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History of the Marques - American Cars

Mustangs
'67 Ford Mustang
'65 Ford Mustang
'72 Ford Mustang

Thunderbirds
'56 Ford Thunderbird

Cobras
Shelby Cobra
Shelby Cobra "Daytona"

Ford GTs
Ford GT 40 Mark I
Ford GT 40 Mark II

Corvettes
'67 427 Corvette



Mustangs(History Of The Marques)
Ford prints unavailable at this time. Please make inquiry.


The first production Mustang some say was a '64 1/2 model others claim that it was really a '65 model introduced a little bit early. Nevertheless the cars are the same on the exterior. What ever the year, it was probably the most sought after car on introduction in the history of new car sales. Part of its appeal was that it was affordable, sporty, and available with many variations and with different engines.
In the early 60s, Ford, needing to counter growing interest in foreign cars, both economy and sporty models, as well as having been broad sided by the successful introduction of the Monza, a sporty Corvair, worked feverishly to introduce a car for the baby boomers coming on line as consumers ready to purchase their first car. The name was borrowed from a nifty 2 seat proto racer that had been introduced and had wowed the public at the Watkins Glen race course on October 7, 1962. It later toured the car show circuit in the U.S. sometimes generating checks from individuals un phased that there was no intent on producing it.
The car that was to become the Mustang was developed from a Falcon Sprint chassis. It had a lower silhouette, a longer hood and short deck. Bucket seats, a floor shifter and sporty appointments were standard. The car was stunning to look at, much like the Mustang II show car that was developed to gauge audience response. There were no four door versions, only two doors in convertible, formal hardtop (notch back), and fastback bodies. The Mustang was one of those cars anyone could afford and drive to the supermarket, all the while exuding an image of youthful exuberance.
This new car's proportions remained basically the same, with new sheet metal; during model year changes, until the fuel crisis of the early 70s. Economy, compactness and fuel efficiency became more important to the way consumers viewed their transportation.
From '65(64 1/2) to '73 there was an assortment of engines available, from six cylinders to high performance V8s, and economy trim packages to upscale appointments. Today all models are sought after as special interest automobiles, and the Mustang's introduction spurred GM, Chrysler, and AMC to imitate it and produce their own "Pony Cars".

(see paintings of these cars in Ford Powered Autos

"Red Stallion" '65 GT Mustang, 289 CI engine.

"Waiting for its Owner" '67 Blue GT Mustang, 289 CI engine.

"Southwest Outlaw" '72 Yellow Mach I Mustang, 351 Cleveland H. O. engine.


Thunderbirds(History Of The Marques)

Ford prints unavailable at this time. Please make inquiry.


'55-'57 Thunderbird
When the American soldiers came back from the war in Europe in 1945, some of them brought back MG TCs and latter 356 Porsches. Not since the era of the Stutz Bearcat and Mercer Runabout in the early part of the century had Americans fallen in love with small light autos built purely for fun. In the U.S. small car manufacturers like Muntz or Kaiser tempted the public with home grown sport scars, the most interesting one being the Kaiser Darin. By the beginning of the '50s General Motors had decided to build the Corvette. It debuted in 1953, but imitated European sports cars like the Jaguar XK 120 in that it had six cylinders and side curtains. With the pressure on, Ford was forced to come out with the Thunderbird in 1955. It was more a boulevard cruiser than a spartan sport scar. It came with a V8, roll up windows, power convertible top with a removable hardtop, and handled much like Ford's larger sedans which it resembled stylistically. It was so beautiful to behold that it became a 50s icon. See " '56 Thunderbird" Ford Powered Autos. Fitted with a 292 Cid engine which Americans preferred over a six this 2 seater led Corvette 5 to 1 in sales (53,166 units to 10,506) for the 3 years it was in existence. Unfortunately Ford management had second thoughts about it and no sooner was it being produced than work was begun on a 4 seat '58 model which sold many more units justifying the thinking of Ford bean counters. All three years are similar in appearance except that the '57 model sprouted graceful fins and sported heavier, more sculpted bumpers. Today it is a highly sought after special interest automobile


Cobras(History Of The Marques)

