Design History: Ford Mustangs that Never Were

Design History: Ford Mustangs that Never Were

A document on the prototypes and concepts developed during the first 30 years of Ford Mustang’s history and that never made it to production.

As part of the celebration for the 50th Anniversary of the iconic Mustang, Ford has recently started to publish an extensive history of the model along with images sourced from its archives.

Here we report a very interesting document which lists a number of prototypes developed from the early 1960’s up to the 1990’s and that never reached production.

1961 Avventura, Avanti, Allegro

1961 Ford Mustang Avventura desgin study - packaging

From late 1961 into mid-1962, 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.

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.

1962 Allegro Concept

1963 Ford Mustang - Allegro Concept

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 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

1961-62 Ford Mustang two-seater design studies

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

1962 Ford Mustang - Allegro design study

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 two-seat, mid-engine Mustang Concept

1963 Ford Mustang mid-engine Concept - Design Sketch

Although it was probably never seriously considered for production as a Mustang, this hard-top variation of the Mustang 1 concept from 1962 did provide some inspiration for the GT40 MK I that would race at Le Mans and elsewhere beginning in 1964.

1965 four-door Mustang

1965 Ford Mustang Four-Door Prototype

When you have a product as enormously successful as Mustang, you invariably have to consider how to capitalize on the idea.

While Mustang used the platform of the compact Falcon as its starting point, the four-door Mustang could have brought the idea full circle by adding two doors to the pony car. Fortunately for Mustang fans, cooler heads prevailed.

1964 two-seater study

1964 Ford Mustang two seater design study - Clay model

This 1964 clay model of a two-seat Mustang incorporates some of the design cues of the production 1965 car including the side scoops

1966 Mustang station wagon

In the mid-1960s, Ford designers considered at least a couple of different concepts for a Mustang station wagon, with at least one running prototype based on a 1966 coupe getting built.

1966 Ford Mustang Station Wagon Prototype

Another design study included elements for refreshed models that were coming later that decade. All of the known Mustang wagons were three-doors that were closer to a European “shooting brake” than a traditional American family station wagon.

1966 Mach 1 concept

As the first-generation Mustang transitioned from a pony car to a larger and heavier big-block muscle car, the Mach 1 concept was created as a preview of the 1968 model.

1966 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Concept

The original nose of the concept drew inspiration from the 1963 Mustang II concept with its covered headlights and chrome rimmed protruding grille.

1966 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Concept 1966 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Concept

In late 1966, Ford designers prepared a Mustang concept to preview some of the design updates coming for the 1969 model. The Mustang Mach I was a two-seat fastback with a very aggressive looking chopped roof profile.

1966 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Concept - Design Sketch 1966 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Concept - Design Sketch
The front bodywork formed a single piece hinged at the front to expose the engine compartment. A 427-cubic inch V8 with four carburetors was meant to power the concept. The two-position hatchback was intended to accommodate longer objects in a near horizontal position or open wider for cargo loading.

Each of the rear pillars featured a flip-open racing-style gas cap while larger than normal air-scoops dominated the flanks.

1966 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Concept - Design Sketch 1966 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Concept - Design Sketch
The production 1969 Mach 1 had a rear window louver as one of its distinguishing visual features. The concept was intended to use a laminated rear window with the louvers embedded within but that idea never even made it onto the concept. The power-dome hood in this sketch is very similar to the design on the 2010-2011 Mustang.

The sloped rear end included a hatchback, a feature that wouldn’t appear on a production model until the 1974 Mustang II.

1967 Mach II concept

With the Mustang having already set sales records following its launch in 1964, Ford design chief Gene Bordinat and the Special Vehicles Group decided to try rearranging the pieces for the Mach 2 concept.

1967 Ford Mustang Mach 2 concept

The 289 Hi-Po V8 was shifted from the front to behind the two seats to evaluate the layout as a possible successor to the Shelby Cobra.

1967 Ford Mustang Mach II concept

Despite its mid-engine layout, the Mach 2 retained the long-hood, short-deck proportions of a Mustang. Unfortunately, the Mach 2 never went much beyond the auto show circuit.

1967 Allegro II concept

In 1967, Ford designers decided to reprise one of the original Mustang design concepts from 1962 with a new form and repurposed name.

1967 Ford Mustang Allegro Concept II

Starting with the Avanti/Allegro fastback coupe, the greenhouse was removed and replaced with a low-cut speedster-style windshield, rollbar, flying buttresses on the rear deck and a new rear end. The reworked concept was dubbed Allegro II.

1970 Mustang Milano Concept

1970 Mustang Milano concept

First shown publicly at the February 1970 Chicago Auto Show, the Mustang Milano concept previewed the nearly horizontal rear deck and sharp, extended nose that would be seen on the production 1971 model.

1970 Mustang Milano concept

However, aside from those two elements, the Milano didn’t really bear much resemblance to any production Mustang. In fact, the car that probably drew most heavily on the Milano profile was the Australian-market Falcon XB coupe of the mid-1970s.

1980 Mustang RSX concept

Created at the Italian Ghia design studio, the RSX was conceived as a rally special based on the new Fox-body third-generation Mustang that debuted for the 1979 model year.

1980 Mustang RSX Concept

With a one-inch-wider track and 5.6-inch-shorter wheelbase than the road-going Mustang, the RSX had extra ride height that would be needed for dealing with the off-tarmac stages of European rallies.

1990 “Bruce Jenner”, and “Rambo” design studies

In 1990, Ford designers evaluated a number of themes for a replacement for the long-running third-generation Mustang.

The notchback and hatchback bodystyles would be replaced with a single fastback coupe format. After departing from many of the original design cues on the third-generation models, the upcoming fourth-generation would return elements like the galloping pony in the grille, the side scoops and the tri-bar taillamps.

1990 Ford Mustang Jenner Concept - Design Sketch 1990 Ford Mustang Rambo Concept - Design Sketch
Above: Design Sketches of the ‘Jenner’ (left) and ‘Rambo’ (right) concepts

The studies were named Jenner after Bruce Jenner, Schwartzeneggar after actor Arnold Schwartzeneggar, and Rambo after Sylvester Stallone’s character.

1990 Ford Mustang Bruce Jenner Design Study

The softer concept, called “Bruce Jenner” (above) wasn’t considered aggressive enough to be a Mustang.

1990 Ford Mustang Rambo Design Study

The proposal dubbed “Rambo” (above) was deemed too extreme for production. Ultimately, Schwartzeneggar (below) would be the winning design.

1990 Ford Mustang Schwartzeneggar Concept - Design Sketch 1990 Ford Mustang Schwartzeneggar Concept - Design Sketch
Above: Design Sketches of the ‘Schwartzeneggar’ concept

1992 Mach III concept

The Mach III provided the first public hints of the new design direction that was coming for the fourth-generation Mustang.

1992 Ford Mustang Mach III Concept

While classic elements like the grille pony badge, side scoops and tri-bar taillamps were included on the 1994 Mustang, the two-seater layout and the low-cut speedster windshield have never been part of a regular production Mustang.

1992 Ford Mustang Mach III Concept - Design Sketch

(Source: Ford)

Image Gallery

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Leave a Comment

  1. glyphics1943

    With a lot less front overhang, the “Rambo” would have been a winner. All in all, Ford did well by being conservative, judging from most of the concepts, but they missed on this one.

  2. 24/9/2013

    It is interesting that the crease panel surfacing technique (on the 1970 Mustang Milano Concept) is not something new.


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