• Mar 29, 2010
On the day we've reviewed two descendants of his original creation, we find out that the man who designed the Mustang, Donald Frey, passed away at 86. As with the car's decades of success, the inspiration for it was unlikely: the Chevrolet Corvair.

Frey, who was assistant general manager and and chief engineer of a Ford Motor Company still suffering dry heaves over the Edsel, said he watched GM put bucket seats in the Corvair and rename it Monza, and it began to pick up with customers. There was also the dinner table motivation of his kids telling him his cars stunk.

Frey's first take on the Mustang was a mid-engined convertible in 1962 which, while working with Ford General Manager Lee Iacocca, he would develop into the car introduced to the World's Fair in 1964. When the coupe predicted to sell 80,000 units a year actually sold a million-plus units in its first two years – and then sold and sold and sold – Frey became an American legend. The rest is not just history, it's the present and the future, with the Mustang certain to be a staple in the Ford portfolio for years to come.

From Autoblog and Mustang fans around the world, our condolences and best wishes go to the Frey family.




[Source: New York Times]


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  • 35 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      He was truly a man with sports car design talent - The Mustang's introduction redefined the sports car market, and the lastest 'Stangs are just Brilliant!!!

      P.S., Extreme Ford Fan!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just as important as the cultural impact, his car sold over 600,000 units in a year. Y'know how many families got roofs over their heads for building those? A LOT.

      Tip of the hat to Mr. Frey and all those who design and build inspired things. Cheers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's nice to see that the designer who actually designed this car got credit for his own work, even if he did pass away today. It doesn't happen much like that these days. The first Mustang was a well executed design with a clean style that became an American Icon. It's a good thing he listened to his kids...
        • 4 Years Ago
        This Reply is for CheMaise and others.

        Frey didn't really "design" the Mustang. He was a metallurgical engineer, not an industrial designer. He was more of a product manager for the Mustang. See Wikipedia if you'd like or Google him.

        Joe Oros is credited as the chief designer of the original Mustang, although I doubt he was the designer that actually came up with the concept drawings. That was probably some young designer that worked under him.

        Here's a quote from Oros: "I guided the overall appearance, especially the front end, but Dave Ash, Gale Halderman, and John Foster did an outstanding job in guiding the Mustang's development with the various committees that came through the studio -- manufacturing, engineering, product planning. Charlie Phaneuf, another manager with a lot of ideas, also helped tremendously, as did the interior studio headed by Damon Woods. It was a tremendous all-around effort that shows what teamwork can do when properly coordinated."
      • 4 Years Ago
      Thank you, Mr. Frey, for providing so much joy to those of us who love the Mustang. There truly is a special place in car Heaven for you.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Amen Indeed!

        R.I.P. and Thank you.........
        • 4 Years Ago
        amen... soon, when Carrol is gone, some of the people who made the mustang great won't be with us anymore. no one seems to be making history anymore...
        • 4 Years Ago
        I miss the days when you could tell one car from another, one model year from another.... I thank Mr. Frey for his contribution to the automotive industry.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Amen, brother.

        It's an American icon that will likely live well into the electric age and beyond. I wouldn't be surprised if my grand kids one day lust over a sporty vehicle with a dash of power called "Mustang." You can't put a price on the importance of cultural icons like that.
        • 4 Years Ago
        lalalalala *types autoblog.com* on Firefox

        -*Glances on what's up*-


        NOOOOOOOOOOO~~~~~!!!! :'(...
        Rob
        • 4 Years Ago
        Donnie -you were a heck of a great engineer often passing your thoughts and inventions on for other credit. That car is special and for the most part has never lost its sporty appeal. I hear Caroll Shelby has sent a "Special Cobra" upstairs for your use in building the Lords non-union car company. I also understand that Lee is allowing him to be the boss or at least think he is until he arrives. Rest in great peace my friend, You once made history, now you are an imortal part of it. Thanks for the memories
      scubasmits
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sad that he didn't live to see the Mustang take to the high banks of Daytona in the Nationwide Series in July! Viva la Mustang!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Very few cars in American history have had such a lasting influence on automotive design as the Mustang. The original Mustang was truly a breath of fresh air back in the conservative (but optimistic) early 60's. It is no coincidence that the 2011 Mustang is really just a modern update of the original concept.
      • 4 Years Ago
      RIP :(
      • 4 Years Ago
      Since my dad brought home a '67 I've been in love ever since. My fondest memories include working on that car and driving around to other car meets in the summer time with the windows down. I hope to build a mustang with my son one day. My 5.0 is great. Thanks!
      • 4 Years Ago
      What a great lesson to be learned........failure, frustration even from his family....just think if his family supported him in his frustration. What better ideas would we have. The Mustang , a great success story. A cool car and has always been..........Thank you....RIP.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Atleast he went out at a prime time for the Mustang, now with the re-release of the all-new 5.0. RIP.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I just have to say...the title of this post just doesn't sit well with me. It seems written in bad taste.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree, that was the first thing that popped into my head after reading it
        • 4 Years Ago
        What are you, in nursery school? We don't need to sugarcoat things. The is apt; it states facts and carries no sensationalism.
      • 4 Years Ago
      To design THE greatest car of all time... that's what I call a lifetime achievement.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Mustang is one of the great designs of the 20th century. That it still exists so many years later is a testament to Mr. Frey's creativity so many years ago. RIP Mr. Frey.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The designer of the original Mustang was Lee Iacocca. His career at Ford lasted from 1946 to 1978. He then worked for Chrysler until 1992.
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