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Could This EVER Happen Again?

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,641
I was watching a documentary on the history of the Mustang recently, and was struck by one thing: the incredible degree of enthusiasm and anticipation generated by the introduction of this car in 1964.

There were documented stories of the police having to be called to CLOSE DOWN Ford dealerships, because the crowd pressing in on the unveiling of the Mustang were getting dangerous.

Some people who put down deposits on a new Mustang but whose checks had not cleared, were SLEEPING in the cars or near to them so that the car would not be sold from under them.

Ford dealers took 22,000 firm order the FIRST DAY the car was released. They sold 414,000 of them in 4.5 months and 1,000,000 of them in 1.5 years (it took GM 40 years to sell a million Corvettes).

Do you think that a car could ever capture people's imagination, desire and interest like this in the year 2007? Or is the time for such a phenomenon in the automobile industry over and done with?

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Comments

  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    In those numbers? Not even close.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,164
    Indeed, never again. We get some inflated stickers as initial production never meets demand on trendy models....within a year that is history, no mobs, no fanfare.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,104
    that pulls in those kinds of numbers anymore are standard-sized pickup trucks. But we don't get excited enough about pickup trucks for them to have to call in the cops!

    FWIW, there was one car that broke the Mustang's first-year-out sales record. IIRC, the Mustang sold about 680,000 units in that extra long 1965 model year. 15 years later, the Chevy Citation, broke 800,000 units in its extra-long debut! I had heard that the Maverick also broke the Mustang's record, but the Maverick "only" sold 578,000 units its first year out.

    Still, the Maverick and Citation didn't cause nearly the cultural uproar that the Mustang did. People bought Mavericks because they were cheap and were kind of a new class of car, slotting in above the typical import economy car, but notably smaller than your typical Dart, Valiant, or Nova.

    And people bought Citations because gas was in short supply and prices were shooting up, and we thought we were gonna run out of it.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    It wasn't just the car, it was also the times.

    Remember that the Kennedy assassination had happened just seven months earlier, an event that was probably even MORE shocking to that generation than 9/11 was to ours. My parents still rememeber exactly where they were when they heard the news.

    The entire country was still shaken from that event, and looking for anything that would serve as a distraction.

    It was in early 1964 - or about the same time as the Mustang's debut - that the Beatles began to take the country by storm. Looking back, "Beatlemania" has many of the same hallmarks as "Mustangmania," just with a different "product." I seriously doubt that any musical group will ever have the same impact on this country as the Beatles did in 1964.

    I've also read that one of the highest rated episodes of ANY television show was broadcast in early 1964 - an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, which was a silly, escapist show. Again, I seriously doubt that any network television show will ever attract that percentage of the viewing audience.

    So in early 1964, the whole country was looking for an "escape." It helped that people were wealthier than ever before, and had more money to spend on new cars, records, television sets, etc.

    Also remember that there were fewer choices in those days in cars, musical groups and television networks. So it was easier to make a big impact with a new or exciting product.

    This isn't taking anything away from the original Mustang, which was an exciting, well-conceived product that hit the target perfectly. It's just that even if a new car is as perfectly conceived and targeted, it faces much more competition for attention (not just from competitors' cars, but from other products) and debuts in a different age.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    That type of thing will never be repeated. As cars continue down the path of computerization, they are being made into mere transportation appliances more and more each year, while traffic congestion has increased tremendously, and driving just for pleasure has greatly declined as a consequence.

    Not to mention, the Mustang made a big splash in a little pond in 1964. The "pond" (the NA auto market) is A LOT MORE global today, with no one manufacturer able to garner much attention regardless of what it does.

    There is also a certain weariness to the current age, like there is nothing new any more. Everything worth anything has to have appeared on Playstation before. Of course, now I am into pure philosophy...

    :-P

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    ...but not with current automotive technology.

    I can imagine the first hover-car that's practical and reasonably-priced could well touch off that kind of mania...

    Imagine the 2025 Ford Futura (I'm envisioning Ford finally winning the name back from Pep Boys), the first ever mass-produced magnetic-repulsor-lift sportcoupe. Starting at $55k ($25 in today's dollars) with available convertible and hydrogen fuel cell options. ;)
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,104
    There is also a certain weariness to the current age, like there is nothing new any more. Everything worth anything has to have appeared on Playstation before. Of course, now I am into pure philosophy...

