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The Great Mustang Debate: 1964 or 1965


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MORE: Ford Specs, Comparisons and Prices 1997-2010

DEARBORN, Mich., April 16, 2009 – 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” 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.’ 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 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 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 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 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 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 Mustang, people who understand Mustangs know what you’re talking about.”

MORE: Ford Specs, Comparisons and Prices 1997-2010