While most new automotive models debut quietly in the late summer and fall with limited interaction with the public, Ford executive Lee Iacocca had other plans in mind for his latest pet project. Having spent several years devolving and designing his vision of a sports car that is not only flashy but affordable as well, Mr. Iacocca wanted to get as many eyes as he could on the first-ever ‘Ford Mustang.’
Looking to capitalize on the excitement of the annual World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York, Iacocca, and Henry Ford II introduced the Ford Mustang to a large crowd of automotive enthusiasts and curious onlookers alike on April 17, 1964. The curiosity soon turned to sales, as the Ford Motor Company unloaded roughly 22,000 Mustangs to eager buyers across the United States shortly after the debut.
Seeing as how it was not technically a new model year, Mustangs produced from April 17-August 17 became known as 1964 ½ pony cars. The excitement from the general public soon hit Hollywood, as the critically acclaimed James Bond film Goldfinger featured a 1964.5 Mustang in one of the picture’s most prominent scenes just five months after the pony car’s initial launch.
After such a raucous debut in April, the first true model year, the 1965 Ford Mustang, would be introduced in August of 1964. The next pony car had a tough act to follow, but thankfully, the 1965 Mustang delivered.
Unlike the very public unveiling of the inaugural edition, the 1965 Mustang received a much more traditional introduction in August 1964. Having two models debuting in the same year was rather confusing to some, but Ford clarified stating that all units produced from August 17, 1964- through the next year would be known as ‘1965 Ford Mustangs.’
Though it did not receive as much fanfare as the famed 1964.5 pony, Ford fans had plenty of reasons to be excited about the 1965 Mustang. Beginning in the 1965 model year, the Ford Motor Company introduced the popular Mustang Fastback. Unlike traditional Coupes, Mustang fastbacks sported a unique, performance-oriented appearance, and would later become staples throughout the First Generation.
If you are ever unsure if you are looking at a 1964.5 or a 1965 Mustang, simply take a look at the roof design. If it is a Fastback, the vehicle in question is, in fact, a 1965 Ford Mustang!
If you are struggling to tell the difference between 1964.5 muscle cars and 1965 Mustangs, you are certainly not alone! Glancing at them from a distance, 1965 Mustangs do not look much different than their 1964.5 predecessors, but upon further review, a casual onlooker will notice that the Ford Motor Company made a host of subtle, yet noticeable changes to separate the two models.
Let’s take a look at some of the key dissimilarities between 1964.5 and 1965 Mustangs.
1964-1/2 vs 1965 Mustangs
On the surface, your 1965 Mustang closely resembles its 1964.5 brother, but once you take a closer look at the vehicle’s exterior, you will notice a number of changes/modifications that took place between April-August, 1964.
The biggest difference between the 1964.5 and 1965 Mustangs reside both under the hood and inside the cabin. More specifically, 1964.5 pony cars featured generators, while 1965 Mustangs were powered by alternators. Beginning in 1965 through the present day, all Ford Mustangs feature alternators.
Another key shift from the 1964.5 to the 1965 Ford Mustang is the horn style and mounting location. Unlike the previous model in which the horns were large and mounted near the bottom inside corner of the radiator, the 1965 Mustang horns were considerably smaller and placed near the radiator’s outside corner. Additionally, the 1964.5 model included slotted cast iron engine pulleys, while the 1965 Mustang upgraded to a stamped steel material.
The inner cabin also saw a host of changes from the 1964.5 to the 1965 Ford Mustang. With the idea of adding more comfort and versatility, the 1965 Mustang’s front seat could shift either forward or backward thanks to the introduction of the rear sliding adjustment mechanism.
The carpet found in the 1965 Ford Mustang was also a welcomed change. The 1964.5 pony car’s carpet did not reach the rocker panel, but in the later edition, the carpet reached the door sill plate area and introduced both heel and toe pads.
The exterior discrepancies between the 1964.5 and 1965 Mustang are mostly aesthetic, but the general public quickly drew attention to the headlight extension and hood for a key difference. The 1964.5 pony car featured headlight extensions with a beveled edge along the top, while the 1965 Mustang did not, and thus had pinched hood skins.
