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​2010 meeting of the Mustang Club of Denmark. Click here to enlarge image.
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 The Sight and Sound of Ford Mustang Translates into Smiles for Club Members Around the World

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​DEARBORN - Almost anywhere in the world, you will likely find a Ford Mustang and not far behind you’ll find a group of fans. For nearly 50 years, Mustang has had an avid worldwide following, even in places where American cars with V8 engines are rarely found.

Since Mustang was introduced in 1964, it has been viewed as more than just a car – representing independence and the freedom of the open road. Those are universal traits that first made Mustang appealing to young people in America, then expanded to all ages all around the world. That appeal continues today.

Despite limited availability in most overseas markets, the inherent allure of Mustang has attracted an average of more than 3,200 customers annually since 1964. In 2012, more than 4,000 Mustangs were sold in 35 countries outside of North America ranging from the United Arab Emirates to Chile to the Philippines.

“We have been able to determine that more than 161,000 Mustangs have been exported since production began nearly 50 years ago,” said Kevin Marti, owner of Marti Auto Works, the licensed supplier of Ford Motor Company production records. “We help Mustang fans and restorers around the world by selling parts and providing data such as build sheets for any car built from 1967 on.”

Over the years, those cars have found homes in many unexpected and far-flung locales such as New Zealand and Poland. Even Iceland.

Who says Mustangs and ice don’t mix?
“My Mustang interest started in 1966, when I was 14 years old, when my aunt bought a Poppy Red 1965 Mustang fastback, and I have never gotten over it,” said Stefan Thorarensen, founder and board member of The Icelandic Mustang Club. “Incidentally, she still owns it at 85 years of age.”

Today, Thorarensen still lives in Iceland and owns two Mustangs: a green 1966 coupe and a black 1994 SVT Cobra. Thorarensen’s interest in Mustang extends beyond driving his cars; his collection of VHS tapes and DVDs of TV shows and movies featuring Mustang eventually led to the comprehensive, crowd-sourced site called MustangImdb.com. About 100 contributors have grown the list of Mustang on-screen appearances to more than 3,000 titles.

The pony whisperer
First Mustang Club of Germany is one of the largest clubs outside of the United States. Club president Ralf Wurm bought his first Mustang 30 years ago at the age of 18, and the self-described Mustang Man currently drives a 1969 Shelby GT500.

“The sound was different from the sounds of German cars, sitting in the car was different. I was very proud to have a car that nobody else had,” said Wurm. “Today I also help people looking for Mustangs, I go with them to the dealer and check the originality of the cars. After 30 years of doing this, I can see a lot of stuff others don’t see.

“You can say I’m a little bit of a pony whisperer. So when you open your garage, you should always have a smile on your face when you see your Mustang.”

Spreading around the world since 1964
“We can’t think of any product we have introduced – certainly in recent years, at least – that has generated more advance interest than the Mustang,” said then-Ford Motor Company vice president Lee Iacocca at the car’s April 1964 press introduction. “People in every state and from as far away as England, Malta and Australia have written to ask for more information about the car.”

Mustangs designated for export were largely unchanged from those that were available to buy at any American Ford dealer, aside from changes required for local regulations such as lighting. Mustangs that went to Europe did get some suspension tuning changes and installation of the shock tower brace from the Shelby GT350 to better suit continental roads.

The global attraction of Mustang has led to the formation of nearly 100 Mustang clubs outside of the United States, believed to be the most for any American car. From Scandinavia to South Africa and France to New Zealand, owners and fans have formed groups to share their passion for this iconic car.

Groups gather regularly for car shows, rallies and swap meets where owners can get hard-to-find parts for vintage Mustangs. Many clubs also run websites with online forums where members can share information and advice, and help each other keep their cars running in tip-top shape.

First Mustang Club of Germany is focused on owners of first-generation Mustang and T5, built from 1964 to 1973. Founded in 1985, the club has more than 300 members, and organizes an annual international meet in Sinsheim. The most recent 32nd annual event in May 2013 attracted more than 420 Mustangs from all over Europe, including members of Team Mustang Center Nederland.

Like Wurm, Reiny van Uden, president of the 1,000-member Dutch club, thinks the sound of a rumbling V8 is an important part of Mustang’s visceral appeal.

“A lot of Dutch people like the Ford Mustang very much, the car and the sound puts a smile on a lot of people’s faces, not just the drivers at the wheel!” said van Uden, who currently owns a 1968 California Special and a 1968 GT fastback. In 2014, he and other club members plan to travel to Las Vegas for one of several Mustang 50th anniversary celebrations.

Click here for a video of the Dutch club’s September 2013 Mustang meet.

On the opposite side of the planet, even relatively small New Zealand has seven Mustang clubs including the 244-member Auckland Mustang Owners Club. Between them, club members own about 325 pony cars from every generation from 1964 to 2010.

“I own two Mustangs right now, a 1969 Mach 1 and a 2007 Roush 427R,” said Craig Borland, president of the Auckland Club. “The club was formed in 1975 by a gentleman whose son is still a member.”

“Along with car shows, social runs, picnics and monthly club nights, we are a social club that runs convoys to raise money for charity. Last year we raised $NZ2,000 for CanTeen to support young people with cancer.”

2010 meeting of the Mustang Club of Denmark.
The 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback nicknamed Stacey owned my Martin Christensen, president of the Mustang Club of Denmark.
The 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback nicknamed Stacey owned my Martin Christensen, president of the Mustang Club of Denmark.
 
The badge used on the German-market Ford Mustang known as the T5.
Prototype of the 1965 Ford Mustang T5
Prototype of the 1965 Ford Mustang T5
German sales brochure showing American models including the Ford Mustang sold as the Ford T5.
German sales brochure showing American models including the Ford Mustang sold as the Ford T5.

  

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10/18/2013 7:20 AM