posted at the Cohort by Tim Finn
Update: I see Tim has posted more pictures of this car, so I’ve added them below:
Still works today…at least for me.
One of the most iconic shapes to come out of the 1960’s, and one of the most iconic symbols of the early optimism of that decade, appropriately unveiled at the shrine to that optimism, the 1964-65 World’s Fair. It also sports the light blue color so popular at the time for this car.
Just before things changed; and not for the better.
It was a harbinger of one of those changes (hewing strictly to cars) – after its’ success the long hood/short deck look spread through Detroit like, well, a virus, destroying space utilization for a decade until the first clean-sheet post-1973 oil crisis cars started hitting the market.
Even the new generation of full-size family sedans from the turn of the decade weren’t immune, if you look at Popular Mechanics’ owners’ surveys at the time the complaints about wasted space between the grille and radiator support at the expense of back seat and trunk room are common.
That issue started quite a bit earlier. The ’57 Chryslers had mediocre space utilization, as they sat on an old school ladder frame which combined with their lower, longer, wider bodies made for poor leg room. That’s the biggest reason they went to unibodies in 1960.
It was a rampant problem that started in the mid-late 50s, and got lots of negative public pushback and press. It’s precisely why the tall and boxy unibody Ramblers sold so well during the period of ’57 – ’63.
Meanwhile Ford was on it with their new “cowbelly” frame and the new differential’s lowered pinion gear.
I remember the first time I looked under the hood of a new 1970 Monte Carlo. Had to be 4′ between the radiator and the engine.
Remember those lonnnnnnnng tunnel fan shrouds they used? The ones that looked like either the top or bottom half of an oil barrel?
Funny you should mention that but yes I do. Always thought that was some GM thing.
I have to say that I really enjoyed my time with a 68 hardtop. That was one car where having a 6 and a 3 speed did not feel like punishment.
Many cars that looked great when they were common look less good to me today. The Mustang is not one of those.
Sometimes, everything just clicks, and so it goes with the 1st gen Mustang. You just couldn’t go wrong with one, even a strippo six-cylinder/3-speed car. Yeah, you could save a few pennies buying a mechanically identical Falcon, but the styling made them seem as different as night and day. I recall a really good comparison by some lower-tier magazine at the time of a Mustang convertible with a similarly equipped Falcon. The Falcon was substantially more practical but the conclusion was they’d all buy the Mustang.
There’s an irony when Ford would return to that same formula ten years later for the Pinto-based Mustang II, enthusiasts today have nothing good to say about it (although it also sold another huge amount in its inaugural year).
I think there are quite a few factors as to why, the styling simply isn’t as graceful with its big 5mph bumpers hanging off the sides, long front overhang and Monte Carloesque fender swoops. The core design is probably too retro, as there were so many details resurrected from the 65-68 styling bin that it instantly draws unfavorable comparison, I think that’s why the early Fox Mustangs(which certainly carried over some negative Mustang II traits) aren’t held in the same low regard.
Plus everything on them is so light duty, there’s no performance models that weren’t just dress up packages, no convertible, no hardtop, the interior is as generic as any other American compact car and it’s packed with the worst of malaise era engineering, emissions band aids and corrosion protection. And where they don’t rust in California the bulk of them still even need to be smog tested! Just one or two of these things are reasons why enthusiasts tend to shun any given mid 70s car but the Mustang II has too many wrongs with virtually no pluses besides it’s styling that’s imitating a better car, one that’s not too hard to find for crazy money still at that.
The 1968 was already a larger car than the original, and starting to get rounder rather than the original more chiseled shapes already as well.
I think this might be why the 72 Convertible succeeds for me, the 69-70s look the least appealing to my eye as convertibles and it’s probably all the rounded over corners and edges, the 71s went back to a more chiseled appearance that comes off best in convertible form without the thick pillars and buttresses to soften it up.
Looks like a shady part of town. I hope the owner just stopped at the ATM and didn’t risk staying for breakfast and gambling.
Looks can be deceiving.
