Having been thru so many new car introductions in our thirty year history in the hobby, it’s always interesting – and definitely more than a bit sad – to watch the almost endless cycle of great looking concept cars, followed by a so-so or often ho-hum production model.
The latest model to hit the sad fan is the upcoming 2014 Subaru WRX. The concept car hit the show circuit recently and it was more than fabulous, although also obviously not tenable:
And then the final production model was spotted at the Nurburgring. It’s a Legacy, with model-specific flared front fenders, hood, front cap, rear fenders, rear bumper, and of course the expected wing. Some fans who believed that Subaru would build something like the blue Concept above were let down – even though it was clear that it never could have happened, especially given the budget Subaru operates under for the WRX and STI. It had to be based on a production car.
Fans get disappointed a lot in this hobby. Take the current Mustang, for example, which was introduced for the model year 2005. Ford first released two concepts, however, styled as shown below, and on an entirely different chassis – the DEW-98 platform, used for the Lincoln LS, Thunderbird, and Jag S-Type – and originally developed for the Mustang but dropped due to cost concerns. What we were shown was a great looking car, with the DEW-98 state-of-the-art chassis ( all aluminum double A-arms up front, and IRS out back), and featuring a supercharged 4.6 DOHC V-8:
The inexperienced observer would be excited and hopeful because it appeared the Mustang was about to get everything every (sophisticated) fan could have hoped for. However, reality is a cruel mistress. What Ford actually delivered is this:
Not only was the uber-chassis lost, the sharp styling was lost as well. Were we cheated? Yes. When will Ford learn? We’ll see.
Meanwhile, Camaro fanboys were shown a concept in 2006 which greatly excited them – not only because their car had been cancelled permanently and was now unexpectedly resurrected from the dead, but also because the concept was a knockout (if more than a bit retro):
The production model for the 2010 model year was all but identical, including the huge bulk, terrible sightlines, enormous width, and the full concept interior with its terrible ergonomics. All that was dropped was some over-the-top orange treatment of the instrument gauges (which themselves retained the concept’s styling). But it was popular and as acceptance grew it finally out-sold the Mustang.
Now we are approaching a new round of ponycars: the Mustang will be all-new in 2015 (well, sort of all-new, being simply an evolution of the existing S197 platform), and the Camaro in 2016 (based on the all-new Alpha chassis, also shared with the ATS and CTS).
We’ve seen several Mustang development mules thanks to spy photographers, showing the Fusion-like front end, but not yet the final rear shape:
The styling of the production car, like the Fusion and all new Fords going forward, is based on Ford’s 2011 Evos concept. As Alan Mulally says, when he steps off a plane in another country, he wants to be able to instantly recognize the local Fords.
From spy pictures, including an underhood picture, we know that the 2015 Mustang has the same grill and swept-back headlamps. We’ve also seen pictures of several small-scale clay models in Ford’s styling studios – and while none of those are production (hundreds of drawings would have been made, and many of the most promising converted to clay), they do all show the same shape and dimensions as the Evo.
So the question is: will Ford deliver a concept of the 2015 Mustang before production commences (presumably in the spring of 2015)? And will that concept accurately preview production… or will reality again be cruel to us?
If there will be a concept delivered, we may see it as early as the LA Auto Show this coming November, but traditionally it would be far more likely to appear in Detroit at the NAIAS in January. And while most observers are assuming that the production model will be shown at the Mustang Club of America 50th anniversary celebration event in April 2014, it’s possible that only a concept could be shown there with the production car introduced later. No doubt this is all being decided now… and we’ll just have to be patient in the meantime. And that, folks, is the car hobby.
For drag racing (and strictly off-road use only), Ford introduced a twin-turbo 5 liter V-8 powered Cobra Jet Mustang Concept at SEMA in 2012. The engine uses EcoBoost technologies with twin ball-bearing turbochargers. Power and torque were not specified.
