Vintage photos show Ford Mustang I and the elusive XD CobraMon, 07 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0700
It's hardly surprising that our readers want to share their memories of the Ford Mustang -- 50 years is a long time for an automotive nameplate to endure, and the model's upcoming 50th anniversary is as good excuse as any to look back on the experiences that have made the car an enthusiast hit.
Take William Drew, who had a close encounter with pony car history when he saw the Mustang I concept, plus a rare Ghia-bodied Shelby Cobra concept, at an auto dealer in Dallas in 1970. His slides (taken with a Yashica camera, he notes) show the unusual cars in the nice, bright colors of Kodachrome.
First, the Mustang I. The compact concept had little in common with the production Mustang, save for its four wheels and two doors. Power came from a midmounted 1.5-liter V4 sourced from Ford Germany. Though few of its design elements -- and even fewer of its engineering elements -- made the jump to the cars you could buy, the concept did help build excitement behind the “Mustang” name. It must have been effective, too, since Ford was still displaying the car years after production Mustangs hit the streets.
Equally intriguing is the Ghia-bodied XD Cobra, which was also known as the Bordinat Cobra and was either introduced in 1963 or 1965 (there are more than a few gaps and inconsistencies in the car's history). It got a 289 cu.-in. V8 backed up by an automatic transmission; Drew's interior shots clearly show the T-handled gear selector. The XD Cobra's body was apparently molded from a plastic called Royalex, which is used to day to produce “durable, mid-priced canoes.”
Though we don't know much more about the XD Cobra, the concept does, in fact, survive -- it's one of the storied “bubble cars” in the tucked-away collection of the Detroit Historical Society.
The Mustang I also escaped the crusher, and fortunately for enthusiasts, it's a bit more accessible: Interested parties can view at the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Mich.
Ford Mustang at 50
The Ford Mustang turns 50 years old during 2014; to celebrate the many lives of America's favorite pony car, we'll be posting selections from our archives. Check out our Mustang mini-site where you'll find news, road tests, sneak peeks and even classic Mustang ads from the pages of Autoweek. We'll also have all the latest news and photos surrounding the redesigned 2015 Ford Mustang as it rolls out, so stay tuned.
By Graham Kozak