Another intriguing automotive mystery: Whatever became of the one-of-one 1965 Mustang concept created by Carrozzeria Bertone of Italy? Could it still exist?
First shown at the New York International Auto Show in the spring of 1965, the stunning Mustang Bertone was commissioned from the renowned Turinese coachbuilding firm by a magazine publisher: L. Scott Bailey, founder of Automobile Quarterly, the ritzy hardbound car periodical. (It ceased publication in 2012.) The designer was none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro, then just 27, a few years before he ventured out on his own to launch his own famous studio, Ital Design. In New York, the Italian Mustang took best of show honors, and it was a sensation at the London, Paris, and Turin motor shows as well. Then the car disappeared from view and it hasn’t been seen in public since.
Ford Motor Company reportedly provided the donor car, a new coupe with the 289 CID four-barrel V8, four-speed manual transmission, bucket seats, and console. From there, Guigiaro totally reimagined the Mustang theme, discarding the original body shell. Only two elements from the original Dearborn design remained: the fuel filler badge in the rear closeout panel, and the diecast alloy stallion in the grille. As the photo above illustrates, even the instrument panel was restyled to provide a more Italian flavor. The glass and greenhouse were totally revised as well.
The Bertone Mustang bears far more resemblance to familiar Giugiaro designs like the Iso Grifo and the Fiat Dino than to any Ford Motor Company product. Even the Ford wheels were exchanged for Bertone-designed Campagnolo magnesium castings. The quad headlights were hidden behind electrically operated grille doors, and as the story goes, the radiator and front bulkhead were sectioned to accommodate the Bertone’s slimmer profile, a good two inches lower than a production Mustang. According to Bailey, Italian stylists didn’t think much of the production Mustang’s styling, finding it too ordinary and sedan-like.
Wearing distinctive silver-turquoise metallic paint, the Bertone Mustang made its next appearance on the cover of Road & Track magazine in January of 1966, below. There would be one more appearance in print, also in Road & Track: a Bertone ad in the September 1967 issue listed the Mustang for sale with an asking price of $10,000, “one-third its actual cost.” From there, the Mustang has never been seen or heard from again, apparently. Before he passed away in 2012, Bailey attempted to track down the unique Mustang, but nothing ever turned up.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.