Tag: 1964

No, There’s No Such Thing As a 1964-1/2 Ford Mustang – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

No, There’s No Such Thing As a 1964-1/2 Ford Mustang – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

Ford Media image

The designation’s so widespread, it’s almost become gospel among Mustang enthusiasts and the collector car world in general. You’ll see 1964-1/2 as a model year in the titles of Mustang books, in prior Hemmings articles (nostra culpa), even on Ford’s own website. Except, officially, Ford never designated any Mustang as a 1964-1/2 model year car.

“All of the first production Mustangs built from February 10, 1964, through July 31, 1964, were titled as 1965 model year cars,” according to Robert Fria, an expert in pre-production and early production Mustangs who wrote the definitive book on the subject, “Mustang Genesis: The Creation of the Pony Car.” As Fria and many others have pointed out, just looking at the VIN of any early production Mustang should bear that out: All of them – whether the one Fria discovered with serial number 100002 or the one that Captain Stanley Tucker bought with serial number 100001 – start with the digit 5 for the 1965 model year.

Ford Media’s caption describes this Mustang as a prototype, which is likely why we see the “1964” license plate on it.
Ford Media image

Case closed, really short article, right? So then why did the 1964-1/2 “model year” become so widespread to the point where it gets its own entry in year-by-year Mustang reference books and where the Mustang Club of America reportedly considers 1964-1/2 as a separate model year?

Part of it comes down to the introduction of the Mustang in April 1964, well out of line with the traditional model year cycle: The rest of the 1965 Fords didn’t debut until that September. While unusual in comparison with prevailing trends through the rest of the industry, it was actually in line with Ford’s mid-year introductions of the Falcon Futura and Galaxy 500XL Sports Hardtop the year prior, as Brad Bowling pointed out in the “Standard Catalog of Mustang” (which, incidentally, has an entire section on the “1964-1/2” Mustang). Indeed, given the success of such introductions – the Mustang essentially had the field to itself when it came to new-car publicity that spring, and that introduction date may have even been key to the avalanche of first-year sales – one has to wonder why we haven’t seen many subsequent mid-year introductions. (Outside of unintentional ones like the 1970-1/2 Camaro, its introduction delayed by a strike.)

Speaking of sales, Ford reported a total of 680,989 first-year Mustang sales, though that total is comprised of the 121,538 early Mustangs sold prior to the traditional start of the 1965 model year and the 559,451 sold during the 1965 model year.

Part of it also arises from the many changes that Ford introduced to the Mustang around the start of traditional 1965 model year production, leading enthusiasts to start referring to the early Mustangs as “1964-1/2” cars simply to differentiate them from the regular production year cars. Those early cars, for instance, had a much different engine lineup, consisting of the U-code 101hp one-barrel 170-cu.in. six-cylinder, the F-code 164hp two-barrel 260-cu.in. V-8, the D-code 210hp four-barrel 289-cu.in. V-8, and the famed K-code 271hp four-barrel 289-cu.in. V-8. Once regular 1965 model year production started, only the K-code remained; the T-code 120hp 200-cu.in. six-cylinder replaced the U-code, the C-code 200hp two-barrel 289-cu.in. V-8 replaced the F-code, and the A-code 225hp four-barrel 289-cu.in. V-8 replaced the D-code. In addition, all early 1965 Mustangs had generators while all regular production year 1965 Mustangs came equipped with alternators.

Mustang enthusiasts generally use engine codes and the presence of a generator to distinguish early from regular production 1965 cars, but a host of other changes took place in late summer 1964. Bowling notes a number of those changes, including the switch from C-clips for the interior door handles to Allen screws, slightly wider Mustang nameplates, and the switch from interior-color to chrome door lock buttons. Others have noted that regular production model year cars had an adjustable front passenger seat in place of the earlier fixed seat, that the early cars equipped with automatic transmissions had smaller shifter handles, and that the fuel-filler cap was given a tether to make it more theft-resistant. By far the most comprehensive accounting of the changes appears to be in Colin Date’s book, “Original Mustang, 1964-1/2 – 1966,” in which he points out, for instance, slight sheetmetal changes at the base of the windshield wipers, the switch from rubber to plastic trunk mats, color-keyed seat belt latches replacing chromed latches, different AM radios, and the brake light switch location moving off of the master cylinder. Even paint colors and codes changed quite a bit from early to regular production 1965 cars.

