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DEARBORN — In the minds of the motoring public, the Mustang is just a thinly-veiled race car.

So, Ford Motor Co. is using this week’s New York International Auto Show to bare the soul of its Mustang icon with the GT-R, a concept vehicle that celebrates the car’s ties with speed and performance.

“It’s a full-blown racer,” said J Mays, Ford’s group vice president of design. “It has more power than any man has a right to aim down the road.”

Making its debut in the same city where the first Mustang was introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair, the concept car is based on the 2005 production model and hints at what might be seen on the track when race teams get their hands on the new pony car. Ford will begin building the production model in September at AutoAlliance Inc., the Flat Rock plant it shares with Mazda Motor Corp.

The GT-R is also an homage to the imaginations of Mustang owners who can’t resist the temptation to tinker.

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