When Ford introduced the Mustang on April 17, 1964, it was marketed as a 1964½ model. However, those highly collectible vehicles actually were titled 1965’s, so that first model year had an extra-long sales run.
The redesigned 2015 Mustang, which was revealed on Dec. 5 in six cities on four continents, will follow that same marketing plan with a longer first sales year, using the marque’s 50th anniversary next April as a sales and marketing centerpiece.
Mustang ushered in the Pony Car/Muscle Car Era the same way the Plymouth Voyager created the minivan market. Both were huge and unexpected initial successes and both have had long automotive lives.
Ford figured on selling fewer than 100,000 of those first Mustangs; however, the company produced its millionth Mustang within 18 months.
Now, with more than nine million sold, Ford is launching the sixth generation Mustang by thinking globally with a slick styling makeover. The company obviously wants to export this vehicle to help expand Ford’s international brand while maintaining its at-home appeal.
The redesign manages to keep the essence of a Mustang, incorporate today’s Ford lineup-wide styling cues, and appeal to both traditionalists and the “what’s happening now’’ generation. Over the years, Mustang coupes have been the sales leader, but it was the fastback that immediately became the iconic collectible, followed by the convertible.
For 2015, the fastback and convertible are the only two models available, and Ford has gone to considerable expense to give them their own identity in the form of styling and different body panels.
The first impression of the 2015 fastback is that Ford has built a car that truly will appeal to car lovers around the planet. The styling is impressive, but a car with a 5.0-liter V-8 producing 420 horsepower and running on premium fuel isn’t going to be a mainstream attraction overseas. Nor is the standard 3.7-liter V-6 (300 horsepower).
But what about the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine? That should offer some interesting fuel economy numbers. The four-banger will have 305 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. We wonder how these engines will differ in their exhaust tones? And is there an eight- or ten-speed automatic in the works?
For now, the available transmissions are a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic, though Ford has new technology on the drawing board.
“The EcoBoost engine delivers the healthy output that Mustang drivers expect regardless of the speed,’’ says Scott Makowski, EcoBoost powertrain engineering manager. “This engine might be small in displacement, but it delivers where a Mustang driver expects it, with a broad, flat torque curve and great drivability under any conditions.’’
Ford says the new Mustang, especially performance versions, will have toggle switches for Selectable Drive Modes to easily adjust settings for steering effort, engine and transmission response, and stability control.
Ford’s design team did a nice job with the Mustang’s grille, devising a look that keeps a resemblance to the Aston Martin-inspired grilles throughout the company’s present line. The original, round, bug-eyed Mustang headlamps now have a narrower look, but the three vertical gills of the old front fascia are retained in a trio of vertical LED driving lamps.
In the rear, the traditional three vertical taillights are given a new-millennium touch with directional signals operating in the sequential mode taken mainstream in the ’60s by the Mustang’s sibling, the Mercury Cougar.
Joel Piakowski, director of external design, describes getting the Mustang’s platform correct as the key to the re-architecture. “It’s like the skeleton of a human. If you look at an athlete or super-model, it’s pretty easy to make that person look good when you drape muscle and skin over that skeleton.
“It may not be evident in the photos but you’ll notice when you see the car in person that we shifted the measurements into more exotic proportions,’’ he says.
Translation: The roof and hood are 1.25 inches lower and the trailing edge of the rear deck is 3 inches lower. The hip point for the driver also is about an inch lower.
Another major change is pulling out the rear wheels, increasing the rear track by nearly 3 inches. “That allowed us to give the fastback a more muscular haunch,’’ says Piakowski.
Ford gave the design team free reign, which allowed it to create a totally different deck lid and rear quarter panels to accommodate the convertible’s space needs.
“The convertible has a clean, uninterrupted beltline,’’ says Piakowski.
The interior retains the two large gauge pods of the original Mustangs, but a full array of safety, driver assist, and MyFord Touch systems is available.
A badge on the dashboard will pay homage to the car’s ancestry with the inscription, “Mustang—Since 1964.’’