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Although the Ford Motor Company has announced plans to discontinue almost all domestic passenger car production over the next few years, the purge will not extend to the most iconic of the company’s vehicles. Speaking at Ford’s world headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan August 8, CEO Jim Hackett reassured a throng of Mustang owners that the company’s perennial pony car would keep going strong in the foreseeable future.

Jim Farley, Ford’s president of global markets, had an even stronger endorsement, calling Mustang “the heart and soul of this company.”

The occasion was a celebration of the production of the 10-millionth Mustang, which rolled out of Ford’s Flat Rock, Michigan plant to cheers by a mixed crowd of employees, Mustang owners, and media. Mustang number 10-million is a GT convertible finished in Wimbledon White, the same color used on the original Mustang unveiled at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. And like the original, it’s propelled by a V8 powertrain.

The ’64 debut Mustang convertible had a 260 cubic-inch V8 rated for 160 horsepower and a 3-speed manual transmission, both adopted from Ford’s Falcon Sprint, as was its chassis. Propulsion in the 2018 model is a little more robust, with 460 horsepower from Ford’s potent 5.0-liter Coyote V8, allied with a 6-speed manual transmission.

Earlier multi-millions

Mustang is not the first Ford to rack up eight-figure sales. Just over 25 million Model Ts found owners as Ford made the automobile affordable to everyman, doing so in just 19 years. And the F-Series has been America’s bestselling half-ton pickup since 1977 and its outright bestselling vehicle since 1986. In all, Ford has sold over 35 million F-Series trucks since the introduction of the F1 in 1948.

Compared to those totals, 10 million cars over 54 years may not seem quite so impressive. But the Model T and F-Series were both conceived for much broader markets. The Mustang, for its part, was the progenitor of new vehicle class—the pony car—and inspired competitors from all the domestic carmakers of its day. Now in its sixth generation, it’s the only pony to enjoy continuous production from then to now.

Ford characterizes the Mustang as “the best-selling sports car of the last 50 years and the world’s best-selling sports car three years straight.” While some may disagree with the sports car label, there’s no arguing with the Mustang’s success.

Hiccups

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. Although it sold reasonably well, the Mustang II (1973 – ‘78) shared hardware with the little Ford Pinto and was scorned by Mustang cognoscenti. And in 1989 Ford came perilously close to affixing the pony emblem to a front-drive coupe engineered by Mazda. Only a barrage of angry letters by Mustang faithful prevented the serious step away from the pony heritage. The front-drive coupe went on to become the Ford Probe, which survived only four model years.

Ford’s plans for the 10 millionth Mustang were a little vague at the time of its unveiling. The commemorative droptop will likely be on display at select dealerships, and later be enshrined for a time at the Dearborn World Headquarters.

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