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Ford Mustang at 52: The Making of Automotive Icon

What is today known as Ford’s global Mustang day, as marked on April 17th, is nothing shot of celebration of restoration and reinvention, writes FRANK BOYEDE

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here are many automotive icons today. But none is comparable with the legendary Ford Mustang. It was destined to become an idol and be positioned almost like the very first Model T, by the late Henry Ford.

But before it officially went on sale 52 years ago, the car enjoyed a pre-launch hype, type that Ford brand had never experienced. The concept vehicle was put on show. And numerous pictures were circulated to the worldwide press, leading to thousands of letters pouring in from across the globe from people wanting to know if Ford was really going to build this dream machine
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intro-photo-666337-s-429x262This in turn created the opportunity for Ford’s very first International Press Introduction of an automobile on April 13, 1964. The event was broadcast to 11 European cities and covered by over 2,000 reporters.”

All the hype impacted greatly on sales volume of the machine from first day it went on sale, precisely April 17th 1964.

On that very first day, 22,000 were sold. First 12 months, 418,810 Mustangs were already stinging the roads. But what would for decades be regarded as most important sale was made two days before the machine officially went on sale, courtesy of a 22-year-old elementary school teacher named Gail Brown.

According to Ford documents, Miss Brown (now Mrs. Wise) had been driving to work in her mum’s Ford Fairlane convertible before she decided to acquire her own car. She happened to visit Johnson Ford Showroom in Chicago. Date was April 15th 1964.

“The salesman, took her to the storeroom where, still under a cover, was a new Skylight Blue 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible,” recalled in press release mailed to Motoring World last week. “Brown borrowed money from her parents and bought the Mustang for US$3,419, becoming the first recorded buyer of what went on to become an American icon.”

That was it. She made it. She bought the very first unit of the first model of Ford Mustang. This year (2016), Mrs. Wise is aged 74. Her 52-year-old Mustang remains in her custody. According to reports, the car was kept in her garage for 27 years, after which she decided to restore it back to its original state.

During this year’s Ford Global Mustang’s day, Mrs. Wise was celebrated with her iconic car. Auctioneers recently valued the car for $100,000 to $250,000, whenever its owner decides to sell it.

But whatever happens, Ford Motor Company would always remain close to Mrs Wise’s Mustang, being the first to be sold, remaining with the same owner, who, according to reports, is now afraid of driving the car. For she would not want it scratched.

Ford Executive President, Lee Iacocca, who spearheaded the development of the Mustang, was said to have introduced it as a new line for Ford, with versatility as its key attribute. The Mustang was to be an economical, compact car with the style of an expensive European model along with high performance capabilities – the muscle car as we know it today.

“We don’t claim the Mustang is a universal car, or that it can be all things to all people,” Iacocca told the press. “But we do believe the Mustang will be more things to more people than any other automobile on the road…We like to think that in the process we have achieved a new dimension in American motoring – perhaps in world motoring.”

Akin to early 60s’ experience, latest model of Mustang has enjoyed wide reception around the world. According to global IHS Automotive registration data, during the first six months of 2015 the machine was the world’s best-selling sports car. Customers globally registered 76,124 vehicles. Then the Mustang beat its rivals in Germany to become the top-selling sports car on the autobahns for March 2016.

And for the first time in its history, Ford Mustang is officially available in Nigeria with limited left-hand drive versions having been allotted to the country.

Today the 2016 Mustang GT with its 5.0-litre V8 engine pumping out 435 hp features the return of hood vent-integrated turn signals, something fans have been clamouring for, influencing Ford to bring back the popular feature as standard equipment on the new model.

New colour options make the Mustang more personalised than ever, while added features like SYNC®2 with conversational voice recognition, smartphone-like touch screen, and intuitive graphical interface proving that the old certainly does mesh beautifully with the new.

Today’s Mustang has a 52-year-old legacy and is considered one of the greatest automotive success stories of all time. Since Iacocca’s speech at the World Fair in New York, more than 8.7 million have been sold globally – a new dimension in world motoring indeed.

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