Mark Stehrenberger
January 21, 2003

The New Mustang. At times that phrase is enough to chill the hearts of many enthusiasts. We're a staid bunch who like our Mustangs as they have been. But it's the nature of the auto industry to change, maybe not as often as it did "back in the day," but it does change. Witness the '05 Mustang. Although at this stage Ford is staying remarkably mum about the new steed that will be built at the same plant as the Lincoln LS, there is a great deal of interest among the Mustang faithful. We're interested, and for obvious reasons have been left out in the cold for a while. Word from those who have somehow hustled a peek at the new body say that if you like retro styling, you'll love the new Mustang. So here we go.

New + old = New
The new "in" look in the automotive industry seems to be the Newstalgia look. From the new Mini Cooper that draws its look from the old Morris Mini Cooper, to the '49 Ford show car and the new Chevrolet SSR, a concept vehicle that relies heavily on the '50s 2100 pickup design, the industry has gone retro. We can't say we blame them. The car styles of the last 10 years have, overall, been a bit high on coefficient of drag and low on style.

The new 2004 1/2 one to the styling well just as the original Mustang designers did back in 1964. Back then the Mercury design team took styling ideas from the '56 Continental Mark III for many of its visual cues, and used the long nose and short-deck look of the Mark II. Even the roof line of the original bears a passing resemblance to the old Mark car.

For 2002 the rumor is that Ford uses cues from the '69-'70 Mustang as well as other styling blips from Mustang's early years.

Release date
Another rumor floating around is about the release of the car. Note that it is labeled a 2004 1/2. Those who have been around the Mustang block know that Ford released the '65 early, creating the '62 moniker for cars that went on sale starting on April 17, 1964. Rumor has it that Ford will do one of two things: make the car available for sale on this date, just like in 1964, thereby paying homage to the original; or unveil it on April 17th to create excitement prior to the Ford standard new-model release in early September. Since we're a sentimental lot here, we hope for the early release, creating a new batch of cars that cause speculation in another 20 years as to whether it's a 2004 1/2 or a 2005.

Platform
The Mustang limped along on the Fox-based chassis for 24 years. Sure, it was updated with the SN-95 project, but it's time for a new starting point. Rumor has it (get used to seeing that) that Ford's new Mustang will have a common chassis with the new retro-styled Thunderbird, the Lincoln LS, and retro-cued Jaguar. This new chassis code name is DEW, and it offers a better platform for stiffness and performance, according to Ford. The one downside is that it also makes the car a little heavier. Rough estimates are around 200 more pounds.

Thankfully, the car will, as far as we can tell, stay rear-wheel drive like the Thunderbird and Jaguar. In the past, there were moves to install the cheaper front-wheel driveline; so far this idea has been squished.

Driveline
This is purely speculation; in any case, here goes: The V-6 will remain the base powerplant for the '05, but we hope it gets a bit more power (we like to dream). Rumor has it that the new base powerplant will be the 3.0 V-6. The 4.6 V-8 will remain the engine of choice for the GT, with Ford banking on the new body to sell the car rather than the engine package. This is what Ford has traditionally done. However, we've heard through the grapevine that a 5.0L modular might be released in the '05 Mustang. All reports on this 4.6-derived engine indicate that the additional cubes make it a true powerhouse. The FR500 concept car had one of these bad boys, and it rocked. Transmissions will probably be an electronically controlled automatic overdrive and have a six- or five-speed stick shift. Rear ratios will most likely fall into the 3.27-3.55 range.

Other stuff
We've heard that the Boss may indeed be back for 2005. This would be especially appropriate with the release (if it happens) of the 5.0 modular V-8. It would also continue the march down memory lane with yet another chance to buy into the heritage of the original. Other rumors persist that the Mach 1 may return for 2005 with a new supercharged 5 or 4.6 liter V-8. In some respects this may hold more water than the Boss idea. Specialty cars aren't really needed when you have a new car on the stand, and the Mach may hold sufficient jazz to keep the power hungry happy. Our money is on the Mach.

Is This Really "It" ?
In a word, no. These drawings are pretty close, but sources tell us they aren't spot-on. We love the look in the concept drawings, and to a large degree find ourselves wishing Stehrenberger were really spot-on with the drawings; however, there are some things we feel might be "missing the mark."

The grille setup: Ford still has to deal with governmental fuel standards, and the original style grille on the illustration isn't as aerodynamically sound as it could be. Witness the '49 grille.

The roofline: The roof is believable; it follows the roofline of the SN-95 and yet has a few new flairs. Still, there may be changes here. The wheels: They're interesting, but we think Ford may not use wheels as big as these whoppers appear to be.

It's low: Due to minimum height requirements, the car, at least from the factory, will have to be a little taller.

Coming soon
We've heard that Ford might release the first prototype at the Detroit Auto Show in January. If this happens, we'll run photos of the new body style as soon as we can get our paws on them. Until then, we hope this "styling exercise" has whet your pallet for more! Let us know what you think of the concept at: www.mustangmonthly.com or via e-mail. Thanks!

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