Ford Mustang's new European look: A big mistake?

The Detroit auto giant is preparing to overhaul an American icon, even though many middle-aged fans may not be ready for an update.

By Apr 17, 2012 2:28PM

Few things are more classically American than a Ford (F) Mustang, the Pony car that spawned dozens of imitators after it was launched in 1964.

Today's Mustang still bears a strong resemblance to the original, part of a years-long attempt by Ford to ride a retro trend that saw baby boomers buying Volkswagen (VLKAY) Beetles and Chevrolet (GM) Camaros. But all that is about to change, says Mike Ramsey at The Wall Street Journal.

Ford is planning a sleeker, more European look for its new Mustang in a bid to attract younger consumers who have less affection for muscle cars of yore. The new Mustang will reportedly launch in 2014 and will likely look like a Ford Fusion or the Evos model that was unveiled by Ford in late 2011. 

Will the Mustang's new look backfire?

Ford might destroy an iconic brand. "This is a scary moment for Ford, and it really needs to tread carefully," says Justin Cupler at TopSpeed. The last time Ford tried to remake the Mustang -- the zippy Mustang II in the 1970s -- it "nearly killed off the Mustang name altogether." The Mustang is a "muscle car," and Ford would be wise not to stray too far with its makeover. 

But the Mustang's style is getting old. The automotive world's retro trend may have "finally run its course," says Paul A. Eisenstein at MSNBC. Ford is facing "increasingly stringent fuel economy standards" in the U.S., and intense competition outside North America, necessitating not only a new look, but a new paradigm. "There are even rumors of a Mustang hybrid." Ford does risk "a tidal wave of opposition from traditionalists," but a younger generation might "be more accepting" of a toned-down Mustang. 

And Ford has to move beyond baby boomers. The average Mustang buyer is 51 years old, and is considered a "near-luxury" consumer in "terms of spending habits," says Mike Ramsey at the Wall Street Journal. While baby boomers are "still an important demographic," fueling sales in minivans and SUVs, "that generation is near the end of its run as hard-charging car consumers." Ford and others face the difficult challenge of tapping into Generation Y -- those born in the 80s and 90s -- many of whom are less excited about owning cars than their parents. 

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Tags: FgmVLKAY
Apr 18, 2012 12:27AM
To me the Evos Concept has design ideas and styling cues similar to some of the more popular Thunderbirds Ford created.  So if Ford really wants to create a new coupe that appeals to another audience, then bring back the Thunderbird name with this Evos look and let the market decide what they want.  The classic Mustang look is not broken, and if it isn't broken then don't fix it!  The classic look is just as popular as it ever was.  There is a reason for that, so why mess with what works other than to refine the problems and keep the Mustang up to date?  I personally have been a Thunderbird fan as well, but the Thunderbird never got as much attention as the Mustang.  This new Evos concept is pretty cool in it's own right, so take that kind of attention to detail and make a new Thunderbird that us Ford fans can be proud of.  One that can replace the Fusion on the Nascar circuit.  Nascar is just not the same without the Thunderbird representing Ford, because watching a car with a name that represents a family sedan is somehow less exciting.
Apr 17, 2012 8:31PM
Ford just can't stand success.  Classics should be left alone.  Some songs - the National Anthem, for example - should be sung wihout styling.  A car like the Mustang should be left recognizably a Mustang.
Apr 17, 2012 7:05PM

One more thing. To prove the strength of the Mustang throughout the American car buying public:


The Mustang is the reason GM built the Camaro.

The Mustang is the reason GM stopped building the Camaro and...

The Mustang is the reason GM started building the Camaro once again.

That's called a "Yatzee" from where I come from!

Apr 17, 2012 8:14PM

As owners of a 2011 California GT Convertible ... we have the following thoughts..

Our 80 year old father inlaw drives the car like a bat out of hell!  We are 50 !

Our 21 and 24 year old daughters drive the Mustang so we cant get any wheel time ourselves!

