Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

At 25, the Mustang Is Still Going Strong

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

At 25, the Mustang Is Still Going Strong

Article excerpt

IT gave the nation a new class of automobile - the pony car. It gave young buyers an affordable, sporty car like none before it. And it gave the Ford Motor Company a much-needed sales boost.

Twenty-five years ago this month, Ford's Mustang debuted at the New York World's Fair. Today, it remains one of the nation's most popular sporty coupes.

It was a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants idea hatched up by a bunch of Ford executives meeting at a motel near the company's world headquarters outside Detroit. It was originally supposed to be called the Cougar, but somebody liked the name of an old World War II fighter plane.

At $2,368, the Mustang carried a sticker price that put it within reach of the newly maturing baby-boom generation.

"The timing was crucial. A young, affluent and well-educated group of people was coming onto the market," says Michael Marsden, a professor of popular culture at Bowling Green University. "Price was crucial. Here was a car they could afford."

Ford launched the Mustang with one of the most powerful media blitzes in automotive history. After investing $100 million in the car's development, the automaker could ill afford a repeat of the fiasco that accompanied the launch of the Edsel less than a decade earlier.

Ford got more than it ever imagined. The company would have settled for 75,000, even 100,000, sales the first year. Instead, American buyers raced to their dealers in record numbers, driving away with 418,000 Mustangs during the first 12 months the car was on the market. Those sales translated into more than $1 billion in profits in 1964 and '65.

The car's unique blend of styling, performance, and affordability made it a hit with the American public.

"There's only been four cars like this in automotive history: the Model T, the Corvette, the Volkswagen Beetle, and the Mustang," says Dr. …

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