The Mustang Phenomenon Posted Jun 27, 2005, 5:30 PM ET by Randall Halcomb The success of the Mustang has surprised a lot of people, including Ford. The entire 2005 production is essentially spoken for, and dealers are being told to start selling 2006s for those who want to order one. Clearly demand is strongest for the GT model, which represents an excellent retro performance value. If you can get one, there are no cars on the market that offer that combination of style and power for around $25,000. There are some interesting highlights here. First the Mustang is outselling a lot of other cars on the market, including the popular Chrysler 300. It is also outselling 13 entire brands, including Mercedes-Benz, Saturn, Scion and Subaru. Demand for the new car has propped up the market for the previous generation cars as dealers try to fill their lots with some kind of substitute in the absence of the 2005 model. Kelley Blue Book states that values of the 2003 and 2004 Mustangs have increased as much as $1000 at auction. Time will tell whether this demand will stay strong, but right now it is a success for Ford. ------ Mustang's success fuels hope for return June 23, 2005 BY SARAH A. WEBSTER FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER Could the Camaro make a comeback? The success of the new retro-inspired Ford Mustang has fans of the famed Chevrolet sports coupe fuming mad and fantasizing about a revival of their own. The Camaro, and its sister Pontiac Firebird, came to market in 1966, two years after the Mustang, and developed a cult following that largely pitted the cars against the Mustang. When GM discontinued the Camaro in 2002, it essentially handed that market to Ford. The new Mustang now has an estimated 41% of the shrinking market for midsize coupes, and its sales are up 24.9% this year through May, reports Autodata Corp. of Woodcliff Lake, N.J. Camaro fans say this is proof Chevy should have kept the Camaro in the game and that it should get back in as soon as possible. Clint Hart, 33, of Frederick, Md., owns a 1969 Camaro and a 2004 Monte Carlo SS and is frustrated when he drives by Ford and Chevy dealerships on his way to work in the software industry every day. He would love to buy a new Camaro to rival that hot new Mustang, but grumbled there isn't one available. "I grew up Chevrolet," Hart complained. "Sometimes I just want to trade in all my GM cars and go buy a Ford." Karl Scheffy, 53, of Allentown, Pa., also lamented the "terrible situation of the Mustang selling fantastically while there is no Camaro" as "highly frustrating." Scheffy, who graduated from high school driving a 1968 Camaro, is president of the American Camaro Association, which represents about 10,000 members. Like experts who closely watch the industry, Scheffy says the success of the Mustang has GM and other automakers considering jumping back into a specific part of the market considered dead more than a decade ago. That is the market for an affordable rear-wheel drive, V8-powered, four-seat, midsize two-door coupe. Some people call this type of vehicle a muscle car, while others label it a sporty coupe or a pony car. GM spokesman Pat Morrissey would not discuss the company's specific model plans or speculation about a new Camaro. "We are reconstituting our rear-wheel drive car plans," he said, noting that the company currently has a variety of models built off three different rear-wheel drive architectures. "We are committed to future rear-wheel drive products," he said. "We know there is a need for a mid-cost, midsize application, and we're working on a variety of scenarios." A spokesman for the Auburn Hills-based Chrysler Group also declined to say whether the company intends to get back into this part of the market. But Catherine Madden, a production analyst with Global Insight, said she expects the Chrysler Group, a division of DaimlerChrysler AG, to revive the Dodge Challenger in this segment by 2009. "The information that we receive is from very different sources," she said. "It sounded like they were certainly interested in the prospect of going after a product like the Mustang. . .There's certainly no reason that DaimlerChrysler couldn't try and go after some of that volume." Auto analyst Jim Hall, vice president of AutoPacific Inc. in Southfield, doubted the automakers could afford to delve back into this niche market. For example, demand may be lower than expected for the investment such a vehicle would require. A "Bring Back the Camaro Petition" online, available at www.petitiononline.com/CamaroSS/petition.html, has only 62 signatures. But several others predicted cool muscle coupes such as these would be back strong within the next five years. "Those cars have been missing from the market for so long," said John Wolkonowicz, North American market analyst for Global Insight, a research firm in Waltham, Mass. "There have been people who've been wanting them all the time that they weren't available, and the industry is now bringing them back." Wolkonowicz said returning to this market "is something that is being analyzed right now" at GM. Jimi Day, who owns Imagine Motor Sports, a custom car builder in Milwaukee, recently did a seven-city tour with Hot Rod magazine. More than 2,000 enthusiasts participated as the group drove from Milwaukee to Kissimmee, Fla., between June 4 and June 10. "We heard from people in every city that it would sure be nice if they would come out with a true muscle car again," Day said. "Everybody is wondering why the hell they got rid of the Camaro platform." Michael Robinet, vice president of global vehicle forecasting for CSM Worldwide, the Farmington Hills-based auto research firm, says several automakers are examining the business case for getting back into this part of the market in earnest. "I think Ford has shown everybody, that with a properly done vehicle that is properly contented for the price, you can be successful in the market," he said. "I think it's a combination of the success of the Mustang, but also looking at the demographics. Baby boomers and Generation Xers might be looking at that kind of vehicle." A lot of automakers backed out of this segment as Baby boomers transitioned from single life to parenthood and into minivans and SUVs. That left the market wide open for the Mustang to attack. "You can bet that GM, looking at the success of the Mustang, has to feel like they could create an equal success with a '69-inspired Camaro, and in fact, many car magazines have hypothesized what it would look like, and it looks quite exciting," Wolkonowicz said. "There would be a great opportunity for GM to bring back the Camaro."