Car-makers would generally kill to have a vehicle niche all to themselves, but in the case of Ford Australia and its new Mustang muscle car, the company is actually keen to find rival offerings to create competition — perhaps, say, a ‘Holden’ Camaro.
As we know, it has already attracted thousands of orders, in what is shaping up as a welcome sales hit for the brand, and a strong legacy for a company soon to lose the mighty Falcon from its stocks.
But one element is missing: rivalry. The top-of-the-line V8 Mustangs need a Lex Luther to their Superman, a Pepsi to their Coke, a Shelbyville to their Springfield. They need another American muscle car to forge a famous rivalry with, and it’s a struggle.
For one, and contrary to Ford’s approach to go global with the Mustang, its nemesis General Motors has signposted that it will not be producing the Chevrolet Camaro in Australian-ready right-hand-drive configuration for now. Ergo Holden won’t be bringing it here any time soon — if at all.
This decision to stay focused on the US market leaves Ford Australia more bereft than it necessarily wants to be. After all, this could on paper be a continuation of the great Blue versus Red rivalry for the 21st century.
“You have at the core of sports cars in general, and Mustang specifically, enthusiasts,” Ford Australia communications chief Wes Sherwood explained to CarAdvice this week. “And what do enthusiasts like to do? They like to have a car that’s better than other enthusiasts’.”
“And so that’s what Mustang customers have thrived on for ages, decades, so having that competitive spirit is important.”
Sherwood added, as a caveat, that: “Mustang has grown well beyond the core enthusiasts, it’s become much more — particularly in the US — a mainstream offering, so there’s a business model beyond that all-out performance GT — but that’s how to build the brand.”
However, as he pointed out, “having someone to say ‘mine’s more powerful than yours’, that helps everybody participating in that segment”.
Ford Australia is confident its Mustang buyers will look for rival cars to pitch their pride-and-joy at, nevertheless.
“I’m sure Mustang customers here will seek out somebody to set their sights on. That’s certainly in America how Mustang has over the years, it’s helped us build the brand.”
Perhaps that’s music to the ears of Fiat Chrysler Australia, which recently signposted the potential arrival of Dodge models from the US such as the Challenger.