This Is The Best Feature Of The 1965 Ford Mustang – HotCars

The Ford Mustang wasn’t loved for it’s precision handling, comfortable driving position, or high-quality interiors. Something else stole the show.
The Ford Mustang started breaking records the day it was released, 22,000 orders for the new pony car were put in on the first day. A record that has yet to be broken. The first year of the Mustang, 1965, had one clear goal- to sell to the younger generation. It worked.
The Mustang is still one of the most beloved sports cars (or muscle car, or pony car, whichever you call it) today. According to a Hagerty survey of the most insured classic cars, the 1965 Ford Mustang is the most popular. For the second year in a row, the Mustang is the “world’s best selling sports car,” selling 80,577 ponies around the globe. The Mustang has had several evolutions since its inception yet has always remained a staple in pop culture and motor enthusiasts.
But what makes the 1965 Ford Mustang one of the most iconic cars ever built, and what is it that attracted buyers the most?
To create the ‘next big thing’ for the company, Ford held an intramural contest to produce the design. The winner came from Ford’s own design team, under Project Design Chief Joe Oros and his team of L. David Ash, Gale Halderman, and John Foster. The design was dubbed the “Cougar,” a name that was later used for the Mercury Cougar, the more luxurious “Mustang in a tuxedo.”
During a later interview, Oros states that, “I told the team that I wanted the car to appeal to women, but I wanted men to desire it, too. I wanted a Ferrari-like front end, the motif (the iconic Mustang-horse) centered on the front… and I wanted air intakes on the side to cool the rear brakes. I said it should be as sporty as possible and look like it was related to European design.”
Ford had also done their due diligence in researching the youth markets and inserting the Ford Mustang in popular films such as the 1964 James Bond film, “Goldfinger” and the 1965 movie “Thunderball” and “Bullitt.” Ford’s marketing team put the new Mustang name on television commercials, newspaper ads, and print articles to get the name out before it made it’s official debut at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
The marketing hype and sporty design was a clear success; the Ford Mustang sold 559,500 units within the first year. The Mustang began production in August of 1964, so some may be marked as 1964 or 1964½ , but were all sold by Ford under the 1965 model year. Total number of reported 1965 Ford Mustangs sold is 680,989.
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The starting price for the first ever “pony car” was $2,320, or about $21,000 in today’s money, a price that was attainable for many working Americans. The coupe and the convertible were available upon release and a fastback followed later in 1965. The most popular was the cheapest, the notchback coupe for $2,320. The convertible sold for $2,557 and the fastback was a hair cheaper at $2,553.
Nearly 75% of buyer’s chose a V8 and to avoid the 2.8 L Inline-6 that only made 105 bhp. It was later replaced with a 3.3-liter Inline-6 that made 120 bhp. The initial V8 option was a 4.3-liter (260 cu in) that was rated at 164 bhp. It was soon replaced in the 1965 model year by a 4.7 L (289 cu in) that had two-barrel carb or four-barrel carburetor configurations. The two-barrel made 200 bhp, whereas the four-barrel could be had in a 210-bhp, 225-bhp, or Hi-Po 271-bhp configurations. An alternator also replaced a generator later in the model year, along with the addition of a few interior options and paint colors.
The interior came standard with adjustable driver and passenger bucket seats, an AM-radio and a floor mounted shifter in several color options. A nationwide survey by “Popular Mechanics” found that the least favorite feature of the 1965 Mustang is the lack of legroom. Ford also had optional sun visors, a floor console, a bench seat, and a remote-operated mirror. The later refresh also allowed for an optional under-dash air-conditioning unit.
Boil it all down, and the feature that led to the success of the launch of the Mustang was its beautiful, sporty design. The Ford Mustang wasn’t loved for it’s precision handling, comfortable driving position, or high-quality interiors. Performance was adequate but not worth putting money down at the drag strip. Dodge and Chevy quickly put them behind in the dust when they answered back with the Challenger and Camaro.
The Mustang has remained one of the top-selling cars in America for one dominant reason – it looks damn good. There's a reason the top YouTube complaint about a newly designed sports coupe is, “it looks like a Mustang.” The shape is iconic, and it’s difficult to make a front-engine coupe look much better – for the price, that is. The 1965 Ford Mustang hit the nail on the head with the styling from the start, it’s no surprise they switched back to the retro, fastback styling in 2005.
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If you’re looking to buy a 1965 Ford Mustang, you’re in luck, they made about 600,000 of them and there are plenty to buy. Prices drastically vary due to the several variations in engine size, trim levels, and modifications done over the years. One can be picked up in a neighbor's backyard for a couple of thousand bucks, or you can find a pristine level Shelby GT350R for $3.85 Million.
On average, the cheapest option is going to the be most popular, the 260 Coupe, which sells for about $23,000 when in #2 conditions. For $70,000 and in like condition, you can get into the bigger-powered GT 289/271. It’ll cost you about 10% more to get into a four-speed manual.
Whether it’s in concours condition or a DIY project car, a 1965 Ford Mustang never goes out of style. It is a staple in American automotive history and culture, setting the path for some of the best sports cars created today.
For many, this coupe variation of the 124 collections became especially full-size given its glossy sports activities styling and inline-six engine.
Evan is a writer, content creator, and nature-enthusiast based out of sunny San Diego, CA. His first car was a 1979 Corvette rebuilt and painted by his father. His career began at a local news station, but a life-long love for cars led him to working for a dealership until becoming an auto journalist.