Licensing has been granted by Carroll Shelby Licensing, Inc. Copyright@ 1999 by Rick Herron & Carroll Shelby Licensing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Cobra 427
The Cobra was the brainstorm of the Texan Carroll Shelby, who in 1959 with Roy Salvadori won the 1959 24 hours of Le Mans for Aston Martin. In the sixties he teamed up with Ford to place first 260 Cid then 289 Cid and finally 427/428 Cid engines in the small and light British built AC Aces, and renamed them Cobras. The 289s generating 271hp began winning on American tracks beginning in 1963. The weight ratio of 48/52% front to rear and lightness gave the car speed and agility. Later 427s like the car in the painting "An Italian Bad Dream" (see Ford Powered Autos) were even faster. Ultimately 400 hp was coaxed from some Cobra engines giving the car an acceleration of 4.2 second from 0 to 60 mph and a top speed of 153 mph. Elapsed time for 1/4 miles was 13.8 seconds at 112 mph. Even by today's standards these speeds and times are extraordinary. The Chevrolet Corvette had more than met its match. By the end of 1963 the Cobra had won the 1963 USRRC championship, and has become one of the most sought after sports car in the U.S. and around the world.

Cobra "Daytona" Coupe

In the early 60s Henry Ford II, wanting to get back into racing after other American manufacturers had ignored the American Automobile Association's ban on racing, decided to cut development costs by buying Ferrari and thus race the red prancing horses for Ford. He was also looking for a prestige mark to dominate International racing. Enzo Ferrari agreed to the sale until Henry insisted that Ferrari race at Indianapolis. Enzo feeling that the Indianapolis of the early 60s with front engine race cars was hardly a place for Ferraris to race changed his mind, and Ford furious that he had lost the purchase decided to beat the Ferraris at their own game. The car initially elected to do the job was the Cobra. Because the little Cobras were of a design dating from the early '50s they were not very aerodynamic and their top end was not fast enough to win against the dominant Ferraris. To meet the goal of winning Le Mans it needed a cleaner, more slippery body. Designer Pete Brock had the old roadster bodies removed and replaced with a beautiful coupe body he designed ( see painting " King of the Mountain" Racing Cars). It was sleek and gave the car about 20 mph more top end, and this was at a time when aerodynamics was still a black art. There were no wind tunnel tests or mathematical formulas used to develop the design. It was a totally intuitive effort that worked wonderfully. Only six of these cars were made and today command a price of over a million dollars. FIA rules allowed it to run. Since the chassis and engine remained the same as the roadster, they could be grouped as part of the same production run, thus meeting the minimum requirement to allow them to run in the GT class against the Ferrari 250 GTOs. The cars did not finish at Daytona in '64 where they were first raced but instead acquired the nickname. These cars then went on to win at Sebring and races in Europe, but due to politics and a cancellation of the final race did not clinch the title. In '65 Shelby tried again scoring nine wins and taking the title from Ferrari.
For more on Ford's International racing effort see the Ford GTs (History Of The Mark)


Ford GTs (History Of The Marques)
Prints unavailable at this time. Please make inquiry.


Though considered a fabulous race car when it first began racing and miles ahead of the competition in the '60s the Ford GT has only become more and more appreciated as time goes by and has attracted many younger enthusiasts. It is considered by many as an American race car but only the GT 40 MK IV is truly so. The GT 40 MK I and II are actually a result of effort and contributions by British and American engineers and designers. Henry Ford II went shopping for a race vehicle after Enzo Ferrari pulled out of an agreement to sell his company to Ford. The problem was that Mr. Ferrari wanted to control the racing effort and was none too happy about having his Ferraris race at Indianapolis which he considered an unsophisticated form of racing. Ford's main interest was to generate public enthusiasm for his company by racing and winning at this most prestigious of American races. Upset by the rebuke he decided to beat Ferrari at his own game by taking the World Championship crown away from the Italian. The only place to do it was at the GT circuits in Europe and the U.S. such as Le Mans in France, and Sebring and Daytona in the U.S. Winning overall at Le Mans would make Ford Motor Company the first American manufacturer in the history of the race to do so. It is considered by international racing enthusiasts as the ultimate test of the racing car designer's art. A race that lasts 24 hours at some of the highest speeds in racing anywhere will punish a car terribly, and to survive and win is a great accomplishment.


