Everyone knows Lee Iacocca was the driving force behind the Ford Mustang , but the man who actually designed what would become one of the most legendary cars in history has passed away.
Gale Halderman, of Tipp City, Ohio, studied at the Dayton Art Institute before getting hired by the Ford Motor Company in 1957. He began there in the Lincoln-Mercury studio, moved to trucks and then to the Ford studio, where he was tapped to come up with a new idea for a small, sporty car. The genesis of the Mustang.
In an interview Halderman gave to WYSO in 2018, he described the tight deadlines and the tacit approval he received from Henry Ford II himself:
"Iacocca gave us 10 days to do a car. We worked day and night and we designed the car, even though we had to do it on a Falcon body. I did one side of the car and my boss did the other side of the car.
"I was the one who sketched the scoop on the side and the long-hood, short-deck proportion and that was favored by Iacocca. Mr. Ford said 'I'm not approving it but I'm not gonna tell you to stop,' and so that was the beginning of the Mustang."
Halderman remained in charge of Mustang design for the 1971-1973 model, and then oversaw the looks of the 1979 Fox body. In fact, he held several design positions with Ford for almost 40 years, and retired in 1997 as Lincoln's director of the Luxury Car studio.
He died at 87 after a battle with liver cancer.
*Images courtesy of Ford Motor Company, Gale Halderman Museum, and Classic Cars Journal
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