64' Ford Mustang
64' Plymouth Barracuda
67' Chevrolet Camaro
67' Pontiac Firebird
67' Mercury Cougar
68' AMC Javelin
69' Ford Capri
70' Dodge Challenger
70' Toyota Celica
74' Ford Mustang II
74' Chevrolet Camaro
79' Ford Mustang
79' Chevrolet Camaro
89' Ford Probe FWD
NOT A PONY CAR
NOT A PONY CAR
Was going to replace the Camaro/ Firebird
02' Chevy Camaro SS
03' Ford Mustang Mach I
04' Pontiac GTO
95' Grand AM GT
Not a Pony Car The
obvious un-inspiration for the "New GTO"
(Shame on you GM)
05' Ford Mustang
06' Dodge Charger
09' Chevy Camaro
09' Dodge Challenger
20?? Pontiac Firebird
09' Mustang Concept
Origin of the Breed:
On April 17,
Ford Motor Company unleashed the first Mustang on American Roads.
Although the Legendary Plymouth Barracuda was released two weeks
earlier; many believe this was a proactive attempt to cut Ford off at
the pass with a radical new design. Other competitors would
soon join the fray as Chevrolet released the Camaro in 1967. That same
year the Pontiac Firebird and Mercury Cougar threw their names in the
hat. 1968 saw the introduction of the AMC Javelin; and it wasn't until
1970 that Dodge finally joined the fray with the Dodge Challenger.
Pony cars were primarily an American phenomenon but Ford did release the
Capri (European Mustang) in 1969, which was highly successful over seas.
The Pony Car market was claimed and arguably dominated by
American automobile manufacturers, Toyota successfully introduced the Celica in 1970
which was aimed directly at the Pony Car market. It could be argued that
although the Celica was a success it did not detract from the Pony Car
base at all.
(de)Evolution of the Breed:
Auto Manufacturers realized that while product loyalty was low;
(people rarely bought a second Pony Car) Pony cars accounted for the
majority of first time new car buyers purchases and established a brand
loyalty that would hopefully last a lifetime.
The next few years saw Pony Car manufacturers attempting to:
a. hang on to their
maturing, original buyers
b. try and expand their base by adding
size, weight, and comfort to the original Pony Car formula.
This tweaking of the original formula was mostly successful up to 1973.
1973 was the year of the Oil Embargo and the first time that the
practicality of the Pony Car was considered. The Challenger, Barracuda,
and Javelin were cancelled after 1974. The Camaro and Firebird nearly
died at the same time, but received
last-minute stays of execution. The Mercury Cougar (de)evolved into a
luxury coupe and the Mustang hung to life as a re-badged and re-skinned
Ford Pinto know as the Mustang II.
1979 saw a major overhaul of the Mustang while Mercury released a
rebadged version taking the European namesake of Capri . With the oil
embargo well behind in Pony Car history, the implementation of emissions
controls was the next adversary to the continued life of the Pony Car
Camaro, Firebird and Mustang sales remained high throughout the
80's. Ford considered switching out the Fox body platform for a front
wheel drive platform in the mid 80's. This attempt at suicide was later
released as the Ford Probe/ Mazda MX6 and was successful in it's own
GM loyalists often chuckle when remembering the fact that the Ford Probe
ALMOST replaced the Mustang. They can be thankful that GM never released
the GM-80 as a replacement for the Camaro/ Firebird at almost the same
time. Ford and GM fans could have laughed away as
they passed by each other.
The rabid taste for the SUVs and Light Trucks are credited for finally
killing the Camaro/ Firebird in 2002. This left the Mustang as the sole
Pony Car in a market that was once dominated by several V8
coupes. Instead of declaring victory, Ford released the 2003 Mach I
Mustang. Ford's goal was to obviously attract the now orphaned GM fans
and show them that Ford will not rest on it's laurels.
The Living Dead: "Braaainss, Braaainss, GM NEEDS
2004 saw the "new and improved, now with Aloe" Pontiac GTO.
The "new" GTO was heavy, overpriced, and used outdated styling directly
from the Pontiac Grand AM. (This in my opinion, was an extremely poor
attempt to give GM muscle fans something to drive. They took Holden Monaro's V platform threw some Grand Am body panels on it and called it
good. Not bad for a car that technically started life as a Cadillac
Catera, not good for a car trying to hang on to a more educated buyer.
Pontiac dealers created false shortages and therefore created a very
short lived "need" for the GTO in GM's eyes. This quickly backfired and
by the end of the first year GTO's were being sold at enormous
discounts). The GTO died a very well deserved death in 2006.
Unfortunately, this was not a public execution.
Like the GTO the new Dodge Charger, released in 2005 was also very heavy, and while winning the
bragging rights on the Dyno, it's heavy weight, luxury accommodations,
and steep price tag have kept it out of the hands of many.
(Personally, I love the look of the new Charger... But I would have to get an
SRT-8, and at that price point I'd be in the territory of
some much more serious street contenders.
Youth and the young at heart, left desperate for affordable performance;
turned to the import market. Many have argued that cars such as the
Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cobalt, Subaru WRX and the Dodge Neon Srt-4 have
filled the giant void created by the lack of available Pony Cars. Heresy,
Everything Old is New Again:
2005 saw the release of a completely new Ford Mustang. Since
1994, the Mustang had only received cosmetic upgrades, chassis
stiffening, and a few motor changes. The 05' Mustang recaptured
the styling that made it a household name to begin with. A anything but
"modern" front end, a rear end that looks like it's bearing itself to
anyone who approaches, and a tastefully redone retro interior made it
the biggest overnight success for Ford since it's original release in
Ford had finally accomplished what it had set out to do some 41 years
earlier. Not only was the Ford Mustang the apple of every 16 year olds
eye, the original Pony Car customers finally had an affordable way to
"relive the good ole' days" of their youth as well.
General Motors and Dodge took quick note of the New Mustangs success.
Both, have once again decided to (re)enter the fray. The Chevrolet Camaro
and Dodge Challenger are slated for release in 2009. The Mustang is
slated for a slight cosmetic change around that time as well.
Better late than never I guess.
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