Julie L. Cleveland
Once again, Ford Motor Company adds weight to the Ford Mustang, and time will tell whether or not this will be a return to the 1970s styling decisions. Between the weight gain and the addition of a 4-cyclinder engine, the Mustang may have performance issues. Will the performance issues hurt the 2015 sales?
The iconic Ford Mustang is about to gain as many as 300 pounds when the 2015 model hits the roads in 2014. While a few pounds on a performance muscle car may not seem like much, it can be detrimental in a 4-cylinder, which will be available in the 2015 Mustang. This extra weight coupled with a smaller engine may result in a car that does not have much to offer in the performance department. This could be seen as a lesson unlearned from the 1971 – 1973 weight gain that resulted in dismal sales. This little extra poundage will not stop Mustang enthusiasts from ponying up the money to buy the car, but it might not do much for the MPG or the ability to dash off the line.
The Ford Mustang is the first of the American muscle cars to roll off the line, and it is the only one that has never had a break in production since its inception in the spring of 1964. It has been fondly referred to as a 1964 and a half model, but Ford recognizes it as a 1965 model. The Mustang inspired other muscle cars like the Chevy Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird. Built on a Ford Falcon platform, the Mustang was designed to be a compact, lightweight passenger vehicle that would appeal to the youth of the 60s. Little did Ford Motor Company know that when the Mustang hit the showrooms it was creating a new car launch that was only rivaled by the introduction of the Model A.
The Mustang took its name from the Mustang fighter planes that executive stylist, John Najjar, found appealing. He made the suggestion to Ford Motor Company, and with the help of stylist Phillip T. Clark, the Mustang name stuck. The Mustang made its debut at the Watkins Glen in 1962 with Don Gurney behind the wheel showing off the prowess of the little car. The public got its chance to gawk at the car during the 1964 World's Fair in New York. It was love at first sight for all.
The Mustang is as at home on the track as it is passing mile markers on a highway. Shortly after it was introduced, it was the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 where it got to show off its stylish lines before thousands of race enthusiasts. It also picked up trophies for first place and second place in its class at the Tour de France in 1964. These are the types of accolades that helped make the Mustang a car lover's dream.
The car was always built to be a lightweight vehicle for performance, and while it originally had a 4-cylinder engine, dealerships were adding V-8 engines to it as soon as they got them. Ford Motor Company began offering optional V-8s in the within the next year, and the 6-cylinders were wearing the Falcon 2.8 liter engine.
No sooner were the first cars out and sold, that designers started looking at lengthening the car and adding weight to it. They began to beef it up and give it a more aggressive look without adding anything to the performance. The base 6-cylinder added 140 pounds in 1967, and in 1969, the weight increased again. The roofline redesign added more aerodynamics to the heavier car, so it was not without some benefits.
Unfortunately, the next changes in the weight and the style of the Mustang were not as successful. Trying to appeal to the demand for larger luxury cars, the Mustang suddenly became longer and heavier in the 70s. The 1971 – 1973 models were 800 pounds overweight and could not get out of their own way. Partly due to emission equipment and partly due to bad design, the Mustang sat on the sidelines with dismal sales. Those sales went to the Pinto and the Maverick.
If the new Mustang is going to continue to gain weight, then there needs to be another Lee Iacocca to come in and realize that the car must be returned to its original performance in order to remain appealing to muscle car fans. The Mustang will always be an American icon, and it will always have its fans. Those who like to go fast will certainly be willing to do their own modifications if Ford does not.