Cars We See Round Here – Ford Mustang

March 5th, 2019

Australia’s links to the Ford Mustang date back more than 50 years, back to when fearless racers led by Norm Beechey, Bob Jane and Ian Geoghegan imported Mustangs to contest the local Touring Car Championship.

Ford Australia didn’t take long to conclude that people who had seen a Mustang win on Sunday might want to buy one on Monday. In late 1965 they imported 200 cars; all coupes with V8 engines and automatic transmissions, converted them to right-hand drive and sold them through major dealerships. That initiative wasn’t repeated however because Ford was about to launch its own V8-engined GT Falcon.

As the shape changed and the range of available Mustangs grew, Australian buyers pressured local dealers to ‘get me one of those’. During the late 1960s and into the ‘70s, Australian roads became flooded with Mustang convertibles and fastbacks, 5.8-litre Mach 1s and the occasional Boss 302. Yes, just like the one Allan Moffatt would successfully race.

Ford in the USA decided early in the 1970s that its Mustang had moved too far from the original concept and completely changed the shape of its 1974 cars. Australia hated what came to be known as the ‘Mustang II’ and imports slowed to a trickle.

Sales during the 1980s improved a little, coinciding with attempts by Dick Johnson and others to bring Mustangs back into local motor racing ranks. Very few road-going cars from this era sold here and very few of those that did arrive have survived.

What the 1980s with their advantageous currency exchange rates and relaxed import rules did was clear the way for huge numbers of older Mustangs to arrive here from the USA. For a while during the 1990s, US enthusiasts joked grimly that if they wanted a good Mustang they would need to go to Australia.

Cars being used on Special Interest registration didn’t need to be modified as once was mandatory so Australian owners got to enjoy the handling of a Mustang as its designers intended and without the intervention of some RHD conversion ‘chop-shop’.

A move in 1993 away from the angular 1970s-80s shape rekindled interest in new Mustangs as well. Several local businesses were established or expanded their operations to include the import and competent conversion of brand-new versions.

Ford again saw an opportunity, however the SVT Cobra Mustangs which it imported, converted and sold here from 2001-03 and at prices approaching $100,000 were a commercial disaster.

That left the market back in the hands of private operators, who received a boost to their businesses in 2007 when another all-new Mustang design appeared. This shape echoed the lines of Ford’s 1960s Mustang fastback and provided a big boost to sales of ‘grey’ market Mustang imports.

Australia not only saw a lot of basic Mustang GTs in fastback and convertible form, importers were also sourcing limited-production versions such as the Saleen S281 and Shelby Super Snake. Those kept the local market bubbling until 2015 when Ford announced that brand new Mustangs in unlimited quantities would soon become available to Australian buyers.

Given the imminent demise of the local Falcon V8, interest in the Mustang was immediate and sales easily exceeded the numbers achieved by final-series Falcons. A couple of times since the model’s introduction, monthly Mustang sales have exceeded 1500 units and 2018 registrations totalled 6412 cars.

Many late-model Mustangs and the majority of early ones don’t travel huge distances. A lot of these cars would not do more than 2000 kilometres a year, making them ideal candidates for Enthusiast’s Drive Less…Spend Less insurance cover.

Vehicles of any age and most types are eligible and the best way to discover if your Mustang – or any seldom-used car – will qualify for Enthusiast’s cost-effective cover, just visit www.enthusiast.com.au for a quote.

 

 

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