From Shanghai to Times Square, Mustang stampedes in 6-part spectacle

Ford CEO Alan Mulally with the new Mustang in New York's Times Square on Thursday morning.

Photo credit: REUTERS
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DETROIT -- Alan Mulally sounded as though he’d been saving the line since becoming CEO of Ford Motor Co. seven years ago.

“The Mustang is out of the corral,” he proclaimed giddily as a red 2015 Ford Mustang emerged from an enclosed trailer outside the “Good Morning America” studio in New York’s Times Square.

Robin Roberts, one of the ABC morning show’s anchors, couldn’t contain her excitement either: “Oh, it’s gorgeous!” After looking it over from all angles, Roberts declared it “off the charts, baby -- off the charts.”

The live, national-television reveal on a show watched by an average of nearly 6 million people was only one piece of the lavish global spectacle that Ford engineered Thursday to introduce the sixth-generation Mustang.

In fact, by the time “Good Morning America” viewers got what the show billed as an “exclusive first look” at the Mustang, Ford already had unveiled the car four times on four continents in the preceding hour.

The new Mustang unveiled in Shanghai today.

Photo credit: REUTERS

A Mustang convertible rolled onto a red carpet in Sydney, Australia, shortly before Ford’s executive chairman, Bill Ford, showed off a pair of Mustangs at a press conference in Barcelona, Spain. The car also debuted during celebrations at 8 p.m. local time in Shanghai and 8 a.m. in Michigan.

Later in the day, a red Mustang GT was driven across a block of wet concrete in the walkway of the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles’ famed Hollywood neighborhood. Its tire tracks joined -- for now, at least -- the hand prints and signatures of such stars as Steve McQueen, Michael Jackson and Clark Gable embedded in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The cherry on top was to be a roughly three-foot Mustang logo, pressed between the cement tire tracks by Ford Americas President Joe Hinrichs and global product development boss Raj Nair, but the two could get only a faint outline in the already hardening cement.

After Mulally appeared in Times Square and at another Ford-organized event in Manhattan’s Chelsea Arts District, he was scheduled to appear on tonight’s episode of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.”

Ford broadcast the Sydney and Barcelona events live online to Mustang fans around the world. At several points during “Good Morning America” before the reveal, the show built up suspense by police on motorcycles escorting a pickup and trailer it said contained the new Mustang through the streets of Manhattan.

In the two days leading up to Thursday’s introductions, photos of the Mustang that Ford had distributed to journalists in advance for publication today leaked online, leading to even more of a media frenzy over the newest pony car. Ford officially began releasing Mustang images and details at midnight Eastern time, about seven hours before today’s first event.

At Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields was accompanied by Edsel Ford II, the son of Henry Ford II, who unveiled the original Mustang at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

The newest Mustang -- under cover in a trailer -- is hauled into Times Square on Thursday.

Photo credit: REUTERS

Fields took the wraps off a bright red 2015 Mustang after introducing Gail Wise, the first person to ever buy a Mustang at retail. Wise, of Park Ridge, Ill., purchased a blue convertible from a Chicago-area dealership in the spring of 1964. She said other members of her family had owned convertibles.

“I wanted a convertible. I thought I deserved a convertible,’ Wise said, drawing a laugh from a crowd of several hundred people, including media, dealers, suppliers, Ford employees and members of Mustang owners’ clubs.

Wise said the dealer told her he didn’t have any convertibles in the showroom but said, “I have something special to show you in the back.”

The dealer showed her the car and explained he wasn’t supposed to be selling it yet that day. She fell in love with the car and bought it for $3,347. (That is equal to a little more than $25,000 in today’s dollars; pricing for the 2015 Mustang has not been announced, but the 2014 model starts at $23,000 including shipping.)

Wise said she didn’t realize the car was anything special until she started driving home. “Everybody was flagging me down and waving at me. I felt like a movie star,” she said. “It was sporty. It was perfect. It went zoom-zoom.”

Fields then asked Wise: If she had to choose between her Mustang, which she has held onto for half a century, or her husband, Tom, which would she choose?

“That’s a hard choice,” she said, to more laughter.

Bradford Wernle and Ryan Beene contributed to this report.

You can reach Nick Bunkley at nbunkley@crain.com. -- Follow Nick on Twitter


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