The 2014 Silverstone Classic will play host to the official 50th birthday party of one of America’s favourite cars – the Ford Mustang.
The Mustang made its debut in April 1964, proving an immediate success with more than a million sales in its first two years. Its name and the then-revolutionary long bonnet/short boot design inspired an entire new breed of affordable, compact, high performance machines, still affectionately known in America as ‘pony class’ cars.
It also became its own celebrity, appearing in various early James Bond films, including Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever, as well as being driven through the streets of San Francisco by Steve McQueen in Bullitt. The car also featured in chart-topping songs such as Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally.
The Mustang is as popular today as it was nearly fifty years ago, with the car never going out of production. The new sixth generation Mustang was unveiled by Ford today (5th December) who also announced that for the first time in its history, the Mustang will be marketed in right-hand-drive.
The Silverstone Classic is no stranger to such events, having staged similar celebrations for the E-Type Jaguar, Ferrari F40 and the Porsche 911 and is now firmly established as the major event for commemorating key landmarks in automotive history.
Not only will the weekend feature dedicated displays and parades of the ‘Stang’s five decade history, but two thundering races dedicated to the American V8 will take on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. The races will also feature other ‘Yank-tanks’, but the majority for the 50-plus grid is expected to be made up of competition-prepared Mustangs.
The Mustang’s motorsport heritage also dates back to its early days, making its racetrack debut within a month of its release, acting as the pace car at the 1964 Indianapolis 500. Later that year it started racking up its first of many motorsport successes, taking victory in class in the Tour de France road rally. 1965 saw the car entered into the British Touring Car Championship by Alan Mann Racing, driven by Roy Pierpoint, while across the Atlantic, the Shelby GT-350 R was bringing home multiple titles for the Mustang. Many of the models that enjoyed success in this period are still raced at premier historic events such as the Silverstone Classic.
“The Mustang celebrations follow on perfectly from the amazing party we had last summer for the Porsche 911,” said Event Director, Nick Wigley. “Like the 911, the Mustang has been in continuous production for 50 years and has become a global icon among sportscars. We are thrilled that the Mustang Owners Club will be holding its official birthday festivities at the Classic and, with what we expect to be a record number of Mustangs racing on the track, it’s going to be another fantastic celebration at Silverstone.”