Introducing a new model just several months after the Mustang’s official debut was a risk, but Iacocca and the rest of the team at Ford made just enough changes to satisfy the masses, without shying away from what made the pony car so popular upon its release!
1965 Mustang Paint Codes
Keeping with the theme of not changing much in less than a year’s time, the 1965 Mustang reprised a number of the prominent paint codes from the 1964.5 model, including Dynasty Green, Silver, Poppy Red, Smoke Gray, and Wimbledon White among others.
In addition to bidding farewell to some of the less popular options, Ford introduced a handful of new Mustang paint codes for the 1965 model year, including several blues, multiple yellows, and much more that would make multiple appearances throughout the remainder of the First Generation.
Here are the 1965 Mustang Paint Codes:
- Raven Black
- Honey Gold
- Dynasty Green
- Arcadian Blue
- Caspian Blue
- Champagne Beige
- Rangoon Red
- Silver Smoke Gray
- Wimbledon White
- Tropical Turquoise
- Prairie Bronze
- Ivy Green
- Vintage Burgundy
- Silver Blue
- Poppy Red
- Twilight Turquoise
- Phoenician Yellow
- Springtime Yellow
- Raven Black
1965 Mustang Sales Numbers
They say that you only get one chance at a first impression, and the 1965 Mustang soon became a fixture in garages all across North America shortly following the genesis of the August 17, 1964, debut. In its first official model year, The Ford Motor company unloaded roughly 559,000 units, which proved to be the second-highest total ever for the pony car.
The success of the 1965 Mustang helped set the wheels in motion for an even bigger boom for the 1966 model. After a strong showing in 1965, Ford distributed a whopping 607,500 1966 muscle cars, marking the most Mustang units sold by an individual model year to this day. Similar to the transition between April-August 1964, not very much changed from the first and second model years, but the success of the 1965 Mustang paved the way for the 1966 model to make history.
1965 Mustang Legacy & Awards
The 1965 Ford Mustang became the first car to ever win a Tiffany Gold Model for Excellence in American Design. Considering that the Ford Mustang collected the coveted award in its first year of production, it is safe to say that the 1965 Mustang put the automotive world on notice from the get-go.
The 1965 Mustang also made its presence felt on the racing circuit shortly after its initial release. Driver Bill Lawton took home the top prize at the year’s NHRA drag racing competition while operating a 1965 Ford Mustang.
Additionally, iconic automotive designer/racer made perhaps Shelby’s biggest contribution to the industry while utilizing a stock 1965 Mustang. A true automotive visionary and a cult figure among Ford fans, Shelby produced a one-of-a-kind vehicle that would later become known as the Shelby GT350. The high-performance car dominated the racing circuit, bringing home three consecutive SCCA National Championships between 1965-1967.
Building off of the success of Goldfinger, the 1965 Mustang also found its way to the silver screen on a number of occasions, most notably in the 1989 drama Lock Up starring Sylvester Stallone and Donald Sutherland.
Find the Best 1965 Mustang Parts at CJ’s
CJ Pony Parts is proud to be your one-stop-shop for the best 1965 Ford Mustang parts around! After many years of wear and tear, it is likely that your factory 1965 Mustang parts are on their last leg. When it comes time to restore or rebuild your classic pony, you have two main choices: Stock versus Restomod. Whether you are looking for OEM direct-replacements or aftermarket enhancements, CJ’s has you covered!
With over 7,000 parts and counting, CJ Pony Parts has it all. Whether you are looking to restore your car’s body & sheet metal, interior, engine compartment, transmission, and more, CJ’s has everything that you need to get your car back on the road again. Additionally, for those of you that are looking for a touch of modernization, CJ’s carries a number of Restomod 1965 Mustang parts that will help you add your own personal touch on your classic pony.
Be sure to note any fitment requirements as well as any previous modifications done before you purchase any 1965 Ford Mustang parts from CJ’s. What are you waiting for? Head over to CJ Pony Parts for the best 1965 Mustang parts on the market today!
Image Credit: The Mustang Source, Automotive Timelines