Ford’s iconic coupe is finally having its moment in the UK. What’s so special about it? By Colin Overland
MAYBE IT’S A last hurrah before the self-driving electric pod takes over. Maybe it’s that the latest version is far better suited to the UK. Maybe Ford’s relentless Mustang marketing has hit home. For whatever reason, one of the sales successes of recent months is the Ford Mustang. Not quite au fait with your Mustang history, though? Then you need Mustang by Donald Farr, part of Motorbooks’ excellent Speed Read series that also covers Ferraris and the Porsche 911.
It was a sales sensation from day one And not by accident. A Ford marketing blitzkrieg ensured that if you were sentient in the USA on 17 April 1964, you knew all about the new Ford Mustang. It was unveiled at the New York World’s Fair, part of a campaign that day involving dealers, billboards, newspaper ads and TV slots.
The driving force was Ford exec Lee Iacocca. He’d spotted the post-war baby boomer generation would be getting their driving licences in 1964, and wanted to cash in with something sporty but affordable. It worked: Ford sold a million in 18 months, and recently made its 10 millionth Mustang.
It’s never gone away
The Mustang has evolved in some dubious directions but never strayed too far from its origins. Ford went full retro with 2005’s fifth generation, a trend continued with the 2015 sixth generation, facelifted and tweaked for 2018. It’s only the Mk6 that has been made in right-hand drive and sold through regular UK Ford dealers, but the UK Mustang owners’ club embraces ponies of all ages and stripeyness.
It’s a movie icon
Steve McQueen at the wheel of a Mustang in San Francisco in 1968’s Bullitt is an enduring image, but the Mustang’s first movie appearance was in 1964 in Goldfinger. And it made appearances in both Gone in 60 Seconds films, in 1974 and 2000.
The ’Stang invented personalisation
Mini and Fiat 500 owners love customising their rides but Ford was there five decades ago with the Mustang, offering stripes, interior trims, wheel covers and even an optional tissue box… That whole drag race thing is real The 2018 car comes with Drag Strip mode, which keeps torque output constant while you’re changing gear. And while people have raced Mustangs on circuits, its favoured combat arena has always been the dragstrip. There have been all manner of hotted-up Mustangs, most notably the rapid Shelby cars and today’s Roush upgrades available from Mountune. Steeda, who have been tuning Mustangs for 30 years, can get 777bhp from your V8.
The current one is a blast
It didn’t look very promising when Ford said the Mustang was getting a facelift involving a power decrease for the EcoBoost four version. And yet the new Mustang is a peach; proper 2018-spec safety and equipment levels, Ford’s dealer network, some sane finance packages and a car that doesn’t require a racetrack to be fun to drive. Ford UK has sold 7200 Mustangs in the last two and a half years; it’s Britain’s best-selling V8 coupe. Around 80 per cent are coupes, 70 per cent are V8s, half are manuals and a full third are painted Orange Fury. Great work, people.