Growing up in the Midwest there is usually one question that people will ask about and individual’s family, “Are you a Ford or a Chevy family, and which one do you like better? ” This is especially true in my family, because cars are our passion. I spent most of my teenage life in the passenger seat or under the hood of either my Uncle Denis’ 1969 Ford Mustang or my Uncle Laddy’s 1970 Chevy Camaro. The feud continues on through my cousin who is a Ford Engineer and obviously obsessed with Mustangs, and I who am an Automotive Technician who loves Camaros.
There is not one family gathering that my cousin and I go to where we won’t get into a fight over which is better; The Mustang or, Camaro? I believe the overall comparison of both cars would be the best way to find out which truly is the better car. Throughout this essay I will compare each companies concept, advertising, base model engine size, transmissions, price, interior, extra options, and awards throughout the first generation of each model. Ford introduced the Mustang to the public at the New York World’s Fair in April 1964 and over television.
The timing of the Mustangs launch matched perfectly with the first wave of the baby boomers, which were leaving high school and heading off to work. Unbelievably, no other manufacturer up until that time had any car at all similar or affordable yet. The Mustang was considered youthful and classy. Despite the constant hold ups to produce the car, proposals kept falling on mostly deaf ears. Ford was hurting financially, and upper management wasn’t willing to take such a major risk. Ford finally green lighted the Mustang in mid-1962, which gave the design team eighteen months to design and develop the car.
Not only did the designers finish the project in under eighteen months, but they came in under budget as well, thanks to the decision to use as many existing mechanical parts as possible. Most of the mechanical parts were directly taken from the Ford Falcon, the Mustang’s body shell however was completely different, sporting a longer wheelbase, lower seating position and overall height. The “torque box. ” was a groundbreaking mechanical system that greatly stiffened the Mustang’s body and helped contribute to its excellent handling. The Mustang was first a two seat mid-engine roadster that later became a four seat car.
The base model was well-equipped with a 105 horsepower, 2. 8 L, inline six-cylinder engine, a three or four speed manual transmission, or an automatic transmission and was priced at $2,368. As far as the design itself, Ford stylists threw out the company handbook on design limits. The interior came with carpeting, front bucket seats or an optional front bench seat, a rear bench seat, a sports car style steering wheel, with a floor mounted shifter, and full headliner. The largest appeal to the customers, and the most profitable for the dealerships, came from the options list. And that’s what Ford set out to do.
The Mustang’s optional equipment list allowed buyers for the first time to customize their cars to their tastes and budget. This caused the cars to sale above their base price, making the Mustang a moneymaking car for both the dealer and manufacturer. The Mustang had one of the first AM/FM monaural radios available in any car. Also it had curved side glass , but it was expensive, because the technology to produce curved safety glass was still new. Other options included limited-slip differential, power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, center console, and a vinyl top.
It was Ford’s most successful product launch in history. The Mustang inspired the term pony car, and provoked many imitators. “The Mustang earned a number of auto industry awards in its first year including Motor Trend Car of the Year. The Mustang had pace car duties for the 1964 Indianapolis 500. “The Mustang received the Tiffany Design Award for “excellence in design,” the first automobile to do so. ” (Wikipedia) In its first two years of production, the Ford Motor Company produced nearly 1. 5 million Mustangs, a sales record still unmatched today. It was a success that left General Motors utterly flat-footed.
When Ford introduced the Mustang in 1964 there was no instant reaction from General Motors. By August 1964, four months after the Mustang’s launch, GM realized what they were missing. When the Mustang sold 100,000 units in the first six months, and almost half a million the first year, GM took notice. GM had actually begun initial work on a car as early as 1958, according to a Pontiac designer. Before any official announcement, rumors began running within the automotive press during April 1965 that Chevrolet was preparing a competitor to the Ford Mustang, code-named Panther. As the launch date neared, the car still had
no name. The Camaro had been called many different names by GM and the press, including Nova, Panther, Chaparral, and Wildcat. On June 28, 1966, General Motors held a live press conference in Detroit. It would be the first time in history that 14 cities were hooked up in real time for a press conference by telephone lines. Chevrolet General Manager announced a new car line with a name beginning with the letter C such as the Corvair, Chevelle, Chevy II, and Corvette. The new Camaro was unveiled at a press preview in Detroit, Michigan, on September 12, 1966, and then later in Los Angeles, California, on September 19, 1966.
