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Today We Celebrate The Birth Of The Pony Car Segment

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Heritage Edition.

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.

Ford Mustang
Photo copyright

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.

Mustang Mach-E And Family

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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