When the Ford Mustang proved to be an instant success when it went on sale in April of 1964, the company quickly began to look at ways to make their new sports car more attractive to more buyers. Around that same time, Ferguson Research of England had developed the first all-wheel drive system for passenger cars and after proving the success of the system in the racing world, Ferguson was looking to introduce their design to automakers.
Ford saw the introduction of an all-wheel drive system as a great way to make the Mustang more attractive to those Americans who lived in areas with heavy snowfall, so the Motor Company worked out a deal with Ferguson Research to build an AWD Mustang. Ford shipped a pair of identical Mustang coupes fitted with the 289 cubic inch V8 engine and an automatic transmission to England where one was converted to AWD by Ferguson and the other was left stock for head-to-head testing.
Not surprisingly, the all-wheel drive 1965 Ford Mustang outperformed the stock car in every situation, with improved acceleration and improved handling – especially on slick roads. The Ferguson system included a planetary center differential with one driveshaft feeding power to the stock differential while another driveshaft sent power to the smaller front differential, with a torque split of 37% to the front wheels and 63% to the rear. This was a full-time system, with clutches allowing the car to turn smoothly with power being sent to all four wheels. As a result, this Mustang would have gotten far better traction in every driving situation, but that rear bias would have allowed the AWD Mustang to have a similar feel to the “normal” 1965 Mustang.