HomeMediaWhat if AMC had a Mustang-style vehicle before Ford?

What if AMC had a Mustang-style vehicle before Ford?


Budd Company was a major supplier of sheetmetal stampings to American automakers, producing body parts for nearly half of the passenger cars produced in North America in the pre- and post-war eras.

In 1962, Budd produced a running prototype of a sporty convertible, the XR-400 concept designed with sports car proportions. Budd suggested to American Motors that it should put such a vehicle into production. By the way, that production would have begun months before Ford unveiled a car with similar styling, the Mustang.

Oh, and the XR-400 not only was built on AMC chassis and parts-bin bits, it was a powered by a 327cid AMC V8 engine rated at 250 horsepower.

AMC declined the offer. The car went back to Budd, which removed the temporary AMC badging. In 1997, the car was acquired by The Henry Ford museum.

The museum recently shared a video of Matt Anderson, curator of transportation, taking the XR-400 out for a drive through Greenfield Village and wondering: what if AMC had decided to put the car into production, introducing it in October 1963, a full six months before Ford unveiled its Mustang.

The playbook was the same — existing platform and parts, but sporty design aimed at the growing youth market. 

Indeed, what if?

Oh, and while on the subject of The Henry Ford, its annual Old Car Festival for pre-1933 vehicles is scheduled September 7-8 in Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan.

Auto body supplier Budd offered this sporty design to AMC before Ford unveiled its Mustang | Henry Ford museum archives

Corvette museum as bachelor party site?

Men’s Journal rates Bowling Green, Kentucky, as the country’s No. 2 destination for a bachelor party, in part because it is the home of the National Corvette Museum and its more than 80 variations of America’s sports car.

The magazine also suggested a post-museum visit to Mammoth Cave National Park, visits to Hickory & Oak and Boyce General Store for food and beverages, and the penthouse suite at the Kentucky Grand Hotel & Spa.

The only location ranked ahead of BG was Bend, Oregon, because of its outdoor adventure opportunities. Florida’s Emerald Coast was third, followed by Bluffton, South Carolina; Austin, Texas; Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania; Honolulu; Reno/Lake Tahoe, Nevada; Brooklyn, New York; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 

‘Horses to Horsepower’ at Studebaker museum

From horses to horsepower is subject of presentation at Studebaker museum | Museum photo

Robert Casey, retired curator of transportation at The Henry Ford, will talk about how the transition from horses to mechanical horsepower transformed American life when he visits the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana, at 1:30 p.m. August 21. 

Casey also will present reasons why internal combustion beat steam and electric batteries as the source for that transportation transition.

LiveWire featured at Harley-Davidson Museum

Nearly 70,000 pieces and 865 hours of work went into creating this full-scale Lego version of the Harley-Davidsion LiveWire | Museum photo

The Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee installs a LifeWire, the motorcycle company’s new electric-powered vehicle, in its Experience Gallery and on August 20 and on August 20-21 will let visitors throw a leg over the bike for special photo ops. 

Demonstration rides of the bike with nearly 150 miles of range also will be offered to those with motorcycle licenses.

The museum also has opened a display that features a full-scale Fat Boy made from Lego blocks. The bike is part of the launch of Lego’s new Fat Boy Creator Expert model kit that comes with 1,023 pieces.

Supposedly you can build your own Lego Harley in a lot less time than the 865 hours it took to build the full-scale version with 69,569 pieces. The full-size Lego will be on display at the museum through September 3.

Owls Head hosts 42nd annual auction


1966 Shelby GT 350 on Owls Head auction docket | Auction photo


The Monterey Peninsula in northern California isn’t the only location for collector car auction action this weekend. On the opposite coast of the country, the Owls Head Transportation Museum will be the site of the annual New England Auto Auction on August 16-17. Proceeds from the auction benefit the museum.

This will be the 42nd year for the auction, which has expanded to a 2-day event and also has an automobilia sale. A year ago, the auction posted an 82 percent sell-through rate and total sales of $4.5 million.

Among the featured consignments this year is a 1966 Shelby GT350 Mustang. To view the docket, visit the museum website.

Beaulieu adds auction to Autojumble

In addition to its traditional attractions, Beaulieu’s International Autojumble (swap meet) at Britain’s National Motor Museum will include an auction on September 7 with a docket that includes a 1927 Rolls-Royce originally owned by King Edward VIII, a 1952 Rover that appears in All Creatures Great and Small and a 1908 Napier from Downton Abbey.

Also featured this year will be a Golden Oldies car display of vintage vehicles driven to the event. 

