More than a million Mustangs were sold in the first two years of production. The styling was so universally loved that it won the Tiffany Award for Excellence in American Design. Ford entered the 1965 model year with the most popular car in the country selling as fast as they could produce it. The Mustang, which went on sale as a 1964 model on April 17, 1964, sold over 100,000 units in its first three months in production and set a record of over 418,000 sold in its first year on the market.
Based on the successful Falcon platform, the Mustang was virtually without competition at its introduction, having only the rear-engined, six-cylinder Corvair from Chevrolet, and the new Valiantbased Barracuda from Plymouth as counterparts. The Mustang's success lay in its remarkably simple, yet sporty and elegant styling, its low base price, and the capability of the consumer to "build" the car however he liked from the long optional equipment list. A new body style was added at the beginning of the model year also-the 2+2 Fastback Coupe.
This sporty looking model would turn out to be one of the slower-selling Mustang models, but at the time, fastback models were the "in" thing, and every new sporty car line seemed to have a fastback or semi fastback model. Other changes at the beginning of the model year included a change in standard engine from the 170 CID Six to the 200 CID Six, and the 260 CID V8 was dropped as the base V8 engine. A new GT option package included such dressup items as driving lights, wood-grained interior trim and additional gauges with the 289 CID V8 engine.
There was other news from Ford for 1965, but it was overshadowed by the Mustang success story. The biggest news was the total redesign of the volume-leading full-size Fords. The 1965 model year would prove very similar to the 1955 season, in that each of the three low-priced full-size lines (Chevrolet, Ford and Plymouth) fielded all-new models. Over the next few years this led to some intense competition that would benefit everyone in the form of increased features and continually updated styling, at a relatively steady price. For Ford, the 1965 Custom and Galaxie were the best looking cars that had come out of Dearborn yet. However, it was a case of follow the leader, as Ford (and Plymouth) adopted the popular Pontiac "stacked headlight" treatment.
This design feature would be used for three model years on Ford full-size cars. Other styling traits of the new Fords included more slab-sided styling, with chrome highlights, and more squared-off front and rear treatments. Rooflines were also more angular, with the continuation of the successful Fastback theme on 2-Door Hardtops. Mid-sized Fairlane models, while still based on the 1964 body, were restyled to mimic the new full-size Ford. Falcon and Thunderbird received mostly trim and detail changes to differentiate them from the previous year.