The man that penned the original Ford Mustang, Gale Halderman, has just passed away at the age of 87 due to liver cancer.
Halderman began his automotive career after graduating with a bachelor's degree from the Dayton Art Institute in 1954. He was then immediately hired by Ford designer Eugene Bordinat. He was first tasked as a designer in the Lincoln-Mercury Studio.
He was then transferred to Ford's design studio in order to help out other designers in both car and truck design. He was also able to help design various concepts in the company's Corporate Advanced Studio where he helped design concepts like the Gyron, Astrio, as well as the Levacar.
But perhaps his most well-known work was the design for the first-ever Mustang. According to Halderman himself, the original sketch that was chosen was something that he drew at home on his porch. Eventually, his original design was combined with other styling elements like the Lincoln Mark II. In addition, the side scoop near the doors was supposed to be functional in order to cool the brakes. But due to costs, Halderman said Ford decided to make them into decorative pieces instead.
As for the Mustang's fastback profile, Halderman credited Chief Designer Oros for the distinct fastback design. It wasn't supposed to be part of the Mustang's original design as they had to do it in secret, citing that all of them in design felt the Mustang was supposed to be seen as a sporty car. With the use of a fiberglass mock-up, along with a bright red finish, Lee Iaccoca, the 'Father of the Ford Mustang' (who passed away last year), approved the final design.
Besides giving the Mustang its iconic shape, Halderman also played a role in designing the Mustang's galloping horse logo which is still being used today. His other Mustang-related designs include the styling change in the 1971 – 1973 Mustang models. Halderman eventually retired from Ford in 1994 and opened a museum in his hometown of Tipp City, Ohio. There, he has several examples of the first-generation Mustang, as well as other Ford automobiles he helped design like the Lincoln Continental Mark VI and Mark VIII.
“As we mourn the loss of our dear friend Gale, we remember his amazing contribution to the introduction of our Pony car. While there were countless accomplishments in Gale Halderman’s 40-year career at Ford Design, certainly none was more impactful than his work penning the shape of one of the world’s most iconic cars, the Mustang,” said Berj Alexanian, Ford spokesperson.
Who knew that a simple sketch would actually become one of the world's most celebrated automobiles in history? Rest in peace Gale Halderman.