It was with immense surprise that I discovered Ford marketed the Mustang in the UK in 1980. An advert indicating as such appeared in Motor, September 8 of that year.
I thought that the offering of the present Mustang was something of a novelty. It’s not, apparently.
The ceaselessly industrious team at carsalesbase declare Mustang sales of about 15,000 units in the Lord’s year of 2017 and about 13,000 units in the Lord’s year of 2018. It all goes towards making it possible for Ford to be able to declare the ‘Stang the world’s best selling sports coupé. How many did they sell, Mr Bowler-Hat? “Ford sold 125,809 Mustang coupes and convertibles in 146 countries last year,” is the answer from Koeln, Germany.
Going back to 1980 now: according to the advert “your Ford Imported Car Dealer” could arrange a test drive of this, the one Ford Mustang officially type-approved for the UK market. I like the phrase “your Ford Imported Car Dealer”, which makes buying an imported car sound as routine and cosy as buying a bottle of your favourite red wine from a local wine merchant whose name you know.
Moving on. Ford presented the Mustang as “a subtle blend of the European car concept and top American car design.” That is an interesting concatenation. What is the European car concept, precisely? Under a section called “Mustang handling” it says “There’s special heavy-duty suspension which combines the best in strut-type with 4-bar link systems to go with its Michelin TRX tyres to give it the kind of ride you would want to experience.”
I was curious as to what that meant in reality. What did reviewers say? A look at eBay turned up no evidence (at the moment) of UK-based reviews of the car so at present I have no idea how the Mustang was received. I did find a brochure for the 3.3 litre Ghia coupe (title image), for 1980-1981 but there was no hint as to whether it was a type-approved RHD version or an LHD version. The fact the only Mustang listed by Motor was the Ghia turbo indicates other versions were grey imports.
Under “Mustang Power” we are informed that the Mustang Ghia was equipped with a 2.3 litre overhead cam turbo-charged engine which provides the best of both worlds – an efficient four-cylinder engine with performance comparable to bigger engines.” Wikipedia ominously says “A troublesome 2.3-liter turbocharged L4 was offered for a short time during initial production startup which reappeared improved for the mid-year introduced.”
Interestingly, Wikipedia does not allude to the sales of the Mustang in the UK.
Finally, “Mustang Equipment”. Exceptionally well-equipped, says Ford: “tacho, odo, fuel/temperature/oil pressure gauges and deep cushion front bucket seats, and front disc brakes”. It had digital clock too, I expect.
Ford asked £7,950 for the car, or £33,600 in today’s money. For the record, the 2.3 litre Ecoboost of 2019 costs almost the same: £37,645.
For the moment, I have no further information. It may mean some hunting about at eBay for some period reviews, if they exist, to see what UK journalists thought of the RHD Mustang.
Interestingly, Ford also sold the Mercury Monarch for UK sale in 1980, one of the least impressive cars I have been in for a long time. It was listed with the other Ford cars in Motor’s price list: £9306. Today a 1978 example (much the same) is on sale in the UK for five grand.I can’t imagine why anyone would want one instead of a Buick or Cadillac from the same period.
Thus ends today’s peer into the past which, it turns out, is not as different from the present as we might think. What is the Ford Mondeo but a N American car on sale in Europe, just like the Monarch, only vastly better.