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Automodello's 1962 Ford Mustang I Concept

By Mark Savage
Published: August 14, 2014
Automodello 1962 Ford Mustang I Concept
Product: Sports (and sporty) cars were all the rage throughout the 1950s among the racing set. Chevrolet responded with its Corvette, and Ford went a bit more luxury-touring with its Thunderbird.

Next up was Chevrolet’s lower-cost sports coupe, the Corvair, with its rear-mounted engine. Ford needed an answer.

In 1962, Ford tried something different, an open two-seater that was quick and light and independently sprung at all four wheels. Ford’s new baby was the Mustang I, a concept that noted racer Dan Gurney showed off at Watkins Glen in October of that year, setting times that were nearly competitive with the open-wheeled racers running in that weekend’s Formula 1 race.

The white, hand-hammered, aluminum-bodied concept car was petite, with a 90-inch wheelbase, an 89-horse V4 and a top speed of 100 mph. It tipped the scales at just 1,148 lbs. Folks at Watkins Glen were eager to get their hands on the car. But in its concept design, the Mustang was not to be. Two years later, however, the iconic Mustang sports coupe debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.

The Mustang I Concept got the ball rolling and lent its name to what would be-come Ford’s iconic pony car. Now, Automo-dello has released a sharp 1:24 re-creation, along with a 1:43-scale model, in finely detailed resin. Both are available in limited Tribute Editions, which cost $150 more than the standard versions and are signed by Gurney, its first on-track driver. Our review model was the standard 1:24 version.

Performance: Automodello nails the exterior of this concept car. All the creases are crisp, and the slim, aircraft-like styling is spot-on. Ford’s designers at the time said they were inspired by the sleek P-51 Mustang aircraft when they created the concept car.

The body includes seams for where the pop-up headlights would be, the hood and trunk openings, and the doors. On the sides are the air scoops that later Mustangs made famous (even though they were fake). There’s also a silver metal grille covering where the side-mounted radiators would be to cool the rear-mounted engine, which was a standard Ford unit used in its German-built cars.

That grille work is repeated in the fairings around the red rear lights, and there are two giant exhaust pipes exiting the rear bodywork. Automodello creates the raised letters that spell out “Ford” on the nose and “Mustang” just in front of the thin windscreen that encircles the dark metallic blue cockpit.

I like the galloping Mustang logos on the front quarter panels, which were also used on the later Mustangs. Harder to see are the hubcaps with a red center, again featuring the Mustang logo.

Tires are properly gold striped with gold Firestone logos on them, just as on the concept car, and there are twin chrome side mirrors.

The interior looks good, too, with the straight bar door pulls, a three-spoke metal-hubbed racing steering wheel and five round cockpit gauges spread across the driver’s side dash. There’s a red fire extinguisher on the passenger’s side floor, and the seats are nice blue-and-silver renditions of the originals.

I noticed only one small replication issue: The front running lights are red here — but appear to be amber in all the photos of the original car. I also wish that at least the pop-up lights worked here, or that the rear bonnet could be opened to reveal the small Ford engine.

Marketing: This model is well-executed and comes in the popular 1:24 scale that most plastic model car kits feature, so it will display well with a model builder’s other display cars. The box is extremely sturdy and black, which makes the car look special. I’d open one and put it in a glass display case to show it off.

Your die-hard Ford and Mustang collectors will be excited to see this rare vehicle and want to add it to their collections.

Product: 1962 Ford Mustang I Concept
Maker: Automodello
Scale: 1:24
Stock number: AM24-FOR-M1C
MSRP: $299.95

• Unique, historic concept car
• First of the Mustangs
• High-quality exterior