Driving Obama’s dream carBy Alvin Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
“This is what I needed in high school.”
The palm of the free world’s most powerful leader was tapping the iconic Ford GT-500 Shelby Mustang when US President Barack Obama uttered such words last February when he visited the Washington Auto Show.
That Ford car Obama called a “classic” is now in the country, given a grand launch by Ford Group Philippines during the recent 2012 Manila International Auto Show (MIAS) at the World Trade Center last March.
It didn’t come as a surprise that the Mustang joined the growing number of pony cars now available in the local market. Chevrolet PH first introduced their new generation Camaro at the MIAS 2010, at the height of the Transformer’s movie craze with a yellow “Bumblebee” version, which was followed by the introduction of the Dodge Challenger of the Fast and Furious 5 fame last year by CATS Motors, the exclusive distributor for Dodge cars in the country.
“Ford hit an all-time high on booth registrations and bookings at the MIAS this year,” said Dino Obias, AVP for marketing of Ford Philippines who was visibly excited about the Mustang’s debut here. He also mentioned that during the show, they had conducted a survey on which variants would they be interested in and other key questions like price points, engine size and color preferences from possible Mustang buyers who visited their massive 1,000-square-meter pavilion at the MIAS. These questions were keyed in by an iPad with a survey app specially developed for the exhibit. If the local market is similar to the US market, the most popular color would be black. This color was one out of four of the 68,650 Mustangs (all variants) sold in the US market in 2011. The GT V-8 engine variant accounted for 26,422 units while the V-6 engine variant accounted for 37,202 units, leaving 5,026 units for the top-of-line Shelby GT-500 variant. Other popular colors were Race Red and Kona Metallic Blue, which accounted for about 12 percent each last year. Anika Salceda, AVP for corporate communication, also held a quick meet-and-greet with classic Mustang owners on the last day of the MIAS, establishing ties with the local Mustang owners of various generations who have formed a local Mustang club that regularly meets for fun runs and participates in car events.
The Ford Balintawak branch allowed Inquirer Motoring to test-drive Philippines’ first official Mustang import and the chance meeting got this writer mystified. The 5.0-liter black GT Mustang was indeed a real dream to drive. Its copper bronze leather interior stands out and warmly welcomes its driver and passengers, with retro inspired dials and finishing touches. Although the final specifications of the two variants have not been disclosed as of press time, both the 5.0-liter V-8 engine and 3.5-liter V-6 engine models will definitely have most of the goodies similar to the US market. The powerful 5.0-liter V-8 engine gives out a sweet rumble on the exhaust despite the cabin’s well-appointed acoustics. Driving the car down the road invariably attracts a lot of onlookers especially with its aggressive and shark-like profile. We will have more about this car in future issues.
The first Mustang was introduced on April 17th at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. It was unveiled by Henry Ford II and on the same day sold over 22,000 units and some 400,000 units on its first production year. The Mustang was named after by the famous World War II fighter plane and is considered the first pony car ever made. Among the first Mustangs that appeared in Hollywood was a Highland green 1968 Mustang GT350 in the Steve McQueen movie “Bullitt” and also in the James Bond movie “Goldfinger.” Since then, the Mustang had captured the hearts of the car-loving Americans and had appeared in many movies. With almost 9 million Mustangs built, it is the only American muscle car that had been in continuous production for 48 years to date.
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