The Ford Mustang was such a huge success that during its release in 1964 it quickly became the fastest selling car of its time, smashing the previous records beforehand. Ford, prompted by the triumphant launch of the Mustang, decided the best way to boost sales further would be to enter it into racing.
Ford wouldn’t wait long until placing the Mustang in the capable hands of Alan Mann who had already made a name for himself the year before when competing in the Marlboro 12hrs, beating Ford in their own attempts to finish first and second in the Ford Falcons.
Following the results from the previous race, Alan Mann was offered a contract with Ford. Setting up what is now known as A.M.R (Alan Mann Racing).
Without hesitation he was sent a pre-production chassis in order to evaluate and develop before homologation for the upcoming events. The Mustang, during its transformation, was secretly tested at Goodwood before reporting analysis back to Dearborn in the hopes it would to be hidden away from competition.
Ford had decided that they wanted to enter the Mustang into a few European endurance rallies. Participating in events such as the Tour de France (finishing 8th and 9th) and the Marathon de la Route (Liège-Rome-Liège) for the victory being stolen by an Austin Healey 3000.
Ford knew that the Mustang could do more if given the chance and decided to re-enter six Mustangs into the Tour de France the following year in 1965. To which Alan Mann, after receiving the news, quickly got to work preparing the cars. Scrapping the running gear, brakes and electrics. Swapping them for more favourable parts that were purpose-built for racing, far from the stock parts used before. All emphasis being on the durability of the car at high speed, given the tough nature of the Tour de France. Anything and everything that could be changed to increase the Mustang’s performance was done so without hesitation, and quickly, given the tight deadline. Alan Mann and his team even went as far as ripping out the engines. The 260-cubic-inch V-8’s that were used in the previous events were holding the car back and were swapped out with a much more suitable 289 (V8) that was built by Holman & Moody. The 289’s were said to be more than capable of making 285hp and stood a much better chance of landing the Mustang its well-deserved first place finish.
However, not all of the cars were entered into the race. Alan Mann made the tactical decision to hold one of the cars as a reserve to be used for parts in case the Mustang’s fell into trouble on their treacherous journey. By doing so he hadn’t necessarily guaranteed a finish but had massively increased their chances of doing so.
The tactic paid off landing them not only a first place but second and third as well. Providing the Mustang its first competition success worldwide. It was a PR gold mine at the time, right off the back of the Tour de France sales in France boomed and the Mustang quickly became a pop culture icon. Alan Mann and his incredible team had done it. They had proved that the mustang in period could go head to head with Ferrari and come out on top. Not only in first place, but second and third as well.
Alan Mann went on to enter other races in period up until 1969 before sadly deciding to close the business down following Ford’s decision to exit from European race operations. His passion did not die for the sport however, deciding to re-open A.M.R by restoring the Mustang with the help of Brian Lewis in 2004, who worked on the original Mustang back in 1964, before bringing the original team back together for historic racing. Mann took place in events such as Goodwood Revival and Festival of Speed regularly until tragically passing away in 2012.
By the time of his passing his sons Tom and Henry, honouring their beloved father, had started to rebuild A.M.R, keeping the torch alight.
After such an incredible story I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I feel extremely fortunate to own a genuine A.M.R 1964 Mustang. This car is very sentimental to me and it’s something of a dream come true that I am able to race it
The mustang, during A.M.R’s return to racing, was restored and built by Alan Mann in 2005 and then raced by Alan himself very successfully alongside Sir John Whitmore at Goodwood revival. Alan later became unwell and was no longer able to participate at events; John Young took his place but shortly afterwards Sir John Whitmore had also retired being later replaced by Henry Mann. Henry and John joined together and went on to win the touring car championship in 2011.
My fondest memory of driving the Mustang would have to be at the Peirpoint Cup. There was just so much action that day that made that bit more exciting. I can remember Steve Soaper gaining an incredible lead off the line, caused by the chaos, which made it extremely difficult for me to get back to the front of the field. I had to work really hard to gradually reel him back in throughout the race, given that he had a 3 seconds gap within the first 3 minutes due to his start. With nine minutes left to spare Soaper and I were trading best lap times and with just 7 minutes remaining I was on his back tail with only 0.6 seconds between us. It wasn’t long before I pounced on the opportunity to overtake Soaper on the inside at Fordwater, precariously around the outside of a Dodge Dart and towards the entrance of St.Mary’s. Soaper however was far from giving up the chase. We collided into one another exiting St.Mary’s sprawling onto the grass. Just as we were settling back onto the track the race was brought to a halt via red flag following Leo’s crash at Madgwick. It was decided on count-back that I had come first the two laps prior, taking first place.
To watch the race please click the link below:
Other results for the Mustang include:
Sebring Florida SVRA March 2012 – 2nd
Silverstone May 2012 GT and Sports Car Cup – 5th
Castle Combe October 2012 Bernie’s V8 – 2nd
Brands Hatch Indy 25th May 70’s Celebration – 5th
Brands Hatch GP 26th May 70’s Celebration – 7th