baggage

2014 marks the Mustang’s 50th anniversary on sale. Yet few would argue that it’s been a smooth ride, and Ford’s decision to launch the new Mustang to coincide with the anniversary highlights everything that’s wrong with the brand.

Debuted in 1964, the original Mustang was a pony car, not a muscle car. Then Carroll Shelby’s GT 350 came along and redefined the Mustang brand. That’s about all the Ford wants you to remember. They would rather you ignore the fact that the third generation Mustang was on sale from 1979 to 1993 or that new sixth generation is the first to get independent rear suspension. Basically, Ford has been lazy with the Mustang, and now they want a pat on the back for dragging the brand through the mud for the better part of a half century.

Quit the charade

Quit the charade

If Ford had cared for the Mustang like Porsche has cared for the 911, which coincidentally celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, then the Mustang would be something to truly cherish. Instead, the brand feels hollow. At its inception, it may have resonated with people but now it just feels burdened with decades of neglect. The biggest hurdle facing the new Mustang is that it’s a Mustang.

Sports cars cannot rest on branding alone, especially bad branding, and the Mustang has become the poster child for rental cars, often dressed in garish colors, as opposed to the enthusiast’s choice. There’s little racing history in the Mustang’s bloodline, let alone simply being known as a competent sports car. Legitimacy breeds desirability, and the Mustang has virtually none.

Ford can make great sports cars (Ford GT), but the Mustang brand is holding them back. They won’t kill the Mustang simply because they’ve already invested so much into it. Keeping the brand alive is the safe move, and safe is rarely good for a sports car’s image.

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fire the marketing department

Listening to the Corvette team talk about the new C7 is painful. They essentially acknowledge that the C6 was half-ass in a lot of ways, which doesn’t inspire confidence in their latest attempt. Even worse, they constantly reference more expensive competitors, which I think does the C7 a disservice. People should want to buy a Corvette because they want a Corvette, not because they can’t afford a Ferrari. When you frame something as the cheaper alternative, it’s always a losing proposition.

C7

time for the ultimate de-badge?

Sports cars are luxury goods, and people buy them because of how they make them feel. Personally, I can’t remember being as excited for a Corvette as I am about the C7. There is much to like about it: heaps of aluminum, power and style. The C7 needs to shake the notion of the budget sports car. If it wasn’t called the Corvette, everyone would be foaming at the mouth for one. Maybe it’s time to kill the Corvette brand…