By Matt Litwin from December 2021 issue of Muscle Machines
In This ArticleCategory: Hemmings Classic CarDuring the 2018 AACA Fall Meet, I had the unexpected pleasure of spending some time with retired Ford stylist Gale Halderman, who has since sadly passed away. If you’re not familiar with the name, Gale began his employment at Ford Motor Company in 1954, but within a decade the otherwise unassuming employee was thrust into a path of what would prove to be automotive greatness, at least in the eyes of today’s classic car enthusiasts. It started when Gale submitted his early sports car concept sketch — one of what turned out to be a field of 24 such renderings — to project planners for review. Gale’s drawing struck a chord, and he was subsequently selected by Lee Iacocca, special projects manager Hal Sperlich, and Ford studio chief Joe Oros to oversee the design of a new car that was eventually named Mustang.
Gale’s time with the Mustang didn’t stop with the smashing success of its first year on the market. He was destined to serve as the car’s design chief for another eight years, and his advances led to the development of the 1965 2+2 fastback and 1967 SportsRoof. In 1968, Gale was promoted to director of the Lincoln-Mercury design studio, a stint in the luxury divisions that lasted less than a decade. Why? Who better to oversee the development of the Fox-platform Mustang — introduced in 1979 — than the designer responsible for “the original” pony car?
Despite creating a legacy of automotive design that should register with old car enthusiasts as easily as Darrin, Earl, and a host of others, Gale, it seemed to me, hovered below the radar and remained a humble Ford employee who was simply proud of being in the right place at the right time, throughout his career. You could hear it in his voice that fall afternoon, as he thoughtfully reflected on his time at Ford