Part Two: Charlotte Welcomes Mustang 50th Birthday


We wrap up out coverage of Charlotte’s 50th Anniversary Mustang event and conclude out overall look at the east/west birthday party for the Pony.

Never wanting to waste a track day experience, this reporter is proud to announce he personally laid a Boss 302 out for the day. My laps were a highlight of the outing as the Boss handles better than the Saleen or Shelby variations of the 2013 Mustang. The wonderful rumbling roar of the Boss alone was worth coming to North Carolina.. However, the Ford technicians looked at the tires I shredded and put the Boss to bed.

Of course, this was the American south, and the event was taking place on Easter. So, all festivities came to a stop Sunday for multi-denominational, on track church services. There was no official word on how many attendance thanked their Almighty of choice they were more thankful for the Mustang than their family and friends.

Along the event’s exposition spaces, the cinematic history of the Mustang stood proudly as movie fans got a look at the a1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT replica from the McQueen classic,”Bullitt.” That was a special pilgrimage for many guests as there is no greater car chase in moviedom, and no more classic anti-hero machine than Frank Bullitt’s 390 GT. Nearby, a 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback “Eleanor” replica from the 2000 hit film “Gone in Sixty Seconds” was an unexpected bonus.


The Newest Horse in the Stable

The star of the show was undoubtedly the reveal of the 2015 50th Anniversary Mustang. While it made sneaky appearances at both the North American International Auto Show and the New York International Auto Show (including a special public display atop the Empire State Building), It had been on the books for years, and this was the biggest reveal for Ford in 2014, looking to 2015.

This new Mustang is intended to redefine the look of the brand, while embracing the history of the iconic, affordable sports car. Reactions were mixed around the speedway grounds. Some enthusiasts embraced the modernized, smoother look of the Mustang’s once harder edged lines. Others thought it came up short of the “special” mark a 50th anniversary car needed to deliver — as though the car wasn’t “Mustang enough” for them.

It’s obviously a very attractive car, but many purists grumbled to each other that they wanted more of the old Mustang look. As is, the car is more subdued and extended — its lines somewhat reminiscent of a Japanese or Korean model.

With its narrowed headlights, and with the removal of its iconic door grooves (with or without scoops), the car becomes less visually aggressive. But, if there’s an angle from which that strong Mustang vibe survives, it’s looking forward from the car’s rear panels and out over the hood. There’s something about that grounded cockpit overlooking the flattened bonnet that rings a pony’s bell.

Handsome Inside, not Out?

As the Charlotte attendees milled around the 50th birthday version of their favorite car, the unanimous verdict was the exception to my aesthetic disappoint is the Mustang’s new interior — providing an exciting airplane cockpit feel. Ford International Designer Chief Anthony Prozzi and his team put countless hours in polishing up what the driver will see from behind the wheel, and their work proved worth the effort.

Of course, no one at the Charlotte event had the chance to drive the 2015 Mustang yet, and that yearning was only further ignited by the announcement of a limited edition, devoted 50th Anniversary Mustang to go on sale by special order late in 2014.

Ford announced to attendees that it will honor the original year of the Mustang’s birth by making 1,964 50th Anniversary special edition Mustang GTs. They’ll come in the same Wimbledon White as the first Mustang that debuted at the World’s Fair, wearing special badges dedicated to the big birthday year. It’ll come with every possible piece of kit and option. The only option the buyer chooses is what transmission goes with the 420 horsepower V8 – manual or automatic.