Unfortunately, per the SEMA picture below, the engine will not fit conventionally into a street Mustang’s engine compartment… the placement of the turbos and intercooler are totally wrong. How this engine could be used in a future Mustang is up in the air. Likely the turbos would be moved much closer to the engine, probably drawn u in front of it. But then in the current car (as well as the 2015 with it’s much tighter engine compartment), the fuse box would be directly on top of the left turbo, and the air intake on the right. That wouldn’t meet production standards, so the use of an engine like this in the future Mustang is doubtful.
Ford Press Release and images:
Ford Mustang Cobra Jet Concept Goes Twin-Turbo for SEMA Debut
- New Cobra Jet concept adopts turbocharging technology from production EcoBoost® engines in the quest for ever more performance
- Since its 2008 debut, the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet has been the most successful production-based drag racer
- Ford Racing engineers have continuously improved and evolved the Cobra Jet to keep it at the head of its class
LAS VEGAS, Oct. 30, 2012 – The Ford Racing Mustang Cobra Jet concept revealed today at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show proves there is indeed a replacement for displacement.
The staggering announcements from Ford continue today: first the merger with BMW and now this new announcement with Honda. With strong U.S. sales and the promise of being rid of the idiot idiot U.S. President in 2016, Ford is determined to position itself to become the #1 auto maker in the world.
Ford Press Release follows:
FORD INNOVATION TAKES NEW DIRECTION
Honda OEM Technology (HOT) 011-81-3-438-3278
Dearborn, Michigan. April 1, 2012 - Ford Motor Company has a long history of necessarily turning to OEM technology when the company’s own engineering and research labs have been effected by the latest reorganization. Past examples of this include Manly for H-beam connecting rods, Recaro seating, Brembo braking, and more. By partnering in the aftermarket instead of innovating at home, the net result is better products all around.
Today, Ford announces a new partner: Honda OEM Technology (HOT). HOT will supply Ford with i-VTEC (Intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) technology for use on selected Ford engines beginning in the 2011 model year.
“Ford performance vehicles, particularly SVT products, have historically sucked. The addition of i-VTEC to legacy Ford engines is the single best strategy for Ford to pursue. I am also pleased to announce today that we are in early negotiation with Ford for licensing HOT suspension technology as well”. – Motoharu “Gan san” Kurosawa, HOT Consultant.
The idea to partner with HOT was the brainchild of Billy Ford, chairman and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “I like the idea of revving higher and higher”, said Billy, “Normally my ideas run out of oxygen but now we can go to new heights and stay high longer.”
Ford turned to Honda OEM Technology as part of its comprehensive reorganization plan, known as “Waaaay Forward”, to revitalize the appeal of its North American products. Ford Product Planners conducted extensive market research and found to its surprise that the demographic it had been building performance products for – known in the planning department as “straight-liners” – does in fact represent less than .000001 of the marketplace and that the vast majority of the remaining market prefers vehicles that are fun and dynamic over a wide range of driving conditions. Thus the benefits of the partnership with HOT will revitalize Ford products for mainstream buyers. An added bonus to consumers is the extensive engineering testing that HOT technology is subjected to, leading to extraordinary quality and longevity.
“We’ll never appease the pushrod snobs” – Hau Thai-Tang, former head of SVT and currently living under a bridge near the former site of the Ford Atlanta Assembly Plant.
Ford engineers have been testing the new-to-Ford technology for the past 2 years on public roads. One particularly popular car with young Ford engineers is a test mule built from the concept car formerly known as the “BOSS 604”, now painted a stealthy green. The car is popular with Ford’s young engineers and is usually the first car requested for weekend use. Except for the none-too-stealthy badge on the rear trunk lid, the public would be hard pressed to identify this as a manufacturing test vehicle.
In fact, that car is a test bed for Ford’s first product built with HOT – a 5 liter double-overhead cam (DOHC) V-8 engine producing 500 horsepower @ 8000 RPM (100hp/liter) under the rigorous Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) test procedure J2723. Furthermore, the engine meets tough Tier II and ULEV emissions standards. The engine will debut in 2015. Future evolution – particularly in the underpinning Ford legacy parts – is expected to yield as much as 120HP/liter.
“The development costs associated with adapting HOT technology to legacy Ford engines is the reason we had to cancel our product plans for all but one special-edition Mustang. We needed so many funds to totally re-engineer that car and get it right for 2015 that I ended up cancelling myself as well” – Phil Martens, former group vice president, Product Creation, North America, Ford Motor Company.
