While it’s not the original muscle car, the Ford Mustang is nevertheless one of the most iconic vehicles in the world today. And April 17th symbolizes the car’s 56th birthday, marking the start of the mighty pony car segment, attainable performance, and two global sales championship belts. Because, believe it or not, it is the world’s best selling sports car. Indeed, even as the muscle car segment struggles here in the United States, the Ford Mustang sold 102,090 units globally, according to the most recent new vehicle registration data from IHS Markit. And in Europe, Mustang sales in Germany increased 33 percent, Poland sales rose by nearly 50 percent, and nearly 100 percent in France.
Even as Europe has no shortage of fantastic makes and models that originated there, it appears that there’s no substitute for mighty Americana.
The Ford Mustang also holds claim to being the only muscle car in the past 70 years to have not gone the way of the dodo bird, or into hiatus in some way. It’s otherwise withstood the adversity of highly unfavorable market conditions. From the OPEC oil embargo, followed by the malaise era, the peaks and valleys of the 1980’s, and the ho-hum 90’s that carried into the 2000’s. The Camaro, Challenger and Charger have all disappeared for a few years at least once.
These days, the Ford Mustang still offers plenty of performance for just about any budget. The 2.3L EcoBoost engine is arguably the best entry level motor of any of today’s muscle cars with its compact size, gobs of torque, and fun little turbo noises. Ford Performance is also not neglecting the base level Mustang, with the recent launch of the 2020 Mustang EcoBoost Performance Pack. At the top end, there’s the 760 horsepower Mustang Shelby GT500. It’s certainly the most track-capable, quickest and sophisticated Mustang yet, but when the MSRP can surpass $100,000 fully loaded, the concept of an affordable performance car is eliminated.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of performance in between the two bookends of the world’s original pony car. Looking forward, the Mustang is beginning to shape itself as a brand of sorts, with the all-electric Mach-E crossover SUV entering the fray to compete with the likes of Tesla. Despite the controversy, pre-order slots for the Mach-E seem to be completely spoken for.