From the archive: on this day in 1964 | The Mustang's sheer power impressed our road testers Ford Mustang's power impresses, Skoda's ne...

From the archive: on this day in 1964

From the archive: on this day in 1964

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The Mustang's sheer power impressed our road testers Ford Mustang's power impresses, Skoda's new factory and Mini's suspension innovation

It’s difficult to overstate the sensation the Mustang’s unveiling caused, as some 22,000 Americans ran to a local Ford dealer to buy the first ever pony car that very day. 

Six months later, we first met a car that would become a legend. 

Three motors were offered in the Mustang: a 2.8-litre straight six, a 4.2-litre V8 and a 4.7-litre V8. Our convertible had the third in tuned-up form, giving it 271bhp (over 210). 

Key options fitted included the four-speed manual gearbox (over the usual three-speed automatic) and the heavy-duty suspension. 

We found that the gearing was far too low for our still-unlimited motorways, the V8 yelling and burning 12mpg over 90mph, but we were impressed at its flexibility and ability to draw two straight black lines for a full quarter mile. 

The suspension upgrade meant the handling was a pleasure for an American car, it staying steady as we powerslid through fast corners, although wet weather required a feather touch, “as the back wheels seem to lose all sense of adhesion”. 

Our other criticisms were of the standard drum brakes, “almost worthless for hard work”, and the convertible body’s shaky rigidity. 

Unbelievably, Yanks could buy a Mustang for a mere £875 (£12,515 in today’s money), but for Brits it was “an expensive animal to have in the stable”, at £1925 (£27,530). Even so, we reasoned, “for those who want a car of outstanding performance, the Mustang is one which is certainly different.”

Skoda's factory opening for 1000MB production 

Skoda’s 70th anniversary coincided happily with the opening of a factory in Mladá Boleslav for the production of its first truly new car for 30 years, the 1000 MB, as its spiritual home in Prague was bursting at the seams in building 300 Octavias daily. The new site was fitted with state-of-the-art machinery from all over the world, already then producing 200 cars daily and estimated by us to have cost £50m (£715m in our money). The 1000 MB itself also impressed, unbothered by the Czechs’ tramlined pavé, albeit rather underpowered.

Mini's breakthrough in ride quality 

The Citroën DS took ride comfort to a new level with its hydropneumatic suspension, but BMC’s comparable Hydrolastic system achieved similar results with less complexity. Having been introduced to acclaim on the Austin/Morris 1100 in 1962, it was in 1964 brought to the Mini. In place of rubber cones and dampers were now units that displaced fluid to one another through pipes, plus on each rear wheel a tuning spring. The Mini’s ride comfort was thereby noticably improved, but so was its cost, so its original design was revived in 1971.

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