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The Ford Mustang’s milestone birthday

THE most famous car model name in history and a staple of the motorsport world to the present day – the Ford Mustang – celebrates its 60th birthday today.

The original ‘pony car’ made its public debut at the World’s Fair in New York on April 17, 1964, under the watchful eye of company boss Henry Ford II and Ford Division manager Lee Iacocca, the man credited with inspiring the car.

Ford expected to sell only around 100,000 units a year, but the two-door Mustang was an immediate sensation and 22,000 orders were taken on the first day alone. By the end of that first year, Ford had sold more than 400,000 Mustangs. It was Ford’s most successful car launch since the Model A some 37 years earlier.

With its light weight, compact size and V8 power, the Mustang could have been made for racing and was soon racking up victories around the world, including here in Australia, where the latest model continues to battle the rival Chevrolet Camaro in the Repco Supercars Championship.

One of Mustang’s first major successes came in the 1965 Australian Touring Car Championship at Sandown, where Melbourne driver Norm Beechey raced to a one-lap victory over defending champion Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan in his Lotus Cortina.

Geoghegan saw the writing on the wall and bought his own Mustang, going on to win the next four ATCC titles, while Bob Jane bought no fewer than three Mustangs in his attempts to win the title before switching to GM’s brutal big-block Camaro ZL-1.

However, the most famous Mustang of all was a car conceived in Detroit by Ford skunkworks Kar-Kraft, completed in South Carolina by Bud Moore Engineering and gifted to Canadian-born Allan Moffat to race in Australia.

This gorgeous 1969 Boss 302 model, initially the subject of the first non-automotive commercial sponsorship and raced in Coca-Cola’s red-and-white colours, never managed to win an Australian title but did help Moffat become a household name and racing legend in his adopted country.

The history of the Ford Mustang has been told in numerous books, but the full inside story of Moffat and his iconic car’s incredible six-year racing career is only available in the highly acclaimed book ‘The Boss’ by David Hassall – now available here via the V8 Sleuth Superstore.

Allan Moffat aboard his famous Coca-Cola Mustang. Photo: Supplied.
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