Mustang, the legendary "pony car" is now available new from Ford for the Australian market for the first time in 35 years.

Built at the Detroit plant, the first of the new Mustang Cobras arrived at Webb Dock in Melbourne today. These pre-production units will be used for press and promotional purposes. Customer orders will follow next month.

"Mustang will be the only high-performance V8 coupe or convertible on the market here under $100,000" said SVO Business Development Manager Rick Nayler. "Orders have climbed to over 60 now, despite the fact we can't confirm the final price and no-one's even had a test drive! Unfortunately we won't have more than 100 units arriving this year."

Mustang will be the most powerful vehicle in Ford's line-up in Australia, with a 4.6 litre all-alloy, quad-cam V8 pumping out 240kW and 430Nm of torque. The car will be year 2001 specification, including standard 330mm vented Brembo front discs with twin-piston calipers, multi-link Independent Rear Suspension, traction control, ABS and 17-inch wheels.

Briefly sold in Australia during 1964 and 1965 Mustang later thrilled Australian motor racing fans when it dominated the Australian Touring Car Championship in the hands of Pete Geoghegan in the late sixties. Racing legends Alan Moffat and Dick Johnson also tasted success with Mustangs - Moffat in the 70s and Johnson in the 80s.

Today's Mustang retains many of the styling cues that Americans fell in love with more than 35 years ago, including the classic long hood and short deck; a prominent hood scoop; and the famous galloping chrome pony. Other familiar details include a rear spoiler that's standard on the coupe and optional on the convertible, and side character lines that echo the original Mustang design. Mustang will become part of the FTE stable and will be available as a manual coupe or convertible.

Australian Mustangs will be converted to right hand drive by Ford's highly respected performance car partner, Tickford Vehicle Engineering, and will carry full factory backing, warranty and parts support locally.