Been Reading Issue 33

The development of the original Mustang must be one of the best-chronicled events in automotive history. Surely there are more books devoted to the history of Ford’s pony car than almost all others. However, sticking with the idea that you can never have too many Mustang books, here’s another… with a difference.

Mustang By Design is about the development, release and early years of the Mustang, but with something of an insider’s perspective. While most think of Lee Iacocca as the ‘father of the Mustang,’ and aficionados will know the input of product planner, Hal Sperlich, there was one member of the design team whose contribution often goes unremarked: Gale Halderman. The authors – Jimmy Dinsmore and Gale’s cousin, James Halderman – rightly decided that Gale’s was a story that needed telling while there was still time.

The title starts with Gale’s hiring as a stylist fresh out of college in 1954, and his first jobs working on the ’57 Galaxie and Victoria. He also worked on the 1960 Falcon, and was a Design Executive by the time the Mustang seed was planted. Gale stayed with Ford for 40 years, but the Mustang was always his baby.

The book tells the familiar story, but with added details and anecdotes that could only have come from someone within the ivory tower. It tells the story of the work on the shop floor, and the internal machinations and politics within such a huge company. It also manages to add personal touches and rarely (if ever) before seen period photographs from Gale’s personal collection – he runs a Mustang museum called the Halderman Barn Museum in Tipp City, Ohio.

Although there wasn’t quite as much input from Gale in the book as I’d have expected, it still managed to add an extra layer of interest and intrigue to an oft-told story. It’s a readable and well-presented title that every early Mustang fan should go out and buy, right now.

Mustang By Design: Gale Halderman And The Creation Of Ford’s Iconic Pony Car, by Jimmy Dinsmore and James Halderman, is published in hardback by CarTech, with a RRP of £28.