Ford Looks to the Past With Mustang GT Concepts
DETROIT — At its evening press conference Sunday, Ford took some time to review and reminisce about its accomplishments in the previous century before presenting the Mustang GT concept. The format was fitting, however, considering how much the Mustang GT concept draws from the original, 1964.5 Mustang.
A video presentation flashed some significant historical events such as the resignation of President Richard Nixon, the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the sinking of the Titanic, which helped set the stage for going back in time to the beginning of Ford’s days. From there, the video moved forward to the present and chronicled the automaker’s accomplishments in mass production and auto racing.
William Clay Ford Jr., Ford Motor Co. chairman and CEO, opened the evening’s tour through history before turning his attention to the company’s future product lineup.
“Great products have been the cornerstone of our success for 100 years,” he said. “They still are today, and they always will be.” As an example of Ford’s commitment to products, he noted how subsidiary Volvo’s new XC90 sport utility vehicle had just been named the 2003 North American Truck of the Year. Ford also mentioned the company’s increased number of vehicle unveilings at this year’s show. “We are introducing more than 15 new production and concept vehicles at the Detroit show this week, and that’s three times the number that we normally show,” he said.
Following Ford’s introduction, attendees were treated to the arrival of two classic Shelby Mustangs to the Cobo Hall arena floor — a GT 350 and a GT 500 — and the soulful sounds of “Mustang Sally.” That was followed by a blinding indoor fireworks display, which, ultimately, led to the arrival of a silver Mustang GT coupe concept with J Mays, vice president for design at Ford, riding in the passenger seat.
Describing the design philosophy of the Mustang GT concept, Mays spoke plainly. “The formula is simple: you take the really good ideas from the original, not exactly the way they were, but the way most of us in this room remember, you mix them with the good ideas for a new generation and that’s what you get. The thing to remember here is that we are not dealing with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel — we get to move the angels around a little bit.”
According to Mays, the design of the Mustang GT concept tries to establish new, emotional bonds between individuals and their automobile, such as the ones many people had for the original Ford Mustang.
Establishing those emotional bonds may not be that difficult, considering the numerous design elements the Mustang GT coupe and convertible concepts draw from the early days of the Mustang, and the similarities were plain to see with the classic examples present on the arena floor.
The headlight configuration and grille shape of the Mustang GT concept mimics the originals, with round headlamps and the forward-swept orientation of the grille. Mustangs have long had side scoops, and the Mustang GT concept continues that tradition, too. The Mustang GT coupe also incorporates fastback styling — a Mustang trademark from its early days. Though the Mustang GT concept’s taillights are less likely than some of its other design characteristics to spark comparisons to the original Mustang’s, the resemblance is still there, albeit somewhat exaggerated.
The drivetrain and platform, however, are entirely modern. Beginning with a highly modified Ford Thunderbird platform, the Mustang GT concept evolved. Powered by a supercharged 4.6-liter V-8 engine, the rear-wheel-drive Mustang GT concept’s estimated output is 400 horsepower and 390 pounds-feet of torque. A six-speed-manual transmission is fitted in the coupe, while the convertible employs a five-speed-automatic gearbox. Putting the power effectively to the pavement is the job of the large, BFGoodrich g-force T/A tires, which ride on 20-inch wheels. Large, Brembo units handle braking responsibilities.
The interior is equally modern with its billet-aluminum trim on the dashboard, steering-wheel spokes and console, which helps to maintain the clean, functional appearance of the driving environment. The bucket seats are thin, performance-oriented racing-style units swathed in red leather.
With a completely redesigned Mustang due out in 2004, the Mustang GT coupe and convertible concepts give a strong indication of the direction in which the pony car is headed: back to its roots.
—Reported by Mike Hanley, cars.com;
Images by Casey Spring for cars.com;
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....