The 2008 LA Auto Show starting tonight will see the debut of the new 2010 Ford Mustang we revealed first in full for you last night— nearly 44 years after the original 1964 model made its debut on the show circuit. The Mustang's not only the original pony car, it's the only one to continuously sell for all 44 of those years. With such an established history, and with the new Challenger and Camaro nipping at its tail, we were skeptical of a redesign we were told was more an "evolution" rather than "revolution." We'd also been told not to expect any seriously new powertrain options for the 2010 model year. Despite those nagging concerns, what we've found may surprise even us.
Ford released two concepts at the Watkins Glen Racetrack - the first, on October 7th, 1962 was dubbed the Mustang I Prototype and a year later on October 9th, 1963, the Mustang II Prototype. These prototypes planted the seed for Lee Iacocca to push forward the production plan for a rear-wheel drive sports car for Ford to call its own. Lee Iacocca’s original vision for a “pony” car was:
1. It would seat four. 2. It would have bucket seats and a floor mounted shifter. 3. It would weigh no more than 2500 pounds and be no more than 180 inches in length. 4. It would sell for less than $2500. 5. It should have multiple power, comfort and luxury options for the buyer to select from.
These 5 goals gave birth to the Mustang initially penned by Dave Ash and Joe Oros under the executive guidance of Iacocca in the Ford Advanced Design studios. Development started on the Mustang in 1962 and in 18 short months the first 1964 model rolled off the line. This model spawned many variations and was featured in the James Bond movie, Goldfinger, late in 1964, which most likely helped the unexpected first year sales numbers. The original sales numbers were speculated to be 100,000 units, but with 22,000 cars sold on the first day and 418,812 during the first 12 months; these were sales numbers that would solidify the Mustang in Ford’s lineup for years to come.
Ford has had the pony car market to itself for a number of years and now that Chevrolet is getting ready to launch the new Camaro and Dodge already launching its Challenger, it’s now time for the Mustang to reclaim its top spot in the stable. The current model arrived in 2005 as a retro throwback to the first generation cars. Then, in 2006, just to mix things up a bit, the design divas at Giugiaro released their Mustang Concept.
Although the concept was never meant to herald a new design direction for the new 'stang, Ford apparently decided to split the difference between the ’05 bodystyle and the Giugiaro Concept to make this new pony car reach a bit further, jump a bit higher and appear to run a lot faster. Some will say this is the same Mustang that we’ve had for the last few years, but we’ll take this opportunity to bust that myth. It's certainly different, despite not being revolutionary so.
The front fascia of the 2010 Mustang shares some resemblance with the outgoing model but loses the dumpy eyes in favor of the aggressively pissy stare of the Shelby GT500. The racetrack has become a defined and taught feature encompassing the headlights and grille. The lower intake is now closer to the ground and wider with what appears to be a plastic insert running the entire upper length and dropping to define the lower lip spoiler, a throwback to the ‘70s era Trans-Am cars, though it looks a little out of place from the front ¾ angle. Mostly noticeable in the direct front view are the raised front fenders that peak at the outer edges of the hood; again, a throwback to the 1970’s models and a sign that this Mustang has trimmed the fat from the previous model. But it's the hood of the 2010 Mustang, with the prominent power bulge diving into the leading edge that provides a hint to what lies beneath. Unfortunately, at the moment the options for what "lies beneath" are the same as what we've seen in the 'stang range for the past couple of model years. You'll have to wait until 2011 to see any real changes.
The headlights angle inward and share their design heritage with the 1970s model Mustangs though the indicators are located inboard the headlight rather than on the fender. However, this change has less to do with a design desire, and more to do with lighting requirements in the U.S.
