By Paul Lienert
DETROIT, Oct 16 (Reuters) - The long wait will be over soonfor hard-core Mustang fans: Ford Motor Co plans to unveilthe next-generation 2015 Mustang later this year, several monthsahead of the car's 50th anniversary, and has invited autowriters for a sneak peek next week.
The Mustang is getting its first complete overhaul since2005, including a more modern design, a more nimble chassis andmore efficient engines and transmissions intended to broaden thecar's appeal outside its core American audience, according tosources familiar with Ford's plans.
The automaker has invited small numbers of automotivewriters, including European media, to its Dearborn headquartersfor a sneak preview of the new Mustang, beginning next week,several sources said.
The writers have agreed not to reveal details of the caruntil Ford gives the nod -- but embargoes on new car models areroutinely broken, so the first photos of the 2015 Mustang couldleak ahead of the car's formal debut in December.
The 2015 model is slated to go on sale next summer.
The original Mustang was introduced at the New York World'sFair on April 17, 1964, to tremendous national fanfare. It wasfeatured on the covers of both Time and Newsweek magazine,helping to cement the reputation of Ford's then-sales boss, LeeIacocca, and was purchased by more than half a million customersin 1965, its first full year on the market.
When it was last redesigned eight years ago, the Mustangtook a step backward in time, with a retro design that hasattracted fewer and fewer buyers. Sales last year totaled just82,995 and were down another 11.5 percent through September.
The automaker is spending hundreds of millions of dollars ona ground-up redesign of the car. The 2015 model will be thefirst Mustang aimed at global markets, notably Europe, Japan andAustralia.
To enhance its appeal to prospective U.S. and overseasbuyers, Ford is overhauling nearly every inch of the car, thesources said.
The automaker has developed a new rear-wheel-drive platformfor the 2015 Mustang, which will ride on the same 107-inchwheelbase as its predecessor but is expected to shed severalhundred pounds.
Ford is revamping the car's suspension, steering and brakes, and upgrading engines and transmissions, with a new EcoBoostturbocharged four-cylinder engine to be offered as an option.
The exterior sheet metal and the cabin have been completelyredesigned to give it a more modern look and feel, but the 2015Mustang will have styling cues inspired by past Mustangs, thesources said.
- Ford Motor Co