Brazilian Mustang Club Visits Ford WHQ: ‘We Feel Like Children Again’

Apr 05, 2024

Brazil might be a long way from Dearborn, but passion for Mustang transcends geographical boundaries. An illustration of this phenomenon took place this week as some 15 members of the Mustang Clube São Paulo swarmed upon a pair of 2024 Ford Mustangs parked in the lobby at World Headquarters, the height of a lengthy trip to visit the company’s home base and see Mustang assembly in action. 

The group made the trek to celebrate the iconic Pony car’s 60th anniversary, which comes April 17. They are the first Mustang club from Latin America to be hosted for a visit by company representatives.

“Everybody has the same reaction when they see Mustang – they look like a kid again,” said club president Marcelo Simionato. “We feel like children again after having this gift.”

Mustang is sold in more than 100 markets around the world. Ford began selling the Pony car globally in 2015, and today there are more than 300 Mustang clubs around the world – on six of the world’s seven continents – reflecting the car’s popularity. Each car is manufactured at Flat Rock Assembly Plant, which the group also visited.

“It’s a unique opportunity for us to be in the plants and see how the cars are built, and to be here in Ford World Headquarters is incredible,” Simionato said. “We’re all really touched to have this experience.”

Long-time club member Fernando Rigo called the visit “historical.”

“This is a place that has a soul,” he said. “It’s a part of everything we love.”

Living the Mustang lifestyle

The club, which has 120 core members and more than 600 total members, travels from city to city in Brazil every month, staying in hotels along the way and enjoying weekends together. 

“We like to enjoy friends and go out and take a ride, and we enjoy going to the track, too,” Simionato said, noting the group also engages in social outreach activities such as food donation. “We go from one city to another. It’s a way to enjoy life.”

The group has also traveled to the U.S. to mark Mustang moments. They visited Charlotte, North Carolina, to mark Mustang’s 50th anniversary a decade ago, and members have also visited the famed Route 66.

Making Mustangs for the world to enjoy

Mustang Interior Design Manager Ricardo Garcia and Design Manager Chris Walter were both on hand to greet club members at WHQ. Members saw, and took many photos with and of, a vehicle display that included the all-new Mustang Dark Horse. Garcia said he was inspired by the club’s visit, adding that it was a memorable experience to connect with people who share a common passion for Mustang.

“Their enthusiasm and love for the Mustang brand was palpable, and it was amazing to see how the Mustang has brought together a community of dedicated fans,” he said.

Walter added that it is “incredibly rewarding and fulfilling” to have a hand in creating something that brings joy to Mustang fans all over the world.  

“Knowing that our creative work can have a positive impact on others and bring happiness to their lives is truly a wonderful feeling,” he said.

Walter and Garcia said Ford conducts market research specific to each region where Mustang is sold in order to account for customer preferences, which can vary significantly by region due to factors such as cultural differences, economic variables, and local trends. This allows Ford to consider things such as climate, lifestyle, and traditions and adapt its products or services to meet local tastes.

‘Mustang is my dream car’

For Simionato, the passion for Mustang started as a teen after seeing American movies that featured the car. His father’s influence also helped sway him.

“My father was always saying ‘Mustang is my dream car,’” said Simionato. “I kept this in my mind, and the first opportunity I had, I bought a Mustang.” 

Today, Simionato has seven Mustangs, one from each generation. He is trying to collect the most important ones from each era. His first was a 2011 Mustang GT with a Coyote engine, followed by a 1969 model. His collection also includes a 1965 2+2 Fastback, a 1968 Fastback, and a Mustang Shelby GT500.

Finding community in Mustang

Simionato joined the group after buying his first Mustang, making friends with fellow enthusiasts and learning more about Mustang as he attended various events.

“To be a member of a club helps us to go further in that Mustang mindset,” he said. “You really start to feel like you have a family. You feel like part of a group where you can belong. … We have people who are doctors and lawyers, but the only subject is Mustang.”

Rigo joined the club when he bought his 1999 Mustang. Membership exploded when Mustang’s global sales were expanded in 2017 to include Brazil. He said the ability to customize Mustang further sets it apart from competitors.

“The car brings a different feeling to people,” he said. “It’s not only something that gets you from point A to point B – it’s a part of family. It’s something that has a soul. The people on the street see it like that, too.”

Today, he owns two Mustangs: a 2011 model and a newer Mustang Mach 1. He even had a 1995 Mustang integrated into his wedding. 

Club Vice President Ailton Perlati joined after he bought his 2014 Mustang Shelby GT500, “Because it was the most powerful V8 engine in the world,” he said.

“I’ve always been fascinated by powerful engines,” Perlati said.

The car is the same deep blue color as the Mustang toy car his father gave him when he was six.

“Everybody in Brazil knows and recognizes a Mustang,” Perlati said. “It’s iconic.”