Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A Brief Review of Jimmy Dinsmore and James Halderman, "Mustang by Design: Gale Halderman and the Creation of Ford's Iconic Pony Car"

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This is  review that has come off the top of my head after reading through Mustang by Design. If I were to write a formal review, I would have taken notes along the way and then reviewed those notes before putting things down on paper (or on the screen, in this case!). So my thoughts here are far more impressionistic rather than introspective.
I have owned two Mustangs during my lifetime, starting with a 1966 6-cylinder Vintage Burgundy coupe and then 1990 4-cylinder Cranberry Red convertible. They may well have been the best cars I have owned, although a car guy would say that they were vastly underpowered. True, but to me they were still enjoyable, and in the case of the 1966, it was the car that I used during my courtship of the girl I would marry and remain married to for nearly 50 years now!
On to the book about the Mustang's principal designer, Gale Halderman and his creation. At first glance one might conclude that this is a hagiographic picture book featuring Gale and the Mustang, and that would be half right. But it is far more than that. The narrative is informational about the design process and key figures involved in the Mustang story. It also traces the evolution of the Mustang's design to the near present.  And it has design feature insights that I have not read anywhere else.
Having lived in Dayton, Ohio for nearly 35 years I have yet to appreciate its fertile environment related to creativity and invention. I became enthralled with the story of Gale attending the Dayton Art Institute during the 1950s and his relationship with Professor Read Viemeister. I had heard that Dayton was a source for a number of clay modeling hires at General Motors in the 1950s, but I think there is a bigger connection between the DAI and Big Three design studios than is commonly known. One "gem" from this book and I am only on page 14!
The story slowly unfolds then, starting with the 1957 Ford ( a favorite of mine since my much older cousin bought one new in 1957 with a Thunderbird engine). the Ford Falcon, sketches, the place of Lee Iacocca, Hal Sperlich, Don Frey, Gene Bordinat, and Joe Orgs follows. And of course a climax takes place at the New York World's Fair in the spring of 1964 when the public introduction takes place.
I will leave it to you to further explore this fine book. The images (and excellent descriptive) captions tell a story by themselves. Finally, there is a chapter on the Gale Halderman barn located in Tipp City, Ohio, where memorabilia and cars tell Gale's story. I hope get there on day and learn far more about one of the most important vehicles of the 20th century in America.
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