DEARBORN, Mich. – Designers at Ford Motor Co. went through thousands of sketches and 15 clay models to arrive at the 2015 Mustang. The new Mustang is lower and wider than its predecessor, but with elements that recall the original pony car from 1964, including a long hood, short rear deck and sloping fastback profile. The trapezoid grille with the Mustang logo is still there, but the headlights are narrower and more menacing.
J Mays, Ford’s chief of design, talked with The Associated Press about designing a new version of a beloved icon at the Mustang’s unveiling Thursday in Dearborn, Michigan. Here are three questions and his answers.
Q: What was the process like?
Mays: “We got input from around the world. As we would roll Mustang clay models out into the yard, we had some that we really, really liked, but they didn’t pass muster because they weren’t quite large enough, or they weren’t quite aggressive enough. They were all beautiful cars, to be sure. But there was a checklist of things that we wanted to have on this car, among them being the confidence and power and aggression that some of those cars, as beautiful as they were, just didn’t have.
So we’ve ended up, I think, with a really, really nice editing job on this car, finding just the essentials that make it a Mustang, not only for the new buyers but for those people that owned some of the 9 million Mustangs that came before this one.”
Q: Is it harder to redesign an icon like the Mustang than to design a completely new car?
Mays: “No. It’s an absolute joy. You get people lining up at your office door ready to work on Mustang, so this is an absolute honour.
We started doing the planning in late 2009, and you can imagine the sketches were already starting to come across my desk about three minutes after we kicked the program off. So we’ve been thinking about this, and thinking about really what are the essential elements of this car, for a long time.
The biggest trick, I think, on this car was editing down all of the Mustang cues, because we could have put more on there. You need just enough to tell the story, and you want to leave just enough off that it allows the customer to participate and fill in the blanks. And I think that mystery is part of what makes a good car work really well.”
Q: What’s your favourite part of the car?
Mays: “Tri-bar tail lamps. But I’m just a sucker for history.”