Charts explaining how i-VTEC technology contributes to emissions and drivability.
Ford Engineering Technician performing fuel economy calibration in Prototype #1 near Allen Park, MI
Note VTEC badge on trunk lid
;-) April Fools!
A question foremost in the minds of motoring enthusiasts around the world is what direction Ford will take for the next Mustang. It’s an open secret that a new Mustang will be released in April 2014 on the 50th anniversary of the original Mustang.
A key element in Ford’s strategy was announced today: the outright purchase of BMW. BMW will be folded into Ford as a new division. And, in keeping with the “One Ford” plan, BMW’s existing product plan will be modified to use Ford chassis technology and parts.
The new BMW division has also been ordered to adopt Ford “muscle” styling clichés in order to appeal to the market demographic known as “old fat guys in their 50s”. These are former straight-liners who have reached their economic plateau and seek the appearance of sophistication, but because they have passed their physical and mental prime, need the comfort and reassurance of familiar Ford styling and technology. The SVT M4 will feature wide flat seats, special door hinges for ease of ingress, a “tried and true” inline 6 cylinder engine from Ford of Australia, raised white letter tires, and a 4-link solid rear axle with “quad shocks”. It will be the first product on the market from the new BMW division.
Conversely, spy pictures reveal that the new 2015 Mustang will borrow upmarket BMW styling “influences” in an attempt to retain anxious Mustang buyers who have been leaving for Hyundai and Kia. To speed the new product to market, and as part of Billy Ford’s continued campaign against all things “Jac Nasser”, the Mustang will go back to the SN95 platform. The tooling for the SN95 had been sent to Venezuela in 2005 to be used for a new product there, but the dictator Chavez stopped shipment at the entry port and sent it home saying he didn’t want a “Yankee hand-me-down”. A plan was then formed to use it as the basis of a new Jeepney in the Philippines in 2008, but that plan failed as well. As did a sale of it to the Chinese in 2010, where Hau Thai-Tang, Chairman of the Peoples Original Superior Car Company (POSCC), was quoted as saying “we’ve already copied it”.
So it was conveniently available for use by the 2015 Mustang, and handily met the financial budget as well. The following spy pictures show a final production sign-off prototype, parked outside the palatial suburban Detroit home of returning Team Mustang Chief Janine Bay. When told that the secret plans had been revealed by the press, Ms. Bay was quoted as saying that “the SN95 platform, an update of the FOX platform designed in the middle 70s, ain’t broke and will continue to provide a loyal and faithful basis for the Mustang at least into the 22nd century”.
;-) Happy April Fools Day (or is it?)
Yes, those are 370Z wheels on an S197 Mustang! A matched set front/rear, same as the Z they came off of. And the offset is very nearly perfect.
GREAT to see Road & Track, our favorite enthusiast magazine, return to blogging this past week. And with a story of interest to all Mustang and 60′s car enthusiasts: a “short” Mustang prototype from the 1964 era. Which some of you will have the opportunity to see the car in person at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance next week.
Autocar, in an interview with Barb Samardzich, vice president of product development for Ford Europe, reports that a new RS model is on the way, and is targeted for 2015. As previously believed, the powerplant is a new 2.3 liter EcoBoost, this time sporting 330HP. And the article also confirms that the powerplant will also be used in the upcoming 2015 Mustang, although likely with lower output.
Our take on this report: remember that nothing is announced, so nothing is sure. But given the unprecedented success of the new Focus, and especially the new ST, this is a logical follow-on. We also see the logic in creating the new and larger engine, which would also be especially of interest to Ford’s OEM division. That division has OEMed the basic EcoBoost 2 liter to Jaguar and Land Rover – two brands who need a more powerful engine than the current 2 liter. The Evoque especially needs more power (and a better transmission).
And of course we may not see the RS in North America. If that happens, there will be an outcry of Ford performance fans. We won’t take no for an answer, especially in these days of Alan Mulally’s “One Ford” strategy.
