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Concept received last-minute restyling

By RICK KRANZ | Automotive News

The Mustang GT took the AutoWeek Editors' Choice Award for the Most Significant vehicle of the 2003 Detroit show.
The Ford Mustang GT convertible and fastback concepts, hits at the Detroit auto show last week, received last-minute front-end restyling after the cars were panned last summer at a California clinic.

The concepts are unmistakably Mustangs, borrowing styling cues from the 1967-69 pony cars. And they are a thinly disguised version of the redesigned cars that will bow in 2004."I say 'Mustang,' and everyone of you in this room can probably fill in the design blanks," said J Mays, Ford Motor Co.'s vice president of design, who, along with CEO Bill Ford, unveiled the cars. "The unique forward tilt of the grille. That endlessly long hood. The dramatic profile of the greenhouse. The C-scoop side accent ending in that vent on the side. The short rear deck. It is all very straightforward - the classic exterior design."

The Mustang GT concepts remain true to the formula with rear drive and a high-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8. The concepts are equipped with 400 hp and 390 pounds-feet of torque.

Mays said a clinic for the Mustang GT concepts was held at the Concours d'Elegance in August in Pebble Beach, Calif. "We had a front end on this car that I felt OK about but didn't feel great about," he said. "I got some negative comments back on the car, and I started digging a little deeper. We decided to rip the entire front of the car off from the A-pillar forward, and I think it paid off."

Mays said the styling for the Mustang concept displayed at Pebble Beach was too boxy. "It didn't have quite enough shark nose. So we went back, added one and a half inches of shark nose. We dropped the headlamps about an inch, added more crown to the hood, and we put this more rounded, '67-ish grille on it. I think it really helped it a lot."


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