Ford celebrated its iconic sports coupe’s 55th birthday at the New York International Auto Show this week by proclaiming Wednesday as “Mustang Day.” But Mustang Day was overshadowed by other nostalgic celebrations taking place at the New York Auto Show, specifically Nissan’s 50th Anniversary Editions of the GT-R (which looked excellent) and 370Z (which one of our anal-retentive staffers criticized over technical inaccuracies). The Japanese manufacturer even had a multi-tiered display and brought in historic models, countering the building apathy many automakers seem to have developed for giant trade shows.
Despite Nissan winning the battle for eyes in New York, Ford still appears to have won the day — at least from its own perspective. Following the NY debut of the Mustang’s 2.3-liter High Performance Package, which brings up the base auto’s peak output to 330 horsepower just for starters, the company proudly announced that its pony car has remained the world’s top-selling sports coupe over the last four years.
Available for purchase in 146 countries last year, the Mustang sold a claimed 113,066 units in 2018. Ford said that was good enough for a 15.6-percent share of the total sports car market.
“We broke the mold when Ford launched the Mustang 55 years ago,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s president of global markets. “Nothing says freedom, the wind in your hair and the joy of driving like Mustang; it’s an icon. The roar of its V8 on a spring day, there’s nothing better. No wonder it’s the most popular sports coupe in the world.”
While we can’t say that Ford’s birthday celebration encouraged Nissan’s nostalgia push in New York, as it was the Z’s 50th, we are certain that provided ammo for General Motors’ response. Tragically limited to Chevrolet Arabia’s YouTube channel online, GM posted a brief video called “Wouldn’t be a party without us. #Mustang55.”
The clip showcases a pony blowing out candles at a birthday party clearly intended for a little girl. However, rather than wishing for a Mustang, the undersized horse is given a Chevy Camaro. Accompanied by the text “some wishes do come true” the animal neighs with glee. Direct and a little mean, without being truly cruel, the spot is everything we could have hoped for.
As important as it is for manufacturers to cooperate during this period of surprisingly high development costs, we prefer them at each other’s throats whenever possible. It’s just more fun that way and it doesn’t have to get out of hand. Automotive advertising doesn’t always have to be about a business’ ethical or moral commitments, as if profit-seeking companies even have a conscience outside of its employees. Pushing environmentalism, safety, and peace of mind are fine marketing tactics. But they’re not going to grab you by the crotch like a little confrontation … and cockiness.
Dodge gets it.
It can also be about ribbing your rivals and telling the public you can offer better armed with nothing more than a little gusto.
It’s okay to be slightly braggadocios, even if the cars they are talking about have fallen slightly out of favor in their home market lately. Hell, it might even help turn things around. GM’s jab at Ford certainly made us eager to see the automaker’s response and we can’t be the only people in the world who feel that way.