It’s a TRAP!
Bars on the windows, grass through the curb–a bit iffy in my part of the world (a quarter mile from the homeless shelter). The best breakfast special is unexpected.
So, where is it exactly?
Would have been a cute little Spanish Revival building in its original definitely non-gray color.
The big banner says Karaoke. Now how many Caucasian folks sing karaoke when you really think about it. OTOH my wife and all her friends sing karaoke and though they try they can’t get me to sing. My wife is Filipina as are all her friends. So mix karaoke and Spanish traits and what do you get… Manila 🙂
The Mustang was parked outside “The Trap” a bar / restaurant at SE 52nd & SE Bush in Portland Oregon. I was out for a walk one morning and saw this perfectly restored car parked with no license plates and the top down beside the bar. The lighting was perfect, it’s a great location, and there were no other cars around it, I was very lucky to get this shot.
Now I’m just imagining a bunch of gangbangers crooning “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” at karaoke.
(place looks fine to me, but what do I know?)
Proper hubcaps, badging, and good seam fits. An all-around nice example. The whitewalls really work on these, and these are among the last of the sporty cars where the skinny, tall tires with whitewalls really looked good.
A timeless classic made even better by the tasteful 1967 refresh. Then lost its way in 1971, hit rock bottom during the Mustang II years, then began a slow, steady comeback that continues today. The current GT is quite the machine with 460 h.p., performance upgrades everywhere and terrific styling.
Having driven and owned a couple of these Mustangs; I can truthfully say this based on my ownership experiences:
Just like the also highly regarded today 1957 Chevy: When new it was a good car; but not a great car. They both were “the right car at the right time”.
Both achieved greatness many year later; promulgated by the print media & Madison Avenue hucksters..
Don’t get your finger caught in one of those tapered openings in the wheel cover: a college roommate’s brother reportedly had one of the first Mustangs in Marblehead, and gashed a finger pretty badly while washing his car.
And you’re right: that side view hasn’t turned sour yet, 55 years on. Sweet dreams . . .!
Come for the karaoke and lottery games, stay for the breakfast specials.
As everyone here probably already knows, that convertible is a 1966, with different (definitely worse) wheel covers and different (maybe better) fake side air scoop trim.
From the original 19641/2 brochure:
That’s a terrific pic with the elegant model dressed in matching white. I’m sure it went a very long way in targeting females imagining they, too, could be that model if they only had a sporty white Mustang.
It’s no secret that a huge part of the Mustang’s success was how it appealed to a very wide demographic. There was, literally, a Mustang for virtually anyone, male or female, young or old.
I would totally eat here, and might even have a no-mosa with my breakfast special. Terrific photograph, too.
Agreed! Living in an overpriced city (Seattle) full of restaurants with cutesy names like “___ Provisions”, finding an honest place with a cheap and delicious breakfast is a great find.
The Varsity, on NE 65th
Sunlight Cafe, on 9th Ave NE
UPDATE What’s the matter with me?! The Wedgwood Broiler on 35th Ave NE! Talk about a curbside classic; it’s been there since 1965 and it’s a real throwback. Really good food and prices, and if it weren’t for the lack of cigarette haze, you’d swear you were back in…1965.
I haven’t tried Sunlight Cafe, but do like going to the Varsity! If my memory is correct, I seem to remember you lived around that neighborhood before your move to Vancouver.
See my updated reco just above.
LOL – Funny because now I AM the age where I can appreciate the charms fo the Wedgwood Broiler. That always seems to be a place for old codgers, but now that I’m in my 50s, I need to try it out. A local radio host recently was talking about the Wedgwood Broiler, specifically how retro the menu is – i.e. Cheez-its as a salad garnish. I’m not ready to embrace driving a Grand Marquis, but perhaps a well crafted Manhattan and a prime rib dinner might do the trick.
The Cheez-Its-and-salami-strips salad garnish is only the beginning. Seriously—go. Multiple times to try everything out. Breakfast and lunch and dinner.
