21 February 2013

Looking back at Mustang’s short-lived wagon

Sport wagon versions practical


I have always thought that the Sport GT Wagon version of production-built sports cars to be very practical with lots of room for the golf clubs, a couple of suitcases for a weekend trip and sometimes they’re equipped with a small back seat with room for two small children.
I’m thinking of vehicles like the Jensen Healey GT, the Volvo P1800ES, the Aston-Martin DB series, the Scimitar GTE and the Gilbern Invader.
Last week in my article about the Shorty Ford Mustang I made reference to the Intermeccanica Mustang Wagon.
There have been conflicting reports as to exactly how many examples the then Italian-based company built. Henry Reisner, of now Vancouver-based Intermeccanica, answered my question with the reply “just one.”
The story goes like this.
Two car designers, Barney Clark and Robert Cumberford, were contacted by the world’s largest advertising agency JWT (John Walter Thompson). The agency had a very large and influential client, none other than the Ford Motor Company, and JWT asked the two designers to help them come up with a new design that would get the attention of Ford.
This was back in the mid-’60s and the Ford Mustang was the hottest car on the market at the time.
Consequently, the two thought a Mustang Wagon would do the trick, and Cumberford knew exactly who he could rely on to build such a car.
A 1965 Mustang notchback was subsequently shipped to Frank Reisner, the founder of Intermeccanica, in Turin, Italy.
The roof was extended to meet a fabricated liftgate housing the back window. The fuel filler cap and neck were relocated to the rear of the right quarter panel to accommodate the fold-down tailgate, which joined the liftgate.
Reisner came up with the ingenious idea of retaining one third of the tail-light assembly attached to the body while the remainder was attached to the tailgate.
The fixed rear seat was replaced with a functional fold-down-version and added cabin ventilation achieved through the long hinged side glass which opened slightly.
Apparently, Ford already had a couple of Mustang Wagon designs on the drawing board, and when Ford’s styling chief, Eugene Bordinat, heard and read about the outside design proposal of a similar Mustang Wagon design, all three ideas were shelved.
The history of Intermeccanica and the cars they still build is a fascinating story. The full story can be read in Andrew McCredie’s book Intermeccanica: The Story of the Prancing Bull (Available through U.K.-based Veloce Publishing veloce.co.uk).

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