Ford Mustang gets a new look for 2018 and proves how difficult can it be to facelift some cars
When the most important sales argument of a car is its image, every possibility that emerges at the time of redesigning it can seem wrong (article originally written on January 25th)
Until the 1960s, most North-American automobiles were large and featured conservative styling; the luxury models added finer materials, smoother ride, and the latest equipments available. It did not take long for many people to find them boring, so it is easy to understand why muscle cars rose to success so fast: their combination of attractive design, powerful engines and low prices were a complete hit among not only young drivers, but also several older customers who did not like and/or could not afford the other options.
Chrysler, Ford and GM tried to keep selling them, but it became increasingly difficult over time. The oil crisis disencouraged the use of big engines, foreign competition was increasing, and safety regulations became tougher. Some models were redesigned as to migrate to a higher price range, others went through changes heavy enough to earn people’s rejection, and others were discontinued altogether. Their second chance would only arrive in the 2000s, when retro design became fashionable. This trend is the main responsible for them having been produced and updated ever since, but it is also the reason why it is so difficult to do both.
In a first look, old and new might even look the same. The comany focused on resizing and reshaping the same elements, instead of applying new ones, and centered its work on the front fascia. Lights and grilles are connected through stronger creases and by staying closer. Besides that, all those elements are bigger in some dimension and received more angular contours. And there are some new accessories, such as black paint for the lower portion of the body, hood vents, and a large rear spoiler brought by the Performance Package.
The new design will strike some people as more agressive, and even sportier. However, others will claim it lost part of the harmony which characterized the outgoing Mustang. Chevrolet has just dealt with a similar situation when the Camaro’s new generation was presented, and Dodge is expected to go through it soon with an all-new Challenger. Producing muscle cars is a great way for a company to boost its image, but it needs to deal with their divisive character. The very same one which has made them irresistible for half a century.