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A sparsely worded newswire release was issued on May 22, 1963 noting, “Ford Motor Company and Ferrari wish to indicate, with reference to recent reports of their negotiations toward a possible collaboration that such negotiations have been suspended by mutual agreement.”

The GT40s entered in the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The flurry of negotiations between the companies had ended, but Ford’s desire to become a player in performance motorsports remained strong. A month later, the High Performance and Special Models Operation Unit was formed with the mission to design and build “A racing GT car that will have the potential to compete successfully in major road races such as Sebring and Le Mans.” The unit’s resulting work, the GT Program book, circulated internally on June 12th and contained the initial design concepts for the GT40.

The high performance team included Ford’s Roy Lunn, who already developed a preliminary design in the GT Program Book, along with Carroll Shelby and a few other Ford officials. Their first job was to identify a team that could build the cars. As project engineers, they chose Eric Broadley, whose Lola GT was considered groundbreaking, and John Wyer, who had won Le Mans with Carroll Shelby driving for Aston Martin as the race manager. This established a four-pronged team with Lunn and Broadley designing and building the cars, Wyer establishing the race team and Shelby acting as the front man in Europe. With ten months until the 1964 race, a workshop was established in Broadley’s garage in Bromley, south of London. But when established as Ford Advanced Vehicles moved the operations to Slough.

As one of the major design features, Roy Lunn had lowered the height two inches from Broadley’s initial Lola to a mere 40 inches and work on the cars began. Interestingly, the first seven produced had a VIN number beginning with Ford GT, while the cars after those had a VIN beginning with Ford GT40. New Zealander Bruce McLaren was the initial test track driver as the car was put through its paces. Early issues with the car were apparent as the Ford Motor Company team tried to accomplish in 10 months what Ferrari had perfected over decades. By April the first car was completed, and was quickly shipped to New York to be used for a press conference prior to the Mustang launch. During the time trials in Le Mans in mid-April, the car’s speed was tremendous, but the aerodynamics needed work as it was difficult to control at high speeds. With McLaren doing the development driving, a spoiler was added and other modifications made. The car was now as ready for racing as it could be for the 1964 season.

Disappointments were soon to follow. While the Ford GT40s were undoubtedly fast, endurance was an issue at all of the races. The suspension let loose in Nuremburg, and while they led for a portion of the race at Le Mans and driver Phil Hill set a lap record, the Colotti gearboxes gave out under the strain of the speed and number of shifts required to complete the loop. All three Ford cars were out of the race 12 hours into the required 24. Further disappointments culminating in a disastrous showing in Nassau in December left the program in shambles, and the decision was made in Dearborn to move the work back to the US, with Carroll Shelby given operational control and Roy Lunn engineering control.

Source Ford Motor Company

Corvette as a luxury car? One 1964 ad suggested it – Jeff Koch @Hemmimgs


America’s personal-luxury car scene exploded in the late ’50s. Studebaker’s Golden Hawk was among the first, back in ’56. Ford’s Thunderbird helped prove the market when the four-seat Squarebird came out in ’58. By 1963, Buick’s Riviera had eased onto the scene, and suddenly most car brands wanted in on this new niche. Chevrolet naturally sought a way to capitalize on the near-luxury-car game, but the Impala was too big (and the ritzy Caprice was coming for ’65 anyway), the Nova was too small, the Chevelle was brand new for the year and just finding its feet, and the Monte Carlo was half a dozen years away.

Why not try it with the Corvette? This ad is trying to convince people to see the Corvette’s softer side. It’s printed in color, but the image is a study in black-and-white contrasts. Black suit, white dress. Black pavement, white Corvette. Black tires with whitewalls. And maybe the ultimate contrast: presenting the Corvette as a luxurious proposition.