Special events this weekend

The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearnborn, Michigan, offers free admission on Friday, August 16.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, stages its Cars 4 Critters show on August 17 from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. featuring sports and exotic cars and raising money for Speranza Animal Rescue. On August 18, the museum is the site for the annual BlueGray Chapter of the Oldsmobile Club of America’s sixth annual Olds, Buick, Cadillac and Pontiac Classic and Antique Automobile Show from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

RM Auctions hosts a Cars & Coffee cruise-in fro 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. August 17 at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in northeast Indiana.

The Murphy Auto Museum is moving to a new location 2 miles from its current facility in Oxnard, California, and will stage a garage sale August 17 and 18 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. “We are moving and can’t take it all with us,” the museum said in announcing that it will be selling cars, vintage trailers and automobilia as part of its move.

The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, England, hosts its inaugural “Simply Mercedes” on August 18.

The British Motor Museum stages its sixth “Buses Festival” on August 18, with visitors exploring around 100 restored, vintage and modern buses, even riding on routes around the Gaydon area.

The National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, celebrates its fifth anniversary August 19-20 with special high-performance driver education programs.

Mark your calendar

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum organizes a road trip on August 20 when the museum’s Shop Tour Series visits Don Schumacher Racing, the winningest team in National Hot Rod Association drag racing history, in Brownsburg, Indiana. 

LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, will host a Military Appreciation Cruise-In from 4 to 7 p.m. on August 22.

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento stages a launch and costume party for its “British Invasion” exhibition from 6 to 9 p.m. on August 22.

On August 24 at 11 a.m., the California Automobile Museum will stage a private screening of Racing in the Rain at the Century DOCO theater in Sacramento, California, which proceeds from the showing benefiting the museum. 

More than 10,000 owners of Chevrolet sports cars are expected to convene August 29-31 in Bowling Green, Kentucky, for the 25th anniversary celebration of the National Corvette Museum. Silver Anniversary festivities include the 2019 Hall of Fame induction of Dollie Cole, Briggs Cunningham and Tom Peters, an in-depth dive into the mid-engine 2020 C8 Corvette, seminars, a variety of road tours, a concert featuring Jefferson Starship, a “Dinner & Dancing Downtown,” a USO-style show at the Historic Railpark and Train Museum, and more, including activities at the NCM Motorsports Park.

The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan, is the site of a cars and coffee gathering on August 24.

“Cheers to 45” is the theme of a special celebration at 6 p.m. on August 29 at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in northeast Indiana to celebrate the museum’s 45th anniversary. The museum opened July 6, 1974 with an exhibit of 24 cars on loan.

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in northeast Indiana hosts its “Gatsby Gala Ball” on August 31 beginning at 7 p.m.

LeMay Collections at Marymount in Tacoma, Washington, hosts its 42nd annual car show on August 31.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum hosts the second act of its “From Dirt Tracks to the Brickyard” interactive panel discussion on September 3. From 4 to 6 p.m., Mel and Don Kenyon, Chad Boat, Michael Pickens, Chris Windom and historian Pat Sullivan will discuss U.S. Auto Club racing history and current storylines.

“Golden Oldies” will be featured September 7-8 at the International Autojumble at the National Motor Museum of England at Beaulieu. The category is open to pre-1970 classic and vintage vehicles. This is the first time such cars will be featured at the jumble. 

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon hosts the ninth annual Retro Truck Show on September 7-8 and expects around 400 classic and modern trucks produced between 1970 and 2000 to be displayed.

The Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum hosts a special Crawford, Coffee & Cars event from 8 until 11 a.m. on September 11 at the Western Reserve Historical Society Preservation & Restoration Facility in Macedonia, Ohio.

LeMay Collections at Marymount in Tacoma, Washington, offers a Model T driving experience on September 8.

The Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina, hosts a 1969 Mustang Reunion on September 20-21 featuring a special display of ’69 Mustangs, a cruise to Petty’s Garage, a ’69 Mustang car show and a presentation by Don Eichstaedt, who worked at Kar Kraft as an engineer developing the Boss 302, Boss 429 and Trans Am race cars.

Italy’s Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile in Torino opens its new permanent exhibition area on September 24.

The Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard, California, resumes its “Muscles & Mojo” morning car shows on October 6. 

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will present its Automotive Heritage Award to Carlisle Events founders Bill Miller Jr. and the late Elliot “Chip” Miller at the Night at the Museum gala October 9.

October 27 is the third annual Legends Day at the North East Motor Sports Museum in Loudon, New Hampshire, where Ollie Silva, Bentley Warren and Ed West will be honored in a ceremony beginning at 11 a.m.

“Legends of Speed,” a showcase of nearly two dozen historic racing cars, opens November 2 at the Phoenix Art Museum.

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento joins with the Sacramento Area Miata Owners Association to offer “An Evening with Tom Matano, The Father of the Miata” from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email [email protected].

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.



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