Tuesday, November 22, 2005

60's flashback, history repeating itself? A new Pony Car war?

The link above will bring you to AutoWeek, where there is an article about the Challenger Concept being left out in the open and photographed (pictures below) and that got me thinking, as most people have, is this the begining of a new Pony Car war? Short answer is no, not a chance. Don't get me wrong, Chrysler is more than likely going to produce this car, they've been taking quite a few chance over the last few years, and it's paid off. The PT Cruiser, the new 300/Magnum/Charger, Prowler, Viper and the Neon SRT4 are all examples of risky products and most of them paid off well, in sales or prestige. But the Mustang will always be the better seller, for many reasons.
The new Mustang is a great car, arguably underpowered at 300 hp, the complete package is a smash hit. Even the base V6 Mustang is a spirited drive, but the best attribute is the value. Mustang has always been the best bang for the buck from day one. So while people will drool over the 425-450 hp 6.1 V8 in the Challenger concept, the Mustang will always outsell any competitor that comes along.
April 14 1964, at the New York Worlds Fair, Ford introduced the Mustang and the concept of the "Pony Car". The whole concept was not to be the fastest, but to be a real value oriented sporty car. And from day one it was a convertible.
Even though the Plymouth Barracuda came out 2 weeks earlier, the Mustang overshadowed this car from day one. Even though both were based on lesser economy cars, the Barracuda on the Valiant and of course the Mustang on the Falcon. The Mustang was able to differentiate itself from it's humble beginings. The Cuda' would have to wait until 67 for that.
And as any fan of the movie Vanishing Point will tell you, the big news was in 1970 when Dodge got it's version of the Cuda' the Challenger. While Challenger and Cuda' were competative on the track with Mustang, their combined sales figures were minimal compared to the original Pony car.
Now above and below you will see how closely the new concept Challenger favors the 1970 model. Based on the 300/Magnum/Charger chassis, it will use the same power options, but will it be offered with a manual trans??

GM was late to the Pony car war, not coming out with the Camaro until 1967. They did come out swinging and again on the track were fierce competition for Mustang. The Mustang outsold Camaro/Firebird most but not all years over the years and often, especially in late years lagged behind in horsepower. But Mustang is the undisputed winner, after all it's been in continual production since 1964, the Camaro being discontinued a few years ago, and the Challenger ending in 1973.
GM will be late again to the party, that is if they even show up. This concpet Camaro has been kicking around the internet for quite a whle. Suposedly based on the Holden Monaro/Pontiac GTO chassis, or a new platform GM keeps saying yes then no to, it will be years away if it is ever produced.
Mustang has the same lead it always had, first to market and better value. There are enough variants of Mustang from the base and Pony V6 Mustangs, to V8 GT and new Shelby, with more special models such as Bullit, Mach 1 and Boss versions waiting in the wings. The fact that Mustang has a droptop option is also one of the biggest advantages.

No Pony Car war, just a nod to the past.


georgejetson said...

You think it won't be a "war" because the Mustang has a bigger brand presence? You don't think that higher-performing variants from Dodge (and Chevy, and maybe Pontiac) might push Ford to up their own game? A "war" would be great for consumers... bring it on!

Big Ford Fan said...

George, sorry I don't think it will be a war. I'll explain, Chrysler will indeed bring the Challenger to market and it will have more power than the Mustang GT either 340 hp from the 5.7L RT variant or 450hp from the 6.1L SRT8 version. But Chrysler will not build as many of them as Ford, for several reasons, they won't want to divert capacity at the plant from the higher selling 300/Magnum/Charger sibling, they realize that at the price of a base Mustang this new car won't be competative, even with a V6 version, and therefore, this will be a low production car. It may kick Mustang ass on the track, but not in any real sales sense.

Mustang GT with 300 hp already looses in a horsepower war, but how heavy will the Challenger be? Also, with future special models, there may be at least one Mustang that will compete well on the track with the Challenger. Don't forget the Shelby. But there are rumors of Boss, Mach 1 and Bullit versions of the Mustang coming out over the next few years, and any of those will offer more horsepower than the "base" GT Mustang.

Also the Camaro has been on and off again, as far as production goes. Rumors have put it on the Holden Monaral/ Pontiac GTO chassis, or another platform that keeps getting shelved. The latest rumor I read this morning has the Camaro possibly coming out on the Solstice's Kappa platform. But GM is in a lot of trouble right now, so don't hold your breath.

The Mustang will be the undisputed king of the very small Pony Car market. And with a very strong aftermarket and enthusiast base, I don't see that changing for quite a while.

If Ford put some more development money into the Mustang, the sky is the limit. But as it is, where else can you get a mid 13 second car for $27K ?