Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Ford says ‘Nothing to report’ on Mustang Mach 1 50th anniversary plans

Photo: Ford Media Center.
So it seems that it’s official: Ford won’t be doing anything in 2019 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legendary Mustang Mach 1, which made its debut in 1969.

“I have nothing to report for Mach 1,” Ford spokesman Jiyan Cadiz told Auto Enthusiasts Newsblaster, in an email. “As you probably know, we played with the nameplate trim earlier this year. But as far as our current Mustang lineup goes, our focus for 2019 is Mustang Bullitt—celebrating 50 years of the iconic movie and movie car, plus an upgraded Shelby GT350.”

That’s all well and good. The Bullitt and the Shelby GT350 are awesome cars, and it’s great that pony cars of this caliber are being built in an era of lookalike crossovers, in which some automakers—Ford included—are announcing plans to almost entirely abandon production of sedans and coupes as we currently know them.

But it’s also worth wondering whether Ford might not be missing a chance at winning more uptake of they were to market a Mach 1 version of the Mustang GT at a price point more accessible than that of their high-end Bullitt and GT350 editions.

That, really, was the spirit of the original Mach 1—it delivered a level of bang for the buck that for its time was astonishing.

Staying true to that spirit might take just a modest horsepower boost and trim package upgrade. With the Bullitt and the Shelby GT350, which start at $46,595 and $61,340 respectively, we’re already in territory that will limit the market. The base 2019 Mustang GT, on the other hand, starts at a much more accessible $26,120. So why not offer a modestly upgraded Mach 1 package for the GT, for a few grand more?

For some perspective, there were 5,582 2001 Bullitt mustangs produced. But these special editions are limited almost by definition. Mass market appeal or accessibility is almost certainly not part of the expectation or strategy here.

Some critics have questioned whether Ford has already built in several self-limiting factors with the Bullitt, intentionally or not. The package is available in only two colors. And, as Matt Farah has quite vocally pointed out, it’s based on a 50-year-old movie that, although it does include one of the most iconic car chase segments ever produced, does not exactly receive high praise as one of Hollywood’s greatest cinematic achievements overall.

Maybe Ford has run the numbers and found that a relatively narrow niche appeal is the best they can hope for as a way of continuing to offer models with some level of appeal to the serious enthusiast in a crossover-driven world.

Let’s face it: this isn’t 1969. In 1969, the Mach 1 package alone accounted for 72,458 units sold for the Mustang, according to Maine Mustang. Contrast that with total unit sales of 81,866 in the U.S. for all 2017 Mustangs, according to an April 2018 Ford Press release. The difference is clear.

Yes, car culture certainly exists today, among Millennials and other segments of the driving public. But apparently, at least as Ford sees it, it isn’t strong enough to justify a 50th-anniversary Mach 1. And maybe they’re right. They, after all, are the ones who have to bet their money when they decide what builds they will offer.

No comments:

Post a Comment