In its 50-year history, the Ford Mustang has been through many iterations. From the first generation built in 1964 ½ through to the Fox platform-based model and on to the retro-futuristic vehicle designed under the direction of former VP and chief creative officer J Mays. Though some were clearly more successful designs than others, it’s the first generation that is considered the most iconic product.
It’s no surprise then that when designers and engineers went to work on an all new blueprint for the sixth generation car – the first model with an independent rear suspension and the first destined for sale in European markets – they pinned the 1968 Shelby fastback to their mood boards.
“We set out to do a brand new car and challenge everything. What we did first of all was re-proportioned the entire car,” says exterior design manager Kemal Curic. “We made wider, lower, more aggressive and sportier. We took key elements of the Mustang like the tri-bar taillamps and the shark nose, rear deck but we didn’t want to be retro. We did it in a new way.”
The new car’s front face is a modern execution yet retains characteristic Mustang elements. The forward canted grille builds on the successful predecessors, flanked by slim headlamps that extend into the fenders visually widening the front end. The headlamps themselves – round elements as on most of its predecessors – are now projectors set back in a slender casing and adorned with ‘shark gill’ daytime running lamps.
The entire car is longer, lower and wider than the fifth generation car, but not by much. The hood is 32mm lower; the A-pillar was moved 32mm further back to extend the dash to axle length nearly 100mm; 30mm was shaved off the height of the roof and the decklid sits 70mm lower.
While these changes give the car a more hunkered down appearance in profile, the big change can be seen in the rear ¾ view, where the 70mm wider rear track and the tapering cabin allowed the body to extend 40mm over the rear wheels on either side, giving the 2015 Mustang powerful rear haunches absent from the previous generation.
The rear end has also seen a number of changes to bring the car full circle into the modern era. Though its symbolic tri-bar taillamps ensure that the car’s definitive down-road-graphic will be immediately recognized as a Mustang, the indirect firing LEDs allowed designers to create a more three dimensional, sculptural shape.
“We reintroduced the fastback to look like the iconic first generation car introduced in 1968 and wanted to have that proportion, shark bite nose and short deck,” says Curic. “We re-proportioned the car, set the volume right and re-interpreted iconic elements such as the tri-bar taillamps and the character lines on the bodyside.”
The tri-bar element – shark gills as they’re referred to within Ford – within the front lamps, and repeated in the taillamp design is one of the more distinctive features, but there are others that aren’t immediately noticeable on first read.
One of these is the forward cant of its trapezoidal grille, which, in profile, serves to give the vehicle a forward-lunging quality. This is also accentuated in the rear fascia, which is far more heavily raked than it has been on any generation before it, tilting forward to mimic the momentum of the trapezoidal grille.
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