Image courtesy Ford Media.
As noted in last week’s story about the two-seater Mustang designed by Vince Gardner, the idea of such a configuration for Ford’s pony car had indeed been tossed around at Ford over the years, so we thought we’d go archive digging to see how such a Mustang could have turned out.
These first two renderings, done by John J. “Jack” Telnack, date to the early Mustang development period, probably around the summer of 1961, when Ford noted the success of the Falcon and decided to go ahead with a sporty derivative of the compact car. As Gary Witzenburg wrote in Mustang: The Complete History of America’s Pioneer Ponycar, Iacocca had Ford’s designers come up with a multitude of variations on that theme in a number of different configurations – two-seaters, 2+2s and four-seaters – from about the middle of 1961 through early 1962. As that work progressed, however, the two-seater versions quickly fell out of favor. “I couldn’t see the total market for (a two-seater) at more than 50,000 at the time,” Iacocca said. “We were talking about a sports car for the masses, and our research said it better have 2+2 or four-seat capability.”
The top image (note the Mustang script on the B pillar) could very well have been a 2+2 rather than a two-seater, but the above image, with a roofline that looks as though the first-generation AMX could have taken some cues off it, was definitely intended to have nothing but luggage space behind the front seats. Telnack would go on to spend his entire career at Ford and become instrumental in the design of the Fox-body Mustang.
These next two images, however, show that some within Ford continued to push the two-seater configuration even after Iacocca had dismissed the idea. – See more at: http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2013/02/14/two-seater-mustangs-take-2/?refer=news#sthash.qOrzR48m.dpuf
Dated April 23 and May 29, 1964, they even postdate the introduction of the production Mustang, so one has to wonder whether Iacocca briefly considered recanting his earlier position and offering a two-seater stablemate, or whether these were just unauthorized designers’ ideas. Also, did anybody at Ford seriously think that somebody wearing a hat like that would ever drive a Mustang, especially one this radical? – See more at: http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2013/02/14/two-seater-mustangs-take-2/?refer=news#sthash.qOrzR48m.dpuf
Finally, the last gasp for a two-seater Mustang appears to be this concept. Preliminary designs for the 1969 Mustang began as early as the fall of 1965, and one can see some of the design cues that Ford would eventually put into production on this October 19, 1966, clay model, including the SportsRoof fastback, the high haunches, and the general front-end shape. – See more at: http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2013/02/14/two-seater-mustangs-take-2/?refer=news#sthash.qOrzR48m.dpuf
But those hidden headlamps and fake hood vents didn’t quite make it. – See more at: http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2013/02/14/two-seater-mustangs-take-2/?refer=news#sthash.qOrzR48m.dpuf
Almost a month later, it appears that Ford thought enough of the concept to refine it into this version, which appears to be a pushmobile. The shortened two-seater configuration, however, was about as doomed as those high taillamps.
Could Ford have put a two-seater Mustang into production alongside the four-seater and 2+2 configurations? Given the runaway success of the Mustang, it’s hard to see how Ford couldn’t have spared the expense. Bt would it have been successful? The only other American two-seater performance vehicle in the market at the time was the Corvette, and while it was entrenched in the market, it wasn’t exactly a volume seller – for most of the 1960s, Chevrolet didn’t sell more than 30,000 Corvettes in a single year. There may have been some worry among Ford executives both that it wouldn’t even reach Iacocca’s 50,000-unit figure and that it could have cannibalized sales from the four-seater Mustang, from the Thunderbird or from the Falcon, depending on how Ford marketed it. And, of course, we can’t help but compare the idea to the AMX, which only lasted three model years as a two-seater before switching to the four-seat configuration. Thus, it appears any such proposal for a two-seater Mustang was doomed from the start, leaving outside designers such as Vince Gardner to pursue the concept on their own.