The yearlong tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang got a kick in December with the reveal of the re-engineered 2015 pony car. It was a media frenzy from New York to Detroit, Los Angeles, Australia, Spain and China. The continental curtsy was significant because the new Mustang will be sold around the world.
The original car's coming-out party was April 17, 1964, at the New York Auto Show. The 2015 Mustang won't go on sale for a few months, but each car will recall its heritage with a 50th anniversary dash plaque, "Mustang -- Since 1964."
The new model still looks like a Mustang, but the fastback styling is more aerodynamic. It will have three engine choices -- four-cylinder, V-6 and V-8 -- with power ratings ranging from 300 to 420-plus horsepower. It also will continue with rear-wheel drive and there will be improved six-speed transmissions, manual and automatic with paddle shifters. A soft-top convertible will go on sale soon after the coupe.
The BMW M3, Porsche 911 and Mustang Boss 302 were the engineering benchmarks. "(The new Mustang) has the best driving dynamics we've ever had," Ford's product development chief Raj Nair said at the LA reveal.
Regional Southern California Mustang enthusiast clubs (about 16) and Ford dealers were invited to see the car at the Hollywood reveal along the "Walk of Fame" at the Chinese Theatre (nee Grauman's).
Acceptance by fans is running about 80 percent, said Marc Bodrie, a longtime member of the Mustang Club of San Diego.
"I have lived through each of the redesigns since the Mustang II and I think it's a breath of fresh air," Bodrie said in an email. "Every time they change the look there is quite an uproar, then it settles down, the changes grow on everyone and the Mustang gallops off again. "
My jaw didn't drop when the Mustang was uncovered, but I think it will grow on me.
2015 Ford Mustang
Body style: compact, 4-seat, rear-wheel drive coupe with independent rear suspension
Midrange engine: aluminum, 305-horsepower, direct-injection and turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder; 300 foot-pounds torque* at 2,500 to 4,500 rpm (* projected)
Transmissions: 6-speed manual with hill-start assist; 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters
Fuel economy: N/A
Fuel tank: 15.5 gallons
Trunk space: 13.5 cubic feet
Front head/leg/shoulder room: 37.6/44.5/56.3 inches
Rear head/leg/shoulder room: 34.8/30.6/52.2 inches
Length/wheelbase: 188.3/107.1 inches
Overall width/height: 75.4/54.4 inches
Curb weight: N/A pounds
Turning circle: 36.5 feet (w/17-inch wheels)
Standard equipment includes: 17-inch alloy wheels, 4-wheel power disc brakes (12.6-inch vented front, 12.6-inch solid rear) with 2-piston calipers, electric power-assisted steering with rack-and-pinion gear
Base price: N/A
Where assembled: Flat Rock, Mich.
*Wrangler Willys Wheeler a Tribute to Jeep Heritage
Jeep has added yet another special-edition model to its varied line of Wranglers.
The Willys Wheeler is a tribute to the first civilian Jeeps following World War II, the Willys-Overland CJ-2A. It went on sale to the public in 1945 and was followed by the CJ-3A.
The Willys Wheeler is a Jeep purist's dream, said Mike Manley, Jeep brand president and CEO. "This new Jeep vehicle delivers pure functionality and rugged capability in a unique package that recognizes the origins of the brand."
Based on the Wrangler Sport model, the Willys Wheeler is available in two-door or four-door (Unlimited) models with Command-Trac 4WD with two-speed transfer case and a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio. Hardware upgrades include a Dana 44 rear axle with Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential and 3.73 gears, BF Goodrich KM Mud Terrain LT255/75R17 tires, rock rails and a Jeep Trail Rated Kit that includes a D-Ring, tow strap and gloves in a Jeep-branded bag.
Exterior designs include a gloss-black grille with black Jeep badge, historic satin black "4 Wheel Drive" tailgate decal and "Willys" hood decals and gloss black 17-inch aluminum wheels.
The special edition is available in any Wrangler color and comes standard with tinted rear windows and a soft top. Pricing starts at $26,790 for two-door and $30,590 for the Unlimited; pricing includes the $995 freight charge from Toledo, Ohio.
Standard equipment includes a 285-horsepower, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine with standard six-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission ($1,295). Other options include half doors and an uplevel Sunrider soft top or black-splatter hard top.
*Subaru Debuts Its First Hybrid Vehicle
The Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid went on sale in December and has two trim levels, with starting prices of $26,820 and $30,120. The five-door, all-wheel drive hybrid model uses a 2.0-liter, flat four-cylinder engine integrated with an electric drive motor and nickel-metal-hydride battery. The Motor Assist system adds to engine power for stronger acceleration or the engine will operate alone if it is more efficient. And the Crosstrek can be driven on battery power for short distances below 25 mph. The system also uses auto stop-start at idle and regenerative braking. Fuel economy on regular unleaded is 29 mpg city and 33 highway with a combined 31 mpg.
Mark Maynard's weekly column, "Maynard's Garage," can be found at creators.com.