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A rare pair of pre-production Ford Mustang convertibles come up for sale – Barry Kluczyk @Hemmings


By their very nature, pre-production vehicles are born to die. They’re automotive ephemera — cars created to help validate assembly procedures and serve as test beds, before being sacrificed to the crusher.

Theirs are lives typically measured in months, and when it came to Ford’s genre-establishing Mustang, in the spring of 1964, approximately 180 pre-production pony cars were constructed. Not all were scrapped, however. At least fifteen are known to have slipped past the crusher, surviving to illustrate a number unique and distinctive differences compared with the regular production models that started rolling off the Dearborn assembly line in March 1964.

All of the pre-production models carried an arbitrary “05C” production date, for March 5, 1964. They weren’t all constructed that day, as each involved a slower process that included a number of hand-assembly methods. In fact, the known pre-production models that have been tracked and studied show many signs of hand-formed or hand-trimmed components. The cars have also demonstrated a number of variances in the chassis/suspension components, as well as the trim, which were changed by the start of regular production.

At a glance, the pre-production Mustangs wore gunmetal grey-painted grilles rather than the darker gunmetal blue grilles of the production models. Also: The running horse emblem in the grille had an eye on the pre-production models, but it disappeared for the cars made for paying customers. A handful of the early cars were even fitted with silver-painted engines that reportedly made it easier to spot leaks on test vehicles, compared to the production black-painted engines.

With only 15 pre-production Mustangs known across the globe, they’re exceedingly rare, but an Arizona collector not only has two of them, they carry consecutive VINs: 5F08F100139 and 5F08100140. They’re convertibles, and while one has a black top and the other a white one, they’re otherwise identically equipped, with F-code 260 V-8 engines, C-4 three-speed automatic transmissions, 1-code 3.00-geared rear axles and black vinyl interiors.

That collector has decided to part with these historic cars and they’re offered right now on Hemmings Auctions, where the pair is being sold as a lot. He notes a concours-level restoration was completed on car 0139 in 2019, and it earned multiple awards after that, while car 0140 was reportedly restored in 2009. It, too, has won a number of awards, including two Mustang Club of America Gold awards, and it has appeared in three magazines. A Web site outlining the restoration of 0139 can be found at pony139resto.com.

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What Year Was Peak Wagon in America? – Murilee Martin @Autoweek


There were two model years when American car shoppers had 47 station wagons to consider. Care to guess?

With the rise of the minivan in the 1980s and the SUV in the 1990s, most Americans lost interest in buying station wagons. Oh, sure, you can still buy a new wagon here today (all of which come from European marques, if you still count Volvo as European), but there was a time when the station wagon was so mainstream that American car shoppers could choose from dozens of different longroof models. The important question here is: what model year had the most new station wagon models available in the United States? Yes, we’re going to determine the year of Peak Wagon now!

As was the case with my still-controversial dive into the subject of the final two-speed transmission offered on a new car in Americadefinitions become all-important here. There are some very important such definitions involved here, and I assume you will be very angry about my interpretation of each of them. Just as with the maddeningly wrong and probably malicious definitions I deployed when I wrote about the Chevy Rat Motor, subjectivity comes into play.

First, calling your van a wagon doesn’t make it a wagon. Yes, Volkswagen of America called the Type 2 Transporter a station wagon in its marketing materials. Chrysler did the same with the Dodge A100, as did Ford with the Econoline and GM with the Corvair Greenbrier. Warlord-grade trucks aren’t wagons, either, so you Land CruiserLand RoverJeep and International Harvester fanatics might as well begin wailing and gnashing your teeth right now. I will allow that sedan deliveries are wagons— that’s a tough call, because some of the early ones are pretty truckish and/or not-so-wagonlike— but you’ll see that the sedan delivery model count doesn’t have any effect on determining the year of Peak Wagon in America.

