The Ford Mustang was introduced to the public at the 1964 World's Fair.
In celebration of its 50th birthday, take a look back of the pony car's first decade with these vintage advertisements.
Mustang was unveiled with great fanfare at the 1964 World’s Fair, but here we see a sort of soft introduction for the far-flung public. Other than a bit of rhyming and alliteration and the brand slogan, "Ford-built means better built," there isn’t a tagline for the pony car just yet, although "it puts the tang in Mustang" does have an entertaining ring to it.
Luxurious touring car
Mustang was positioned three different ways at launch, as a practical car for young families, a European-style sports car and a glamorous touring car. This ad is focused on the more luxurious touring car aspect and highlights the Tiffany Award for American Design Excellence that was presented to Ford following the launch.
Buy the car and get the girl
The first of three Mustang-specific print ads strikes the modern eye as a quaint "Buy the car and get the girl" idea, but it’s presented in such an over-the-top manner as to be tongue in cheek. In this example Bernard buys himself a Mustang and soon after wins San Francisco in a card game! We also see the odd moniker of "Mustanger" used to refer to all Mustang owners.
Weak man made strong
Like the classic 98-pound weakling from the Charles Atlas body-building ads in comic books, Mustanger Desmond is a weak man made strong in this ad. All Desmond has to do is buy his 289-cubic-inch V8-equipped hardtop! He even trades in his cat for an heiress.
Mustang! Mustang! Mustang!
Wolfgang went from a struggling harpsichordist to fame and fortune all because he purchased a Mustang. His traveling companion does look a bit bored with the constant adulation though. The "Mustang! Mustang! Mustang!" slogan in the corner of the ad could use a bit of gussying up.
Not just for the kids
This is a perfect ad to appeal to the slightly older buyer. Mustang had a strong presence in the youth market, but that didn’t mean a man in his ‘50s couldn’t have some fun in a pony car.
Large enough for shopping
This is an ad aimed at buyers looking for a car that’s economical and affordable, which Mustang was with the standard 200-cubic-inch inline-six while still providing a healthy dose of style. It’s was important to point out the relatively compact Mustang did have a large enough trunk to go shopping since many Americans were still used to absolutely enormous cars then.
Get 'em hooked early
What better way to get new customers dreaming of a Mustang than getting ‘em hooked early. Nearly 50 years later, Mustangs are still among the most popular automotive toys available.
A Mustang community
This variant of the "Mustang Pledge" theme builds off the staggering sales success of the car, with more than 1.5 million sales in the first three years. With so many Mustangs on the road, Ford highlighted the ample options list available that enabled drivers to be part of the huge and growing community of Mustangers while still remaining ostensibly unique.
The Mustang Pledge
"Take the Mustang Pledge" is one of the few formalized slogans used over multiple ad campaigns.
Another buyer taking the Mustang pledge does so in what we today would call a "humblebrag." A fairly clever way to integrate a strong visual statement and the car’s many desirable features.
This example of a period-appropriate ad that probably wouldn’t make it in today’s world. The husband wants the control of a manual and the wife is assumed to want the convenience of automatic shifting. "Selectshift" is a great way to present what we’d think of as the normal operation of any of today’s automatic transmission-equipped vehicles.
Only Mustang makes it happen
Harkening back to the 1965 ads, we find buying a Mustang has transformed Sidney from a nerdy office drone to a guy with a life and bathing beauties literally hanging off his arms. "Only Mustang makes it happen" indeed.
Bred first... to be first
Here’s a great ad for the design-tweaked 1967 Mustang, complete with a rather aggressive, sporty tag line "Bred first... to be first," a clear jab at the new competition from across town. That 390-cubic-inch big-block V8 and disc brake combo was the hot option many performance buyers fell in love with.
This full spread ad is like the swingin’ ‘60s all wrapped up in one package. The very muscular, redesigned ‘69 Mustang, a girl in a bikini and a couple in matching jumpsuits playing a guitar... just because. The tag line at the top corner is an excellent call to action, a little rebellious, a little sinister, all appealing to a potential customer.