Market Snapshot

New Mustang Coming, Owners Quick to Customize

Recent SEMA research highlighted owners who drive specific models of popular enthusiast vehicles, namely the Chevrolet Corvette. That spotlight resonated well with readers and has prompted similar features for future articles.

With the 2010 Ford Mustang release quickly approaching and the manufacturer’s announcement of an affordable entry-level model starting at $20,995, consumers looking for an affordable sports coupe could find the Mustang a bargain. Members of the specialty-equipment industry that specialize in Mustangs or modern musclecars, or companies looking for new market opportunities should understand the enthusiast profile of current Mustang owners.

Nearly half (46%) of these owners typically begin customizing their vehicle within the first three weeks of ownership.

Since the '60s, the Mustang has been a popular platform for customization, high-performance street upgrades and most types of motorsports. With a high horsepower-per-dollar value, it has retained a lasting spot at the top of the enthusiast vehicle pool. The new model should be no different. According to Ford, more than 9 million units of the iconic pony car have been sold worldwide.

In late 2008, SEMA’s Automotive Lifestyles Survey gathered information from Mustang owners, from the introductory model to the current generation, and in January 2009 a second group was polled about their plans for the new year. In total, nearly 300 people submitted their thoughts.

This group consists of automotive magazine subscribers and visitors to popular vehicle-specific online forums, so it should come as no surprise that 91% of them made at least one performance part or accessory purchase last year.

Most of the 'Stangs were purchased more than a year ago (81%) and in used condition (73%), understandable since the vehicle was introduced four decades ago and maintains the status of a collector car. Many of the top products purchased are performance related, but some deal with maintenance and reconditioning.

Enthusiasts were also asked about the products that they plan to purchase next. Of the items on the horizon, the focus of products was on braking, appearance and exhaust. Total brake kits (35.2%) or individual brake components (26.8%) topped the list, followed closely by custom paint (24.6%), performance tires (23.2%), exhaust kits (20.4%) and headers (19.7%). 

Emphasizing motorsports and high performance should be a key ingredient to reaching these customers. Almost half watch stock-car (NASCAR) racing while nearly one out of every five (21%) participate in drag racing. For comparison, the general consumer base of the Automotive Lifestyles survey—consisting of more than 3,000 people—yielded an 11.8% rate of participation. — Zack Krelle

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The overall SEMA PADI, an index of future consumer specialty-equipment purchase plans, jumped from 29 in December to 36 in January. This translates to nearly 10% of U.S. consumers saying they plan to make a purchase within the next three months.