Car Wars

The muscle car battle is back on

By Larry Jewett - June 20, 2011 04:55 PM


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Latest sales figures show the Camaro is still outselling the Mustang by a wide margin. Some sources say they are seeing an increase of the 2005-2009 Mustangs traded in for a new Camaro.

For those who wanted to see the Ford versus Chevy versus Mopar muscle car wars, they’re back.

A year ago, Camaro marketing manager John Fitzpatrick explained the trend. “When the new Camaro went on sale, it was predominantly bought by Chevrolet owners, or Camaro enthusiasts who already owned a previous-generation. Today, about half of 2010 Camaro buyers are new to Chevrolet, some trading in performance cars such as Mustang or Nissan Z to purchase their Camaro. As Camaro brings new customers to Chevrolet, we believe it is having a residual effect on our other products.” 

Each company is continuing to offer more for the consumer. You have previously unheard of power in V-6 models. You have classic styling hints that invade the modern cars. You have anything you want, including a choice.

A recent announcement by Mazda has a direct impact on the Mustang. Currently, the Mazda6 and the Mustang share the AutoAlliance International manufacturing facility in Flat Rock, Michigan. Soon, the Mustang will be all alone as Mazda will move the Mazda6 to a Japanese plant.

Ford and Mazda are 50/50 partners in the Flat Rock facility. The recent news makes no mention of Mazda’s plans to utilize that plant for any other purpose. Industry experts say the production of the Mustang alone would not be enough to sustain the operation of the Flat Rock plant.

Ford is gearing up with the product line for years ahead and there will be a lot of attention on the 2014 Mustang. That edition will mark the 50th consecutive year of the brand and its impact on the automotive culture. 

As often happens, the new player in the game picks up market share. This time, Camaro is holding onto the trend longer, forcing the others to look at what they have. The return of the 5.0 by Ford has generate some excitement in the true blue oval camp, but those are buyers who wouldn’t own a GM car no matter what (and it goes both ways).

The success rests in getting those without deep brand loyalty into your camp and converting the foreign car owners. It will be interesting to continue watching how it all plays out with consumers becoming the ultimate winners.