If in Denver, Pete’s Kitchen on East Colfax Avenue is the place for excellent breakfast. Don’t be surprised to see the long queue after 02.00 on Saturday and Sunday mornings (the service is fast so waiting in the queue isn’t forever).
The Mustang was the right car at the right time. It was for the young, and the young at heart. It was great for singles, couples, and even young families. It made a great second car for households that were experiencing a growth in buying power. It was the hip, happening car for a country that was developing a “youth” culture. It was a good looking sporty car in the American idiom, it wasn’t a low, tiny, slinky, job like an Alfa. It was pert and cheerful. It diluted the practicality of the Falcon by a bit, but it was offered at the right affordable price. I can’t think of a youth oriented car before this that was available at a popular price. The Jordan Playboy wasn’t as cheap, and the Stutz Bearcat and Mercers were expensive models bought primarily by the wealthy.
I agree that it was good car, not a great car. I had a ’66 coupe back in the 70’s and a ’70 coupe in the early 2000s. I’ve currently got a ’96 and a 2007, and these are much better cars than the original models.
I’ll put it between good and great for the first two generations. A mechanically easy car to work on if you stuck with the 289 or 200. Brake work easy. Suspension work easy. Decent handling if you stay away from weight in the front and used a larger sway bar. Decent mileage for the times. Good acceleration from the 289 since the car was lighter than following generations. I’ve ridden in many an early Mustang back in the days. Some auto, some three speed, some 200 six, and some 289 V8. The 289 is definitely one of my all time favorite engines. Give it some love and it gives it back.
Cars are relative, not absolute, commodities.
I would hope your 96 Mustang would be better, and the 2007 better than the 96.
In 1966, the Mustang was a good car, and a good value.
The original Mustang is one of the few cars that is equally at home in Beverly Hills, Martha’s Vineyard, Davos, Indianapolis, Alabama, and Harlem, NY. Rich or poor, black or white, American or European–the original Mustang is always cool
What other cars had, or have, that kind of appeal?
I’ve loved these cars since I saw my first one at the local dealer the day before introduction. It helped that I had gotten my license a couple of months before and was driving a ’51 Chevy four door. The first one I ever rode in was a ’65 convertible with two blond girls. They were actually looking for my brother. The first one I drove was a brand new ’66 convertible with the HiPo 289. It belonged to a friend whose well to do parents had given him when he got his license. I had a girl friend in college who had a new ’66 coupe with the 6. Not quite as fun to drive, but still a nice car. A few years later I was looking for a car and found a ’67 coupe with very low mileage. I paid a premium for it, but owned it for 23 years. I was married and it was still our main car when we had the first child. We had no problem hauling her around and didn’t think we needed anything larger. In fact, our next car was a ’75 Mustang II. These are much maligned cars. but mine was OK, just not my favorite. They were a good place holder for what was to come later. Since then I have owned an ’86, ’03, and my present ’09.
Every one of my 3 siblings has owned a Mustang of one type or another.
I had sold the ’67 to finance the finishing of a street rod project. After a few years my wife and I tired of the street rod scene and sold it. I bought a ’73 Challenger which, with it’s highly modified 440 was a little raw for driving on the street. I sold it and finally got what I wanted as a teenager, my ’66 Mustang coupe. It has been a real fun car and was in great shape with a lot of accessories including air conditioning. As I told my wife when we bought it, ” You know this is a dream come true, don’t you?”
They did photograph well!
*Very* pretty .
Make mine a coupe please .
I was the owner of a red (not poppy red) 66 convertible Black top and interior. Bought it in 69 from a friend’s elderly father-in-law. This might explain the 2 barrel 289 with automatic. Oddly enough, it had the “Rally Pack” gauges mounted behind the steering wheel with tachometer.
Coming off a 1960 Fiat Osca 1500 (totaled), it lacked the handling and quirks of a real 60’s sports car. However, it was fun to cruise on summer nights.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Copyright 2011 - 2023 Curbside Classics. All Rights Reserved.