In 2014, the Ford Mustang will celebrate its 50th anniversary. That makes it the only American muscle car to enjoy 50 years of uninterrupted production, though it has gone through 5 major revisions and more than a dozen refreshes, the basic formula has stayed the same.
But that doesn’t mean Ford hasn’t toyed with some radical concepts that took the Mustang far away from its original roots. While none of these concepts ever made it to the dealership, it gives us a look inside the collective creativity of Ford engineers tasked with making the Mustang awesome. While Ford hasn’t given us a Mustang concept prior for the 2015 redesign (at least not yet), looking back at concepts of yesteryear reveals that sometimes, concepts are best left as concepts.
As Ford already reminded us, the first concept car named Mustang shared almost nothing in common with the production model. Boasting two seats and a roadster design, the Mustang was originally envisioned as an affordable alternative to the Thunderbird, which had grown bloated and costly since its debut.
The first Mustang that really looked like a Mustang (sans the grille) was the 1962 Allegro concept. Despite the sloped grille though, the Allegro’s proportions are similar to that of the 1964 Mustang, though it is missing the obvious badging, and is still a bit too “smooth” to evoke that raw muscle appeal the Mustang is well known for. At the same time Ford also drew up the Avanti concept, a car that would eventually donate its fastback design to later Mustang models. The Avanti was another two-door model, though it looked entirely too European to be the Mustang.
In 1964 the Mustang debuted and was an immediate hit, with hundreds of thousands of Mustangs sold in the first year alone. Drunk on the success of the Mustang, engineers briefly toyed with the idea of selling a four-door sedan version of the car, even mocking up this awful concept. The idea was quickly ditched once cooler heads prevailed, though there are still those who wonder how well a four-door Mustang might have sold.
Another, much cooler concept was the two-door Mustang station wagon drafted in 1966. The cult success of the Chevy Nomad had to be on Ford’s minds when the Mustang station wagon concept was first crafted, and we think it would have been an excellent addition to the coupe, fastback, and convertible bodystyles. Ford unfortunately never took the plunge, denying past generations a chance to bask in the glory of a true American performance wagon.
Among the Mustang variants Ford toyed with was a four-door Mustang, and a shooting brake wagon as well.
Despite the instant success of the Mustang, Ford was quick to look far into the future with concepts that imagined what next-gen Mustangs might look like. The 1966 Mustang Mach 2 concept took the Mustang and made it a low-slung, mid-engine two-seater designed to compete with the Shelby Cobra. Nothing ever came of the concept, though we can’t help but be reminded of the rally-racing Ford RS2000 when looking at it.
By 1967, Mustang designers, led by Gene Bordinat, took the Mustang in an entirely different direction with the Allegro II concept. Something like a mix between a Camaro, Speed Racer’s Mach 5, and a Ford Ranchero, the Allegro II concept may have been the height of hideousness.
Depending on your tastes, the 1970 Ford Mustang Milano concept is either a gorgeous European take on the American pony car, or an awful Hot Wheels rendition of a classic car. If you ask us though, the Mustang Milano concept looked a lot better than the 1971-73 Mustangs that followed it to showrooms.
The Mustang Milano and Allegro II concepts took the pony car in a much different direction.
Then came the Mustang II, which we don’t have to tell you is ten different ways of terrible. Following that, Ford brought us the Fox-body Mustang, which they almost replaced with the radical Probe concept. That would have made the Mustang a lightweight, V6, front-drive sport compact rather than a muscle car. Thankfully, the Probe concept became the Ford Probe, not the Mustang, and we were spared the bastardization of this icon. Still, it was a dark time in the Blue Oval’s history.
In 1992 Ford debuted its latest concept car, the Mustang Mach 3, a bulbous abomination that took all the worst features of the sport-compact craze and cobbled them together onto the Mustang. Thankfully Ford toned the volume down in a big way on the production model, and the SN95 Mustangs were a big hit despite the radical departure from the boxy 80s styling.
Neither the Mach 3, nor the Probe 1 concepts were ever rolled out as is, though design elements were worked into production models.
While most of these Mustang concepts we could do without, there are one or two that we wish Ford had pursued further. Do any of these Mustang concepts tickle your fancy?