The same 2 liter EcoBoost is also used in the current Australian Falcon, where it is merely adequate. A slightly larger engine, which would make better torque without having to spin up as high to create as much boost, could also get better mileage. Per our 2015 Mustang prediction chart, we expect this engine in the Mustang to make 300 HP and 310 torque and to provide a dynamic driving experience with excellent low-end torque and a wide rev range. Coupled with less weight than the current car, start/stop (if the Feds make it applicable to the emissions test procedure), a better transmission, and updated electronics, the Mustang could get as much as 34 MPH on the highway rating. Yes, that is a big stretch, since it will be challenging to take significant weight (200+ pounds) out of what is merely an update to the current platform.
But back to the Focus ST. We like that car a lot, but when pressed by performance driving, we see room for improvement. It especially needs a mechanical limited slip differential, and it also needs Ford’s EvoKnuckle front suspension from the last Focus RS to mitigate torque steer. These two items are absolute requirements. Ideally, the car would also be AWD, but since Ford doesn’t have the basic architecture in variants of the Focus chassis, that isn’t possible. And a simple Haldex system doesn’t cut it in these days of sophisticated AWD systems and torque-proportioning differentials. Ford doesn’t have that kind of engineering, and the RS would be priced out of its class if Ford did.
Image 1: Ford RevoKnuckle
Image 2: Speculative rendering by Autocar magazine
Will Ford sell a worldwide-spec Focus RS in North America? Mark our words, we will buy one if they so. We’ve been teased by Ford before, more than once, and now that the capability to sell the RS is here we are expecting Ford to follow thru.
It’s been a cold and wet two weeks in Texas, and an unusual winter as a whole. This has impacted driving enthusiasts in the State: just look at our post of our HPDE event at Circuit of the Americas last weekend where we were faced with driving a new track, wide open, as an event Instructor, in the rain and freezing cold.
But being Texas such conditions are always temporary, and our weather is as of today on the way back to a daily high in the upper 60s, as it should be. And one sure sign of the good weather is great cars coming out of their garages for a drive!
Take a look at this ’66 Mustang, one of two we encountered today over a chicken wing lunch break. Absolutely beautiful! Fully optioned inside, too, with the optional (and rare) console as well as a 4-speed behind it’s 289. We weren’t able to determine which 289 was under the hood (there were three, and four if you count the Shelby variant of the K-code engine). We had a K-code ’67 Mustang ourselves so are very familiar with that engine.
Unfortunately, it did have drum brakes all around… surprising since original-style discs are easily available and very much worth the cost.
And then look behind it, at that handsome 2013 Boss 302 Mustang. It’s ours. This brings up a thought… look at the very wide-open greenhouse on the ’66, as well as its overall dimensions. Now compare to the far larger and more closed-in greenhouse of our 2013. One of the many “wants” we have for the upcoming all-new 2015 Mustang is the length of the ’66 (although wider for modern tires), as well as the same expanse of greenhouse.
We’ve been a fan of the Mustang SVO all the way back: we personally witnessed Ford race them in the 24 hour endurance races in 1982 and 1983 at Nelson Ledges (read our extensive write-up here, with unique pictures from the events), and soon thereafter we bought our own off the lot. We had an event coming up in two weeks at Watkins Glen, needed a better ride than our miserable 1983 Mustang GT, and bought the SVO. At 17 thousand US dollars, it was a lot more expensive than our GT, but was track-ready with big 5-bolt disc brakes all around, good sprint rates, and adjustable Konis straight from the factory. As well as better aerodynamics, improved ergonomics, and seats with large bolsters for excellent support. It had far better brakes for track work, and didn’t require a complete rebuild before, during, and after each day of the event – as the lowly GT did with its tiny brakes. And it was faster than any V-8 Mustang thru the 1986 model year, and easily out-handled them. It was a truly modern car, and well ahead of its time. We’ve been looking for a good example to add to our collection.
So we always watch carefully for SVOs on the road and in shows. This example was being shown at the January 2013 Cars and Coffee. It was very clean and well-preserved – although unfortunately not 100% stock.
