On its 56th birthday, the Mustang flexes newfound global muscle

A couple of very significant automotive milestones were achieved last week, in case you happened to be looking elsewhere. Last Friday, April 17th, marked the 56th anniversary of the Ford Mustang’s initial rollout as a 1964 1/2 model, rolled out just too late to beat the Plymouth Barracuda to market as America’s first pony car, but just in time to pace that year’s Indianapolis 500. The Ford Motor Company marked the occasion by claiming some genuine bragging rights: First, the recognition that the Mustang is officially the world’s top-selling sports car, and also its fifth consecutive year as the best-selling sport coupe on the planet. While most of us have paid attention to things located closer to home, the Mustang has gone positively international.

2020 Mustang Shelby GT500

If you’re old enough, you may remember when the Mustang, born of the most plebian compact origins, made its first tentative steps into road racing and rallying. That was before Carroll Shelby upended everything by unleashing the full-race G.T. 350R in 1965, which broomed the world of SCCA semi-pro road racing. Understandably, a lot of attention has been focused lately on the forthcoming Mustang Mach-E crossover EV, but traditionalist Stang-ism has never been stronger. Ford now offers a global lineup of a dozen performance-themed Mustangs, including the Shelby-badged models shown here. And the market for Mustang indeed reaches around the world: Last year, Ford sold 102,090 copies of the Mustang, far outstripping the Chevrolet Corvette and everything else. That figure reflects an annual model sales boost of 33 percent in Germany, 50 percent in Poland, and a near-doubling of sales performance in France. The results were gleaned from a study of international new-vehicle registrations compiled by the research firm IHS Markit. So in 2020, the pony gallops just about anywhere you can name.

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