The car that started the whole pony car phenomenon is now in its sixth generation. Sure, there were some duds along the way, but generally each model is an improvement over the last. Each year on April 17 — the day the 1964.5 Mustang was released — Ford has a cars and coffee at its corporate headquarters. April in Detroit is usually pleasant. Cars are beginning to thaw after a long winter storage, so everyone is usually excited to put some miles on the odometer. That’s not been the case this year.
Spring 2018 has been unusually cold and bitter. Ice storms over the weekend left thousands without power, including myself. If it’s not ice, it’s cold winds and snow. Not exactly an ideal time to celebrate the birth of a 54-year-old motoring icon. There was snow on the roads this morning, and it was predicted to continue throughout the day. Still, I had an invite to cars and coffee and the keys to the recently refreshed 2018 Ford Mustang GT in my pocket. I couldn’t not go.
Honestly, I didn’t know what kind of showing to expect. I knew there’d be some fifth- and sixth-gen cars, but those were newer and were used as daily drivers rain or shine. A Fox body or SN-95 wouldn’t be unusual, but I wasn’t expecting anyone to roll out a first-gen car for fear of some idiot misjudging braking distances in the cold. I underestimated the Mustang’s fandom.
I rolled into the parking lot about an hour after things kicked off. Yeah, there were a lot of modern cars about (some with icicles hanging from their bumper or exhaust), but there was a small collection of older models all lined up at the side. According to some Ford employees, people starting lining up around 7:30 in the morning.
Even more notable than the cars was the number of people simply walking around the parking lot, ignoring the snow and wind to talk to take photos and chat with other owners. There were a number of non-owners, too. Their cars were sequestered to a small parking lot in the back. It wasn’t just the older cars getting attention, either. People wanted photos of and with the new Bullitt Mustang or a GT350R. People seemed particularly taken with the bright Need for Green model.
Times and tastes are changing. EVs and autonomous vehicles feel like the antithesis of everything the Mustang has represented over the past 54 years. From what I can tell, the Mustang still has a lot of life left in it. Know this: Of the nearly 126,000 Mustangs sold last year, the most popular variant was the 460 horsepower GT model. Customers aren’t ready to relinquish their V8-powered sports cars anytime soon.
Happy birthday, Mustang. Here’s to many more.