Mustang Fever, All Over Again

November 12, 2004 Mustang Fever, All Over Again By LISA KALIS - NY Times
PRIL JOYCE had never felt this way about a car before. For almost two years,
she followed the advance photos and reviews on the newly redesigned 2005 Mustang.
"The first time I saw it, I knew I had to have it," she said last week.
Starting even before the car was released in October, said Ms. Joyce, 31, an accounts receivable manager from Alabaster, Ala., she contacted 30 dealers in two states to check inventory and prices. When she heard that a local dealer had a Mustang, she rushed over to see it, but found she wasn't alone - "the people were standing two and three deep."
Ms. Joyce still hadn't found exactly the model she wanted - a manual V-6 in black or silver - and she said she planned to order one if something did not turn up soon. The wait "hasn't killed me yet," she said, "but it's getting close."
The release of the new Mustang has set off a stampede of interest across the country. Many point to its retro style, three years in the making, with cues from the 1960's and 70's. Some cite the upgraded V8 engine, with greater horsepower than last year's model. There's the fairly affordable price, starting at $19,410 for the V-6 and $24,995 for the V-8 GT. But Ford appears to have tapped into something else: an emotional reaction strong enough to turn some buyers into auto stalkers.
"They're physically following the truck in and saying, `I'll take that car,' " said Brian Carlson, fleet sales manager at Earnhardt Ford in Tempe, Ariz. The dealership received and sold 10 Mustangs in two weeks. The cars that did not sell right off the carrier were on the lot for two days at most.
Kathy West, a computer support technician from Hope Mills, N.C., was driving to a furniture store one evening last month with her husband, Ryan, when they spotted a yellow V-6 at a dealership. "Ryan said, `Turn around! Turn around!' " she recalled.
Less than three hours later, they had traded in her Ford Explorer S.U.V., bought the Mustang and driven it home - a purchase that Ms. West, 33, hadn't even considered until she saw the car. She did take a test drive before buying, but they didn't leave the lot to make a decision. "We both knew it wouldn't be there when we came back," she said. The only problem: "It was really dirty. Everybody had their fingerprints on it."
She was lucky to find a Mustang. McCarville Ford in Centereach, N.Y., has presold its entire allotment of Mustangs through January - just 15 cars. "I could sell a lot more if I could get them," said Mike McCarville, the owner. To make sure he has something to show the dozen or so gawkers who turn up every day, he doesn't let the new owners take their cars home until the next shipment comes in.
With supply limited so far, buying early has disadvantages. Forget about making a deal on the price. Paul Russell, a marketing manager at Ford, said that many cars are selling for $1,500 over the sticker price. Last week, nearly 20 dealers were auctioning new models at eBay Motors for thousands more than manufacturer's suggested retail price.
Over the last two decades, Mustang's annual sales have fluctuated - 225,290 in 1980, down to 80,247 in 1991 and back to the mid-100,000 range for the last four years, according to Autodata, an auto market research firm. As of last week, Mr. Russell said, dealers had already ordered 42,000 Mustangs for this model year.
The cars should be more available in the next few months, and shoppers will have the option of a convertible this spring, as well as different trim levels and more engine choices.
Interest in the new Mustang has been building for some time. Early drawings and photos appeared in car magazines and on car-related Web sites by late 2002. In 2003, concept models of the coupe and the convertible made the rounds at auto shows around the country, generating plenty of interest. "Some of the regional shows were upset because we didn't have enough of the prototypes to go around," Mr. Russell said. "It was our most requested vehicle."A production model appeared at the shows in January of this year, and that same month, interest was high enough for dealers to begin taking orders.
OF course, Mustang also has the benefit of a 40-year history - and a corps of romantics who have always loved the car for its early image of power and adventure.
"People go to showrooms just to see the Mustang," said Joe Barker, a manager at the auto research firm CSM Worldwide, "even if they're not a serious buyer."
That group includes Arthur Ferron, 58. When he passed a red '05 at a dealership, he quickly made a U-turn for a closer look. Apparently he wasn't the first. "The salesman had seen me through the window - he laughed and said, `You just had to turn around, didn't you?' " said Mr. Ferron, an advertising production manager from Manchester, Conn. "All I wanted to do was sit in one."
When Robb Anderson, 24, heard there was a new GT with a manual transmission at his local dealer, he also had to take a look. He wasn't planning on buying, but two days later he traded in his 2003 Mustang for the new model.
"It has the classic muscle-car look to it," Mr. Anderson said. His new Mustang is his third, and his favorite by far. His first, when he was 16, was a 1988 four-cylinder automatic. "That was barely a Mustang," he said.
Last year's line hasn't been totally forgotten yet. With all of the incentives and discounts, a 2004 Mustang can sometimes go for $5,000 less than a 2005 model. For two weeks in late October, 2004 sales at Earnhardt Ford were in the "double digits," Mr. Carlson said. But he thinks the price isn't the only factor convincing some buyers to pass up the redesigned Mustang. "Some people don't like the retro styling," he said.
No one will be safe from the marketing campaign. On Oct. 29, Ford introduced a commercial starring a digitally recreated Steve McQueen, star of the 1968 movie "Bullitt." (Mr. McQueen, who died in 1980, drove a Mustang fastback GT in the film's famous car-chase scene.) Over the next few months, the new model will appear in TV shows like "Alias," "The O.C." and "American Idol."
"The airwaves are going to be inundated," Mr. Russell said.
Perhaps the old "Bullitt" fans aren't regular viewers of "The O.C.," but there is diversity among the people showing up at dealerships to buy Mustangs. "We see people from the 60's who grew up with them, and want to recapture their youth," said Ed Duquette of Vista Ford in Woodland Hills, Calif. "Then we see younger buyers, because there isn't that much competition in the factory sports car segment."
And there are the loyal Mustang enthusiasts, like 47-year-old Michael Hesslink. He ordered his in mid-October and expects to have it by the end of the year, bringing his number of Mustangs to four. (His garage also holds a 2002 Roush, a 2001 V-6 and a 1970 Mach 1.) He plans to make the new model his everyday driving car. Still, Mr. Hesslink, an airplane safety instructor from Middleburg, Fla., has other hopes for the new model.
"Mustangs are great investments," he said. "I think it's going to be the same way 35 years from now. This will be the car everyone's looking to fix up."
Yet another $.02 worth from a proud owner of a 1970 Mach 1 351C @ http://community.webshots.com/album/18644819fHAehGJAjt
begin 666 a.gif M1TE&.#EA(0`A`,0``/_____O[_?>WN_.SN^]O>>MK=Z<G-Z,C-:$A,YS<\YC M8\924KU"0KTQ,;4A(:T0$*T````````````````````````````````````` M`````````````````````````"'Y! $`````+ `````A`"$`0 72("".Y *M*&J0;$L&Z3D\\>G>2%V03@TI-U'/1R0.@LBDDE<\+9:D0HT@HNF4IF;3X1+X
M-S ^7"5V2FTQ8$B8,4]P) E:;Y\#BA!HGPTQ"CZ>:84H?W(IAU"<" "E-7]0 MH3$CK)9*NBFX(H%727DHJ"+!;$FPL0S4U*H^=S>F39HLS]LUE"S$C]7F#-<U :C"3I* =([2G=TB>\0>0IXI)N2M_%(B$``#L` ` end
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.