On this day in 1966, in Dearborn, Michigan, the Ford Motor Company celebrates the production of its 1 millionth Mustang, a white convertible. The sporty, affordable vehicle was officially launched two years earlier, on April 17, 1964, at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. That same day, the new car debuted in Ford showrooms across America; almost immediately, buyers snapped up nearly 22,000 of them. More than 400,000 Mustangs were sold within that first year, exceeding sales expectations.
The Mustang was conceived as a “working man’s Thunderbird,” according to Ford. The first models featured a long hood and short rear deck and a chassis based on the compact Ford Falcon. The Mustang was available in a hardtop, coupe or convertible and carried an average price tag of about $2,300. Ford general manager Lee Iacocca, who became president of the company in October 1964 (and later headed up Chrysler, which he was credited with reviving in the 1980s) was involved in the Mustang’s development and marketing. The car’s launch generated great interest: The Mustang was featured on the covers of Newsweek and Time and the night before it went on sale, the Mustang was promoted in commercials that ran simultaneously on the three major television networks. One buyer in Texas reportedly slept at a Ford showroom until his check cleared and he could drive his new Mustang home. The same year it debuted, the Mustang appeared on the silver screen in the James Bond movie “Goldfinger.” A green 1968 Mustang GT was famously featured in the 1968 Steve McQueen action movie “Bullitt.” To date, Mustangs have appeared in hundreds of movies.
Within three years of its debut, approximately 500 Mustang fan clubs had cropped up. In 1999, in honor of the Mustang’s 35th anniversary, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the original model. Over the decades, the Mustang has undergone numerous evolutions and remains in production today.