The Automotive press asked Chevrolet product managers, “What is a Camaro? ” and was told it was “a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs. ” (Biggs) Concerned with the success of the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet executives realized that their compact sporty car, the Chevy Corvair, would not be able to make as much money as the Mustang due to its rear engine design, as well as falling sales because of Ralph Nader’s comments in his book Unsafe At Any Speed, (Nader) he comments about safety protocols, regulations, and what should be done to make the road a safer place .
So the Camaro was advertised as having the same conventional rear wheel drive, front engine configuration as the Mustang and Chevy II Nova. The design for GM’s “Mustang fighter” was given to the GM Design Center’s Chevrolet Studio. The designers did clay mock-ups of many different models. GM was trying to keep the cost as low as possible; however, to compete with the Mustang, they decided to stick with just two models. The Camaro officially went on sale in dealerships on September 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year.
The Camaro would be available as a 2-door, 2+2 seating, coupe, or convertible. Its base engine model was a 3. 8 Liter Inline 6 engine rated at 140 horse power with a three or four speed manual transmission, or the optional 2 speed automatic transmission. The base price was set at $2400. One of the executives from GM said, “A car for every purse and purpose. ” (Sloan) The instrument panel is slanted in and downward, and then covered with foam crash pad, color matched to the interior.
In the center of the panel is a black finished panel with a bright molding holding the radio, ashtray, and controls for the heater. A glove box was installed in the right side of the instrument panel. Bucket seats were standard equipment on all models. Vinyl seat coverings came standard, as did door-to-door carpeting, and the vinyl door panels were imprinted with a separate armrest. Other options included a fold-down rear seat, headrests, and an AM/FM stereo radio, which could be combined with an 8-track stereo tape player.
Air conditioning could also be installed. Some new GM options included, cruise control, remote-controlled outside rear view mirror, shoulder harnesses, and a space saver spare tire. The Camaro was presented with pace car duties for the 1967 Indianapolis 500, and Chevy built three special Camaro pace cars for the occasion. Looking at the overall comparison of the 1964 Mustang and the 1967 Camaro, Ford was the most innovative by looking at the market and recognizing that a younger population would like a nice cheaper sports car.
Even though Ford was first on the scene GM’s advertising campaign was much better at getting the news and American people excited about the Camaro. When it came to shear power the Chevy Camaro again over took the Mustang, by having a larger engine with a 45 horsepower difference. The transmission packages were nearly the same except the Mustang offered the stronger 4 speed automatic transmission while the Camaro only had a 2 speed automatic. The Price of both cars was nearly the same.
Ford’s Mustang was cheaper, but with all the extra options you could add on, buyers would be finding themselves easily going over the base price. While GM’s Chevy Camaro had multiple packages designed to stay close to the base price. The Camaro had a new futuristic look to the dashboard and the seating position was aggressive compared to the mundane bench seating of the Mustang. The Mustang is no mule it has won more awards than the Camaro and was the driving force behind its creation, but the Chevy Camaro was built slowly and done right the first time.
The Ford Mustang may be the first “pony car” but Chevy sure did do it better. Works cited Biggs, Henry. Wikipedia. n. d. 27 12 2006 <http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Chevrolet_Camaro>. Nader, Ralph. Unsafe At Any Speed. Grossman Publishers, 1966. RWC Networking. Classic Pony Cars. n. d. 25 2 2011 <http://classicponycars. com/history. html>. Sloan, Alfred P. My Years with General Motors. Crown Business, 1990. Wikipedia. n. d. 22 2 2011 <http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ford_Mustang>.