The SVO had several styling changes over pedestrian Mustangs, including the signature – and very functional – biplane rear spoiler (originally designed by Ford aerodynamicists for the Probe series of research cars). Funny story: we once had an old couple follow us into a parking lot when we were driving our original SVO in 1985 - they asked what the spoiler was and had thought it was some sort of picnic table.
Also note the side sail panel – functional, clean. The SVO engineers and stylists used the motto “form follows function” and the entire car means just that. Everything had to be functional, and function was far more important than styling.
The Mustang engine was a 200 horsepower (this in the days of 220 horsepower Corvettes!) iron and block and head 2.3 liter port fuel-injected inline 4 with vane-type airflow measurement (state-of-the-art then, before mass air became available) turbocharger and air-to-air intercooler. With architectural roots going back to the famed 2 liter 4 cylinder from Ford of Europe, and a special stronger block and internals unique to the SVO, this was a very well-built engine. If the SVO had stayed in production – meaning if Ford dealers knew how to sell it – then we would have seen a factory DOHC aluminum head in the 1987 model year. Prototypes had been built and tested!
This is an interesting car… the owner bought it just recently – with 5000 miles on it. Five Thousand. It came as shown here, with a couple of minor changes under the hood as shown. One that is difficult to see is the aluminum head. The owner hasn’t pulled the valve cover yet to see if the head also has a roller cam, but it’s likely.
The factory airbox is missing: it’s normally on the left fenderwall and draws cold air from inside the fenderwell. This example has an aftermarket filter to suck hot air from the engine compartment.
The intercooler was effective, although at certain speeds the aerodynamics sucked in air from the hood scoop and at other speeds it flowed in reverse. The improved version of this same engine used in the 1987-1988 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe used a larger and more effective intercooler. That part is a bolt-on mod for SVOs, and is a popular update. You’ll notice that this car is missing the front “Y” bracket.
The SVO front end was designed for aerodynamics. Government regulations didn’t allow Ford to use the intended ”aero” headlamps on the 1984 and early 1985 models… the late 1985 and 1986 models were the first to use them. The hood, fenders, and front cap were unique to the SVO, as was the entire driveline and the interior.
The 16×7 (the largest wheels available on any Mustang then) wheels were also designed for aerodynamics. 16″ inch wheels were exotic stuff back then, only the Corvette used them among American cars. That would change a year later, but was state-of-the-art then. The SVO also used state-of -the-art Goodyear tires, first sourced solely from Europe and later from America (this in contrast to the miserable Michelin TRX tires used on the Mustang GT).
The back of the SVO received unique badging and taillights. Similar taillights - but not identical – were seen several years later on the 1993 SVT Cobra Mustang. The SVO lights were handsome, functional, and restrained. As was the entire car - it was a Mustang for more mature and sophisticated owners.
As follow-up to our previous post about the 2015 Mustang Coyote engine and its lack of direct injection (so far), we’ll take a closer look under the hood of a 2015 mule that was fortuitously discovered (or purposely left exposed?). A mule is a hacked-together engineering car, a mash of current and future production parts engineered to a specific testing purpose or set of purposes. Each of these steps come in phases, and somewhere there is a project plan for each step that would be extremely interesting to see. Dozens of mules and perhaps even hundreds of hand-built pre-production prototypes have and will be built right up to the start of production. Even production will come in phases, with pilot cars built later in 2013 in a special pilot plant located close to the engineers that will mimic the actual production line, and then in limited-output pilot production in Flat Rock (likely on the same line as current Mustangs), and finally in regular production for the first lucky customers.
This particular mule has both the final independent rear suspension and the updated front suspension, as well as the new inner fender structure. Note that swept-back inner fender structure (for the Fusion-like swept headlamps):
Which without a doubt will support swept headlamps like these from the Fusion. That’s the new “Evos” design language at Ford, first seen on the Evos concept, and then in production for the Fusion:
But, back to the engine compartment:
Note the cover over the battery on the left, aka Nissan 370Z. And the offset brake fluid reservoir fill on the right. That suggests that there will be a cover on both sides in the final 2015 engine compartment, both to tidy up the appearance, and also to cover up plumbing differences in both right and left-hand drive models (if both are to be offered).
