There is a very large class of people that own 65/66 Mustangs that, as far as I can tell, anyway, have been, for the most part, ignored entirely. They don't really want that 100 pt. show car that is so nice and was soooo expensive that they're afraid to drive it, they also don't want to make their car capable of achieving warp factor three. They just want this car that they dearly love to be able to cruise around smoothly and reliably, without having it dump them out on the side of the road or have it start making weird noises or belching out big clouds of funky-smelling smoke. And I think, truth be told, that this is by far the largest class of Mustang owners. They take their car to some technician when what they actually need is a mechanic, and this, frequently, does not work out very well at all for the owner. They don't want to re-engineer the entire car, they just want someone to fix what broke. These are the people that I am trying help out with this blog. Some problems require a little bit of back and forth, as in, "Try this." "I tried that and it didn't change anything."
" Oh. well, you probably need to try that." " I tried that and it helped, but it still isn't quite right." "Now you need to try this...." If you go to http://www.allfordmustangs.com/ and then go to the classics forums, you will be able to do that with a pretty hefty gathering of some very knowledgeable people that also happen to be very friendly. None of that ridiculous one-upmanship, no flaming or abuse, none of that stuff. Just good, solid advice from people that know what they are talking about.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why we call them 64 1/2 Mustangs

There has always been some discussion about this point among Mustang folks. The reason that there has always been discussion is because the point is a little more complicated than it might seem at a glance.On the one hand, you have the fact that all Mustangs built prior to the 66 model year have 1965 vins, and on the title it says 1965 Ford Mustang.One would think that this would pretty much exhaust the matter. But, on the other hand, you have a mountain of evidence to the contrary.First off, you have dozens, if not hundreds, of parts on a 65/66 Mustang carrying a part number that goes C4Z something or another. If you check with your handy Ford part number decoder you will see that C4Z means 1964 Mustang. Fortunately, I have a pretty extensive collection of original Ford publications from that era. The first picture is the cover of a Ford publication that they put out in aug of 1963 in preparation for the 64 model year. It is not a copy or a reprodution, it is a 44 year old, original brochure of about 16 pages. On the cover you see several 64 model cars with license plates that say '1964'. On the top is a Mustang, but they have it turned sideways. The next couple of pictures are of a trim and upholstery guide. Each Ford dealership was given a couple of these every year in preparation for the new model year to help people see what their new car would look like with a particular trim, upholstery and paint scheme. And in it we have the Mustang section. You will also notice the absence of the fastback body style. Those were not available during the 64 model year, but the coupe and convertible were, even though this car that was built in march or april of 64 had a 65 title. Clearly, Ford was building and selling Mustangs during the 64 model year and these cars have numerous distinct differences from the cars built and sold for the regular 65 model year, and the differences between a 64 1/2 and a 65 are far more numerous and significant than the differences between a 65 and a 66. That's why folks keep arguing about it. There is no clear-cut right or wrong answer. It just depends on how heavily you weight 'this' aginst 'that'.

Since I was 8 or 9 I have been wondering about why Ford gave the Mustangs that we call 64 1/2s 65 VINs. They started building them in like feb. of 64. There isn't a single part anywhere on the car with a 65 part number. If you see a part with the number starting out C5Z and going on, that part has been replaced. Ford quit using 5-bolt, generator charged motors at the end of the 64 model year. All 65s had 6-bolt, alternator charged motors, etc... Everything about the cars say that they are 64 model cars, with the exception of the VIN. Why did they do that? Someone had to make that decision, and the decision was made before they ever built the first Mustang. What was the rationale behind it? They started out by building about 25,000 Mustangs to start selling on April 17 of 64. They felt like that would be enough to carry them through until the 65 model year began. However, they sold every one of those cars, plus took orders for about 15,000 more on the april 17 of 64. They also introduced several other pretty cool things in 64, like the factory lightweight T-bolts and some K code Falcons and stuff to hedge their bet on the Mustangs. They had no idea if these cars would sell or not, and just in case they still had 20,000 of those first 25,000 Mustangs in aug. of 64, they could still sell them as brand new 65 model cars. They didn't know. Maybe those Mustangs will do the same thing that some other seemingly good ideas on car design did, namely, they couldn't give them away. They didn't do it to confuse and bewilder as yet unborn enthusiasts at all. It was one more way to hedge the bet.

I have actually pondered this question on a regular basis and have come up with nothing for a really long time. It just made no sense to me. Everything about it is a 1964 model car, and yet, someone made the decision to title these things as 65 model cars in the winter of 63/64, They weren't building any other 65 model cars. They weren't even making any parts for 65 model cars yet. They were advertising them right beside other 64 model cars. It was a very strange decision to make. It would probably have never even crossed my mind to do that, unless I was sitting in a meeting discussing this and someone said, " You know, we're all going to be looking for jobs if these things don't sell" Then we would start brainstorming about how to avoid that very unattractive eventuality, and that's where the idea for 65 VINs came up. For as far back as I can remember, I would just sit down and think about something that pertained to a 65/66 Mustang on a regular basis. Sometimes I put my car up on jackstands and crawl around underneath it, just looking at stuff. Like watching television. For hours.This 65 VIN thing has confused me to no end for the longest time, and, again, finally coming up with something that makes sense about this, to me anyway, very perplexing question, has made me really happy.

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