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Mustang rides again with new model at age 50

After 50 years of production, Ford Motor is hoping the Mustang still has the horses (and horsepower) to draw car buyers into the showroom.

The newest version of the pony car was unveiled in six cities around the world on Thursday, and while the model has historically been identified with American buyers, its new version will be sold across the globe for the first time. The automaker's executives said they believe the iconic brand's popularity will help it attract attention in a more competitive global market.

"People have been waiting for this vehicle," said CEO Alan Mulally.

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What stands out about the 2015 Mustang is that its stance is lower and wider, with wheels that are pushed out farther. At the same time, the new version includes many of the styling cues the pony car has long been known for, including the fastback spoiler.

2015 Ford Mustang
Source: Ford Motor Co.
2015 Ford Mustang

The base model comes with a 1.7-liter V-6 engine, but customers can also opt for one with 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine or a 5.0-liter V-8 engine.

In short, it will have the power Mustang owners will be seeking.

Over the last 50 years, the Mustang has become a legendary model, but making an aging nameplate a halo car is a challenge.

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The carmaker was careful not to set sales targets for the new Mustang, but it believes the car has so much name recognition (the Mustang Facebook page has more than 5 million fans) that global sales will be strong.

That's one reason why Ford included Shanghai as one of six cities where the car was being unveiled. The others are New York, Dearborn, Mich., Los Angeles, Barcelona and Sydney. The Mustang will go on sale in China in 2015.

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Ford has sold more than 9.2 million Mustangs since the first one came out in 1964. During those first years, the car was a smash hit, with more than a half million sold in 1965 and 1966, respectively. Since then, sales have trailed off, with more than 100,000 models sold annually during most of the '90s. This year, Ford has sold 71,149 Mustangs.

—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau. Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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