The first thing most will notice in the side profile is the new stronger shoulder and the new bulging rear fenders kicking upward just aft of the reshaped door glass. While the ’05 model looked civil in profile, the ’10 shows it means business with these throwback fenders. The shoulder is also redefined as it rises gradually toward the front and then drops quickly just past the leading edge of the front wheel arch to intersect the racetrack seen in the front view. The speared belt line has been revised and now features a pinched crease that starts at the front wheel arch and runs to the rear with a slight undercut that gives a visual loss in weight and adds a lot of visual interest to the previously slab sided car. The signature lower feature line opens up more gradually and gives visual continuity as it walks your eye upward toward the quarter glass to the top edge of the rear glass and back down the other side. A less noticeable difference is in the wheel arches. Gone are the intersected hard edged arches of the ’05 car replaced by softer gradual radius arches that open wider to accommodate the larger wheel/tire combo.
The rear view of the 2010 Mustang is probably one the most noticeable differences from the outgoing model. The aggressively formed rear haunches sweep rearward into the slight ducktail spoiler on the deck lid’s trailing edge. This ducktail forms the top edge of the revised rear racetrack while it creases towards the front of the car, dropping to meet the upswept lower corner, continuing around to the opposite side. This racetrack encompasses the newly formed tail lamps and the center mounted badge. The tail lamp profile is an offset of the racetrack and features three vertical red elements with two clear reverse lamps intersecting, giving a very modern interpretation to the historical three bar lamps that have graced the Mustang rear since its inception. An interesting throwback to the original 1960 models are the sequential LED lamps, though they’re sure to be an annoyance to anyone sitting behind the car.
The license plate pocket sits in the same location as the ’05 model but intersects the new, much larger rear diffuser. The rear end of the ’05 car was very bulky and Ford’s designers have taken this opportunity to separate the rear fascia with a multitude of horizontal lines, effectively lessening the Mustangs rear visual mass. Of note is the relocation of the radio antenna to the rear fender from the front fender on the ’05 car, lessening wind noise inside the cabin.
Most will not see the changes in the 2010 Mustang interior, but if you look closely you’ll see them and appreciate them even more. The steering wheel from the ’05 model looked as if Ford had forgotten how to properly design a wheel and thankfully it’s been revised to not only be more useable but also more handsome while retaining the sporty, deep dished look of the one it replaces. The seats are virtually unchanged with the exception of new stitching and softer foam. The door panels are carryover.
The biggest change of the interior is the new instrument panel and we thank Ford for it. The top pad of the IP retains a similar design to existing car, a throwback to the ’64 model, but the aluminum on the face of the IP now wraps up and over the center stack with new horizontal air vents. That same panel on the ’05 model always looked cheap and this simple fix makes a world of difference while giving a slight hint of the ’64 model by mimicking the shape of the glove compartment and cluster. The fit and finish of the interior is of a much higher caliber and Ford managed to eliminate many of the parting lines from the ’05 car. The center stack is all new a features Ford’s SYNC media center; an upgrade that will be fully embraced though we don’t feel the same about the JC Witney style interior lighting package.
The Mustang badge has as much heritage as the Mustang itself, though it could have all gone in a very different direction. Some of the proposed names were: Puma, Cheetah, T-Bird II, Bronco, Special Falcon, Cougar and the development name, T-5.
Thankfully the Mustang name was chosen and Phil Clark was around to sculpt the now world famous Mustang pony. It has been asked many times why the pony is facing to the left, but the simple answer is that it was easier for Clark to draw the pony facing that way.
For the new 2010 Mustang, Ford decided that its famous badge needed an upgrade to represent the new sheet metal. Ford’s designers lifted the head to make the pony appear more proud and tipped the neck into the wind to give it a greater sense of speed and balance. Overall the design is more chiseled and muscular while retaining the feel of the original Phil Clark design.
The arrival of the 2010 Mustang couldn’t have come at a better time and its design couldn’t better represent the gradual changes to the heritage and future of the brand that is the Mustang badge. This is the point where we'd use some hackneyed expression like "we can’t wait to take this pony out of the stable" — but that'd be obvious.