It's Back To The Future For Ford's Mustang

Ford stood far above the crowd at the press preview for the New York Auto Show yesterday by parking a sparkling, canary yellow 2015 Mustang on the 86th-floor observation deck of the Empire State Building. It was exactly 50 years ago this week that the automaker unveiled the first Mustang at the New York World's Fair in “Ford’s first International Press Introduction of an automobile,” as Lee Iacocca put it.

The occasion was a press conference announcing the Mustang 50 Year Limited Edition, which will go into production later this year. The Mustang’s base price was $2,300 in 1964; the company has not determined what the price of the homage vehicle will be.

It will “be a seriously limited affair, with only 1,964 examples of the special edition Mustang slated to be produced (the number chosen to coincide with the 'Stang's first year in production),” writes AutoBlog’s Steven J. Ewing.

It’s based on the 2015 Mustang GT with the Performance Pack, the model displayed yesterday. It will come in either Wimbledon White, the color of the first Mustang off the assembly line (serial No. 0001) or Kona Blue. 

“Today we know the Ford Mustang so well it’s hard to imagine what a revolutionary idea it was in 1964,” points out the subhed to Kate McLeod’s story in the New York Daily News. “But then people knew they wanted it before the wraps came off. Today Ford has sold more than 9 million Mustangs. It’s a car that’s available to the world. And it has always belonged to the world as a symbol of optimism.”

Indeed, according to Iacocca’s hand-typed speech, advance word about the Mustang had generated more interest than any vehicle in Ford’s recent history. “A high school youngster from Louisiana promised to start a Mustang fan club,” Iacocca said. “He wrote: ‘It’s better than Elvis or the Beatles.’”

Now how could you top that?

The Daily News is also running a slide show of Ford-furnished photographs showing how it got the car, piece by piece, to the observation deck. “Just what does it take to park the 2015 on top [well, give or take 15 floors] of the Empire State Building? An assembly crew, a whole night, and a chopped-up ’Stang,” reads the first caption.  

An aspirational, “we-can-do-it” theme ruled the day.

“As we reflect today, from 50 years since the 1964 World’s Fair, it’s fair to say that it’s ‘back to the future,’” Ford COO Mark Fields said in a speech. “What we’ve learned is that the most successful among us will be those who continue to look beyond commonly held beliefs, find new ways and defy constraints,” Fields continued, reports MLive.com’s Michael Wayland.

“In creating an ode to its own icon, Ford took a page from Porsche, which last year gave us a white 911 50th Anniversary Edition with lots of 1960s cues, and also created a tasteful homage that doesn’t make us dream of Jell-O molds,” writes Car & Driver’s Clifford Atiyeh. He also excoriates Chevrolet for “unthinkably” suspending production of the Camaro for seven dark years, therefore depriving it of an “anniversary edition that truly means something” in 2017.

“Mustang anniversary shout-outs include logos on the seat backs, an exclusive faux gas cap on the rear fascia, and a numbered plaque on the passenger’s side,” Atiyeh reports. “The interior also gets a specially turned aluminum trim panel across the dash.”

“Chrome trim was much more prevalent on cars in the 1960s than it is today, so we added some discreet highlights for the grille, side glass and tri-bar tail lamps,” said Moray Callum, Ford VP of design, in a press release. “The darker Kona Blue provides a particularly striking contrast against the chrome.”

Check out the official “Mustang 50th Anniversary Celebration” minisite, which has a “World Wide Web 25th Anniversary Celebration” feel to it (with 100% more logos). 

“While some collectors will undoubtedly stash this car away in a museum, those who choose to hit the open road will get a world-class sports car that can run with the best,” said Mustang chief engineer Dave Pericak. 

For more coverage from the New York Auto Show, which opens to the public tomorrow, see Karl Greenberg’s interview with Mini manager of marketing, Tom Salkowsky. “When you buy a Mini, you are part of an enthusiast's society where everyone is a brand evangelist in one way or another,” Greenberg writes.

He also reports about a forum at which Jim Franchi, division president of media at AutoTrader.com, “drew a roadmap for how automakers and dealers can stay relevant as consumers move back and forth between on and offline media.”

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