By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — Rooted in Dearborn, the Ford Mustang celebrated its 51 year anniversary earlier this year and Dearborn Heights residents spent an evening last week learning about its history.
Ronald Broekman, owner of The Car Hobby Connection, 1810 Robindale in Dearborn, gave a presentation of the automotive journey of the Mustang at the Caroline Kennedy Library on July 29.
“The Mustang remains a classic because it its personal to each owner and is performance based,” Broekman said. “Its platform was based on the early ’60s Falcon.”
Broekman went through the debut of the first Mustang, changes and developments over the years, movie appearances and 20th century models.
The Mustang made its official debut at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964, by Henry Ford II as a two-seat, mid-engine sports car with a long hood and short rear deck.
On the same day almost 22,000 Mustangs at a starting price of $2,300 were bought by car enthusiasts across the country.
In its first year alone, Ford Motor Co. sold more than 410,000 Mustangs.
By 1967 the Mustang had its first competition, the Chevrolet Camero, and in 1968 the Dodge Challenger was released.
The second generation Mustang featured a new, larger body and taillights with a bigger grille opening and 120 horsepower engine.
In 1967 and 1968 Ford released the Mustang in a convertible and coupe style and a GT Fastback, respectively.
Next, in 1969 Ford introduced the sports roof model with a body four inches longer.
The fifth generation began in 1974 when the Mustang saw a major change in body shape and size. The smaller vehicle was built to be a more fuel-efficient car.
The Mustang II featured scalloped sides, three-piece taillights and the running horse on its grille.
The following year, the Mustang included a V8, 5.0L engine with a two-barrel carburetor.
In 1983, Ford added a new grille to the Mustang with its traditional blue oval logo at the center and in 1985 featured a slit below the logo and between the two headlights.
In the ’90s Ford went back to the styling of previous Mustangs. The 1994 Mustang had the galloping horse on the grille and taillights split into three segments.
By the 2000s, Ford began producing a Cobra model and a special “Bullitt” edition Mustang GT coupe.
The 2005 Mustang had a canted nose, big grille, round headlights, side sculpting, fastback roofline and round headlights similar to the 1967 and 1969 Mustangs.
In 2010, Ford introduced voice activated navigation, backup camera and 4.6L V8 engine in the GT Mustang. It also had a new grille as well as a power dome hood.
The most current 2015 Mustang model has its classic running horse on the grille and a lower stance shape in a coupe or convertible option.
“The future of the Mustang is alive and well,” Broekman said. “The 2016 GT 350 model will be more powerful and have better handling for drivers.”
Along the years the Mustang was also featured in major Hollywood films.
The 1968 Mustang GT made an appearance in “Bullitt” with actor Steve McQueen as its driver.
The Mustang II was featured in the 1971 film, “Diamonds are Forever” and the 1967 Mustang fastback was used in “Gone in Sixty Seconds” in 2000.
The 2007 Mustang GT appeared in “I Am Legend” and “The Bucket List” and the Barricade Saleen Ford Mustang police car was used in “Transformers” in 2007.
A custom silver and blue 2014 Mustang was used in the “Need For Speed” film in 2014.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)