I found the Ford SVT engineers to be a great group of guys. They all seem to genuinely love their jobs, and each of them seems to have a real passion for their products. So that's great. Still, it doesn't mean I couldn't annoy them to the verge of tears and with my inane suggestions, which is what I did. Because that's what I do. Here's my ideas, and what they had to say.
The idea: You guys need a Mustang shooting brake. Or, even better, a GT500 one. I tell every car company I meet with they need one for pretty much any car they have, and I mean it every time. Now, I know this has been proposed and even prototyped in the past, but it's time to just do it already. I'm right, aren't I?
The Response: They said they could never call it a Mustang, because Mustang owners are traditional people who would lynch them. I told them I was fine with that. Then one guy told me he was the guy who gets all the emails from rabid Mustang fans, and he dreads the thought of this. Not the car, the reaction. That seems crazy to me, but he seemed to think this was white-powder-in-an-envelope level of response.
The idea: A four-door Mustang. This one's not my idea, it's been around forever. Ford made prototypes of these, too. And, if you're so terrified of lone Mustang-honor vigilantes, I guess you could call it some other horse name? Clydesdale?
The response: Once I got away from calling it a Mustang, they were a bit more open. They thought Clydesdale sounded too truck-like, but what about Palamino?
I like Palamino! Maybe the Shooting Brake can sneak in under this alternate-horse clause as well. Arabian? No, that probably won't fly in some core Mustang markets. Shetland! No, that'd be for the Mustang city car. Gelding! Yeah, that sounds tough!
The idea: Okay, what about this: a Shelby GT500-based Ranchero! 631 lb-ft of torque means it could tow anything! Like one of the Presidents' noses from Mount Rushmore anything. It's like 200+ lb-ft more than the big V8 F-150! The GT500 could make an amazing tow car. You wouldn't have to call it a Mustang or anything!
The response: One guy threw a drink in my face. They calmed down, and then they said it would pull a trailer apart, or rip its own axle out. I told them they should just raid their truck division for some super-beefy axles and rear frame bits, and maybe put the towing hitch in the bed, like a gooseneck type trailer. Shockingly, they started to get a little more interested once I made that concession. This one should be the Clydesdale.
The idea: Ford has so many nameplates they could bring back: Like Galaxie, Falcon, Bobcat, Edsel, Pinto?
The response: They agreed, and were happy they didn't need to start everything with an "f" anymore. Some names they had considered— the Flex was almost a Galaxie, for example. They liked Bobcat, but the guy who threw a drink in my face full-on slapped me, tears of rage welling up in his eyes, when I suggested Edsel. Amazingly, one of the product guys insisted he could bring "Pinto" back! Another guy said it reminded him too much of beans, but I encouraged him. I'd be all on board with a 2015 Pinto.
The idea: Speaking of Pintos, the Pinto Cruising Wagon was awesome, and needs a comeback. And you guys already have the perfect vehicle: the Transit Connect! They already come in from Turkey with windows and seats that get removed or replaced to get around the Chicken Tax, so you could pop in a bubble-window panel then, when you're already removing the glass panel! Add a quick set of decal stripes and you're done! It's perfect!
The response: Other than the guy who slapped me, the response was somewhat positive. They agreed it could be done pretty cheaply, and would be fun. The angry guy left, shooting his friends a look of disgust. I later found he trashed my hotel room and wrote "IDIOT" on my mirror in mustard.
Also: I suggested implementing my tell-people-the-OBD-codes/issues-in-the-dash-idea. They liked it. Seriously, I'm going to make this happen.