Cars We Love: 1966 Ford Mustang

1966 Ford Mustang

In the mid mid-‘60s, Ford Motor Company hit the jackpot in with the introduction of the Mustang in April of 1964 as a 1965 model. Following a full-scale media advertising blitz, Mustang sales took off like a shot – first year sales predictions of 100,000 cars were surpassed in three months – and never let up. All told, 559,451 1965 Mustangs were sold. If you placed those cars end-to-end, they would create a 1,600-mile long traffic jam. Ford’s competitors were scrambling to catch up and, as the 1966 model year began, the Mustang was still without any competition.  Ford, however, wasn’t just sitting around waiting. They had a few more aces up their sleeves for 1966.

New features for 1966

In view of the dramatic sales success of the ’65, Ford was not foolish enough to make wholesale changes in the Mustang for 1966. The new features for ’66 included mostly cosmetic tweaks, such as styled steel wheels, a new grille pattern, a new instrument cluster, new rocker panel trim, and redesigned side scoops. In addition, there were now 34 varieties of interior colors and styles available for 1966.

On the engineering front, the 200 cid, 120 horsepower six-cylinder engine complemented the three available 289 cid V8 engines. The 289 with a two-barrel carburetor produced 200 horsepower; adding a four-barrel carburetor and boosting the compression ratio raised the output to 225 horsepower. The top-of-the-line high performance 289 upped the compression ratio to 10.5:1 for 271 horsepower and could now be ordered with an automatic transmission.

Millionth Mustang Success Sales

On March 2, 1966, the one millionth Mustang, a white convertible, drove off the assembly line and opened the door for Ford to ramp up its sales operations to a new level with a Millionth Mustang Success Sale. Special sale prices were available for any Mustang model to celebrate this milestone. In addition to the sale prices, Ford made the bait on the potential Mustang customer’s hook more enticing by offering special Mustang models throughout the year.

Possibly the rarest of all first-generation Mustangs is the special Anniversary Gold Mustang. Reportedly, only about 50 Anniversary Gold Mustangs were built, all on March 29, 1966, under a Ford special order. It is believed that these were part of a prize package for a Ford dealer sales competition, and one car went to each Ford sales district. All Anniversary Gold Mustangs were coupes with the 200 hp 289 V8 engine, the deluxe Pony interior, styled steel wheels, and special Anniversary Gold paint. Of the 50 built, only about five are known to exist today.

Early in 1966, V8 Mustangs were vastly outselling the six-cylinder model. In order to give the six a sales boost, Ford offered a special Sprint 200 option package that included deluxe wire wheel covers, side accent stripes, a center console with courtesy lights, and the safety equipment group, along with the six-cylinder engine.

Territorial Mustang specials

Sales of some special edition Mustang models were limited to a specific geographical region. Among the Territorial Specials was the High Country Special that was sold only in Colorado, Wyoming and parts of Nebraska. The package was available on any Mustang body style, and consisted of a unique fender badge trim and a choice of three special colors – Aspen Gold, Columbine Blue, or Timberline Green.

The award for the best Mustang Special name goes to the Silver Mink Limited Edition Anniversary that was sold only in the tri-state area of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Available only on a Sprint Mustang with the six-cylinder engine, the package consisted of Thunderbird Silver Mink special paint and a black vinyl roof.

Potential Canadian buyers were not forgotten; Canada received the Players Mustang Special Edition in Quebec, Manitoba, Ontario, and Alberta. This Mustang had special two-tone blue and white exterior paint matching the Player’s cigarette package, on a coupe with the six-cylinder engine, full wheel covers, and an AM radio.

High-water mark for Mustang sales

Mustang sales for 1966 topped 600,000 cars (607,568 to be precise), making it the biggest sales year for the brand. The Ford sales operation must be given much of the credit, for its creativity with Mustang special sales and special models to keep the buyers heading into Ford showrooms.

1966 was also the last year that the Mustang had the “personal sporty car” market all to itself. Camaro, Firebird and a host of others joined the fray beginning in 1967. Mustang was the sole occupant of what then became known as the “Pony Car” market for over two years, a testament to the foresight of Ford Division general manager Lee Iacocca and his whole team of Mustang creators. It’s rare in the dog-eat-dog competition of the automotive world that a car company ever catches the competition so unprepared – and Ford made the most of it.

 

 

Sources:

About Autos – http://mustangs.about.com/od/modelyearprofiles/a/1966-modelyear.htm

http://mustangs.about.com/od/1966mustangmodelprofiles/a/Ford-Mustang-Sprint-200.htm

Classic Pony Cars – http://classicponycars.com/history.html

66 Mustang.net – http://www.66mustang.net/convertible/stats.htm

Classic Car History – http://www.classic-car-history.com/1964-1966-ford-mustang.htm

Mustang Attitude – http://mustangattitude.com/mustang/1966specialmod.shtml

Limited 600 Mustang – http://www.limited600mustang.net/specials.html

Edmunds – http://www.edmunds.com/ford/mustang/history/

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Mustang_%28first_generation%29

 

 

Photos by Nick Ares and fortfan

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