Of all of the
notable cars and trucks that are arriving for the 2014 model year,
thereís one big arrival thatís eagerly anticipated: the Ford
Mustang, which turns 50 years old on April 17. Of course, what the
2015 Mustang will be like is Detroitís best-kept secret, just like
when it first appeared.
Mustangís birth came about as a result of the death of the
two-seat Thunderbird in 1958. The resulting outcry from Ford
Thunderbird fans continued for years ó even as Thunderbird sales
was created to compete with Chevroletís Corvette which, in turn,
was created to compete with European sports cars, whose sales were
growing in the 1950s.
Detroit had reacted to rising foreign car sales by releasing
low-priced compact cars. In this contest, Fordís thoroughly
conventional Falcon trounced Chevyís unconventional, rear-engine,
changed in 1961, when Chevy added a four-speed manual gearbox to the
sporty Corvair Monza. As a result, Monza sales leapt from 12,000 in
1960 to 143,000 in 1961. When the new Monza Spyder model was added
for 1962, with its convertible body and 150-horsepower turbocharged
engine, sales shot past 200,000.
Ford general manger Lee Iaccoca knew what had to be done and, 2 1/2
years later, the Ford Mustang hit the market. You know what happened
next: Competitors sprang up, but only the Mustang has been built
continuously since 1964.
Even so, there
have been times when it seems as if Ford forgot what the Mustang was
supposed to be.
Mustang grew so large and heavy that by 1974, it went on a diet.
Sharing its architecture with the Ford Pinto, the í74 Mustang lost
its V-8 engine.
improved with the arrival of the modern, aerodynamic
third-generation Mustang in 1979. While it did boast an
unsophisticated solid rear axle and thirsty V-8, an efficient,
powerful, turbocharged four-cylinder engine was offered in the
1984-86 SVO Mustang.
But at the
same time, Ford executives considered slapping the Mustang name onto
a front-wheel-drive Mazda. The Mustang faithful were furious; Ford
renamed it the Probe.
nonchalance for its pony car, it should come as no surprise that
when it came time to redesign the Mustang in 1994, it was done on a
shoestring budget. Cleverly, Ford used styling reminiscent of the
first pony car. The resulting sales boom ensured the carís
Ford has beaten the Mustangís retro theme to death. No doubt
designers will remain true to the Mustangís design heritage for
2015, but will dramatically modernize the look to make it more
palatable to overseas markets, where the sixth-generation Mustang
will be sold for the first time.
why, in another first, all pony cars will have an independent rear
suspension, which should noticeably improve handling. Also, donít
be surprised if a turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine is
offered ó like the SVO Mustang ó alongside six- and
So this new
car should have an international flair while remaining distinctly
Now you know.