Visitors to this month’s Chicago Auto Show will get a chance to test out the new 2015 Ford Mustang – at least the pinball version of the all-new pony car.
Ford has teamed up with Chicago-based Stern Pinball, one of the few surviving manufacturers of pinball machines, which has used the Mustang as the theme for three new games it is launching this year.
The games will celebrate not just the new Mustang but classic machine like the Boss 302, Boss 351 and Boss 429.
“For five decades, Mustang has represented some of the best of American culture, inspiring a feeling of freedom and independence for people around the world,” says Steve Ling, Ford car marketing manager, in a statement. “We’re excited to have Stern Pinball join us here in its hometown of Chicago with its brand-new games featuring Mustang.”
Ford’s Ling isn’t the only one excited about the project. It turns out that George Gomez, Stern’s executive vice president of game design, has been a lifelong fan of the pony car. In fact, his first set of wheels was a 1970 Mustang with a 302, and he reveals he is currently restoring a 1969 Mach 1.
“In designing these new games, we wanted to celebrate the freedom and fun of driving Mustang,” says Gomez.
The art for the new games, incidentally, was provided by Camilo Pardo, a former Ford automotive designer whose works include the Ford GT.
The choice of unveiling the trio of Mustang pinball games in Chicago was logical considering the Windy City’s long association with the machines. Not only Stern but manufacturers Chicago Coin, Bally and Williams also hailed from the Midwest city.
In recent years, pinball has become something of a dinosaur as more young gamers turn to video alternatives – but there’s still a solid group of loyalists that has helped a few game makers survive. However, the machines are quite different today, blending both traditional mechanical functions with faster-paced video elements.
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The Mustang games let players “go racing,” and build up a collection of their own Mustangs. Score the right combination and you can work your way up or down the gears – accompanied by the classic sounds of revving Boss V-8s.
“The beauty of pinball is that there is no set outcome, and it can’t be programmed like a video game,” says Gary Stern, founder of Stern Pinball. “That makes pinball a perfect match for Mustang, taking drivers anywhere they want to go.”
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It’s actually not the first time Mustang has “starred” in a pinball game. Chicago Coin introduced the first back in 1964, following the launch of the original coupe at the NY World’s Fair. Gottlieb put out another two-player game in 1977. Those game makers, Bally and Williams have all vanished, however, leaving Stern the only American producer of pinball today.
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Journalists who attend this year’s Chicago Auto Show will get a demonstration of how to play the new games, incidentally, during a Friday competition at the McCormick convention center.