Story of the Week

Posted: 07.17.2017
Ford's 1966 lineup featured innovative styling, new features
By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy of Robert Tate's Collection

 

Ford 1966 Galaxie 500/XL convertible

I recently heard the great news that Ford Motor Company will be the new sponsor for the Woodward Dream Cruise this year. This is very exciting news for automotive enthusiasts to have the legacy of the largest classic car cruise in the world carry on with another great automobile company.

This story is about looking back at the great product line that Ford introduced in 1966. The dramatic and fresh styling of Ford models were introduced to the public on Sept. 30, 1965 with new sales beginning the following day on Oct. 1.

 

 

 

1966 Mustang

 

According to Ford’s former vice president and division general manager, Donald N. Frey, there was a great interest pent up for the new models even before they were introduced to the public.

“Advance orders from fleet accounts are running more than 40 percent ahead of pre-introduction orders last year. This tremendous acceptance of our products by knowledgeable fleet and individual buyers will, I 'm sure, be reflected by the general public when the new models are introduced in dealer showrooms,” said Mr. Frey.

 

 

 

1966 Mustang 2+2 fastback

 

The 1966 Ford product line were great looking vehicles. For example, the new 1966 Ford models offered a unique grille on the XL, LTD and Country Squire Models. The massive rectangular tail lamps created a very stylish and recognizable look for the models’ rear end that most consumers thoroughly enjoyed. The 1966 LTD and Galaxie Ford models were fast and sleek looking. The base price for a Ford model was $3,230 with the popular convertible selling for $3,480.

The Ford Mustang was introduced in the spring of 1964. For 1966, Mustang offered the public options for a hardtop, convertible and a 2+2 Mustang fastback body that was very popular with the younger generation. The Mustang 2+2 increased sales greatly for Ford Motor Company and most consumers admired the great styling features.

 

 

 

1966 Thunderbird Town Landau

 

One vehicle introduced in 1966, but not depicted here, was the Shelby GT Fastback. The Shelby Fastback GT was a great looking car with a 350 V-8 engine that was priced at $2,900. Mr. Frey noted that in light of the Mustang's recent Tiffany Award-winning design, exterior styling changes in the 1966 models were limited to the grille, side scoop ornament, wheel-covers and gas filler cap.

He described the changes as, “inspired by the Mustang II,” which was a styling experimental car that preceded the Mustang.

The Ford Thunderbird for 1966 was a very distinctive looking automobile that the public really enjoyed. The model became available in three different body styles: the Town Landau Hardtop, Landau Hardtop and the popular convertible models. The year 1966, would be the last year that a convertible model would be offered in a Thunderbird series.

 

 

 

1966 Mercury Comet

 

Not pictured in this article is the Ford Falcon for 1966. Falcon styling offered the consumer a longer hood a short rear deck design along with new roominess and outstanding economy and technical innovations that the consumers really enjoyed.

Another great looking vehicle for 1966 was the Mercury Comet, which was a sales booster among much of the motoring public. In addition to the new styling, the Comet models were moved to the increasingly important intermediate section of the auto market for 1966. The models were wider and heavier with a lot more interior passenger space and luggage capacity than in 1965.

 

 

 

1966 Lincoln Continental

 

The Comet Cyclone GT and Cyclone models had their own distinctive grilles. The GT Convertible model was also selected to be the Pace Car at the Indianapolis 500 Race for that year.

Despite the new and innovative design features, the 1966 Lincoln Continental retained its famed classical, timeless appearance. Lincoln's most popular car for 1966 was the Continental four-door sedan.

The Continental four-door convertible sold for $6,38 and the convertible top retracted into the trunk compartment, which was a new feature that most consumers admired.

 

 

 

1966 Custom Club Wagon 

 

The last model that highlights this story is the Falcon Club wagons for 1966. Back then, it was called a van, and Club Wagon or Custom Club wagon. For many consumers the model was great for taking the kids to soccer practice or their favorite baseball game. Many campers along with anglers thoroughly enjoyed the Falcon Club wagons as well.

Another popular vehicle that is not shown was the Ford Bronco, which was a completely new in design and a concept for Ford to compete with the Willy’s Jeep and International Scout models.

 



For further information on photos please visit http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/ or email nahc@detroitpubliclibrary.org. Please do not republish the story and/or photographs without permission of MotorCities National Heritage Area. (Bibliography: Dammann, H. George. “Illustrated History of Ford 1903-1970” 1971; Dammann, H. George. “Fifty Years of Lincoln Mercury” 1971; Wagner, K. James. “Ford Trucks since 1905” Crestline publishing1978.)

If you would like to contribute an article for the MotorCities newsletter, email Communications Coordinator Austen Smith at asmith@motorcities.org  

 

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