Americana: Ford Mustang

Photo courtesy of Flickr, uploaded by stevoarnold.

Photo courtesy of Flickr, uploaded by stevoarnold.

There are lots of cars that could be included in a list of Great American Things. (Uh, not you, Pacer.) But occasionally one rises to the level of an icon and represents its generation. Such is the Ford Mustang.

Much of the credit for the Mustang goes to legendary auto executive Lee Iacocca. He knew America was ready for a car that combined sports styling with a hint of muscle, with options that made it popular in the mass market. Though it’s never been a custom car (it was originally built on a production line along with the forgettable Falcon), it’s always achieved a sense of style that captured and held the country’s interest.

The Mustang was first revealed in the Ford Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. For perspective, it went on sale about two months after the Beatles were first seen on the Ed Sullivan Show.

I remember when twin sisters showed up at my high school in a pink Mustang (several years before Mary Kay started giving away pink cars). I’ve forgotten every other car my friends drove back then – shoot, I’ve almost forgotten the clunkers I drove – but I remember that Mustang. That was a great vehicle. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was more than just a car. It was a Great American Thing.

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