Fifty years after Ford first unveiled the Mustang at the New York World’s Fair, the American automaker is betting a total redesign can make the vehicle appeal to drivers around the world.
TIME got an exclusive look into the sixth-generation Mustang’s development, including these never-before-seen images of the car Ford will formally reveal tomorrow. The vehicle, which will go on sale next year as a 2015 model, is lower, sleeker and wider than the current Mustang. The most notable difference: this is the first Mustang to be produced for foreign markets, as Ford tries to turn an American icon into its global flagship.
Ford executives and engineers told TIME they found themselves straining to satisfy the demands of drivers in Europe and Asia, produce a Mustang with right-side steering for the U.K., India and Australia, while retaining the performance American customers expect. At one point the project had to be rebooted because original designs were not meeting these requirements, TIME has learned. That cost Ford millions. The new Mustang will also have a surprise under the hood: an optional 4-cylinder, turbo-charged engine. It’s a nod to Europe, where gas prices are twice those in the U.S. but also risks undercutting the Mustang’s marketable heritage as a V8 power machine.
Now, by producing a Mustang for sale around the globe, Ford will be extending its strategy of building so-called world cars that can be sold profitably in a wide array of markets with arguably its most recognizable brand. The full story will be available tomorrow on Time.com and in the 12/16 issue of TIME.
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