GT 40, MK I
In 1963 Roy Lunn, the program director for Ford's racing effort visited Eric Broadly in England and was impressed with his design of a Ford powered Lola. This car became the basis for the GT 40. It was given its designation due to its low height of only 40 inches and soon Ford was making improvements to it. First campaigned in 1964 the MK Is with the 289 engines were unable to win due to teething problems. These 2400 pound cars fitted with four downdraft Weber carburetors were able to reach over 200 MPH. With the small block, success was not to come until later. First built by Ford Advanced Vehicles (FAV) in England the racing works were taken over by J.W. Automotive Engineering and then sold to John Wyer, director of FAV, in 1966/67. With sponsorship from Gulf Oil the cars were painted light blue and orange. The Gulf GT 40 (see paintings Racing Cars) with a 302 Cid replacing the 289 Cid produced 425 hp and was able to reach a top speed of 205 mph. The small block engine car gained glory when the FIA, the governing body for Le Mans, outlawed the 7 liter engines, some say to exclude the MK II s from racing there. In 1968 the Gulf GT 40s won the majority of international championship races as well as Le Mans that year with car no. 6 and again at Le Mans with the same car in 1969. In this last 24 hour endurance race two of the Fords faced off against 20 Ferraris and Porsches and achieved victory none the less. Quite a few road versions of the GT 40s were produced, and in the 80s and 90s other small manufacturers have produced replicas, many which are quite potent, but still expensive to acquire.


GT 40, MK II
After 1964 it looked as if the small block race car would do better with a larger engine. The MK II was originally an experiment, that is a GT 40 MK I with a 427 side oiler that had been developed for NASCAR racing. In 1966 it raced at the 24 hour endurance at Daytona. It was no longer an experiment, but a race winner. Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby won in a Mark II prepared by the Carroll Shelby racing team. In that race the Mark IIs knocked down all 20 prototype race records and all but 4 in the sports car category. At Sebring the Mark II finished 1,2, and 3 and again at Le Mans, France a 1,2,3 victory was achieved with Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon finishing first at an average lap speed of 142.979 mph; ten miles faster than the previous Ferrari record. In 1966 Ford went away with both the GT World Prototype Championship as well as the World Sports Car Championship. In 1967 the Mark IV was developed in Dearborn without outside help. Again Ford won at Sebring and Le Mans. Though loosing to the Ferrari 330 P4s at Daytona it came away with the World Manufacturers Championship. It is believed that the rules governing body for international racing, overwhelmed that an American street V8 could so outperform the best that European racing had to offer, banned the 7-liter engines to keep Ford from the winners circle. It did not work. The original GT 40s were improved upon by John Wyer's Gulf Racing and came back to win in 1968 and 1969. Ford had pulled out and onother dynasty would appear in the form of Porsche racing cars.


GT 40s Racing Record


1966-World Prototype Trophy

1966- World Sports Car Championship

1967- World Sports Car Championship

1966/1969- 4 times- Le Mans 24 hour endurance race

From 1965- Ford GT 40s won 33 races most of them with the small block. This "Detroit Iron" beat sophisticated Ferrari V12s and Porsche flat 8 and 12 cylinder engines. The Europeans learned to respect the winning ability of the heavy, crude in their eyes American engines found in the American passenger cars; and Americans were finally able to have pride in their ability to produce fine racing cars, of course with help from their British cousins. International sports car racing would not have a strong U.S. presence until the appearance of the Dodge Viper in the late 1990s, but that's another story still playing itself out.


Corvettes(History Of The Marques)
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67 Corvette 427

1963 was the year that Chevrolet offered both a convertible and coupe body for its Corvette. Earlier designs were all convertibles with a removable fiberglass hardtop as an option. The design of this stunning model was derived from design chief Bill Mitchell's concept car the Stingray racer. The new car's wheelbase was trimmed four inches from the earlier Corvette models. The passengers were placed between the rails of the ladder frame instead of riding on top of an X frame, and independent rear suspension was added. It came with a 327 Cid engine of 250, 300 or 340 hp depending on carbureting, and a 360 hp fuel injection. Though a 3 speed manual and a Powerglide automatic were offered the most popular transmission was the Borg-Warner four speed. The public went wild over the new '63 coupe with its boat tailed fastback and they especially loved the split window treatment on its rear window which in '64 became one piece. A 3/8 scale model of the body was tested at the Cal Tech wind tunnel for aerodynamic refinements, something that very few auto manufacturers were doing at that time.
It was a better performing car than the earlier Vettes and was an automobile one could be proud to drive in Europe, the home of the sports car. A number of design changes were made throughout the five years of production and there were many engine options. The 1967 model was probably the cleanest design (see paintings"A Pilots Dream" and "Smokin In the Smokies" in Corvettes and GM). Because of the competition from the 427 Cobra a Chevrolet 427 was deemed necessary and provided for the '66 and '67 model years. This engine, a bored out 396 was capable of 390 or 425 hp depending on compression and with the proper gear ration could reach 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds, for the larger horse powered option. and reach a top end of 140 mph. For '67 two new 427s were available capable of 400 and 435 hp and the L88 a race engine produced 560 bhp. Of all the Corvettes the '63 through '67 are the most prized by collectors.