1965 Ford Mustang fastback

Pony Week: 1964.5 Ford Mustang vs. 1965 Ford Mustang

1964.5 Ford Mustang at 2010 CIAS


Sometimes, model years attached to some vehicles make absolutely no sense. Accepting the fact we commonly see vehicles of future model years released ahead the actual calendar start, there are times the introduction is so deep in the previous year it is hard to classify it from the future year. Advertised as a 2015 model year car, the Audi A3 sedan is now publicly available. For European automakers, the choice has been made to play down model years with the introduction of a new vehicle leading to some confusion among the public.

Introduced in April of 1964, the first-generation Ford Mustang was a high-profile culprit of an early start out of the gate. Despite the fact there were only four months completed in 1964, Ford Motor Company well forward and deemed the Mustang a 1965 model year car. A 1965 car on paper, many Ford fans have instead unofficially recognized the early Mustangs as 1964.5 vehicles. Not only affected by its production and sale period, 1964.5 Ford Mustang or early 1965 Mustang models have several other good reasons to encourage individuality from later 1965 pony cars. For what proved to be a long first year for the Mustang, 1965 presented some significant equipment differences.





Perhaps the most notable ways to discriminate a 1964.5 Mustang from a later 1965 Mustang is found under the hood. When the Ford Mustang was introduced, there were two engine choices consisting of an economical inline six-cylinder or a more performance-minded V-8 derived from the Ford Falcon (the donor for much of the Mustang‘s mechanical hardware. Though these engine layouts remained throughout the 1965 model year, the early Ford Mustang’s engines were smaller and less powerful.

The standard six-cylinder powered 1964.5 Ford Mustang possessed a 170 cubic-inch engine generating 101 horsepower. Later 1965 Mustangs had a 200 cubic-inch boasting a more favourable 120 horsepower. As for the V-8 powerplant, Ford originally implanted a 260 cubic-inch version of the Windsor engine block with a 289 cubic-inch also available with a four-barrel carburetor. The 260 cubic-inch engine was shortly replaced with a two-barrel carbureted 289 V-8 on later 1965 Ford Mustangs. Another difference on some 1964.5 Ford Mustangs is the presence of a DC generator whereas all later 1965 models are equipped with alternators.

Ford Mustang collectors often describe early 1965 models using unique letters in their VIN codes. The original 170 cubic-inch six-cylinder Mustang is expressed as a U code. A Ford Mustang with the 260 cubic-inch V-8 is defined as an F code model.



Before the time of traction control, electronic stability control, the 1965 Ford Mustang was also introduced at a time when disc brakes were considered exotic. Not unlike most American vehicles at the time, four-wheel drum brakes were standard on the 1965 Mustang. On the 1964.5 models, buyers had no option from the factory to upgrade stopping power. However, on late 1965 Ford Mustangs, front disc brakes were offered as a $58 extra.

By comparison, the 2015 Ford Mustang is standard equipped with four-wheel anti-locking disc brakes and AdvanceTrac electronic stability control.


Ford Shelby GT350 at 2010 CIAS


New, Iconic Models

Upon introduction, the Ford Mustang was available with a coupe or convertible body style. With two vehicle types proving popular during the early production run of the Mustang, a third fastback version was added later in the model year. The 2+2 Fastback featured a more sporting temperament that included functional flow-through vents in the place of rear passenger side windows. Since the Ford Shelby GT350 was only offered with the four-passenger fastback model of the Mustang, none of the early 1964.5 models was given Shelby treatment.

The late-1965 model Ford Mustangs were also offered with a GT package. Equipped with a more powerful than-stock 225-horsepower V-8 engine as well as fog lamps and body striping, the 1965 Ford Mustang GT’s addition continues to be very coveted.

With changes occurring even in its initial model year of introduction, the Ford Mustang has also underwent many more alterations through the 49 other production years. Despite the addition of new features, the subtraction of others and the changing shape of the Mustang, the pony car has always pressed ahead to acknowledge modern culture.

Information and photo source: Ford Motor Company