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There Was A Time When Ford Didn’t Think The Mustang Brand Was Worth What A Fancy Truck Costs

How much do you think the Mustang brand identity is worth to Ford today? A hell of a lot, right? It’s a legit automotive icon, and the only non truck/crossover/SUV they’re still even willing to sell in America anymore, so you’d think it’s safe to say that the Mustang brand is considered a crown jewel of Ford. Incredibly, this hasn’t always been the case; in fact, at one time, Ford wasn’t even willing to pay the price of a top-spec F450 for it. I’ll explain.

When the Mustang was first released in 1965 (we’ll just leave that 1964 1/2 stuff to the real dorks) and they began to investigate exporting the car to Europe, they ran into a bit of a snag in Germany: the name Mustang was taken.

A company called Krupp had been building multipurpose utility trucks under the Mustang name for years, and held the German trademark to the name.

They offered to sell the name to Ford, but Ford refused, choosing instead to re-brand the Mustang in Germany as the T5.

T5 was a development name used by the Mustang project, but it had no special significance otherwise. There was still the galloping horse on the fenders, but I guess that was just some random, unrelated horse in this context.

Now, this is interesting and all, but it’s not exactly unknown—real Mustang obsessives are very aware of these German T5s. What I think is fascinating—and what I never really realised before—is the amount Krupp wanted from Ford for the Mustang name: $US10 ($15),000 ($14,745).

Now, this baffles me. $US10 ($15) large just doesn’t seem like a big deal to a huge company like Ford, even in 1965. If we calculate what $US10,000 ($14,745) in 1965 is in today’s dollars, it comes to right about $US81,500 ($120,175).

Ford wasn’t exactly a tiny, struggling company in 1965—they were huge, arguably more powerful and influential than they are today. Ten grand would have been a trivial amount for them to get the Mustang name, certainly a hell of a lot easier and cheaper than having to produce badging, advertising, documentation, and so on for an identical car in one, solitary market.

I have yet to find a really good explanation of why Ford made this decision way back then. Sure, the Mustang was new, and nobody could really know how legendary the nameplate would one day become, but even so, what was the point of cheaping out and not buying the name, when it had to have cost Ford more to make all those special T5 badges and steering wheels and hubcaps and owners manuals and on and on. It makes no sense.

Even if Krupp was asking much more money, you’d think it’d have been worth it—they were willing to sell the rights to the name, which you’d think would be the important part.

Eventually, in 1979 Krupp’s trademark on the Mustang name expired, and Ford began badging German Mustangs just like the rest of the world.

But for well over a decade—an incredibly influential decade in that car’s life—Ford did this weird-arse not-Mustang thing in Germany because—why again? They’re incredibly cheap, if you don’t pay attention to the extra cost associated with totally re-badging a car and maintaining a unique marketing arm for one market?

They didn’t want to give Krupp any money? Pride? A childhood promise Edsel Ford made to Kaiser Wilhelm II? Who the hell knows. All I do actually know is that this has to be one of the strangest (stupidest?) automotive marketing decisions made by a major carmaker ever.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The article is a bit confusing.
    Is it $10 or $10,000.
    Then amounts shown in brackets. Is this an attempt at exchange rate to German Marks; NZD ?
    In 1964 dollars or 2019 dollars?

    The history of brand names gets interesting.
    Sometimes people pay up, sometimes they do not.
    Eg in Australia Burger King is Hungry Jacks.
    When Compaq Computer came to NZ in the late 1980s the company name was taken and they did not pay out. The company name was CC? Ltd. They still used the Brand name on the product as this was clear.

    sometimes it is best to not push your name on others as Mitsubishi found out.
    …Pajero according the Spanish Dictionary means “the person who carries straw.” As slang language, in Perú and some other countries in South America means “the person who masturbates very often.”…
    They changed it after launch:-
    …Mitsubishi markets the SUV as the Montero in Spain and the Americas, except for Brazil and Jamaica, as Pajero in Spanish directly translates to the rather derogatorily expressive ‘wanker’ — and as the Shogun in the United Kingdom…

    I read the article on Daily Mail the other day on the Ford Vs Ferrari movie just out.
    Ford jumped in and spent USD10 million in 1965/66 to win Le Mans with their vehicle.

    Undecided as to whether I will go and see it.
    When you are a fan of the South Park guys’ Team America movie it is hard to taker MATT DAMON seriously.
    They called out the pretentious Hollywankers so well 15 years ago. Sean Penn, Helen Hunt et al

    The foul tempered on-set and off-set Christian Bale does not inspire either.
    Aside from the out-of-the park Dark Knight 10 years ago there is not much on his skite sheet.

    The interesting thing about this movie is if you read the Daily Mail Article the movie is about Ken Miles who died in a car crash 2 months after Le Mans and only came second yet three quarters of the top drivers in the Ford cars were the Great Denny Hulme; the Great Chris Amon, and the Great Bruce McLaren.
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7674787/Ford-v-Ferrari-true-story-legendary-feud-bad-business-deal-led-Fords-1966-win-Le-Mans.html

    What a time!! These 3 car racers were simply outstanding and rather than the top kiwi guys today on the Australian Touring car circuit or Scott Dixon, who is excellent, these guys were a notch or two above.
    A golden age of NZ motorsport but the movie is about a Pom turned Yank who got second.

    Has anyone seen the movie and got any views?

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