Second, ordinary Americans had to be able to obtain a mass-produced wagon from a licensed dealer in America, and it had to be highway-legal here at the time of sale in order for it to count toward Peak Wagon scoring. That means no oddball wagons imported by servicemen stationed in Naha or Grafenwöhr, no backyard-built wagons with hand-carved poplar bodies and steam engines, no swoopy atomic-powered wagon prototypes built for World’s Fairs, no onesy-twosy imports of Soviet wagons by spirally eyed fly-by-night entrepreneurs (this one really hurts, because I was dying to include the available-here-in-theory GAZ Pobedas and Volgas, not to mention the Moskvich 402/407), no bracketed-by-asterisks homologation specials, no wagonified Detroit luxury sedans or muscle coupes custom-commissioned by high-ranking Detroit executives for their wives. No, no, no!

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How Does 1964 Hawk Power Make a 1951 Studebaker Champion Business Coupe Go? – David Conwill @Hemmings


Three-on-the-tree is one of my favorite setups to drive. When I saw the clutch pedal and column shifter in this 1951 Champion, I grinned. You see, I had a ’50 Champion with the same arrangement, and I drove it all over Michigan’s Lower Peninsula back in 2015.

Well, not exactly the same arrangement. For one thing, although Mark Klinger’s bullet-nose is generally similar to a ’50, the ’51 cars were pretty heavily reworked right from the factory. More importantly, this one is hiding a V-8 surprise.

“Foul!” some purists will cry. “A hot rod in the pages of Hemmings Classic Car!” But consider that even the Studebaker faithful love this one, which we discovered back in late August, at a regional Studebaker Drivers’ Club gathering in Rutland, Vermont, just an hour or so north of our Bennington home offices. Lucky us, because the car had been driven the four hours from Auburn, Maine, where Mark and wife Lynn run the Sleepy Time Motel, which itself looks straight out of a 1950s road trip.

Gray leather replaces the factory broadcloth. Note lift-latch seatbelts.

A big factor in the acceptance of Mark’s car is the Studebaker V-8 used in the conversion. It’s a 1964-vintage 289-cu.in. version, which would have been rated at 210 or 225 horsepower, depending on whether it was topped with a two- or four-barrel carburetor. It has a four-barrel now. At first blush, it seems like it would be a pretty straightforward swap, as the Commander used an earlier version of the engine in the same chassis, but the original builder, an engineer, went above and beyond the factory in making the conversion as dialed in as it could be.

Even barring an engineering background, Studebaker owners from the beginning of the V-8 era have a lot of options to make their cars road ready just by combing through the factory parts bins. The new-for-’51 front suspension design, for example, was essentially the same as that used under the final Studebaker Larks in 1966. The design remained in use in the sporty fiberglass GT, the Avanti, up through 1985.

Thanks to that, rebuild parts for the 1951 chassis, along with brake and handling upgrades, remain remarkably accessible thanks to a large cache of Studebaker NOS items built at South Bend in the days before its 1964 closure. It was the foundation and remains the core of the Studebaker aftermarket. It also helps that Studebaker used the same Carter carburetors, Borg-Warner manual transmissions, and Dana 44 axles as much of the rest of the industry

Despite air conditioning, the car does without a heater or a radio.

All of that is to say we didn’t even realize we were looking at a non-stock Studebaker at first. Sure, the blue hue seems a bit brighter than the Maui or Aero Blues of 1951, but you could write that off as variations in modern paint mixes and the bright sun. That’s a 1952 steering wheel, but unless you’re already an expert on 1947-’52 Studebakers, that’s not obvious. It’s got bias-ply whitewalls and full wheelcovers, for Pete’s sake. And, as hinted above, there’s little external difference between a Champion and Commander, which can make them difficult to tell apart.

