Folks, we're officially into the final quarter of the final year for this epic pony car sales war and it's shaping up to be a nail-biter. The Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro will drive off into the sunset in 2024, leaving the Ford Mustang as the winner of Detroit's muscle car scene by default. But before that happens, we have a neck-and-neck street fight to claim the 2023 sales crown.

We aren't exaggerating on that. With third-quarter 2023 sales available from Ford, Dodge, and Chevrolet, we see the Mustang and Challenger are virtually tied through September. Right now, Dodge holds the lead with 35,350 Challenger sales. The Ford Mustang has found 35,315 homes so far. The difference between them is just 35 cars. Heck, by the time this article publishes, Ford could be in front.

Gallery: 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse First Drive Review

We aren't exaggerating on that, either. In its Q3 sales announcement, Ford stated that Mustang sales were up 90 percent in September. That's the first full month of sales for the seventh-generation model, and it seems the car is indeed quite popular. According to Ford, 2024 Mustangs sell within six days of arriving at dealerships. Of the 9,884 Mustang sales listed for the three-month quarter, well over half – 6,575 to be exact – came in September. In simple terms, Mustang is poised to close out the year strong.

And Ford will need such strength to reclaim America's best-selling pony car title from Dodge. Despite a strong September, Mustang sales are still down 3.5 percent from last year, and lest we forget, 2022 was Mustang's worst sales year in its history. One reason the 2023 sales race is so close is because Challenger sales are also down. It dropped 33 percent compared to Q3 2022, and the big muscle machine is down 16 percent for the year. And this will be the final year for the Challenger as we know it. A new model is coming though not in the immediate future. Will it close out its very long production run on top?

Gallery: 2024 Chevrolet Camaro Collector’s Edition

The Chevrolet Camaro won't, and frankly, that's a tragedy. As we ramble on about the Mustang and Challenger, Camaro is the only Detroit pony car having a positive sales year. Q3 sales totaled 7,351 units, a drop of 7.2 percent. But, Camaro sales are up an impressive 28.7 percent for the year. Unfortunately, that still only means 24,688 bow tie sales, which is a stark reminder of just how bad 2022 was for the Chevy fans.

And like the Challenger, 2024 will also see the Camaro retired. Chevrolet has said it will return, but while we at least have some idea of the Challenger's future, there's no telling when or how the Camaro will come back. 

With three months left in the sales year, you can bet executives at all three Detroit brands will be watching the sales figures closely. As for the rest of us, take it all in and savor the moment. If the Mustang-Challenger-Camaro battle does return at some point in the future, it won't be a showdown of two-door V8 coupes from Motown.

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