Ford is celebrating an important milestone in the history of affordable performance. The Mustang turns 49 years old today.
This American icon was introduced at the New York Auto Show back in 1964 and it’s been winning races and burning rubber ever since. This red, white and Blue Oval pony car has defined the segment it founded nearly five decades ago.
Aside from the Mustang’s birthday there’s another event worth commemorating. The company’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant, a half-hour drive south of Detroit, just built its 1 millionth Mustang. Production of the car moved to Flat Rock from Dearborn, Mich. back in 2004.
“For 49 years Mustang has been in continuous production in Michigan” said Tim Young, plant manager. “We’re proud to have played an important role in this iconic car.” Altogether a veritable stable of Mustangs have been built; more than 8.5 million in total.
Raj Nair, Ford’s Group Vice President for Product Development said “I was actually here for the first Mustang that rolled off the line more than 9 years ago.” He also said “I can’t wait to come back and talk about the next million Mustangs.”
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Nair and a plant official rolled out in the 1 millionth car, a Ruby Red GT convertible, revving the 5.0-liter V8 engine to riotous applause from the workers that were assembled at the press conference.
Like a proud father Dave Pericak, chief engineer of the Mustang was also at the event. He said “We don’t build cars, we build dreams.”
Of course the topic on everyone’s mind was the next-generation Mustang. When peppered with questions about this car Nair said “It’s nothing we’re talking about.” When asked when the car might hit the road he said “That’s a good question.”
But Mustang isn’t all the news in Flat Rock. Ford will be adding some 1,400 jobs at the facility. The company is investing more than half a billion dollars to add a state of the art flexible body shop as well as an upgraded paint shop. Nair said “[It’s] a real vote of confidence in the people here at Flat Rock.”
The factory will also be home to the dramatic new Ford Fusion sedan. Nair said Michigan-built versions of the car will launch this summer; currently it’s assembled in Hermosillo, Mexico. Adding a second plant is good for the company since they can’t build enough of these hot-selling cars.
The automotive press and Mustang enthusiasts alike are thirsting for news about the next-generation car. It’s widely expected to launch next year to commemorate the nameplate’s 50th birthday. Ford’s Flat Rock plant will certainly play a huge role in that event, just like it has for the last 1 million Mustangs. Of the milestone Young said “It’s truly a great accomplishment.”
GALLERY: 1 Millionth Mustang at Flat Rock Assembly Plant
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