30 Years of Mustang Concepts

The 50th anniversary of the iconic Mustang is rapidly approaching. What Ford has in store for the celebration in April has yet to be revealed, but we’re sure it’s going to be a big event revolving around the 2014 New York auto show — or at least we hope so.

In the run up to the event, Ford is giving us a look at some of the concept cars created over the model’s 50 year history but which never saw light outside of the studio (save for the viewing area of course). This is of course a common occurrence. Designing and developing cars is a time consuming and costly process, so manufacturers need to look at alternative proposals before determining which will best fit the market and the time before they commit to funding to the program.

Leading up to the decision to follow through with the development of a show car many alternative proposals are brought forward, and over the years many have graced the revolving show stands at motor shows around the world. And because of this process, Ford designers and engineers have drawn, built and tested countless cars that might have carried the Mustang galloping pony badge over the past five decades. Though only a fraction of those have ever actually made it to production, the Ford archives are fortunately rich with content to allow us to ponder what might have been.

1961-1962: Avventura, Avanti and Allegro
Avventure four-passenger concept sketch (1961)

Before the iconic 1964 1/2 Mustang model, Ford designers tried out a wide range of themes for a sporty coupe based on the platform of the new Falcon compact. Each design was given an internal name for the purpose of discussion. From late 1961 into mid-1962, one fastback design actually went through at least three different names starting with Avventura before moving on to Avanti and finally Allegro. The fastback design was originally sketched with a hatchback and rear-facing second row seat. While this car never made it to production, a variation of the fastback profile was eventually adopted as the third bodystyle for Mustang.

Avanti/Allegro Concept
Ford Allegro concept (1963)

As Avventura moved from sketch to physical design model, the hatch was replaced with a trunk and the rear seat was switched to a more conventional forward-facing orientation. Originally shown internally as the ‘Avanti’, the name was eventually changed to Allegro, likely because Studebaker had introduced its own production Avanti coupe around the same time.

1961-62 Two-Seater Studies
Compact two-seater Mustang concepts (1961)

Early in the gestation of the original Mustang, Ford designers also considered a number of two-seater studies. These were seen as a more affordable return to the roots of Thunderbird, which by this time had grown into a much larger four-seater. The idea of a two-seat Mustang was something designers returned to frequently in the period between the original Mustang 1 concept and the 1992 Mach III. Aside from some track-oriented Mustangs that had the rear seats removed to save weight, there has never been a strictly two-seat production Mustang.

1962 Allegro Design Study
Ford Allegro concept (July 1962)

In 1962, the design team, led by Gene Bordinat, worked on several iterations of another design called Allegro. While the production 1965 Mustang was a very different car in almost every visual detail from Allegro, the design study established the basic proportions that would define most Mustangs for the next five decades. The notchback coupe had the same long-hood, short-deck layout with a compact greenhouse that would roll out of the Rouge factory two years later.

1963 First Generation Ford Mustang Proposal
Ford Mustang proposal (1963)

Initially only the hardtop and convertible Mustang models were approved for production, but in early 1963, designer Gale Halderman sketched several proposals for a fastback inspired by the earlier Allegro/Avanti concepts. Halderman wanted the roofline to extend all the way to the rear edge of the car. Though his vision never materialized in the first generation, the idea was later adopted on the 1967 fastback.


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