Lee Iacocca, who some call “The Father of the Mustang,” likes the looks of the Ford Motor Co. convertible – re-designed along with the coupe for 2005 – but he thinks the latter's styling leaves something to be desired.
“I think the convertible is terrific, so why does it look terrific, and I think the car (coupe) looks lousy? Because the main roofline doesn't fit the Mustang image,” he says. “They're trying to play muscle car in a market that I don't think exists, but we'll see how many they sell over time.”
J Mays, Ford's design chief, once told Ward's that he harkened back to his brother's '67 fastback when he and his crew re-designed the Mustang. And there's no denying Ford has a winner: 2005 sales climbed to 160,975, up from 129,858 in 2004.
Iacocca gained fame in the mid-1960s as the driving force behind the first Mustang, which featured a long hood and short rear deck. The sporty-looking car quickly won wide appeal and went on to grab a record 417,000 sales during the '65 model year. He also oversaw development of the smaller, pudgy Mustang II in the 1970s, which never caught on.
Ford was just emerging from “the Edsel fiasco” when Iacocca approached Chairman Henry Ford II in the early 1960s with the idea of taking the chassis of the Falcon compact and putting a sporty car body on it.
Because of the Edsel's failure, “Henry said we needed another new car like a hole in the head,” he recalls with a laugh.
Iacocca nevertheless got a $75 million commitment from HF II to develop the Mustang, and he and the little “Pony car” went on to make automotive history.
Iacocca does not like fastback roofline of new Mustang.
He says he was stunned when he first saw the current model. “I almost passed out,” he says with typical Iacocca hyperbole. “I said they were catering to the 1 million (fastbacks) we sold, not the 11 million notchbacks and convertibles. No, they wanted to do 'Bullitt' all over again” (“Bullitt” is 1968 movie featuring Steve McQueen driving a Mustang in a now classic San Francisco chase scene).
Iacocca takes issue with the new coupe's greenhouse above the beltline. The original coupe and others that followed had a distinctive notched look with formal rear-quarter windows. The fastback came 18 months later and had no rear windows.
“We put in the speed line, (behind the front door, rather than a rear window) which cut the visibility, but who cares? It had a V-8; it was big time,” he says. “They asked me what I liked about the new one, and I said the front and rear, but stay away from the greenhouse.
“Somebody blew it putting that piece of glass in there. That is not a sexy car. That appeals to the guys who are the Shelbyites that want a muscle car (a reference to his friend Carroll Shelby, famous for developing high performance versions of numerous cars, including Ford and Chrysler models). But Mustang was never a muscle car.”