May 11 2015

Mystery Foto #19 Solved: The 1962 Mustang II Prototype Built By Dearborn Steel Tubing

This weekend's Mystery Foto featured a unique historic automobile.

Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify the automobile

1963 Mustang II Prototype

  • Which company built this automobile after receiving the chassis?

Dearborn Steel Tubing (DST). DST would also later build the Mustang III "Two-Seater" Prototype. Vincent Gardner would be the designer and stylist for both automobiles.

  • When and where was it introduced?

October 6, 1963, at Watkins Glen Raceway in Watkins Glen, New York

  • At its introduction, what was the explanation why this automobile was built?

At an afternoon press conference the day before the Watkins Glen Grand Prix. Lee Iacocca told newsmen: "The Mustang II is one of a series of recent idea or show cars Ford Division and Ford  Motor Company have built to test public reaction to syling and functional innovations...Showing these vehicles to people like you- and to large segments of the public at auto shows and other special events- gives us a pre-test of likely customer response to styling and mechanical innovations we may be considering for future production models."

  • What were the unique features of this automobile?

As per Mustang360, "Mustang II has several unique, cobbled together features, such as its ill-fitting hardtop, bumperless look and headlamps with metal grates, decorative rear bench seats and rims with a Mustang II center cab." In this article, Mustang360 provide an up close profile of the 1963 Mustang II Prototype.

Congrats to Robert Greenhaus, Greg O. Tim Ivers, Steve Lucas, Syd, Hugh, Frank Femenias (See Femenias' Findings), and Gregg D. Merksamer  (see Gregg's Phot Files) for correctly identifying the Mustang II. Kudos to Robert Greenhaus, Greg O. and Steve Lucas for identifying Dearborn Steel Tubing as the builder of this unique automobile.


Howard Kroplick

The 1964 1/2 Mustang III "Two-Seater" Prototype will be on display for the first time on Long Island this Sunday in Kings Point.

At the 2014 Ford Product Development Center Car and Truck Show, the Mustang II was displayed with the Mustang I and Mustang III.

Greg's Photo Files (Submitted by Gregg D. Merksamer- Historian of the New York International Auto Show)

1964 International Auto Show in the New York Coliseum. Photo by future Pierce Arrow Society publications director Bernard J. Weis.

Femenias' Findings (Submitted by Frank Femenias)

1963 Mustang II

1962 Mustang I

1961 Aventura Concept


May 07 2015 Robert Greenhaus 11:42 PM

Identify the automobile:
• 1963 Mustang II Prototype
Which company built this automobile after receiving the chassis?
• Dearborn Steel Tubing (DST)
When and where was it introduced?
• October 6, 1963, at Watkins Glen Raceway in Watkins Glen, New York.
At its introduction, what was the explanation why this automobile was built? 

• Lee Iacocca wanted a new sports car with a novel layout to compete with the Corvair Monza, leading to the mid-engined Mustang I concept car; but Ford wanted a car with a conventional layout and a back seat that would be inexpensive to produce.  The Mustang II prototype was developed to introduce the new concept to the public prior to the introduction of the production Mustang, as the “poor man’s Thunderbird.
What were the unique features of this automobile?
• Electric trunk release
• Emergency brake concealed underneath the car
• Rubber was placed between each leaf spring to keep them from squeaking at the auto shows
• The gas pedal is hinged at the base like the Falcon instead of free hanging as found in Mustangs.


May 08 2015 Colleen Albertson 12:23 AM

I think this is the 1964 1/2 Mustang III DST built by Dearborn Steel Company, when they received it from Ford Motor company they shortened the chassis wheelbase installed a high performance Engine & Special transmission in it and gave it a fiberglass body. It was a special Show Car or Prototype that was used for showing by Ford at the Caravan Custom car Shows. I think it might of been the car that was introduced at the 1964 Words Fair in Flushing Meadows Queens, NY

May 08 2015 Greg O. 11:44 AM

Identify the automobile
-1963 Mustang II prototype displayed in front of Ford’s styling studio

Which company built this automobile after receiving the chassis?
-Dearborn Steel Tubing (DST)

When and where was it introduced?
October 6, 1963, Ford/Lee Iacocca unveiled the Mustang II at Watkins Glen Raceway in Watkins Glen, New York. After Watkins Glen, the Mustang II was placed on the auto show circuit until early 1964.

At its introduction, what was the explanation why this automobile was built?
-From the Henry Ford blog;
‘The Mustang II previewed the production Ford Mustang we all know and love, but the concept car was designed and built after the production Mustang project already was well underway! Why? It’s a case of managing public expectations.

