'05 Mustang roars to 47 percent sales gain
By Sharon Silke Carty / USA TODAY
DETROIT -- It didn't take quite as long as a pregnancy, but Angela Biesecker was eager for her baby to arrive.
Like lots of expectant parents, Biesecker trolled Internet sites looking for more information, wondering how long it would take and what to expect when it finally came.
And then on June 17 came the moment she was waiting for: a call from her local Ford dealer. Her 2005 Legend Lime Mustang was finally delivered.
"It took five months and three days," says Biesecker of Neenah, Wis. "I was fine with the wait. I was just more worried about not getting it before the production year ended."
Biesecker, who put a $100 deposit on the car in early January, may be among the last people who ordered a 2005 who will actually get one. Ford is working hard to fill the remaining 5,500 outstanding Mustang orders but has told dealers to stop taking 2005 orders and start selling the 2006 models.
For the 2005 model year, Ford redesigned the Mustang for the first time since 1994, and buyers have been lined up since long before it went on sale in October. The automaker gave its iconic car a retro look with round headlights, chrome details inside and a throaty roar when accelerating, all hearkening back to its mid-'60s roots. And fans have been enthralled.
Sales of the Mustang are up 47 percent through the end of May over what they were last year before the redesign. The redesigned car is selling better than Chrysler's popular 300 sedan. It also is outselling 13 brands, including Scion, Saturn, Mercedes-Benz and Subaru.
"Demand for the 2005 model has already been filled from a production standpoint," says Jim Owens, marketing manager for Mustang. "We haven't seen anything like this for Mustang in recent history."
The Mustang buzz is so hot, in fact, it's even helping boost the price of used 2003 and 2004 models from before the redesign. Kelley Blue Book says used values have been up as much as $1,000 at auction as dealers scramble to have something on their lots to offer customers if they can't provide a new model.
"The introduction of a new vehicle typically brings down the value of the car it replaces, but we have found an anomaly in the Mustang," says Jack Nerad, editorial director and executive market analyst at Kelley Blue Book. "We have seen this phenomenon before but never to this extent and for this long a period."
The last time used values went up after a new model was introduced was in 2001 when BMW introduced the new 7 Series, which loyal BMW fans initially despised. Demand went up for the less controversial older model for about a month or so.
Most of the back orders for the new Mustang are for the GT model, which has a 300-horsepower V-8 engine and sells for about $25,000. Many dealers have the 210-horsepower V-6 model on their lots, but those don't stay around for long - less than three weeks, on average. "I'm not out of cars, but that car is the hottest car on the market right now," says Dan Hay, a dealer in Bakersfield, Calif.
Waiting has become almost as entertaining for buyers as actually getting the car. At some Internet sites, such as BlueOvalNews.com, Mustang buyers have hooked up with anonymous Ford employees to track where in the production cycle their car is.
Someone even leaked a number usually reserved for dealers that lets buyers check on their car. Armed with their vehicle identification number, buyers-to-be can check whether their car has been scheduled for a build date, if it's already on the line or if it's in the process of being delivered to their dealer.
"I was probably checking a couple times a week," says Jim Vance, a Cincinnati resident who picked up his Sonic Blue GT convertible last week. "It's just because I was so excited about the car."
Art Spinella, an analyst at CNW Marketing Research, says he expects demand for the Mustang will remain strong for about 18 months. Considering the car went on sale in October, that means supply could stay limited until next April.
"There's an awful lot of breadth to the Mustang but not a lot of depth," Spinella says. "A lot of people would consider driving one, but it isn't a primary vehicle in a household."