The final showdown: 2023 sales battle for America’s pony cars

Chevrolet/Mustang (

Folks, we’re entering the last leg of an epic battle in the world of American pony cars. The year 2024 will mark the farewell of the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro, leaving the Ford Mustang as the victor by default. But before that momentous occasion, we’re witnessing a neck-and-neck street fight to determine the 2023 sales champion.

And we’re not exaggerating. With sales data for the third quarter of 2023 now available from Ford, Dodge, and Chevrolet, the Mustang and Challenger are locked in a virtual tie through September. Currently, Dodge holds a slight lead with 35,350 Challenger units sold, while the Ford Mustang isn’t far behind with 35,315 sold—just a 35-car difference. By the time this article is published, the tables could easily turn in favor of Ford.

Furthermore, this isn’t a mere coincidence. Ford announced a staggering 90 percent surge in Mustang sales in September during its Q3 sales report. This surge coincided with the launch of the seventh-generation model, proving the car’s enduring popularity. In fact, 2024 Mustangs are flying off dealership lots within six days of arrival. Out of the 9,884 Mustangs sold in the three-month quarter, a whopping 6,575 found homes in September alone, indicating that the Mustang is poised for a strong year-end finish.

Nevertheless, Ford faces an uphill battle to reclaim the title of America’s best-selling pony car from Dodge. Despite September’s strong performance, Mustang sales are still down 3.5 percent compared to the previous year. Let’s not forget that 2022 marked the worst sales year in Mustang’s history. The close race in 2023 is partly due to a dip in Challenger sales, which plummeted by 33 percent compared to Q3 2022, with a 16 percent drop for the year. Remarkably, this is the Challenger’s swan song year, with a new model slated for the future. Will it manage to exit on a high note?

While the Mustang and Challenger duke it out, the Chevrolet Camaro, unfortunately, won’t be part of the title race. Camaro remains the only Detroit pony car enjoying a positive sales year. With Q3 sales totaling 7,351 units, it saw a modest 7.2 percent dip, but for the year, Camaro sales have surged by an impressive 28.7 percent. However, this still only adds up to 24,688 bowtie-branded cars sold—a stark reminder of the tough year 2022 was for Chevy fans.

In a similar fashion to the Challenger, 2024 will mark the Camaro’s retirement. Chevrolet has announced its eventual return, but unlike the Challenger, the future of the Camaro remains uncertain, leaving enthusiasts eager to see how and when this iconic nameplate will make a comeback.