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Associated Press
Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co.’s chief operating officer, introduces the 2015 Mustang on Thursday in Dearborn, Mich.

Mustang gets sleek makeover

Ford celebrates 50th birthday of ‘heart and soul’

– The Ford Mustang is still galloping at 50.

Ford Motor Co. on Thursday introduced the 2015 Mustang, a confident and aggressive riff on the iconic pony car that first made Americans swoon in the 1960s.

The Mustang’s passionate fans are sure to love it, but Ford will have to wait and see if it’s enough to overtake rivals and win over international buyers.

The Mustang was revealed at events in New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Sydney, Barcelona, Spain, and Ford’s hometown of Dearborn. It goes on sale next fall in North America and will reach Europe and Asia in 2015.

“Mustang cuts to the heart and soul of our company and really represents our company at its best,” Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields told hundreds of dealers and employees gathered in Dearborn to see the new car.

The Mustang isn’t anywhere near Ford’s best-seller. Ford sells more pickups in a week than it does Mustangs in a month.

But Ford says the Mustang has the highest name recognition and highest favorable opinion of any of its cars. And car companies count on sports cars to cast a glow over the rest of their lineup.

The Mustang’s first full redesign since 2005 presented Ford with a tough task: Update and freshen an icon without alienating fans.

More than 9 million Mustangs have been sold since 1964. The car has more than 300 fan clubs around the world, including one in Iceland and one solely for owners of yellow Mustangs. Farrah Fawcett drove a white one in “Charlie’s Angels”; Steve McQueen raced a dark green one through the streets of San Francisco in 1968’s “Bullitt.”

The new car takes plenty of cues from the old. The long hood and sloping fastback are still there, as is the trapezoid-shaped grille with the Mustang logo from the original.

But the 2015 model sits lower and wider, and the roof tapers dramatically in the front and back. The signature rounded headlights are smaller and sit back under a fierce, chiseled brow, while the traditional three-bar taillights are now three-dimensional and tucked beneath the rear deck lid.

This new generation of Mustang is engineered to meet various international safety and emissions standards. There’s a right-hand-drive version for the United Kingdom and Australia. And Ford will market the car more heavily overseas.

Ford design chief J Mays said the design wasn’t overly influenced by European or Asian sensibilities.

“The reason they love it is because of its American-ness,” he said.

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