How did the galloping horse come to be?

When the Ford Motor Company was about to go into production with the first Mustang, the company believed that there was no other in North America that looked like theirs. The company, form the earliest stage of putting this car together, knew that it would be a phenomenal success. And so it was. The Mustang badge is, even now, one of the most-recognised symbols around the world. It is, by all means, the one American muscle car that has achieved recognition around the world.

However, the galloping horse, that is associated with the car’s muscular status, was not the first choice as the representative from the animal kingdom to adorn the car’s grille. In fact, throughout the development phase, the car was nicknamed “Cougar”. But in 1962, when the first concept was about to be readied, the company decided to go with the name “Mustang”, and Phil Clark was assigned to design the logo.

Clark’s first design, which went on the Mustang I sports car concept, featured a galloping pony, running from left to right, against a backdrop of red, white and blue stripes – all signifying the car’s American heritage.

However, this design was further modified to fit the 1963 Mustang II concept’s grille size, and this resulted in a slightly changed design, but this time the horse was galloping towards left. But before the car was actually out in the market, there was a lot of confusion about whether the horse should be galloping towards east or west.

Some believed that the horse should be running towards right, because that’s how people were used to seeing horses run, on racetracks. But finally the designers agreed that the Mustang, essentially a wild horse and a domesticated racer, represents freedom and it should face the way Phil Clark originally drawn it – running towards the left. Interestingly, some other horse-based designs were also considered, such as a chessboard’s knight. Ford’s ‘pony car’ has become one of the most successful cars of all times – it has been featured in numerous movies (including a James Bond flick) and been on the racetrack (it started with the Indianapolis 500).

Many Mustang enthusiasts believe that had the car been named Avanti, Allegro or Torino (those were the names Ford had contemplated using), it wouldn’t have achieved the status it did, despite a great design – it’s just the Mustang’s free spirit that made it one of the most desirable cars of all time.

Published on July 24, 2014
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