History of the Ford Mustang Convertible

Beginning

The convertible and coupe were the first Mustangs sold in March 1964, with the 2+2 fastback arriving shortly after. The convertible was built along the same lines as the coupe, was based on the Ford Falcon frame, and shared many Falcon and Ford Fairlane mechanical components. The major difference between the convertible and coupe was the fact that the convertible's frame was strengthened to handle the flex of the body without the hardtop construction.

First Mustang

The first convertible was built on the first day of production on March 9, 1964. A Fort Lauderdale, Florida, couple ordered it at the Powell Ford dealership. It was delivered on March 16, one day before the Mustang officially went on sale. The convertible was painted Wimbledon White and was equipped with a 260-ci V-8 engine and automatic transmission. It had a power convertible top and a full-length console. It is now a museum piece that people can see on tours.

Shelby Mustangs

Carroll Shelby used the 1967 through 1969 convertible for his Shelby GT350 and GT500 high-performance conversions, which came in seven colors and three different engine options: the 302-, 390- and 428-cubic-inch V-8s.

1960s and 1970s Production

A whopping 101,945 1964 ½ and 1965 convertibles were sold between its debut in March 1964 until the production year ended in late 1965. Production fell steadily over the next six years. In 1966, convertible sales were 72,119, and then 44,808 in 1967. By 1971, just 7,643 were sold, with the number dropping 6,401 in 1972. The convertible rebounded a bit in 1973 with 11,853 units sold.

Dismal 1970s

The 1973 model was almost the swan song for the Mustang. The second generation Mustang was launched in 1974 as a downsized version of the first generation. It was placed on the Pinto frame, an inexpensive and often ridiculed Ford model because of its questionable quality. Federal legislation was considered to ban the convertible due to safety concerns. Ford anticipated the legislation by dropping the convertible, although the law never materialized.

Convertible's Return

The convertible returned in 1983 to compete against Chrysler's convertible cars. The topless Mustang now sported a spunky 3.8-liter V-6 engine as the GLX trim model. An additional 1,001 GT models were added to the line as well. The GT featured a four-barrel carburetor V-6 generating 175 horsepower.

Today

The fifth generation Mustang convertibles are just as popular as its progenitors. One special model, the soft-top Redline Red Metallic Mustang GT concept car, was introduced in 2005 with red and charcoal leather seats, a billet-aluminum shifter for the automatic transmission, sports-style instrument cluster and 20-inch wheels. It sold for $175,000 at the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach auto auction in 2009. The Mustang convertible, manufactured by the Ford Motor Company from 1964 through 1974 and 1983 onward (as of 2009), is an American icon of 1960s pop culture. More than 100,000 convertibles were produced in its first year, boosting the image that the Mustang was a hip car that best represented the youth culture. Sagging sales, downsizing the frame and safety concerns forced the convertible into hiatus for nine years, but it has since emerged and retained its sporty roots.