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Unhinged: I Looked, And Behold, A Fattened Horse, Which Rode Upon The Lightning

Unhinged: I Looked, And Behold, A Fattened Horse, Which Rode Upon The Lightning

It started life as a shot at gaining youth market share, a way to capitalize on the incoming Baby Boomer generation as they gained enough spending money to pick up a lower-budget sporty car that they claimed they wanted. It would wind up being one of Ford’s best moments, ever, one of their best nameplates, ever, and one of their longest-running nameplates, ever. Mustang. The picture of horses running wild across a Southwestern scene. Of an aquamarine 1965 coupe leaving a suburban home’s driveway. Of Steve McQueen giving a 390 GT hell and then some. Trans-Am racers, Farrah Fawcett’s Cobra, Fox Body racers everywhere, and more, and more…the model name is one of the few ever used in mass-production automobiles that is worth every ounce of gold the letters are cast in.

The Mustang has had bad times, no doubt. The 1971-73 cars went through the “Fat Elvis” moment. The Mustang II might have been the perfect answer for the oil crises, but the second the taps were turned back on it quickly became the “Pinto-Stang” and was avoided like a bad rash. The SN-95s were too rounded, the S197s ate crowds standing near car shows…whatever. In reality, there was really only one bad Mustang moment, and that came in early 1987. After Ford had decided to move the Mustang to the Mazda MX-6 platform and sell the Fox alongside as the “Mustang Classic”, fans of the car went ballistic, innundated Ford with all sorts of hell, and the end result was the 1989 Ford Probe. Insiders who were betting that in reality, the front-driver would outsell the old, antiquated rear-driver got their freshly-made poo sandwich when the Mustang outsold the Probe handily, and wound up having to start eating it when the second go-around of a front-drive Mustang (the code “CT-20” car, based on the Ford Escort) straight-up failed.

Now we’re looking at another moment in Mustang’s history where Ford seems more than happy to take the history and the idea of what makes that car special, drag it in front of everyone watching, and proceed to use a 2×4 to bludgeon it to death. It won’t be any different than with the Probe, or even the Mustang II. It will be because the current fashion is electrification, sport-utilities, and Ford’s willingness to cash in on a nameplate’s heritage in the name of sales. We first heard of this last January when they threatened to call it the Mach 1, but it’s now known as the Mach-E. What is it? Judging from the spy photographs I’ve been able to find, it looks like an Infiniti FX/QX sports-utility vehicle mashed up with an S550 Mustang and certain Teslarati-esque styling cues. It’ll make it’s official debut on November 17th, 2019 but don’t expect me to watch.

I’m not surprised that Ford made an EV SUV. I understand how business works, I understand that’s a hot market and a hot trend. That part doesn’t bother me, really. What bothers me is the freshly steaming dump that was taken on the Mustang name. What was wrong with Lightning? What was wrong with Futura, or Indigo, or any other name in the book? Why was a flabby SUV allowed to even be mentioned in the same breath? Didn’t Ford throw a hell of a celebration not four years ago for the Mustang’s 50th anniversary? Did I miss something here?!

Compare this with the all-electric, six-speed Mustang Lithium that was on display at SEMA. Look, it’s a no brainer that any electric Mustang will induce hate mail by the truckload, but at least here we still had a two-door coupe with a three-pedal transmission that offered up the proper speed and interaction of a Mustang. Yeah, you lost the sound and vibration, but you gained insta-torque and the thumbs-up from green factions. Hell, people in Portland, Oregon might stop talking shit about your car behind your back. The Mustang Lithium, in my eyes, represents the proper way to EV the Mustang lineup. If we’re stuck with overrated golf carts as our future, at least the Lithium proved that it doesn’t have to completely suck. But instead, we get a chunky people-mover that looks like a Mustang in a fat suit, with two more doors and a tailgate? How many “do it for you” nannies will be attached to this thing? Lane keep? Parking assist? Robo-summon?

No, thank you. If that’s the way you’re actually going, Ford, do everyone a favor: kill the name altogether. Save face, let the Mustang for the enthusiast be consigned to history properly. It does not deserve this kind of disrespect.