Ford needs listen carefully to folks who drive or ogle or ogal the Mustang! This is and always has been about a visceral GUT feeling.. push back in the seat.. Iconic wows across multiple generations. Sure expect refinement and enhancement updates / incorporation of new technology but a Mustang is a Mustang.  Use common sense!  If we wanted a Euro car we would have bought one. Driving a Mustang is like riding a Stallion full Throttle bareback! Once you do it you'll understand! Screw the marketing data. How about that for real demographics !!

Apr 17, 2012 8:17PM
oh boy. I need to buy one before they f**k it up.
Apr 17, 2012 3:21PM
My son is 14 and he knows a muscle car when he sees one. It's a big mistake to think that people born in the 80's - 90's are less excited about owning cars than their parents. If Ford is going to drastically change the Mustang they should just discontinue the line and call it something else rather than insulting consumers.
Apr 17, 2012 7:37PM
The 60's design wasn't broke and didn't need to be fixed.  The old Coke wasn't broke and didn't need to be fixed but people with too much time on their hands are forever trying to justify their positions and salaries.  Are they trying to send the "Stang" the way of the Falcon, Pinto and Edsel?  Hey, if it looks good as it is, LEAVE IT ALONE!
Apr 17, 2012 8:13PM
If you wnt a sleeker "european" styled car, buy the fusion.  Leave the mustang alone....remember back to the days of those awful looking hatchback mustangs of the '80s.  I'd rather be seen driving a gremlin than one of those nutered mustangs
Apr 18, 2012 8:43AM
best thing Ford can do is leave the Mustang alone!
Apr 17, 2012 7:16PM
Oh my god!  Cant leave a good thing alone, Same thing they did in '74
and f***ed it all up...for years  Which kinda sounds like they are running outta
options and just using the name plate.  Sure hope Chevy doesn't follow that.
Apr 18, 2012 8:48AM

Gentlemen and Women,

I am reading that most of you have agreed that if FORD changes the Mustang to another design other than the fastback or the Boss then it should be renamed! How true! This is too easy! How is it possible that the Executives Suits at Ford cannot understand this? The Ford Mustang is a iconic piece of American Car and Racing History! I have a 2009 GT here in Europe and it turns heads EVERYPLACE i go! and Europeans marvle at the pure power and look that it has! and nothing but great comments from them about the LOOK!

Wake up Ford Suits and dont blow a good thing!

Apr 17, 2012 7:06PM
Did it before and killed the Mustang. Why will this be any different?
Apr 18, 2012 8:42AM
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Leave the Mustang alone
Apr 18, 2012 8:50AM
I'd like to know where Ford gets the idea the Mustang doesn't appeal to buyers born in the 80s and 90s. Wrong, wrong, wrong!  All my kids were born in the 80s and 90s and they love the Mustang! In fact, even my grandsons (13 and 6) love the Mustang and dream of owning one. Listen-up Ford ..... if "it ain't broke, don't fix it" .... and I don't think it's broke!!
Apr 18, 2012 8:47AM
What idiot thought of this? Fire them at once!! What's wrong with American styling. Mustang is hot. Challenger is hot. Camaro is hot. Chrysler 300. Hot. Dodge Charger hot. Europeans and Asian Markets like American styles.
Apr 17, 2012 8:48PM
Am I missing something, or would this article be quite a bit better with pictures?  What exactly is a "new European look"?  And finally, what idiot would change the Mustang too much?  Sales of the Mustang for the past half decade have been very good.  The car is very likable, and sells very well within its demographic.  If a "new european" design for a car is needed within Ford, it should be on a different model.  Fusion, Focus, Taurus, etc.  Ford, I am begging you: "Please leave the Mustang alone.  Please do NOT change the design and character of the Mustang".  God willing.  (And some intelligent decision makers at Ford).  Here's hoping. 
Nooooooooooooooooooooo dont do itThumbs down
Apr 17, 2012 7:18PM
Good thing we got  our  Mustang this year.  Yup we are in that over 50 demographic.  The article is right about the born in the 80's group they just don't seem to be car oriented- it is sad that Ford is considering changing the Mustang to match a demographic who does'nt really care as long as it runs.  Oh well. 
Apr 17, 2012 7:03PM
Apr 17, 2012 5:14PM
The redisign will kill the Mustang.  The audiance they are trying to cater to won't be able to afford it.
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