When you think of Ford Motor Company's (NYSE:F) iconic Mustang, you might picture the teenager across the street burning rubber down the road. Or perhaps you conjure up a recent image of the car completing seemingly impossible stunts in the recent Need for Speed movie. Or maybe you think of the recent prank video of a gorgeous blonde -- who happens to be a professional stunt driver -- taking first dates on a joy ride.
Whatever you think of when you imagine the Mustang, it almost certainly isn't related to safety. But that's the subject of another victory the Mustang just scored, and it's a much bigger win than you might realize.
The 2015 Ford Mustang recently received a top safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to Ford: The 'Stang earned a five-star overall vehicle score in the NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program testing.
Breaking down the rating, the recently redesigned Mustang earned five stars in the frontal crash test, five stars in the side crash test, and five stars in the rollover crash test (which, if you watched that blonde driving in the video link above, seems totally reasonable for the rollover test).
"The new Mustang was built from the ground up," said Carl Widmann, Mustang chief engineer. "It is more refined, more powerful and it has everything people have come to love about Mustang for the past 50 years."
Now, I can almost guarantee that if you're a Mustang fan or die-hard loyalist, safety isn't your top priority. So, if that's the case, then why is this a big deal?
Sadly, as I'm a Mustang owner myself, sales of my favorite ride have hit the floor in recent years. Ford's determined to reverse that trend and bring sales back to heights not seen in decades. To do that, though, it needs to open the doors to consumers who wouldn't have considered the Mustang in years past. One way to accomplish that strategy is to improve its safety. Ford also has plans to launch the vehicle overseas for the first time, and to offer more engine options.
Check, check, and check.
The Mustang is also the first car to offer four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines that produce at least 300 horsepower. There's a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, if that's your thing; or a 310 horsepower 2.3-liter EcoBoost option; or, my personal favorite, the 435 horsepower 5.0-liter V8. To cap things off, Ford's trying to export the Mustang's fame overseas and is taking the car to roughly 120 foreign markets.
The good news for Mustang fans and Ford investors alike is that the strategy appears to be working. Just last month, sales of the Mustang were up 124%, which was the pony car's best January sales total since 2007.
While the recent safety honor is a big win, it's just the latest in the Mustang story that has spanned five decades. However, in the grand scheme of things, the Mustang story could be just beginning.
Daniel Miller owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.