Everybody loves Mustangs!* That goes for folks like us who are “car people” as well as pretty much any member of the general public who has ever been attracted to anything with four wheels. This love, of course, goes back to day one when the Mustang was an unprecedented hit starting in mid 1964. Joseph Dennis recently wrote up a very similar 67 Mustang, but click through and I think you will find this one is worth checking out on its own merits, too. I’ll also highlight some history that hasn’t been featured in previous articles here about these second-edition ‘Stangs.
*I’m sure there are a few out there who don’t care for Mustangs, but I’ve never met one.
When I happened upon this ’67 last year, I didn’t think too much of it at first. It isn’t one of the two more desirable body styles, it isn’t a muscle version and it hasn’t received a restoration to better-than-new condition. Early Mustangs are hardly common on the streets these days, but they are one of the most common classic cars in the United States. Spotting a 1967 Mustang is hardly an amazing event. Still, I love Mustangs like everyone else and this was interesting enough for me to start taking a few pictures.
While I was photographing it, the owner walked up and was very neighborly, so we started talking about his car. What really got my attention, though, is when he said he is the original owner and had used the car as a daily driver for the last 42 years.
Wow! Daily driven for 42 years!? It must have a ton of miles! That depends on how you look at it. 275k is a ton of miles, but if you divide it out it’s about 6,500 a year. The biggest mishap it has suffered was this bumper bender in the last couple of years which has not yet been repaired. It had been repainted several years ago in the original color.
The interior is mostly original, with the front seat upholstery and carpet being the only major replaced items. It’s really remarkable how thin and light the seats look when one is used to looking at modern seats, or even many other classic car seats. The steering wheel is 1967-only, with the large center hub it shared with all FoMoCo automobiles that year. The unusual look of the hub always made it appealing to me, even if it is a little goofy. We might think it was made to allow car nerds like us to be able to quickly identify a 67 model, but it was actually an energy-absorbing safety feature. It ain’t exactly an air bag, but I suppose anything is better than nothing!
The only other item that has obviously been replaced is the radio, with it now sporting a 90’s vintage electronic tape deck with prancing Mustangs on the tape door. The dashboard was one of the most changed features of the 1967 Mustang. The twin-cove styling theme from the 65/66 is continued, but it is much deeper and taller, allowing for integrated air conditioning vents. Center console was optional. 1967/68 is my personal favorite Mustang interior, especially if it has the Interior Decor Group option (which this doesn’t) with aluminum trim on the dash and doors.
The 1965 (or unofficially 64 1/2) Mustang was an instant sensation, so planning for the 1967 model started in earnest just a couple months after the pony car’s April 64 release. Planners wanted improved function with increased visual appeal without losing the charm that made the car such a success. Much has been made of the early Mustang’s gradual growth, which began this year. Starting from the same wheelbase, it expanded 2 inches in length (mostly in the front end), 2.7 inches in width and 1 inch in height. For all that belt loosening, it only gained less than 100lb in official curb weight for the base model (For context its 2578 lb is a featherweight compared to the 2020 4 cylinder’s 3532 lb, or it’s about the same as a 2020 Nissan Versa or Honda Fit, which are significantly shorter and narrower cars).
The Ford studio photo above of a full-size clay styling model shows that the basic design was locked in by late 1964. All the main design cues were retained, but it was given a more “masculine” look with a bigger grille, more defined side scallops and a convex taillight panel with larger, individual lamps for its characteristic tri-slotted taillights. Ford called the design theme “More Mustang”.
What wasn’t locked in was the detailing. This one has much different side scallops, fake air vents, and rear window. The rear end is very close to the final look, except for the exhaust tips stick out of the valence panel where the back up lights went on the production car. Horizontal crease on the rear fender would show up on the 69 hardtop.
Here’s an alternative roofline that didn’t make it. The hardtop’s greenhouse (roof panels and windows) ended up being extremely similar to 1966, with at least the windshield and side glass carrying over. The rear window and bodywork around it look different to me, though I haven’t been able to confirm that.
