There are several problems for the nearly 50-year-old Mustang marque. The biggest, I think, are its dated (read, homely) design, live rear axle, pushrod engine and generally old tech. The Shelby GT500 version starts at $48,810, and who in their right mind is going to pay that kind of bread for a horse that should be put out to pasture?
The Camaro wins no beauty contests either, but it’s a flashy new design that appeals to younger buyers. GM has linked the car to the Transformers movies, marketing basically to young people, and updating its V6 (next month) to get 30 mpg highway.
Next year the SL1 Camaro will be knocking on the GT500’s door with a 550-hp version. Also available will be a new, lighter V6 with 323 hp and better fuel economy.
But there are a couple of other reasons Ford is getting clobbered.
First, the company can’t produce enough of the high-economy (31 mpg) V6 that buyers are demanding. It’s the same engine that goes into the F-150 truck, which sold over a half-million units last year. Guess which vehicle is getting the engines it needs?
Then the big Flat Rock, Mich., plant that builds the Mustang and the Mazda6 just lost the latter, as Mazda left its joint venture with Ford. Sales are in the toilet, and Mazda can build all the cars it needs in Japan.
The factory is too big to support Mustang production alone. So Ford can increase Mustang sales (a new 2014 version is coming, but that’s three years off!), bring in another production partner or move Mustang production elsewhere. None are happy options.
Ford is making great strides with its new cars like the Focus and Fiesta. But it’s letting its old-timers like the Mustang languish and has been doing this for years. The real money is not in the pony car business anymore (if it ever was), but the Mustang should have been treated like the company’s halo car that it once was.
In fact, if you check our DealFinder right now, you’ll find some really extraordinary deals on used Mustangs of all vintages.
Will the new 2014 Mustang arrive in time to reverse the model’s decline? Or will the Camaro become the new king?