Speaking of the battery, it’s too bad that Ford didn’t take the time to engineer a trunk-mounted battery, like the Lincoln LS, to further improve weight distribution. The Lincoln LS was purposefully engineered with a favorable front/rear weight balance. In contrast, the current Boss 302 Mustang has 55% of the weight in the front, and the Shelby series have been even worse with up to 59.5% of the weight up front. That’s front-wheel drive territory, and the new Mustang has to do better. We believe that with careful attention to weight up front and overall, and the new IRS out back, that the new 4-cylinder Mustang could have as little as 51% up front. Here’s the Lincoln LS trunk mounted battery, under the spare tire cover:
And here’s the current 370Z engine compartment, with covered compartments left and right for the battery and master cylinder/reservoir. Which switch sides worldwide as the car is built to both right- and left-hand drive. We’d also suggest, like the Z, that a brace (if offered) should be triangulated to the firewall for even greater strength.
Back to the 2015 Mustang: note the anti-lock braking distribution block is now right next to the new master cylinder and reservoir - again making it easier for both right- and left-hand drive models.
Then there is the giant fuse box, which per our earlier post precludes a second air intake on the left. We suspect that it also now contains the engine computer, which in the current production car is left uncovered.
There is lots more to look at here. Note the sound inducer - it’s been moved to a new and more central position. Then look at the strut towers: they are now three-bolt instead of 4. That’s probably a minor change, perhaps of a ”gram strategy” where every ounce saved counts. It will be critical to take as much weight as possible out of the production car, and in our chart of the what we believe the specifications will be for the 2015 thru 2018 Mustangs, we’ve set the target as 200 pounds. That’s aggressive, because by and large this is still an S197 underneath, with updates for international crash standards and of course the IRS (which likely weighs a little more than the solid axle, and which will fortunately take an enormous amount of unsprung weight out of the suspension).
Then there is the vacuum tank in plain view on top of the intake manifold. Perhaps it holds a vacuum charge for the new grill shutters? And what are those two metal (valves?) on the firewall to the right of the tank? They may simply be part of the engineering instrumentation of the engine, or something else we don’t yet recognize. There are also a number of green and yellow wires – these are part of the engineering instrumentation, so ignore them for now.
Also of interest is the new air intake. It’s very similar to the existing one (although the throttle body is canted slightly upwards, not unlike the Coyote engine in the current F-150 – is it possible here that the engine is mounted a bit lower in the 2015 Mustang?). The airbox, however, is necessarily different due to space constraints and suggests that the rectangular air filter is upright instead of flat. Ford has designed very efficient intakes in recent years (it is, after all, “free” horsepower), and we’d expect the same thing here.
One of the fun things in this hobby is looking at spy pictures, and especially so for a new enthusiast car. The extraordinary thing about the 2015 Mustang is that the all-new independent rear suspension has already been photographed in high-res detail, and now the engine compartment has been as well. We’ve also seen the dashboard, although at this early point it’s still a hacked-together affair using Fusion gauges, radio, and HVAC (we suspect that the main wiring harness is purposely related). We have to wonder how and why Ford has allowed so many leaks to occur… unless it was on purpose. Finding at least two cars sitting around without their handlers is too much of a coincidence.
But a good “coincidence” for us because now we get a chance to see if Ford engineers will be allowed to create what they are capable of, or what budget or lack of imagination constrains them to. That unfortunately has too often been the situation and we hope it isn’t the case again with the 2015 Mustang. With a new and much smaller and lighter Camaro coming out just after the 2015 Mustang, the competition will be even tougher. And Ford has already lost the sales crown to the Camaro, despite the extreme weight and the constrictions imposed by the concept car interior with it’s terrible ergonomics . The new Camaro will be based on the GM’s new Alpha chassis, first seen in the ATS and soon to be seen under the next CTS. That automatically makes the Camaro lighter and better handling than the current Mustang, and with better dynamics all around. With a state of the art chassis, designed completely from scratch, and with a budget shared across at least three car lines, the advantage goes to GM. Unless Ford engineers get very very creative with the new Mustang.