The big clue ends up being the body style. It turns out Studebaker didn’t build a Commander Business Coupe in 1951 (some records suggest they built only one —but this isn’t it). That three-passenger light-weight was exclusive to the Champion line with its 85-hp, 170-cu.in. flathead six, barring would-be scorchers from the potentially most potent power-to-weight combination. If you wanted a Business Coupe with the brand-new 120-hp, 233-cu.in. OHV V-8, you’d have to build it yourself. Instead, the few buyers thinking that way just settled for the gorgeous five-passenger Starlight coupe with its wraparound rear window and 65-pound weight penalty.

A fellow named Dave Carter, then in California, now in South Carolina, originally put this car together back in 2005-’06. Mark bought it this way, back in April of 2021, after he found it for sale in Tempe, Arizona. Luckily, Mark is from that area originally, and his brother (who owns a 1952 Starlight) was willing to go check it out for him. The modified ’51 appealed to Mark for the same reasons it appealed to us: Aside from some non-stock details, it feels just like something Studebaker could have, should have, and maybe would have (had anybody asked) built back in 1951. Right down to the column shifter.

Package shelf is modified for storage access.

Lightweight body aside, Mark’s car ups the ante with what was originally the 225-hp, 289-cu.in. engine in a 1962 Hawk. The Hawk was Studebaker’s creative but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to keep its 1953-vintage bodies relevant as a sporty, full-size car into the ’60s. This engine has been bored over 0.080-inch, bringing its displacement to over 302 cu.in., but “as far as I know,” Mark says, “it’s otherwise stock.” The engine’s current horsepower is unknown, but presumably a skosh higher than the original 225, which was already more than double that of a ’51 Commander engine. Nevertheless, the 289 is very mildly built, with road manners suited to interstate driving rather than drag racing.

In fact, Mark observed that the current 3.31 final drive ratio (in a ’64 Hawk Dana 44 with relocated spring perches) don’t necessarily play well with the Borg-Warner R10 overdrive (pirated, along with its siamesed T86 three-speed, from a 1959 Studebaker Lark) and somewhat hamper acceleration from a dead stop. Overdrive cars in the era of 55-mph roads usually came with a ratio in the 4.10s or deeper, suggesting something around 3.90:1 would be suitable today in the flyweight coupe. With the 0.70:1 gearing in the overdrive, the current 3.31s cruise along like a set of 2.32s, while 3.90s would act like 2.73s.

None of this is to say that the Stude’s performance was in any way lackluster. Accelerating with traffic was no difficulty at all: with 3.90s it would probably outrun most of today’s milder commuter cars from stoplight to stoplight. Front discs, from a conversion kit supplied by Turner Brake in South Carolina, mean the car can stop just as well as it accelerates

An engine bay dimensionally identical to a Commander means a ’51 Champion accepts a Studebaker V-8

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Good things come to those who wait? Jonny Smith and his 18-year Chevrolet Impala lowrider project – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


Just so you don’t start to think that Hemmings editors are the only ones who get distracted from finishing their long-term car projects, let’s catch up with Jonny Smith, the British enthusiast of American cars and host of the Late Brake Show, and his 1964 Chevrolet Impala SS lowrider (yes, a lowrider in the UK), a project that has been ongoing for close to 20 years now thanks to a few instances of hard luck, a lot of time spent away from the garage, and all the other nuisances that keep a project from progressing. But now it appears Jonny’s got some help in finishing the project, so perhaps his lowrider will soon be three-wheeling it around England’s country lanes in style.

Buyer’s Guide: The 1964-1965 Ford Falcon covered the spread from fuel miser to sport coupe – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings


Just because the Falcon was a low-priced economy car, that didn’t mean that it wasn’t satisfying to own. Ford referred to the redesigned 1964 and 1965 editions as its “Total Performance” compact.

That philosophy also extended to the larger models and took into account styling, handling, roadability, acceleration, braking, efficiency, and more.Sure, a buyer could’ve gone the bare-bones route in 1964 and become a fuel-savings connoisseur by driving a base Falcon two-door or four-door sedan, featuring the standard beige cloth-and-vinyl interior (more colors for 1965) with a full-width front seat, rubber floor mats, and 144-cu.in. straight-six (170-cu.in. for 1965).

