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Yes Mustang Fans, Even Iconic Cars Need to Be Updated

Given the history of Ford’s Mustang, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the reaction I heard this morning to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

1965 Ford Mustang Number 1
Photo: Henry Ford Museum
1965 Ford Mustang Number 1

The piece centered on Ford’s plans to revamp the Mustang with a new design that will not have the current retro look we see with the pony car. What do people think of this move?

Based on a few discussions with Ford fans, they don’t like it. They love the way the current Mustang looks and they want the classic look to stay.

As much as I agree with them and love the look of the current Mustang, it’s time for a change. Last year, Mustang sales were less than half of what they were when the current latest redesign hit its high water mark.

So going with a design that is more updated makes sense. As times change cars have to change, even iconic models.

At the heart of the Mustang makeover is Fords desire to attract younger buyers. As the article pointed out, the average Mustang buyer is 51 years old. That means people who graduated high school in 1979 and remember the Mustang when it was wildly popular in the late 60’s and early 70’s are the primary buyers for the current model which has a retro look.

There’s nothing wrong with selling a car to a 51 year old buyer. But in the car business, the goal is winning over younger buyers. And that’s a tough task with a car that has a retro design. So Ford will come out with an updated model and the Mustang fans will most likely howl at the way Ford is messing with a classic car.

Is there a chance the next Mustang will be a major step backwards? Yes. Over the last 40 years Ford has rolled out a few Mustangs that were forgettable. Remember what they looked like in the mid to late 90’s?

My gut says Ford designers will remember how far they strayed in the past when updating the Mustang with a fresher, more contemporary look. Who knows if it will succeed in winning over younger buyers, but if Ford is going to have a shot with those buyers, it needs a Mustang with a younger, fresher look.


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___________________________ Questions? Comments?BehindTheWheel@cnbc.comand Follow me on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

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