Though it was far from the fastest car of the ’60s, the Mustang GT played a big role in building enthusiasm for muscle cars and rarely gets full credit for its contribution to muscle car history. As Car Life magazine put it, “Ford started a round-up of its state-of-the-Total-Performance art to produce the Mustang GT.” But before getting into the go-fast details, let’s review Mustang history a bit.
It is not often that a car comes along and gets to create its own market segment, but that is what happened when Ford introduced the Mustang sporty compact on April 17, 1964. Mustang initiated the all-new “pony car” segment, and the market for the cars was large and long lasting.
There is argument among purists over whether the Mustangs produced prior to September 1964 are 1964 1/2 or 1965 models. However, when it comes to the interesting and collectible GT equipment group, there can be no question, as it was introduced for the first anniversary of the Mustang’s introduction on April 17, 1965.
The Mustang had already become a desirable commodity. Its standard equipment included bucket seats. It had the immediately popular long hood, short deck look. At first it came as a sport coupe (two-door hardtop) and a sporty-looking convertible. In the fall of 1964, a fastback model called the 2+2 was added to the lineup. From the outset, the options list was important in marketing the Mustang. Buyers could add lots of appearance and convenience extras, plus some bolt-on high-performance hardware. However, being based on the low-priced compact Falcon, there was some room for improvement in the go-fast department.
Combining available mechanical features with new visual pieces made the GT package a fairly thorough upgrade. First, the buyer had to order an optional V-8 engine, which at the time included the 225-hp Challenger Special 289 at $157, or the high-performance 271-hp/289-cid engine for $430.
The GT option included quick-ratio steering, disc front brakes, chromed dual exhaust tips that exited through the rear valance panel, a new grille bar with fog lights built in and GT instrumentation—which replaced the Falcon-based instrument panel with five round dials. Throw in GT badging and lower body striping and you had a bargain for around $150.
Although the exact number of Mustangs built with GT equipment is not available, they had a massive following and the installation rate for this option increased even more when Ford later released the appearance items separately for dealer installation.
BASE V-8: Overhead valve. Cast-iron block. Displacement: 289 cid. Bore and stroke: 4.00 x 2.87 inches. Compression ratio: 9.0:1. Brake hp: 210 at 4400 rpm. Torque: 300 at 2800 rpm. Five main bearings. Hydraulic valve lifters. Carburetor: Four-barrel. Code A.
OPTIONAL HI-PO V-8 (K-CODE): Overhead valve. Cast-iron block. Displacement: 289 cid. Bore and stroke: 4.00 x 2.87 inches. Compression ratio: 10.50:1. Brake hp: 271 at 6000 rpm. Torque: 312 at 3400 rpm. Five main bearings. Solid valve lifters. Carburetor: Four-barrel. Code K.
Accent group for hardtop and convertible ($27.70). Accent group for fastback ($14.20). Heavy-duty battery ($7.60). Front disc brakes for V-8s, requires power brakes ($58.00). Full-length console ($51.50). Console for use with air conditioning ($32.20) Equa-Lock limited-slip differential ($42.50). California-type closed emissions system ($5.30). Challenger four-barrel 225-hp V-8 ($162). Challenger 271-hp high-performance V-8 including Special Handling Package and 6.95 x 14 nylon tires ($442.60). Emergency flashers ($19.60). Tinted glass with banded windshield ($30.90). Tinted-banded windshield glass ($21.55). Back-up lights ($10.70). Rocker panel moldings, except fastback coupe ($16.10). Power brakes ($43.20). Power steering ($86.30). Power convertible top ($54.10). Push-button radio with antenna ($58.50). Rally-Pac instrumentation with clock and tachometer ($70.80). Deluxe retractable front seat safety belts ($7.55). Special Handling package, with 225-hp V-8s ($31.30). Padded sun visors ($5.70). Cruise-O-Matic transmission, with 225-hp V-8 ($189.60). Four-speed manual transmission with V-8 ($188). Vinyl roof, on two-door hardtop only ($75.80). Visibility group, includes remote-control outside rearview mirror; day/nite inside rearview mirror, two-speed electric wipers and windshield washers ($36). Wheel covers with knock-off hubs ($18.20). Fourteen-inch wire wheel covers ($45.80). Fourteen-inch styled steel wheels ($122.30). MagicAire heater delete ($32.20 credit). Front seat belts delete ($11.00 credit). 6.95 x 14 4-ply white sidewall tires, except with K code V-8 ($33.90). 6.95 x 14 4-ply black sidewall nylon tires, except with K code V-8 ($15.80). 6.95 x 14 4-ply red band tires, except with K code V-8 ($49.60). 6.95 x 14 4-ply white sidewall tires with K code V-8 (no charge). 6.95 x 14 4-ply black sidewall nylon tires with K code V-8 (no charge).
1965 Mustang GT
No. 1 condition: $33,150
No. 2: $23,205
No. 3: $14,925
No. 4: $6,630
No. 1 condition: $49.400
No. 2: $34,500
No. 3: $22,230
No. 4: $9,880
No. 1 condition: $50,700
No. 2: $35,490
No. 3: $22,815
No. 4: $10,140
NOTE: Add 30 percent for hi-performance engine.