Most Mustang histories start with the 1962 Mustang I, but devoted pony fans know that Mustang I was an entirely separate project from the production car. Ford built the “Mustang Experimental Sports Car” (its original name – the “I” was a retrospective addition) to spark interest in the company’s activities. Ford was going back into racing and looking for a quick way to create some buzz about the exciting things happening in Dearborn. The plan worked a bit too well. When Mustang I debuted at Watkins Glen in October 1962, and then hit the car show circuit, the public went crazy and sent countless letters to Ford begging the company to put the little two-seater into production.

At the same time Mustang I was being built, another team at Ford was working on the production Mustang that would debut in April 1964. Mustang I’s popularity created a problem: Everyone loved the two-seat race car, but would they feel the same about the four-seat version? The solution was to build a new four-seat prototype closely based on the production Mustang’s design.’

What were the unique features of this automobile?
-From the Henry Ford blog;
‘Ford designers removed the front and rear bumpers, altered the headlights and grille treatment, and fitted Mustang II with a removable roof. While the car looked different from the production Mustang, a few of the production car’s trademark styling cues were retained, including the C-shaped side sculpting and the tri-bar taillights. Mustang II also consciously borrowed from Mustang I, employing the 1962 car’s distinct white paint and blue racing stripes. Conceptually and physically, the four-seat Mustang II formed a bridge linking the 1962 Mustang I with the 1965 production car. Mustang II was a hit when it debuted at Watkins Glen in October 1963, and when the production version premiered six months later, there were few complaints about the four seats instead of two.’

May 08 2015 Greg O. 12:01 PM

It would appear that the Mustang even has a Facebook page of its’ own;

May 09 2015 Tim Ivers 9:23 AM

Looks like a ‘63 Mustang II Prototype (Concept).
Had been kept in storage over the years, in Maine and Detroit.
Had a removable top.

May 09 2015 Steve Lucas 8:56 PM

That’s the 1963 Mustang II Prototype or concept car. It was built by Dearborn Steel Tubing and introduced to the public on October 6, 1963 at the Watkins Glen Raceway, Watkins Glen, NY. The reason given for its construction was “to bridge the public’s perception of the Mustang I two-seater from 1962 and the production Mustang to come in April, 1964”. Some of its unique features include a removable hard-top; no front or rear bumbers; and the nose, with its grille-covered headlights, is integral with the two front fenders.

May 10 2015 Hugh 12:10 AM

It is the Ford prototype known as the Mustang II. Built in 1963 under Henry Ford II’s direction. The Idea was to get some buyers back who were upset with the ending of the 2 place T-bird and to go after the import sports car market. This car was shown at the US Gran Prix in 1963. It was based on a Falcon platform with a 108” wheelbase. The mid 1964 production Mustang would be first shown at the New York World Fair. Had Edsel Ford lived longer I am sure there would have been a Ford sports car sooner. Benson and William Clay hosted the Sports Car Review at the museum when I was a kid in Michigan.

May 10 2015 S. Berliner, III 8:54 AM

No clue; possibly the first Mustang convertible?  The headlight treatment reminds me of those gross, bloated, big Thunderbirds.  My; no telling what oddities one finds when one strays off the LIMP RoW (not counting Shelbys, Chryslers, or cross arms with insulators - way to go, Sammy!).  :·)  Sam, III

P. S. - Dave - be sure to take Sammy to that mysterious old electronics shack near the OBVR bridge <>.

May 11 2015 frank femenias 10:43 AM

The original Mustang II, a concept car? derived from one of the early prototype design of the production Mustang, not the Pinto-powered Mustang II they were pushing on the odd-even gas lines of the ‘70s. It was first displayed on October 1963 in Detroit, designed by Mr. Gail Halderman under Joe Oros at Ford Motor Company. Hal Sperlich was also responsible for its design under the Gene Bordinat team at Ford. Eventually was used in Arizona by the Ford Division in the original Mustang commercials, had its roof chopped off as a convertible, and never returned as promised to Mr. Halderman, its primary designer. Was intended to be a ‘personal car’ with smaller rear seats (all new ideas of the time).

May 11 2015 frank femenias 10:44 AM
(Scroll down to ‘The Strange Journey That Led To The Original Ford Mustang’)

May 11 2015 Howard Kroplick 12:32 PM

From Greg D. Merksamer:
HI, HOWARD!  Mystery Friday Foto #19 is most-familiar to me as the Ford Mustang II concept given its world debut at the October, 1963 U.S. Grand Prix in upstate Watkins Glen, NY.  It was Ford’s more practical four-seat follow-up to the fully-open two-seat Mustang I shown at the same race one year prior in 1962.  The Mustang II was also treated to an encore showing at the 1964 International Auto Show in the New York Coliseum (the above photo was taken by future Pierce Arrow Society Publications Director Bernard J. Weis) to herald the production Mustang’s unveiling at the New York World’s Fair the Monday after the show closed. - See You At Greenwich!  GREGG D. MERKSAMER, Historian of the NY Intl. Auto Show

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