In the 1960s, pony cars ruled America's roads and racetracks. As younger drivers were looking for fast, affordable, sporty cars, auto manufacturers competed for their business and attention, sparking the fierce pony car wars.
The Plymouth Barracuda was the first pony car available for sale (two weeks before the Ford Mustang), but it didn't sell well. Released on April 17, 1964, the Ford Mustang was an instant hit. Ford expected to sell 100,000 in their first year. They sold over one million Mustangs within two years. The Mustang shattered sales records and it wasn't long before their competitors joined in the race.
The Mustang was followed by the Chevy Camaro, mercury Cougar, and AMC Javelin in 1967 and Dodge unveiled its Challenger in 1969. The term pony car was coined by Car Life magazine, which described the cars as sporty, compact, and for the masses, with a long hood, short deck, and affordable price. Pony cars were also highly customizable. With a wide range of available features, paint colors, and trim stylings, these cars could be as unique as their drivers.
Manufacturers pitted their cars against one another in a variety of races, most notably the Trans-Am Series. Pushing the idea of "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday," these races helped increase sales across the country. Before long, enthusiastic drivers were staging their own street races, testing out the pony cars' abilities for themselves.