Camaro tops Mustang in pony showdown
Victory is the 3rd straight for Chevrolet
In a revival of those great pony car wars of the 1960s and 1970s, Chevrolet's Camaro narrowly outsold the Ford Mustang last year.
The Chevy's 1,396-unit victory (84,391 to 82,995) was the closest race since 1971, which happened to be the first time U.S. customers bought more Camaros than Mustangs. That year the Camaro's 128,106 sales gave it a 1,044 margin over its rival.
It was the third straight victory for the Camaro since General Motors reintroduced it in April 2009. But some Ford tweaks to the 2012 Mustang made the race tighter, and the Camaro clung to a slim lead all year.
With a November sales edge of 845 units, the Mustang had cut the Chevy's lead to fewer than 1,100 units. But the Camaro was tops in December by 300 units to seal the victory.
The Camaro may have sales bragging rights for 2012, but the Mustang has defined the heart of the pony car market since the beginning. The Mustang has been in continuous production since the pony car segment started in April 1964. GM dropped the Camaro and its sister car, the Pontiac Firebird, in 2002, and Chrysler and American Motors left after 1974.
And while Chrysler technically beat Ford to the marketplace with the fastback Plymouth Barracuda on April 1, 1964, the Mustang's April 17 debut captured the public's imagination and came to define the genre's very name.
Ford insiders may argue about whether the Mustang is named after the P-51 fighter plane that Executive Stylist John Najjar loved or the horses bred by market research manager Robert Eggert. But the pony car segment is named for the Mustang and the sporty competitors that followed it and the Barracuda in the late 1960s: the Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, AMC Javelin and Dodge Challenger.
And the new genre sold. In the first nine months, Ford retailed more than a quarter-million Mustangs and topped the half-million market in 1965 and in 1966, when the 1967 Camaro debuted.
By 1971 GM had caught up with Ford and throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, the Mustang-Camaro sales crown see-sawed back and forth.
But Ford re-established dominance in the late 1980s and held it until the latest-generation Camaro was reintroduced. In the 42 years that both cars have been on the market, Mustang won the sales title 31 times, Camaro 11.
You can reach Jesse Snyder at email@example.com.