When it comes to muscle cars, there are Ford guys, there are Chevy guys and there are Mopar guys. While most Porsche owners would be willing to take a Lotus for a spin, while the Lotus driver borrows the keys to a Nissan GT-R, muscle car guys rarely cross brand lines.

In fact, the most die-hard fans would take a bus before they’d accept a ride in a rival pony car, a level of commitment and passion not seen in too many other areas. We’ve got some bad news for the Ford faithful, then: for the third year in a row, the Chevrolet Camaro has outsold the Ford Mustang.

If there’s good news for blue oval fans, it’s this: the Mustang closed the sales gap on its rival in 2012, and the race was a lot closer than the year before. Last year, Chevy sold 84,391 Camaros, compared to 82,995 Mustangs sold by Ford. Dodge, meanwhile, sold just 43,110 Challengers.

In 2011, Chevy delivered 88,249 Camaros to customers, versus Ford’s sales of just 70,438 Mustangs.

Why the big jump in Mustang sales from 2011 to 2012? The new Shelby GT500, with its 662-horsepower V-8, probably helped create brand awareness, even if it doesn’t account for the extra sales on its own.

Talk that the next Mustang would be styled differently probably swayed some buyers, too, but we suspect fleet sales added more volume than in prior years.

As for 2013 unit projections, the loss of the Mustang Boss 302 won’t help Ford’s sales, and rumors of yet another new Camaro variant (Z28, perhaps) could bump up Chevy’s numbers. Until the new Mustang hits the market in 2014, we suspect that Chevy will eke out another sales win.