Mustang advertising reminds us that Ford targeted the car to a wide variety of buyers, such as single women in this ad featuring a close doppelganger of our feature car. The Mustang, then and now, has had a remarkable ability to be seen as both a “girl car” and a “guy car”. The ad copy certainly has the tone of being written for women by a 60’s era man!
The 225 hp 289 c.i. 4-barrel engine is original, which is pretty amazing, though it has had a valve job and (at least one) carb rebuild. The radiator and AC compressor have been replaced and the distributor is now electronic. Not bad for 42 years of use!
As others have noted, one of the major mechanical changes in the 67 was a wider track and corresponding wider engine bay to allow for larger optional engines (with the unintended bonus of also having more room to work on the smaller engines!). Engines were carried over from 1966, except for the addition of a 390 c.i. big-block from the FE family. For the year, about 30% of Mustangs were sixes. Of the remaining 330k V8 Mustangs, only 28,800 had the 390 and 489 had the 271 h.p. Hi-Po 289. So, a clear majority of 1967’s were like our subject car with either the 2 or 4 barrel regular 289. Besides allowing for more engine options, the wider track also improved handling stability, as did significant front suspension revisions.
Some have decried the larger body size and larger engines that made the pony car into more of a muscle car. I agree to a point because the original Mustang was a distinct and special thing, separate from the quickly evolving mid-size musclecars (or supercars in the parlance of the time). Ideally, it would have stayed that way with powerful, but smaller, engines that kept the cars nicely balanced between performance and handling, leaving the quarter-mile heroics to their bigger brothers.
That just wasn’t the car market in the 60’s, though. Muscle was the thing and no company wanted to be out-muscled by their competitors. Targeting the youth market was the order of the day, with the baby boomers buying more cars every year. Companies felt that many younger buyers wanted maximum performance and any car that wished to be taken seriously in the youth market had to have a supercar version. As we see from the engine take rates above, there was a market for that maximum performance, but in the Mustang it was a very small minority of buyers. Were the performance bragging rights worth changing the overall character of the pony cars, given that the vast majority of customers were content with sixes and small V8’s? How much influence does any company’s halo cars have on their overall sales of lesser cars?
In 1964, when the fundamentals of the revised Mustang were locked in, Ford didn’t know exactly what GM’s response would be. Design chief Bill Mitchell claimed (obviously disingenuously) that the sleek new 1965 Corvair was an adequate competitor, but of course it eventually became known that GM was planning something very specifically targeted at the Mustang. And, naturally, big blocks would be offered!
As far as the 1967 goes, I personally don’t believe the slight increase in size up to that point detracted from the car’s appeal. In fact, I think making it a bit more substantial and a step further removed from the early Falcon made it more attractive. Now things start getting a little iffier for me in 69, and the 71 was clearly a bloat too far. However, especially in fastback form, isn’t it true those 69-73 cars still had some serious charisma? And you can’t say Ford didn’t listen to their critics when they did the 74 II, but why is it considered so flawed when it was so much closer to the original in size and spirit? Was the 79 Fox Mustang, despite lacking any traditional styling cues, the true reset to the original concept? I won’t try to answer here, but if anyone wants to weigh in on those perennial Mustang questions, please do.
Well, there’s no big block here. Just a sweet little 289-powered Mustang in as original condition as a 275k mile, still-daily-driven example could hope to be. It may be “just” a hardtop, but that’s OK. Three quarters of original buyers chose this more practical body style, including this car’s current owner. If you were to buy a 67 Mustang today, the fastback would cost you at least a 20% premium and a convertible 40%. For a car that’s going to be really driven, a hardtop will do just fine. Let’s hope this one has many years of regular use left.
Photographed 9/19/19 in Houston, TX. Development photos taken from Ford Mustang: Forty Years Of Fun by Consumer’s Guide/PIL
Related reading – there’s been a large amount of features at CC on the 67 Stang. Evidently we love them, and this isn’t even a complete list:
CC Capsule: 1967 Ford Mustang – Beater But Not Beaten By Paul Niedermeyer
CC: 1967 Mustang 2+2 Fastback – The Beginning Of The End Of The True Pony Car By Paul Niedermeyer