CBS Detroit – Aside from the Model T, the Ford Mustang some would say is one of the cars that made Ford part of classic Americana. While the Pony Car still rides on, its designer, Gale Halderman has passed away at age 87 from liver cancer.

Gale took pride in working for Ford for 40 years, and his legacy and his contribution lives on today. How the Mustang came about was Lee Iacoccca had a competition for a new concept car. It had to be sporty, exciting, personal, and appeal to both men and women. Halderman stayed up late one night before a big meeting to sketch his idea for the car on his kitchen table. The design that would become the Mustang.

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Credit: Ford Motor Company


Credit: Ford Motor Company – 1962 Mustang sketch

As other ford designers worked on their designs as well, Halderman and his boss Jim Oros collaborated together. Their clay model which featured a long hood, a short deck, and distinctive scoops in the doors, was the design that Iacocca would ultimately pick.

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Premiering in 1964-1965, the Pony car quickly became a hot seller. Ford made a little over half a million cars in the first year, with the convertible selling for about $2,500. It has been a hot seller since with enthusiasts and Ford Mustang groups throughout the world. Selling over 10 million cars worldwide, over 6 generations of designs, and 50 years of manufacture which originated here in Michigan.

Gale Halderman worked as a designer and design executive, working alongside top Ford names such as Henry Ford II, Hal Sperlich, and Lee Iacocca. Even Bill Ford Jr. once had Gale as his boss. When Gale retired, he turned his family barn in Ohio into a museum.

Credit: Gale Halderman Museum

At his museum, the walls are filled with awards and sketches from his career. As well as designs from artists he found inspiring. Including some Mustangs. his daughter plans to continue the museum in honor of her father’s legacy.

The Detroit Free Press reported, “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 Ford spokesman Berj Alexanian.

Gale Halderman is survived by three daughters, nine grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

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