I came, I saw, I liked – for the most part.
On December 5, after many months of hushed secrecy, Ford unleashed the '15 Mustang with a promotional campaign that rivaled the introduction of the original 1965 Mustang in April 1964. Except instead of print ads and television commercials, Ford took advantage of today's preferred messenger—social media—in a blitz that had Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all a-twitter around the world. Seems you couldn't log-on to your laptop or Ipad without seeing photos of a bright red '15 Mustang GT.
Some of the buzz came from Ford's own release of much-awaited photos, but it seems most of the share, shares, and more shares came from club members, media, and even Ford's own employees who attended one of six “reveals” on four continents, a worldwide happening designed to showcase the new Mustang's global marketing strategy. At the New York event, Ford CEO Alan Mulally introduced millions of Americans to the '15 Mustang on Good Morning America!, while in Los Angeles a Mustang's tire treads were “immortalized” in concrete at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd., a bow to the Mustang's connection to movies like Bullitt and the upcoming Need for Speed.
In Dearborn, I arrived at Ford's Convention and Event Center with Mustang Club of America president Steve Prewitt and Mustang Times editor Mary Jean Wesche. In the lobby, we were greeted by a display of a dozen Mustangs, from Kathy Miller's original-owner '64½ hardtop to a '13 Boss 302 and including the '62 Mustang 1 concept car and 100001, the white '64½ convertible recognized as the first production Mustang, both of which were borrowed from The Henry Ford across the street. Looking around the oval room, we spotted many familiar faces—Ford's Mustang 50 Year Marketing Manager Jim Owens, members from the Mustang Club of Southeastern Michigan, Classic Design Concept's George Huisman, former Dearborn Assembly Plant employee and longtime Mustang fan Jerry Ostalecki, and Ford Racing's John Clor, who was escorting '65 Mustang designer Gale Halderman while keeping an eye out for the arrival of '65 Mustang product planner Hal Sperlich. When Mary Jean and I lucked into a pair of media seats on the second row, we discovered that we were sitting directly behind Ford's Chief Creative Officer J Mays, CEO Mark Fields, and Edsel Ford II.
The reveal ceremony was short and sweet. After a few words and recognizing Gail Wise as the first person to purchase a '65 Mustang, Fields gave the order to pull the wraps off the 5.0-liter '15 Mustang on the rotating turn-table stage. Of course, by then, nearly everyone in the room had seen the photos that had gone viral after Ford's posting at 12:01 AM. My impression? The '15 Mustang looks much better in person.
As expected, the new Mustang abandons the retro theme of the past 20 years, something that traditional Mustang fans, and the typical Mustang Monthly reader, may not embrace. However, as I pointed out in my March 2012 editorial, it's time for the Mustang to move on in an effort to attract a younger fan base. We baby-boomers have had our fun; let's give the younger generation a Mustang to be proud of.
A week or so after the reveal, I traded e-mails with former Mustang Chief Engineer Art Hyde, who spearheaded the retro-themed '01 Bullitt and '03-'04 Mach 1 while also directing the development of the heavily retro '05 S197 Mustang. When Art asked for my opinion of the '15 Mustang, I replied that I liked the view from the rear, especially the fastback roofline and new rearend treatment, but that I was having trouble with the front view, mainly the new grille opening. He pointed out that the front end was the topic of much discussion during development and that he hoped I would warm up to it over time.
If it's like every other previous Mustang design element that I initially disagreed with, I'm sure I will.