Our spies captured an early look at the 2015 Ford Mustang. Photo credit: Jim Dunne CAR SPY

It’s no secret that Ford is planning to provide plenty of hoopla to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang when it rolls off the line next year. However, what the 2015 Mustang has been kept under wraps: until now.

Look for Ford to uncover this all-new Mustang design as a 2015 model sometime in 2014. Though covered from front to rear – no bumpers on this early prototype – there are a few details of changes that can be detected. Up front are headlight openings that indicate the lamps are set high on the front fenders, not down low in the grille. So too, at the rear, the taillights are set higher in the trunk.

Overall the profile of the Mustang is unmistakable, even in this heavily wrapped mid-program prototype. But, those wheels with the five split-spoke appearance seem to be new.

Some new styling cues can be detected despite Ford's efforts to hide this 2015 Ford Mustang. Photo credit: Jim Dunne CAR SPY

An opening in the canvas coverall just above the front wheel opening indicates some kind of air exhaust, a feature never seen on Mustangs. While we can’t see the rear suspension, the ’15 model reportedly offers an independent rear setup: a Mustang first.

The maker has been hinting that the ’15 model will make its debut at the 2014 New York International Auto Show. After decades leading the pack in the muscle car segment, Mustang has been tripped up by the Chevrolet Camaro during recent times. Chevrolet hoped to widen that sales gap by introducing a freshened Camaro, including an SS model, during this year’s New York auto show. That puts all the more pressure on Ford to get it right when it launches the next-generation Mustang.

A New York Auto Show introduction would bring the car full circle, in a sense, as Ford revealed the first coupe on April 17, 1964, just a few days before it officially made its public debut at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. It was an instant hit, helping land Ford’s then-boss, President Lee Iacocca on the covers of the era’s two dominant news magazines, Time and Newsweek.

The first of the “pony cars,” Mustang was an instant hit. More than 8.5 million Mustangs have been sold during the icon’s nearly 50-year run.

“Not too many vehicles have been around for 49 years,” said David Pericak, Mustang’s chief engineer, during a recent event marking the 1 millionth Mustang built at Ford’s Flat Rock, Mich. facility. “It’s more than a car. It’s an icon. It’s been in rock and roll songs and a star in movies,” he added, and has been a major success at the track.”

(Muscle Car Madness. The Pony Car Wars Reach Fever Pitch. Click Here for more.)

Introduced as a 1964-1/2 model, the first Ford Mustang was available for as little as $2,368. Ironically, while the galloping horse has been the image Ford associated with the original Mustang, the car’s original designer, John Najjar, was actually a great fan of the most successful fighter plane of World War II, the P-51 Mustang. Company officials liked the name but thought the equine image was more appropriate.

The fast-looking coupe wasn’t nearly as spirited as it appeared, however, with its compact, 170-cubic-inch engine and three-speed manual transmission. That would soon change as the automaker rolled out an increasingly powerful series of engine packages and, in subsequent years, a procession of new bodies.

(Ford’s marketing muscle is ramping up for the 50th anniversary of the Mustang. For more information, Click Here.)

The need to put some pep into the pony created a partnership that would last for decades, Iacocca turning to race car driver-cum-entrepreneur Carroll Shelby to offer some help pumping up the performance – and to lend his name to a special edition version of the Mustang.

With only a brief time out during a short association with Chrysler – following Iacocca to the smaller maker – the tall Texan continued to work with Ford on a procession of ever-more-powerful Mustangs, including the current, 662-horsepower Shelby GT500.

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