MAGIC MILESTONE FOR FORD MUSTANG
Next year’s Silverstone Classic will pay special homage to the most celebrated of all American muscle cars: the legendary Ford Mustang.
First unveiled in New York during April 1964, the illustrious Mustang is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2014 – a milestone that will be marked in style both on and off the Grand Prix circuit at the World’s Biggest Classic Motor Racing Festival.
Having staged similar celebrations for the E-type Jaguar, Ferrari F40 and Porsche 911 as well as Aston Martin in recent years, the award-winning Silverstone Classic is firmly established as the major event commemorating key landmarks in automotive history. And now, next summer’s Classic (25-27 July) has been chosen by the Mustang Owners Club for its official 50th anniversary celebration for the Ford Mustang.
The weekend will not only include dedicated displays and parades showcasing all five generations of the much loved ’Stang but also two thundering races dedicated to mighty American V8-powered machines from the Sixties. While the packed 50-plus car grids will also include other ‘Yank tanks’ from the era, the vast majority of the field will consist of competition-prepared Mustangs all galloping into Silverstone to honour the remarkable occasion.
“The Mustang celebrations follow on perfectly from the amazing party we had last summer for the Porsche 911,” said Event Director, Nick Wigley. “Like the 911, the Mustang has been in continuous production for 50 years and has become a global icon among sportscars. We are thrilled that the Mustang Owners Club will be holding its official birthday festivities at the Classic and, with what we expect to be a record number of Mustangs racing on the track, it’s going to be another fantastic celebration at Silverstone.”
Introduced in 1964 as a small (by American standards!) sportscar, the Mustang was an immediate success with more than a million sales in its first two years. It’s name, and then revolutionary long bonnet/short boot design, inspired a whole new breed of affordable, compact, high performance street machines still known today in America as the ‘pony car’ class.
The waves made by the Mustang resounded well beyond the automotive world, too. The car quickly became a film star appearing in various early James Bond movies including Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever and, perhaps most memorably, when driven through the streets of San Francisco by Steve McQueen in Bullitt. It also featured in chart-topping songs such as the Wilson Pickett classic Mustang Sally.
Initially hardtop coupe and convertible body styles were offered but a sporty 2+2 fastback version was quickly added to the original model line-up. For those who wanted some extra performance, a collaboration with the legendary Carroll Shelby produced the even more muscular 300+ horsepower Shelby GT-350.
Underlining its on-going popularity the Mustang, complete with retro design cues, has remained in production ever since those early days with varying degrees of success. Indeed, the sixth generation is being revealed to the world today (5 December) by Ford and will, for the very first time, be marketed in right-hand-drive form.
The Mustang’s outstanding motor sport history also dates right back to the early days. It made its racetrack debut within a month of its introduction as pace car for the 1964 Indianapolis 500. Later in the same year, Mustangs started racking up the first of many notable competition successes with class victory in the Tour de France road rally. The following year an Alan Mann Racing entered 4.7-litre Mustang raced by Roy Pierpoint won the British Touring Car Championship, while Shelby GT-350 Rs captured a host of top titles back home in the US. A host of notable international victories have followed since, and today many of those original models are still reliving their glory days and wowing the crowds at premier historic events such as the Silverstone Classic.