Yet, with the 1964 and 1965 Falcon lineups providing avenues for boosting image, power, and comfort, why stop there?Stepping up in price, the 1964 Futura two- and four-door sedans added full carpeting, chromed horn ring on the steering wheel, courtesy lights, rear armrests and ash trays, lighter, and upgraded color-keyed upholstery choices and exterior trim.

The 1964 Futura hardtop and convertible also had the full-width front seat, but the sport coupe and sport convertible came with buckets and a console. A Thunderbird floating rearview mirror was included, and the droptop had a larger 170-cu.in. straight-six and a power top.

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How do you put a price on the only 1964 Chrysler Turbine available for sale in decades? – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


Understandably, it’s hard to put a price on this 1964 Chrysler Turbine for sale on Hemmings.com. Most of the remaining examples now reside in museums and Jay Leno’s not likely to let go of his anytime soon, so this one – chassis number 991231, which for many years the late Frank Kleptz had in his collection – will likely be the only one we’ll see for sale for quite some time.

What’s more, it remains functional and roadworthy, and would steal the show every time it drove in and started up. Just trying to get a ballpark estimate on it would be a challenge – after all, what other recent sales would one compare it to? Whatever it sells for, here’s hoping it does get out and make the round of shows and public appearances. From the seller’s description:

Today all nine of the legendary Chrysler Turbine Cars remain yet only two are in private hands – one in Jay Leno’s Collection and the other chassis number 991231 is offered here for the first time in over 30 years.Chassis number 991231 is the crown jewel of the Kleptz Collection with the distinction of being the only Chrysler Turbine car available on the open market today. As offered it is in exceptionally well-preserved condition finished in its original metallic bronze paintwork with complementing upholstery all original fittings and fixtures and a host of spares documents and technical information. It is believed that 991231 spent much of its service life on the West Coast performing “VIP duties” meaning it was retained by Chrysler and loaned out weekly to executives sales managers award-winning salespeople and anyone else who Chrysler Corporation thought should experience this wholly unique automobile. Allegedly it was initially slated to be one of two cars donated to the Natural History Museum in LA likely to save on shipping costs back to Detroit. William Harrah approached Chrysler requesting one of the Turbine Cars for his museum and the company obliged giving him 991231 along with a spare engine

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A father-son bond lives on in this one-family 1964 Pontiac Catalina – Matt Litwin @Hemmings


Automotive history books are brimming with iconic vehicle names, both domestic and foreign, that have left an endearing legacy in the minds of millions. They’ve originated from all eras, no matter how narrow or broad each is defined: brass, prewar, postwar, and so on. And while each era can arguably claim a rich legacy like no other, perhaps some of the most indelible names appeared when the first, true postwar designs from Detroit emerged in the late 1948-’51 period.Take General Motors, for instance, and its collaboration with Fisher Body that resulted in the first mass-produced hardtop body style.

Buick took full advantage of it in 1949, using it first in the Roadmaster series when the Riviera moniker was applied to the striking design. Cadillac called its hardtop the Coupe de Ville within the Series 62 line, while Oldsmobile chose to name its hardtop the Holiday coupe. Chevrolet’s Styleline series received the Fisher hardtop a year later and called it the Bel Air. The same year, Pontiac’s Chieftain Eight and upscale De Luxe Eight lines received the hardtop, which was bestowed with the Catalina name.In due time, nearly all the carefully selected hardtop names—which obviously or subliminally provided a greater sense of exotic driving pleasure— graduated from trim level nomenclature to full-fledged stand-alone series.

Among them was Catalina, which became Pontiac’s new entry-level model when it replaced the Chieftain line in a calculated move that coincided with GM’s corporate-wide 1959 redesign. The all-new Catalina, offered in five body styles (in addition to six- and nine-passenger station wagons), all with a bevy of standard equipment and a price tag that ranged between $2,633 and $3,209, attracted 231,561 buyers in its freshman year. It also eclipsed the prior year’s Chieftain series by nearly 103,000 units.

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