    I think that's the biggest problem...society has just become too jaded. We've seen it all, done it all, a million times over, and there just doesn't seem to be that much exciting and new out there.

    As for hovercars and such, well we've only been seeing them on the Jetsons and Jonny Quest for at least 40 years now, so when the time finally DOES come, I have a feeling the general consensus will be "what took you so damn long?!" :P
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,641
    Well maybe the world was a lot more innocent in 1964 and it took less to get people excited. Could be we are just like spoiled children at Christmastime in 2006 as far as how we react to what is in showrooms.

    For one thing, the whole idea of anticipation and surprise is missing from car debuts....now it's instant gratification....even PRE gratification...we get it before we even know we wanted it!

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  • eltonroneltonron Posts: 33
    A terrific post with great insight into the general public mindset of the times. I agree that nothing will ever have the level of impact of the Mustang on the automotive industry or the Beatles on music in quite the same way again, largely for the reasons you've cited, despite the fact that the country's thirst for an "escape" remains as unquenchable as ever.
    - Eltonron
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    I don't think it could occur again, but didn't the phenomenon occur before 1964? I'm thinking especially of 1927 or '28, when the Ford Model A came out (not that I'm old enough to remember it)!

    I recall reading that Henry Ford shut down the production lines for 6 months for the transition from the Model T to the Model A. And when the "A" first became available, there were huge crowds and great anticipation/excitement at Ford dealerships.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,641
    Yes, it has happened before but I don't think SINCE....there have been a few "media darlings" but nothing that translated into crowd frenzy. But unlike the Mustang, the Model A really was modern and new. The Mustang was probably no more modern than a 1937 Ford. Certainly, a mechanic from 1928 could easily work on a 1965 Mustang. Nothing would seem strange to him....well, perhaps the power steering...but even that was in use in the mid 1930s in trucks.

    So really the Mustang didn't even have to be innovative--it just had that magic combination of style and value.

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  • crimsonacrimsona Posts: 153
    I think it's possible, but it would take an unrealistic set of events to make it possible.

    Like a Lexus LS that performs better than the other HELMs, available in stickshift, better fuel economy then a diesel smart, cheaper than the xA, and built by either the Japanese or Americans in order to fufill supply. I think that's addressed all the major threads.

    Oh, it should fly too.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,104
    really cause that much of a frenzy? The only thing I recall about it, and this might be incorrect, is that it was a bit of a sales disappointment because it never matched the sales rate of the Model-T. Of course, the Great Depression was introduced to us soon after the Model-A, so that might have been part of it.

    As for the hypothetical 1928 mechanic, would things like air conditioning power brakes, an automatic transmission, and more complex wiring been enough to stump him? Or was that kind of stuff still straightforward enough to be able to figure out with a bit of common sense?

    Nowadays I guess the closest thing to a frenzy we get is people paying a couple grand above MSRP for a New Beetle, PT Cruiser, or Mustang. Or MSRP for an '06 Civic.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,641
    Well an automatic transmission is very much like a Model T's transmission....I think he would figure it out but maybe not right away. Power brakes are pretty straightforward things...just using vacuum pressure to do what your foot normally did. The brakes on the '65 Mustang were no different than any 20s or 30s car with hydraulic braking (NOT the Model A, however).

    The Mustang was a pretty crude car but it looked great (and still does).

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  • lmmlmm Posts: 70
    it could happen again but the car that can do it will cost way too much for the average buyer.

    Back in 64 the car could be had for $3000 any comparable car today to make a huge splash couldnt appeal monetarily like it could back in the day.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,308
    From today's Detroit Free Press...

    "Here's an offer that a lot of drivers would have a tough time turning down: free sex after nine car washes.

    Police near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, cracked down last week after getting wind of the unique offer from the teaming of a car wash and a massage parlor in the suburb of Sunway Mentari, the Malay Mail reports.

    Nine Vietnamese women, ages 18 to 28, believed to be prostitutes were arrested.

    Police learned of the unique partnership between the car wash and sex ring when they kept finding car wash loyalty cards in the pockets of alleged customers of the sex ring.

