The History of the Mustang Logo
When Ford was working on designs for a new car in the early 1960s many names were considered, including Allegro, Avanti, Torino and Cougar. When the dust settled, the Blue Oval settled on Mustang, and like its iconic pony logo, it was off to the races.
Over the past 50 plus years, there have been numerous versions of this equine, which is always galloping west (left). Lee Iacocca explained the rational behind that positioning, by saying Mustangs are wild horses, not domesticated racers. He said this after the horse was placed the opposite way, to look the way it does on a horse racing track.
In a recent article on Autoweek.com by Jake Lingeman, he takes a look back at the history of the famous trademark.
With four body designs jockeying for approval, Ford gave the nod to Gale Halderman’s “Cougar,” which featured a big cat sprinting in the grille. That was the car that would eventually be sold as the 1965 Ford Mustang. Another of the names under consideration, Cougar, went to the Mercury division, replacing the Cyclone marque.
The Autoweek article explains the name “Mustang” first appeared in a 1962 concept called Mustang I. Designer Phil Clark is credited with the creation of the galloping horse badge with the red, white and blue bars behind, signaling the car’s American heritage.
In 1963 a second concept was made called Mustang II, but Clark’s logo was too tall to fit the grille. That is when design studio modeler Charles Keresztes was called in to create a new version of the logo specifically for the Mustang II, and the eventual production car.
“The II was the first public appearance of the pony in the ‘corral’ in October 1963. The final logo had the horse in a sprinting position with its tail out horizontally instead of angled upward,” states the Autoweek article.
Ford considered many different designs for the Mustang logo including one that looked like a profile view of a knight from a chess game.
The red, white and blue tri-bar was replaced with a Roman numeral 2 for the Mustang II production vehicle. The horse’s head was more upright than in previous renditions.The tribar returned for the 1994 SN95 Mustang after it was on hiatus during the Fox Body years.
The Autoweek article quoted Frank Thomas, who worked on the name research, as saying that the Mustang rose to the top “because it had the excitement of the wide-open spaces and was American as all hell.”
That American pony continues to run across Mustang grilles to this day.