Can I have a Pony for Christmas Please?

December 15th, 2020

A different sort of Pony – a Pony car…

When Ford’s Mustang was launched mid-way through the 1964 US model year it came as an apparent shock to other brands.

The Mustang was similar in size to Ford’s Falcon but very different in other respects. It was available only with two doors and initially only as a coupe or convertible. A Fastback would appear a year or so later.

Ford’s Marketing people expected most Mustang sales would be to women who would specify six-cylinder engines. Bewilderment followed when sales stats showed the car to be a hit with men and that 73 percent of 1964-65 Mustangs had V8s.

Ford moved forward with the good thing it had created well beyond the normal model change cycle. Even in 1969 when the Mustang had grown a little larger, the shape was still instantly recognisable as a Mustang.

Other brands, including members of Ford’s own ‘family’, wanted a slice of an immensely profitable pie but they didn’t even have a car on the drawing board that could challenge the Mustang at its own game.

Rivals would without doubt emerge though, and with more contenders in the market created by the Mustang, the segment was crying out for a label. Sure enough, one was provided by Dennis Shattuck, Editor of Car Life magazine when describing the Mustang and phalanx of similar new models that would shortly arrive.

While Shattuck’s definition might not have been based on specific parameters, other commentators over the years have gone to considerable effort to define what he meant.

‘Pony Car’ is a term not specifically applicable to the Ford Mustang. Cars that existed before the Mustang may qualify, but it is the Mustang and those designs it inspired that best typify the description.

Such vehicles are sporty, compact cars with two doors and four seats. They may share components and perhaps even their floor pan with other compacts from the same manufacturer, but the styling must feature a long nose section and short rear ‘deck’.

Pony Cars would be designed around six-cylinder power units but available with V8 engines. They would be affordable to younger buyers, with basic models sold during the 1960s priced at less than US$2500. However, they would come with an extensive list of options that allowed owners to personalise their cars.

Finally, a Pony Car had to be advertised and promoted to attract younger buyers, specifically those aged 25-35.

Some brands, including Plymouth with its Barracuda, Rambler, Studebaker, Chevrolet (Chevvy II) and Ford itself with the Falcon Sprint, had cars that notionally fitting the Pony Car formula but all of them were derivatives of existing models.

When the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Mercury Cougar, Rambler Javelin and Dodge Challenger/Plymouth ‘Cuda arrived, all of them were new designs with the very clear intent to knock Mustang off its sales pedestal.

As the world changed, the Pony Car did too. Models in the segment grew larger and less affordable and buyer interest dwindled. That situation prevailed until early in the 21st Century when a new Mustang design returned to a semblance of the original concept. And guess what? Within a few years Chevrolet had a new Camaro (after ditching the model in 2002) and Dodge a new Challenger to again cash in on a market the Mustang had built.

Plenty of Australian enthusiasts own Pony Cars and they don’t need to be American-made. Locally we had Holden Toranas including the now-valuable a9X Hatch, V6 Ford Capris and the always-popular Chrysler Charger.

If you own one of these or a US-made ‘Pony’ then you have a valuable asset and effective insurance with Agreed Value cover is essential.

If your car travels minimal distances each year, Enthusiast Insurance offers attractive premiums with monthly instalments at no extra cost. To compare Enthusiast’s  rates and coverage against the policy you have now, just log into www.enthusiast.com.au and select Quick Quote.

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