    The Mail quotes Emmi Shah Fadhil, the officer in charge of the area's Crime Prevention Division, as saying: 'To get the extra 'offer', customers must send their cars for washing nine times within a certain period. The 10th car wash will entitle them to free sex,' said Emmi Shah."
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,641
    I was wondering if the Tesla S sedan could generate that kind of excitement. It's quite the car.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,308
    edited September 2012
    I doubt that the Tesla S would generate anywhere close to the excitement of the first Mustang, no matter how good it may be, becuase of price. Virtually everyone could afford a '64/'65 Mustang, whereas only a relatively few can afford a Tesla S. Also, while the Mustang's styling was new and exciting, the mechanicals were well tested and familiar to anyone who could turn a wrench. The Tesla's technology is new. Many potential buyers are wary of it.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,164
    That's exactly it. The Mustang was affordable to most. The masses won't be jumping up and down about something they will never be able to afford, especially in this broken socio-economic mess.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,641
    Well the Tesla S is no more than a loaded up BMW 5 series.

    The problem with the Tesla S is that you have to DRIVE it before you can appreciate it. The '65 Mustang generated excitement based on looks and price, even before anyone sat in one.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,308
    edited September 2012
    Two more things: First, everyone was familiar with the Ford brand, whereas far fewer know Tesla. Second, the Mustang could be ordered with an endless combination of engines, transmissions, body styles and accessories compared with the Tesla S.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,197
    Very true that the Mustang was affordable to nearly everyone. My recently married parents, who both were of modest means, were considering buying a new Mustang at the time.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,641
    True but no new car offers the wide array of options one could get in the 1960s---maybe the exception being Porsche, which has an option list as long as a back fence.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,164
    It was a lot easier before the working/middle class was gutted so a few can enjoy gilded age perks, eh?

    My dad h.ad a Mustang around 1970. Probably a car where everyone has had one in their not too distant family.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,308
    Will there ever again be a styling phenomenon that's as transformative, provocative and widespread as tail fins? I can't imagine what it would be. You couldn't avoid noticing them. They suddenly made styling that came prior obsolete, in terms of the automotive tastes of the time. It wasn't long before the entire automotive industry, domestic and European, adopted them in some form or another.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,763
    My father bought one of the first 1964 1/2 Mustangs delivered to Kentucky. A rural Ford dealer ordered one and the original buyer backed out. The owner was a family friend and called Dad and offered it to him. It was a black coupe with a red interior- under the hood was 260 V8 mated to a Cruise-O-Matic slushbox. I was in grade school at the time, but I still remember the reactions it generated. Amazing.
    Mom totaled it in 1969... :cry:

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  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,569
    edited September 2012
    Probably a car where everyone has had one in their not too distant family.

    Be interesting to play that premise out. We became a Ford family but in the 60s we were still GM (well, there was a '49 Ford before my time I think). Anyway, closest thing to a Mustang was my sister's '67 Firebird.

    Anyone else?

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,164
    Any friends have one?

    Another one to compete would be VW Beetle. Everyone probably had one in the extended family or friends. My mom had one before I was born (eventually got a Porsche engine after my dad blew up the stock unit) and my WW2 vet grandpa chose one as a company car sometime in the 70s.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,569
    edited September 2012
    Can't think of anyone who had a Mustang. I remember riding in the back seat of one once when I was a kid but have no idea whose it was.

    Lots of Bugs and a Bus plus my wife's family had a Bug too (she hated it :sick: ). The SuperBeetle I had when we met didn't last long. :shades: Getting back to Shifty's premise, I recall reading that some (wealthy) people buying Bugs just to have around as a spare car since they were affordable. Kept them for guests, etc. I got mine because they were cheap and reliable.

    Oh wait - does a Mustang II count? Guy I worked with in '74 had one. My Dad had a Falcon back in the late 60s if that counts, lol. Same difference under the sheet metal, right?

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,164
    Cheap and reliable, that's why my mom bought one and why my grandpa chose one. He later had a Corolla, very openminded for someone of his generation. But he always chose large domestics for the family car.

    Mustang II counts, although some will cringe at the thought.

    Heck, when I was in high school in the 90s, a friend of mine had a very nice 66 Mustang.
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