The Ford Mustang was the best-selling sports car worldwide during the first half of the year, independent registration data showed, as right hand drive production began in the US.

During the first six months of 2015, Mustang customers registered 76,124 vehicles – a 56% increase year on year.

“Initial global response to the Mustang has been strong and we are only in second gear,” said Ford sales and marketing chief Stephen Odell. “We continue accelerating production and global reach with right hand drive models now coming out of the plant.”

Production of the RHD model line is officially under way at Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan, continuing the car’s first-ever global launch since the nameplate made its debut as a Lee Iacocca-championed 1964-1/2 model year spinoff of the Falcon compact.

This is the first year the Mustang has been offered to buyers in over 100 markets around the world – finally including factory RHD those who drive on the left side of the road.

The addition of RHD models allows exports to over 25 markets including the UK, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Cyprus, Malta and a smattering of Caribbean islands. Ford did RHD Explorer and Taurus models for some of these markets in the mid-90s but sales did not meet expectations and the RHD models were dropped. This time around, the Edge SUV is also being made with RHD.

Global sales leader

Sales in the US and Asia began last winter and Mustangs made their way to Europe this summer.

In the US, sales were up 70% in August, overtaking the Chevy Camaro for best-selling sports car in the US, based on Ford reported sales data.

New buyers are driving US sales growth, especially in regions such as Southern California – the largest sports car market in the country, according to IHS – where Mustang retail sales have more than doubled this year.

While Mustang is a new entry in China, it is already one of the nation’s top-selling sports cars, with hottest sales in Beijing, Guangdong and Shanghai.

Units are just starting to reach dealerships in Europe, with customers awaiting delivery of the first RHD models in markets such as the UK. Almost 2,000 orders have been taken in the UK since January. First customer deliveries are expected in November with extra supply secured to meet the greater than expected demand.

Ford opened Europe pre-ordering for 500 cars during the 2014 UEFA Champions League finals last year; customers filled the pre-order list in minutes.

Another RHD market awaiting units is Australia where nearly 3,000 orders have already been taken. Four hundred orders have also been received from RHD New Zealand.

Initial sales show that in Europe, magnetic grey and race red are the most popular exterior paint colour choices. That red is also the top choice for customers in China, followed by black which takes the top spot in both the US and the Middle East.

Video: First factory RHD Mustangs since the 1964 launch on the line at Flat Rock