By Richard Truesdell
The near-mythical Mustang Station Wagon... Talk of this unusual vehicle has persisted in automotive circles since the earliest days of the Mustang, and Ford even had proposals for it on the drawing board. Yet the very first Mustang Station Wagon was not, in fact, built by the Ford Motor Co.
Rather, it was a secret project given to Italian coachbuilder Intermeccanica by Barney Clark, an executive at J. Walter Thompson, Ford's advertising agency. And it was renowned designer Bob Cumberford whose pen devised the original Mustang Station Wagon's look. (Yes, the same Bob Cumberford who has been the design editor of Automobile Magazine since its inception in 1986.)
Constructed in 1965, the Clark/Cumberford car may or may not still exist, but photographs and magazine articles from the period have inspired a few talented craftsmen to try their hands at creating their own Mustang Station Wagons.
The striking 1965 wagon seen here was built by Joe Kamp, who used as many factory components as possible to create one of the most unique and eye-catching Mustangs you'll ever see.
No showpiece, this Mustang Wagon was designed to be driven. It has been extensively reengineered for its role as a high-performance vehicle.
Using 100 percent steel to create the wagon body meant finding a clean original Mustang hardtop to use as a foundation. The original roof was cut, lengthened, slightly widened, and installed with sections of the original C-pillars out back.
Kamp used the original hardtop pieces and deck lid to construct the tailgate and rear window. He fabricated side windows and trimmed them with factory-period chrome molding. The vehicle's proportions are excellent, with a sporty rake to the roofline that fits Mustang's performance image.
The rear quarter windows were retained as well. The integration into the original quarter panels is seamless, and the factory deck lid was extensively modified to finish the rear of the car with a factory look.
Brilliant red paint covers the beautiful wagon's shape, showing off the special metalwork and expert fabrication. With the addition of gold Shelby-style stripes and a fiberglass hood with an integrated scoop, Kamp made this vehicle an interesting study in "what ifs."
His finish work is as good as any restoration, combining the finest qualities of a hand-made one-off and a factory-built car.
To keep the Mustang looking like a Mustang, all the original chrome was retained, including the slender front and rear bumpers and Mustang's trademark three-element taillights. The front sports a Shelby-style grille with offset pony emblem, and all the original stainless trim was polished. Shelby stripes were used on the rockers.
Kamp opted to advertise the engine under the hood: Ford's venerable 302-c.u., five-liter V8. The mighty 5.0 is second only to the small-block Chevy in terms of adaptability, longevity, and the size of its aftermarket parts industry.
Externally the same size as the original 289, the V8 is an easy fit in the early Mustang's engine bay, looking quite OEM sitting there between those vintage wheel wells.
Beautifully detailed, but with an eye to making it look like the factory built it, Kamp's 1965 Mustang Wagon is finished without excessive chrome or aftermarket pieces.
Instead of taking the easy way out by planting a carburetor atop the engine, he even retained the entire Ford EEC-IV engine management system, including the mass-air induction system.
As a result, the wagon runs and drives like a late-model Mustang, with a recognizable exhaust note and a smooth flow of torque that's a 5.0 specialty. Note how nicely the stock 5.0 airbox was integrated into the early Mustang's inner fenders, the way the A/C was adapted to work inside the vintage body, and the chassis-stiffening braces that clear the V8's intake manifold and distributor as if they were designed to work together. The modern radiator keeps it all cool, assisted by a massive electric fan.
Building on the late-model drivetrain, the transmission is a T5 five-speed manual, topped by a Hurst shifter and fitted with a new heavy-duty clutch. The rear is a Ford eight-inch sporting 3.00 gears, making this wagon an exceptional highway cruiser.
Stock-style suspensions front and rear are consistent with the overall Mustang originality, and Kamp carefully reinforced the chassis to handle the wagon's extra power. He fabricated custom control arms for the rear axle to handle the added torque and installed new shocks and suspension pieces throughout.
Power disc brakes deliver modern stopping performance to match the engine's output, and a factory-looking and sounding dual exhaust system was installed. A set of original Mustang alloy wheels has been fitted, wearing 215/70/15 BFGoodrich T/A radials.
The interior is just as unusual as the body, with a bench-style front seat that seems perfectly matched to a wagon. Kamp installed a custom center console, filler between the seats giving the illusion of a bench with the comfort of buckets.
He covered the seat in a brown vinyl that looks right at home in this Sixties classic, and the tan used on the dash and kick panels is elegant and upscale. White door panels and headliner make it bright and airy inside, an effect enhanced by the large rear side windows.
The back seat is as big as the one in a standard Mustang coupe, so you shouldn't be afraid to grab a few friends when you take this beautiful car out for a cruise. Kamp neatly integrated the A/C into the dash with a few discreet vents, and the original AM radio remains in the center of the dashboard (a powerful AM/FM/CD stereo was built into the console below it). Brown carpets in both the passenger compartment and the cargo area tie the interior together in a highly OEM fashion.
The fate of the original Mustang Station Wagon remains a mystery. Some say it is rotting in a field somewhere. Others claim it was crushed by Ford.
The 1965 Mustang Station Wagon built by Joe Kamp is likely the finest example of this long-lost idea still in existence. Thoroughly engineered with a powerful, updated drivetrain, it rides and handles like a factory-built car, with a structure that is impressively tight and strong.
A fun, practical, stylish, and very attention-getting car, this wagon is about as unique an automotive experience as you can have. To put this one-of-one Mustang in your corral, call Joseph Carroll at RK Motors at (704) 596-5211 or visit the RK Motors website for more information.
For a complete portfolio of photos, visit the Automotive Traveler Image Gallery.
Automotive Traveler would like to thank Jamie Wiehe at RK Motors Charlotte for supplying most of the text and high-resolution images of Joe Kamp's 1965 Ford Mustang Station Wagon.
The first Mustang Station Wagon appeared on the cover of the October 1966 issue of Car and Driver (which, at the time, cost a mere 60 cents). It was born of the fertile mind of Barney Clark, an advertising executive at J. Walter Thompson (now JWT and still Ford's agency of record).
Clark's co-conspirator in this scheme was Robert Cumberford, an up-and-coming designer who had worked at GM, his last assignment being the 1961 Buick Special. Cumberford had established a working relationship with Frank Reisner at Intermeccanica in Italy while working on the Griffith GT project.
Clark and Cumberford, an independent designer by that time, arranged to have a Mustang hardtop shipped to Italy in March 1965. Under Reisner's supervision, they transformed the car over the next 11 months into the green station wagon that graced the Car and Driver cover seen here.
While this vehicle shares the same basic concept as Joe Kamp's 1965 station wagon, differences in the execution of the details are visible, most specifically at the rear. The original car features a traditional tailgate with a retractable rear window; the recreation features a liftgate with a fixed rear window.
The Car and Driver feature references a desire to relocate the gas tank to lower the cargo floor (nothing ultimately came of it)--as well as plans to start producing the car for potential customers.
The idea has resurfaced in the years since, with GM even considering a Firebird station wagon at one point. Yet to this day, there has never been a factory-built, long-roof Pony Car.