Mustang turns 50

Today marks a noteworthy milestone for Ford followers. It is the 50th birthday of the Mustang, arguably the most adored car to wear the blue oval.

To celebrate this landmark, Ford aims to prove that you can pull the same trick twice by placing a Mustang convertible on the observation deck of the Empire State Building in New York, just as it did in October 1965 after a record-breaking year of production.

More than 400,000 Mustangs rolled off showroom floors in its first full year on sale, far exceeding the 100,000 estimated in Ford’s original business plan. It was the fastest-selling new car of all time.

So Robert Leury, who was the manager of the Empire State Building at the time, pitched an idea to Ford in the hope of garnering a slice of the Mustang frenzy that started with its March 25 debut in New York at the 1964 World’s Fair.

Ford set eight engineers the task of chopping a white Mustang convertible into quarters and transporting it to the 86th floor of the world’s tallest building using the passenger lifts.

As a marketing ploy, it was a success for both parties. More than 14,000 people visited the world’s highest showroom on the first day alone and countless more came during the next five months.

In the wake of the stunt, Ford made further history, selling a record 607,568 Mustangs in 1966.

To mark the Mustang’s 50th birthday, Ford today announced it will undertake the same assignment next month, disassembling a new Mustang convertible and rebuilding it 320 metres above the ground.

Half a century on, you might expect a more straight-forward approach, but hoisting the car up by crane is impossible given the height, and lifting it up with a helicopter is also out due to the spire on top of the building. Using the lifts remains the only option.

The new Mustang is almost 18cm longer and 10cm wider than its ancestor, so slicing it to fit precisely through the 2.1m-tall elevator doors is an even tougher ask than it was 50 years ago.

Ford’s engineers will have only six hours to reassemble the car on the observation deck, where it will be on show for just two days (April 16-17).

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