My favorite car is the 1965 Mustang. Designed by Ford to be fast, fun and affordable, it was a symbol of American design standardization at its best, combining elegant form and accessibility in a beautiful car. It was debuted in 1964 at the World’s Fair in New York, it was featured in the Bond film Goldfinger and it remains a beloved icon of automotive design worldwide. I modeled the design options of my custom bicycle after it.

Dream Car: a 1965 Mustang on display at the World’s Fair in Queens, NY in 1964.

The Mustang was not a luxury item. It was within reach of middle class Americans at a time when good design and an interest in elegance seemed to matter much more than it does today. It was a fun American car.

Imagine my delight this morning when my friend Michael Sainato shared sent me an Instagram post about a 1965 film of Martha and the Vandellas singing “Nowhere To Run” on a Mustang assembly line in a Detroit production plant. I’d never seen it before.

The image was posted by design writer Alice Rawsthorn. She wrote:

One of my favourite tributes to standardised design is a 1965 film of the brilliant Martha and the Vandellas performing their single Nowhere to Run on the Mustang production line at Ford’s enormous Baton Rouge plant in Detroit. Ford’s founder, Henry Ford, read – and admired – Frederick Winslow Taylor’s 1911 book “The Principles of Scientific Management”, which suggested standardising every aspect of management, including design. Henry Ford put Taylor’s principles into practice by combining standardised design and production with relatively generous wages for his workers and competitive prices for the cars. Over half a century after Taylor’s book was published, Martha Reeves, Rosalind Ashford and Betty Kelly were filmed singing Nowhere to Run at Baton Rouge while production continued unabated. Dancing past a row of painters aiming spray guns at panels of the cars, they jumped into a half-built Mustang on a hydraulic assembly line. Clicking their fingers, they sang from the car’s seats while the workers fitted panels and wheels, and winched in the engine. By the time the song ended, the car was finished and Martha and the Vandellas jumped out, making way for its delighted ‘owner’. They waved him off as he drove away in his new Mustang. The song lasted for less than three minutes.

Upon seeing the post, I immediately went to YouTube in search of the video. It made my day. Enjoy.

2 Comments

  1. I had a design buddy at my first job in Boston in ’78 – Jack McDonald – and he worked at Ford right out of design school in the mid 60’s. He came up with the coved back lights and trim detail for the re-designed ’67 Mustang, the influence of which was also seen on the ’69-’70 Mercury Marauder X-100 back end. Cool stuff.

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