Ford Mustang Competitors
With the success of the Mustang came competition. The first competitor was the
Plymouth Barracuda, which actually went on sale on April 1, 1964, about two weeks before the Mustang. The Barracuda was originally conceived as a low-cost way to expand the sporty appeal of the Valiant. Its sales,'tho, were a fraction of the Mustang's.
1964 Plymouth Barracuda
Soon, they were joined by the Camaro-based Pontiac Firebird, the Mercury Cougar, and, in 1968, the AMC Javelin. Dodge joined the party later with the 1970 Dodge Challenger, an enlarged version of the Barracuda.
The first Camaro models shared mechanical features with the 1968 Chevrolet Nova, both had unibody construction. This model was offered in two body styles, a coupe and a convertible. The main three packages offered were the RS, SS and Z28. Second generation of the Chevrolet Camaro debuted in 1970. This was the most enduring Chevrolet Camaro design. The fourth and the last generation was introduced in 1993 and lasted until 2001.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS Convertible
The Javelin was the answer by small American Motors Corporation to the pony cars competition. AMC joined the fray late - the Javelin was the last American pony car introduced to the American car buyers. Trying to shed its conservative image, AMC came up with beautifully sculpted Javelin considered as one of the best-looking cars of the 1960s.
The 1968 Javelin, which replaced the Marlin was a little roomier, larger and longer than the rival Mustang, Camaro and
Barracuda. The Javelin continued through 1974, but the 1968-69 models have the best -- or certainly the cleanest -- styling.
Pony Cars were considered halo cars whose functions were to bring in buyers into the showrooms. The most important market
targeted by these "image builders" was the important youth market, buyers who were just getting into the labor force and had
some money at their disposal.
One Lone Survivor
But by 1969, sales of pony cars were beginning to fall. As with most car redesigns, each subsequent generation of the pony
cars grew somewhat larger, heavier, costlier - what with the "more plush, more feature" mentality.
By 1970 buyers were leaning toward either smaller compact cars or the more luxurious models. The cheaper imports also were
gaining headway to confound the situation. With performance eroding as a result of emission controls and the increase in gas
prices due to the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, the days of the pony cars were numbered.
By 1975, only Mustang, Camaro and Firebird would be left standing; the others were victims of changing times and changing
tastes they failed to adapt to. But the Mustang continued to evolve to the times, even when taking risks in the 70's. In the
early 1980s, the Mustang stages a huge comeback when the resurrected "Boss 5.0" Mustang GT became one of the hottest sporty automobiles on the road.
The Mustang continued to fight it out with Chevy's Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird through the 1990s, gaining ground by
sticking with the proven formula of offering buyers multiple Mustangs to suit any need. Camaro and Firebird stuck with
horsepower and performance as their selling points by the mid-1990s. But declining sales and the popularity of light trucks
and sport utility vehicles led to drop of sales to an unsustainable low by the year 2000 that led to GM canceling production of the Mustang's last Detroit-built competition after the 2002 season.
This left the Mustang as the sole survivor of the era of its conception, even manufacturing Mustang in "retro-restyle" for
2005 that gave the young buyers of the 21st century a chance to enjoy an automobile experience very similar to the one their
baby boomer parents got more than 40 years ago.
2005 Ford Mustang GT