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New Mustang Hearkens Back To Its Roots; 1st Mustang Owner Reminisces On Ponies Past

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jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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DEARBORN (WWJ) - After months of speculation, Ford has shown the world a new Mustang that retains much of its classic look.

Is the pony car back?

It certainly bears a resemblancs to the original Mustang that was unveiled in New York in 1964. Two days before that, Gail Wise purchased the very first Mustang at a Chicago dealership. The dealer wasn’t supposed to show the vehicle to customers, but when Gail–then a young teacher–came in looking for a convertible, he let her purchase it.

“I was just shopping for a convertible,” she said. “I really didn’t go in to buy a Mustang. It was just a coincidence.”

Gail’s new vehicle was an instant head turner.

“Everybody was staring at me, and flagging me down to see the car. Even some police officers were flagging me to come by them, because they wanted to check out the car.”

Gail has owned the Mustang ever since, and brought it to the Dearborn celebration. The vehicle was lined up in the lobby, along with several other classic Mustangs.

“You want to make sure that you’re appealing to all of the enthusiasts,” said Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields about the new design. “But, also do it and interpret it in a modern way.”

The most modern thing about the 2015 Mustang is a third engine choice, to go along with the traditional V-6 and V-8. A new four-cylinder Ecoboost engine will put out at least 305 horsepower, with greatly improved fuel economy.

Specific numbers will be released closer to the vehicle’s launch in the fall of 2014.

“The technology that we have in the four cylinders delivers what customers want and expect,” said Fields.

A four-cylinder engine is also important for Europe and other new Mustang markets. This will be a global vehicle. That’s why there were launch celebrations at six location, including Barcelona, Shanghai and Sydney.

But the Mustang will continue to be made in only one location, Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant.

“I think this is a real pride point for them to know that, first, they are making the iconic Mustang for the company,” said Fields. “Secondly, when they are working on the line, not only are they making a great Mustang for the company, but it’s going to go to all four corners of the globe.”

2014 will be the Mustang’s fiftieth anniversary, which had increased interest in the new model.

“‘Mustang’ is the most iconic name in the Ford family. It may not contribute the most toward Ford’s profits, but the new model creates a buzz that will resonate across the entire brand,” says Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. “The car strikes a good balance between performance, style and – perhaps most important of all – attainability. That’s why Americans can easily connect to its tradition and heritage.”

New Mustang (jeff Gilbert photo)

New Mustang (jeff Gilbert photo)

Ford is hoping that the new version will get more traction with younger buyers. Edmunds.com says that in the past five years, the owner base for the Mustang has grown significantly grayer, with a 12 percent jump in buyers over 55, and a 3 percent drop in the number of buyers under 35.

The Mustang has also trailed the Camaro in sales for three consecutive years, and after 11 months this year, remains 5400 vehicles behind its Chevy competitor.

COO Mark Fields would not say whether this Mustang will bring the “pony car” crown back to Ford.

“We’re going to sell as many as customers want. That’s why we’ve worked to make this vehicle so compelling for folks.”

Unlike the Camaro, which was discontinued for about a decade, Ford has built the Mustang consistently for fifty years. They are planning a big celebration for the official birthday in April, as it occurs during the New York Auto Show.

It’s a vehicle that Kelly Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer says has stood the test of time.

“It’s iconic. Everyone knows about it. It’s a world-wide recognized vehicle.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
Twitter: @jefferygilbert
Facebook: facebook.com/carchronicles

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