately and in the early 1960s designed several potential production cars.
Even our readers who didn’t remember the exact model were pretty sure the car had Mustang connections, or at least Ford ancestry. Chosen randomly from the correct entries was the name of Cheryl Cook, of Martinez, who wrote:
“Dude! Is this a Ford Mustang prototype, maybe circa 1963? My favorite Ford ever!
“I had a ’67 that I raced at Jackson Dragstrip! Yep, and I won many trophies with my sweet ride! It was three-speed in the floor, eventually hopped up with three two-barrel carbs and Positraction rear end. The front end would jump up off the ground at the starting line. I was challenged at many red lights.
“Yes, it was our family car, only one child and my hubby made me quit racing when I got pregnant with the second baby. I was one of the first women to race over there. The announcer used to say over the loudspeaker as I jumped off the start line and headed down the strip, ‘That gal is smokin’ and goin’!’ Sadly, my baby was stolen while I was pregnant and I couldn’t race.”
Cook wins a gift from The Augusta Chronicle. Others identifying the car were:
AUGUSTA: Walker Mobley Jr. wrote: “I have seen this picture some time in the past and can not remember where. I think it is a one-off Mustang prototype or design exercise car from Ford. As I remember, the car was white with a single black stripe down the center of the hood, top and trunk lid (from one end to the other). I always thought it was a good-looking design but wonder what ever happened to it. Keep these coming!”
John Hayes wrote: “You have increased the difficulty of identifying the cars from difficult with a 99.9 percent probability that they won’t be identified to a metaphysical impossibility! However, my guess is a Ford concept car.”
Lowell Fritsche said he believed it might be a Ford product Torino or Thunderbird: “The fender lines makes me think of a Ford product, somewhere in the 1960s.”
Sammy Whitfield figured it to be a Corvette Stingray.
CANTON, GA.: David T. Anderson wrote: “I’m sure that all of the Mustang guys picked up this one right away. This is the beautiful Mustang II concept that led to the legend that was to follow in 1964.
“Who knows all of the factors that go into the decision to build or not build? I’m sure that even in 1963, prevailing safety standards would have required bumpers and possibly removal of those clear covers over the headlights. But then, as anyone knows who follows the concept cars even today, it is extremely rare that a concept car makes it to production at all and even rarer that it makes it exactly as shown on the concept.
“Not to take anything away from the Mustang we all know and love, but with its removable hardtop, sculpted rear deck and Euro-influenced styling, this is a design that should have been.
“One of the reasons I try to attend the Atlanta International Auto Show every year is to get a glimpse of manufacturer concepts making the rounds. You will almost never see the same concept vehicle two years in a row, but you will see styling influences and details here and there that look familiar.”
EVANS: Bill Harding sent along a photo of a model kit for the 1963 Mustang II. “Build as Open Top, Hard Top, 2+2 Fastback or Speedster,” the box read. Harding wrote:
“The ’63 Mustang II concept car predicted what was to follow in April 1964. Certain elements of the concept’s front-end styling (notably the headlights) were shelved for four years, until Mercury used them on its 1967 Cougar. The 50th anniversary 2015 Mustang will go on sale this coming April.”
Wayne Wilke wrote: “I think the car is a Ford Thunderbird concept from the early ’60s. The pontoon fenders and the Mercury Cougarish flip-up/down headlight covers are the only clues supporting my guess.”
Jerry Paul wrote: “I was fairly certain the answer would be a Ford product because of those bullet fenders. After some searching, this concept became a Mustang II – probably a 1963 model. Ford should have built this concept instead of the final production design! The concept is more appealing.”
Paul Perdue wrote: “This week’s mystery car had me stumped until I conferred with Pam Harrison. We determined that it is a 1963 Ford Mustang II concept car, which became the Ford Mustang, and the rest is history.”
PJ Rodgers wrote: “This week’s contest features the concept car that led to the production of the Ford Mustang. This vehicle was all white and featured a triple blue stripe down the center. The interior matched the white/blue theme.
“The first new automobile I bought was a 1966 blue metallic Mustang with the 289-cubic-inch engine. The only problem I ever had was that when you put the pedal to the floor, the car would fishtail because of the light back end. That problem was easily solved by placing weight in the trunk. I bought it from Stuart Walker at Walker Ford Motor Co. on Walton Way. To this day, I continue to own Fords. One is a 2001 Sport Trac, the other a 2002 Escape, and both vehicles are in near-showroom condition, as is my also American-made Harley-Davidson.”
MARTINEZ: Lloyd Schnuck rote that it is the 1963 Mustang II concept: “Named the 1964½ (in reality a 1965), it was introduced at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964, and selling over a million in just three years. The 50th anniversary is this spring on April 17, with official Ford rollouts at The Charlotte and Las Vegas Motor Speedways.
“I have owned three Shelby Mustangs, 2007-2014.”
Jim Muraski wrote: “This week’s car is a 1963 Mustang II, which followed the 1962 Mustang and was much closer to the actual production car that would become the iconic 1964½ Ford Mustang.”
Valarie L. Payne wrote: “The concept vehicle pictured is the 1963 Mustang II. It became the production version of the Mustang (with back seat).”
Joe Bert said he felt it might be a Thunerbird or Mercury Cougar design that had an influence on other Ford products: “Very nice.”
NORTH AUGUSTA: Robert Blake wrote: “The contest picture is the left front quarter view of the Mustang II concept car that came out in 1963, before the introduction of the Mustang in 1964. The Mustang I concept car was a two-seat, rear-engine roadster that was not practical for production.
“The Mustang II was the effort to maintain the sporty feel and long hood look while making the car more conventional: front engine and small back seats.”
Jim O’Conner wrote: “That’s the soon-to-be 1964 Mustang and the way its nose looked in late 1963. This is just before Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca introduced the car at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., on April 17, 1964. The nose of the car was changed before the car’s official unveiling to the public. Within a matter of just a few hours, 22,000 of the cars were sold; within the first year, more than 400,000 were sold. As they say, the rest is history. I have owned nine Mustangs in my life and currently own a 2010 Shelby GT-500. I plan on getting a 2015 GT as soon as they are introduced.”
PERRY, FLA.: Larry Anderson wrote: “It’s a Ford Mustang concept. Unlike most show cars, the Mustang became a reality. The first Mustang was a concept car that people at the auto show loved. Ford produced the car but changed the front end because the one pictured was not cost-effective.
“At the 1964 World’s Fair, Ford President Henry Ford II unveiled the car at the Ford Pavilion. It turned out to be the beginning of a huge love affair with the car. It was an excellent value; not only was the base price of ($2,368) lower than the target price of $2,500 had been but every Mustang buyer got an all-vinyl interior (an option on most cars of the time), and full wheel covers instead of cheap hubcaps. Reliability was assured by the reuse of proven engines and transmissions that had been used on the Ford Falcon. Ford had finally figured out what the customer wanted – a combination of sportiness, economy, and luxury.”
NO CITY LISTED: Perry Austin said: “I’m guessing that became a Ford Thunderbird, early ’60s vintage.”