50 years of Pony cars

By From page A4 | December 11, 2013

The first Ford Mustang was shown at the New York World’s Fair April 17, 1964, and went on sale shortly thereafter. It was theoretically a 1965 model year. A year later Ford introduced the fastback body style. So that makes 50 years later that Ford is now introducing the 2015 Mustang.

Ford sold 500,000 Mustangs in 1965. It was so popular that it spawned imitators, such as the Chevrolet Camaro two years later in 1967, and the Javelin by American Motors Co. (AMC) in 1969.

The 1960s were the heyday for the Mustang as it became more muscular, especially with the introduction of the Shelby GT in 1966.

Ford blew its Mustang franchise in 1974 when it restyled it and it looked just plain clunky. It continued that ugly look through 1979. It must have been trying to compete with the AMC Pacer, which looked like a glass pumpkin on wheels. The Mustang continued its slide into design oblivion, with the 1993 version being the worst.

By 2005 the Mustang got back on track and improved even more by 2008, with the best being the 2013 version.

Now comes the 2015 coupe that will be followed shortly thereafter by a convertible version. The coupe continues the fastback style. No fastback for the convertible, but it will have a fast top, zipping up and down.

The 2015 Mustang has the classic side panel Mustang-look, the left-facing running horse in the grille and the three-bar taillight combo. But the grille and horizontal headlights can also be found on the popular Fusion and the Focus. Unlike those sedans, the 2015 Mustang comes with three engine variations, which includes a 5-liter V-8 that puts out 420 hp. The wide and low 2015 Mustang also comes with a V-6 and a 305 hp 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine. All have six-speed transmissions for fuel economy.

The Fusion and Focus are sold worldwide. The new Mustang is aimed at the Chinese market. Last year Ford only sold 82,995 Mustangs, with sales down this year nearly 8 percent for the first 11 months. Chevrolet sold 75,552 Camaros through Nov. 30. The median age of Mustang buyers is 52 and for Camaros 49.

Of course, the big difference from the past is the technology, which includes independent rear suspension, blind-side warning, optional cross-traffic alert when backing up, push-button start and ride adjustment from sporty to comfortable.

Will this sixth-generation Mustang be a breakout for Ford like the 1965 Mustang? It is a handsome design. Only time and the Chinese will tell. And maybe the Americans, though most of the buyers Ford is hoping for weren’t even born in 1965. Anyone growing up between 1974 and 1993 probably has a negative view of Mustang. This may change in 2015.

Mountain Democrat

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