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14 thoughts on “Unhinged: I Looked, And Behold, A Fattened Horse, Which Rode Upon The Lightning

  1. Donald Alexander

    Thank you!
    I was mad when we didn\’t get the new ST Focus and now this. Wtf
    Your dead to me ford.

  2. 75Duster

    As a Mopar guy, I suggest to the powers to be at Ford watch the movie Ford vs Ferrari, they might learn something about Fords history. Great movie, don’t fuck with the Mustang nameplate.

  3. Dan

    I had a bunch of man-purse-hugging snowflakes pile on when I had the nerve to call that thing the steaming pile that it promises to be on social media. Everything is ruined, eventually…

  4. Wolf

    I’m not an “everything sucks” kinda guy, and the usual hatred that spews forth in the comments on just about any article normally bothers me, but in this case I have to jump on the bandwagon. I own a lot of Fords, mostly Mustangs, so I had more than a little brand loyalty. Past tense – had. First they decide to kill all car models, then put that stupid “automatic” transmission in the GT and GT500, but now this abomination? Ford has lost their way, and lost their mind. And like Don mentioned above, they’re dead to me now too.

  5. Joe Jolly

    Whoa! (I crack myself up) Its harsh to say you give up on Ford because of a new model? I work for Ford and I just stood next to the Mach E. It just drove through our building, We have had them in our facility for a while and I like the style. I might even own one.. We didn’t drop a 5.0 in a four door and call it a Mustang Family truckster, The Mach E is its own vehicle and is not trying to be a pony car. It is a performance EV that will certainly be recognizable as a Ford product and no one will confuse it with your everyday Mustang GT or your Porsche looking Tesla. In a market full of copycat cross overs, the Mach E will stand out. If the Mach E performs as expected, I am betting we have a hit on our hands..

  6. Keith

    Joe Jolly
    If the new vehicle is as great as it sounds. Then it should be able to stand on its own nameplate, and not steal an iconic one to hold it up.

  7. 69 Mach 1 owner

    I agree 100% that Ford has shit their own pants with the Mach E. E for excrement. What an insult to the Mustang nameplate. I would never even consider buying one. I hope this car flops miserably and Ford fires the idiot tone-deaf executive who though this was a good idea.

  8. Danno

    Hey Joe Jolly. Do you see and hear what happens when you mess with loyal car enthusiasts? Ford clearly didn’t learn from it’s past screw ups (as well outlined by Mr Mc T above). What is the old line? “What history shows us is that man does not learn from history.” (or something close to this).

  9. Whelk

    Is the EV market really hot? How many of these are they really selling in the absence of subsidies? Apparently overpriced Tesla’s are trendy but but is anyone else doing well selling EV’s?

  10. Patrick

    I love Mustangs but don’t see how this tarnishes the name. I mean, look at all of the crappy Mustang IIs, 4cyl and 6 cyl plane Jane transportation cars that were made. you guys act like every Mustang was a gt350 or Boss 302.

  11. OKSnake08

    Am I thrilled that they put Mustang anywhere on this ? Nope. I also didn’t like the no manual option for the new GT500 but it turns out at least from on line reviews by real world enthusiasts it works great. Go read the reviews on FordGT500.com seems like they got it right. Remember this is the one US automaker that didn’t declare bankruptcy, slash its size, run brands like Oldsmobile and Pontiac into their graves and totally screw up the best new idea in domestic production Saturn. I’ve worked for many different brands import and domestic as a service writer and service manager and I can say they all screw the pooch sometimes but GM was far and away the most frustrating. FCA is lifting its skirt at everything passing by desperately trying to get someone, anyone in bed after years of cross branding and failure outside of the awesome Hellcat twins and their derivatives. So I’ll give Ford a chance to succeed or fail and decide after that. I’m not their target market ( really no one on this forum likely is) and I don’t agree with the “kill all cars” plan but if they succeed in these markets I probably get better blue oval options I will buy in the future and more aspirational halo cars like the GT350 GT500 or even a new Mark Series based on the Mustang platform. They have to sell mass market cars to be able to sell us what we want.

  12. Dennis

    Very nice breakdown of Mustang’s history. If the new vehicle is as good as they hope, it shouldn’t have a problem having it’s own unique name. And I like your name suggestions.

    But, to call this a “Mustang” is silly and does nothing positive for the Mustang brand.

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