If Ford and Chevy are the popular kids in America’s automotive class, Chrysler has always been the rebellious outcast with crazy purple hair, multiple piercings and zero regards for what the others think. The problem for Chrysler is, selling cars isn’t high school, even when you’re selling every teenager’s fantasy cars.

MOPAR has always been the ugly stepchild at the pony car prom. Despite bright colors and some remarkable powerplants, the Challenger has never held a candle to Camaro and Mustang sales numbers. Reputation alone has made Ford’s prancing horse the shoe-in sales king for over half a century, but now and then the Camaro rises up to challenge the king, and this is one of those times.

Beating Germany at Their Own Game

Both Camaro and Mustang have had their fair share of ups and downs, but the Mustang is so effectively burned into the brains of American young people that it takes a monumental effort for Chevy to pull one over on Ford when it comes to pony cars.

The sixth-generation Camaro has been hailed as an outstanding performance bargain, receiving comparisons to cars from BMW’s M division for its impeccable road manners, but Ford’s latest Mustang earned similar praise a few years ago when it was released. With Ford tastefully applying horsepower bumps and styling refreshers as needed, it’s a case of slow-and-steady wins the race.

Getting Down to the Numbers

Chevy sold more than 2,000 more Camaros than Ford did Mustangs in September, but the bump in sales came only after a three-month dip in Camaro popularity. Chevy could keep going at this rate for the rest of the year, and if Ford met the numbers they hit in September, the Mustang would take the top spot for 2017.

As for Dodge, the Challenger had a bright spot in August, but 6,253 Challengers sold exemplifies a slow month for the entire segment. If that’s all the help the certifiably deranged Challenger Hellcat can give MOPAR’s pony car, they may need to consider renaming the car Challenged.

Don’t Get Cocky, Chevy

The new-ish Camaro deserves credit and could receive another sales bump from new trim levels that promise to deliver V8 power without additional expensive bells and whistles, but Ford knows how to play this game.

Every time the Camaro threatens, Ford has a new Mustang waiting in the wings. Rumors have already circulated that the sixth-gen Camaro has prompted Dearborn to rush delivery of the seventh-generation Mustang, and 2020 is not that far away. While General Motors may have won the battle, Ford’s planning just may win the war.