Ford Mustang Celebrates 45 Years as King of the American Road

April 17, 2009 marked the 45th anniversary of the iconic Ford Mustang. The undisputed King of the American road, the Ford Mustang was born 45 years ago. And thousands of Mustang fans from all over the world, including several original owners of the 1964-1/2 Mustang, gathered in Birmingham, Ala. to join Ford and the Mustang Club of American for a four-day celebration.

“The Ford Mustang is one of the world’s most beloved automotive and cultural icons,” says Jim Farley, Ford Group Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “Since April 17, 1964, it has been a symbol of American freedom and fun.”

Included among the enthusiasts attending the celebrations were nine of the muscle car’s most enduring fans: original owners of the 1964-1/2 Mustang. “People come up to the car and they don’t believe that I’m the original owner,” said Phil Florio, of Summerfield, Fla., about his Wimbledon White 1964-1/2 Mustang Coupe. “I knew from day one that it was going to be a very special vehicle. A lot of car manufacturers have come out with their own particular type of pony car, but there’s only one ‘first.’”

Laki Malamatenios drove his Poppy Red 1964-1/2 Mustang coupe all the way to Alabama from his home in Grass Valley, Calif. to take part in the 45th anniversary festivities. “My ‘Poppy’ is something special,” he said. “This car is a chronicle of my life with my family – some happy memories, some sad, but always interesting. Whenever I drive it, my whole life flashes before my eyes.”

The Great Mustang Debate: 1964-1/2 or 1965?

Ever since the debut of the original Ford Mustang 45 years ago, there has been an ongoing debate about what to call the pony cars built between April and August of 1964. Are they “1964-1/2” Mustangs or 1965 models?

Technically, all of the original Ford Mustangs are 1965 models because all carry a 1965 model year Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). But the majority of Mustang enthusiasts throughout the world are purists at heart, and they know very well that the vehicles produced from April to August of 1964 were different enough from those manufactured during the remainder of the model year to warrant giving them another name.

“An entire generation has grown up calling these vehicles ‘1964-1/2.’ It is part of the lexicon of Mustang history,” said John Clor, author of The Mustang Dynasty. “Technically, all of the original Mustangs are 1965 models, but true enthusiasts know that production of the car ran for a year and a half and that the car changed after the first six months.” The biggest change was in the electrical system. The so-called 1964-1/2 Mustangs used generators while those made during the standard 12-month 1965 model year used alternators. Also, the V-8 option was different. The 1964-1/2 models used the 260-cubic inch V-8 engine, while the 1965 models employed a 289-cubic inch V-8 engine.

“People like to say there is no such thing as a 1964-1/2  Mustang, and in theory they are correct,” said Charles Turner, national head judge for the Mustang Club of America (MCA). “But there is a wide range of little differences between the cars built before and after August of 1964 that make them very unique. The MCA accepts the 1964-1/2 as a model year because we view it as a different car.”
Those lucky enough to own a Mustang built between April and August of 1964 view their pony cars as a totally different breed of the steed.

“We take exception to someone calling them 1965 Mustangs because the ’64-1/2 was a unique car when it was introduced, and it is a very special thing to own one,” said Fred Glazier, who bought his Rangoon Red Mustang coupe in May of 1964. “When you tell someone you have a 1964-1/2 Mustang, people who understand Mustangs know what you’re talking about.”