The first of a limited number of Mustangs expected to be delivered to eager Australian customers prior to Christmas will be shipped out from Detroit this month.

The cars have been built at the Detroit plant and will arrive in Australia in late September. "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.

"Since its debut at this year's Melbourne Motor Show, we've had steady interest in the car and to date have 54 signed orders, despite the fact we can't confirm the final price and no-one's even had a test drive! Once they're out on the streets, we're going to have trouble meeting demand from the limited number of cars we expect to be able to get here 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.

Mustang was briefly sold in Australia during 1964 and 1965 and 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.

Close to seven million Mustangs have been sold since April 1964, when the car was unveiled to the public at New York's World Fair. On the car's first day on sale, 22,000 orders were taken.

In Australia, the Mustang Owners Club boasts about 1500 members and there are an estimated 4000 privately imported Mustangs on the road.

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.

MUSTANG MANIA - America's favourite muscle car

The Mustang was launched in April 1964.

22,000 orders were taken on the car's first day.

In Chicago, a showroom closed early and called the police when Mustang prospects stormed the dealership.

In Garland, Texas, 15 customers bid on the same Mustang, and the winner insisted on sleeping in the car overnight to guarantee that it wouldn't get sold from under him before his cheque cleared the following day.

A restaurateur invited his customers to sample his "hotcakes that were selling like Mustangs."

Mustang-crazed parents in the United States bought 93,000 pedal-powered children's Mustangs during the 1964 Christmas season.

The original pony car outpaced its entire first-year sales estimate of 100,000 in its first four months on sale.

More than 417,000 Mustangs were sold during the first 12 months - a record-breaking feat for a new car.

More than 6.9 million Mustangs have been sold in the last 35 years.

The one millionth Mustang was sold by March 1966, less than two years after its launch.

In less than three years, 472 Mustang clubs with 32,000 members sprang up across the United States.