Showgoers at the 1964 World’s Fair, held in Flushing Meadows, New York, were treated to displays of the future, taking in the pragmatic (personal computers, nuclear fusion displays) and – in hindsight – the fanciful (jet packs, colonies of humans on the moon).

Some 50 years later, the nameplate that has proved among the most enduring from that World’s Fair is the Ford Mustang. Following cursory previews late in 2013 and at the 2014 Detroit auto show in January, the New York auto show proved the fitting locale for an all-out celebration of the pony car’s golden anniversary.

On the show floor on 16 April, executive chairman Bill Ford was on hand to unveil the 50 Year Limited Edition Mustang, the first of presumably multiple special-edition cars based on the horse’s newest breed, which goes on sale globally this year as a 2015 model. Speaking to the assembled media, Ford noted the half-century that had elapsed since the initial “rising tide of optimism” that brought about the original Mustang, as well as his keenness to see the car adopted broadly in global markets

The 50 Year Limited Edition Mustang commands an impressive spec sheet, beginning with the Mustang GT’s standard 5-litre V-8 engine paired to either a 6-speed automatic or manual transmission. Joining in are Brembo brakes, 19in alloy wheels and a special hue, Wimbledon White, which was worn by the show car and pays homage to the paint on the first Mustang ever sold. The 50 Year Limited Edition models will also feature a plaque emblazoned with an etching of the chairman’s signature, a subtle touch from someone who boasted of owning a 1975 model painted “electric green”. Naturally, production is capped at 1,964 cars.

The on-stage reveal of the Mustang was the centrepiece of a multi-tiered product launch in New York, but the car’s presence in the city was highlighted by a re-enactment of the car’s display atop the Empire State Building in 1965.

Alongside the exuberant new Mustang sat the comparatively staid, but globally critical, 2015 Focus sedan and hatchback. Optional on the reworked Focus will be the brand’s award-winning 1-litre three-cylinder engine, paired with a six-speed manual transmission – a combo that debuted for North America in the subcompact Fiesta hatchback. Slight updates to the nose and tail of each Focus model, in addition to much-improved ergonomics and a more functional technical interface, round out the rest of the changes.

Although the pair of Focus compacts would not have quickened many pulses, chief operating officer Mark Fields emphasised the Focus’ role as a lynchpin in the marque’s global strategy. According to Fields, Focus sales were up 50% in 2013 in China, an increasingly important global market for Ford, which clearly is in no mood to coast into a retro-futurist sunset.