Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Top 14 Mustang Styling Trends
Building Character: Blurring the Line Between Form and Function
If there's anything that late-model Mustang owners have in common, it is our desire to customize our Stangs. We wait for payday so we can place another order for more go-fast goodies or eye candy. We want people to see our car and know, without question, that it is ours. But finding the right mixture of mods to give our Pony a look that fits the current Mustang styling trends, while developing a sense of character or personality, can be a difficult task—oftentimes ongoing and never-ending.
A one-word definition of the word trend is fad. And the one thing that we know best about fads is that they come and go. Something that was cool 20 years ago may now be seen as weird or tacky, and things that were cool 40 years ago may be cool again. Still, most of us strive to conform to the trends, yet find ways to be unique in the process.
The styles that seem to stick around the longest are the ones that blend both form and function, achieving supremacy over fads, becoming mainstays. Due to this, the parts or mods that achieve both of these tend to stick around longer—usually forever. We've compiled a list of 14 main styling trends that you can use to customize your Stang or fast Ford. Please don't use them all, but you can choose a few. Just remember, there's a fine line between radical and ridiculous. Before taking a huge step, flip through MM&FF and take a look at some of our feature cars. You can also visit www.semadigital.com and search for Mustang to see all of the latest trends on upwards of 100 SEMA Stangs.
We obviously couldn't include everything, so don't limit yourself to this list.
Aftermarket engine hoods are iconic in the Mustang world. A 4- or 5-inch cowl-induction fiberglass hood (unpainted white) on an otherwise-stock Fox-body is something we've all seen, or done. But with the selection of hoods in today's market, it's hard to choose which one to pick. You can get aluminum, fiberglass, or even carbon fiber.
What are standard across the board (mostly) are the benefits to aftermarket hoods. Weight savings is probably the most obvious benefit. Also, if you've installed a bigger engine, a supercharger, or higher intake manifold, an aftermarket hood may be necessary. Furthermore, most provide heat extraction of some sort, allowing engine heat to escape, which can help performance and/or longevity.
"Cervini's Ram Air hoods increase your engine's air intake in order to increase horsepower and upgrade your appearance at the same time," says Jim Frey of Cervini's.
2. Spoilers and Wings
Originally designed and used in racing applications to increase down force, spoilers (and wings) made their way onto street cars in a big way during the '60s and '70s. Today, most production cars offer a package that includes a spoiler, even sedans. But the stock piece usually isn't enough to keep us happy, because almost everyone has them.
You could just make a wing out of plywood and two-by-fours, or you could turn to the aftermarket. There are numerous choices of aftermarket spoilers, depending on what look you're going for. If you desire street performance with an open-track look, then a taller wing might be your choice. Or, you may want a drag-race-inspired look, and you can do a sheet-metal wing. Either way, they're functional, which makes them even cooler.
3. Body Kits
We've mentioned hoods and wings, but a body kit is more encompassing. Usually sold as a package, body kits include front and rear fascias, side mouldings, and sometimes a hood or spoiler. If one thing is going to transform your car into a completely different car, this is it.
Beyond looking mean or unique, body kits are also functional. Many improve engine cooling by utilizing larger or multiple grille openings. Most offer a lower stance, reducing turbulence caused by air rushing under the car, especially at speed. Some provide large round holes in the front fascia, allowing for the installation of either foglights or brake cooling ducts, and may incorporate splitters, which increase downforce at speed, aiding in braking and turning.
4. Custom Paint and Airbrushing
Nothing screams all-out custom like a custom paint job. Whether it's candy and shiny, or flat black or white, custom paint is cool. There are a few rules that must be followed, though, when going that route. Always use high-quality paint, a reputable painter, and for the love of all things holy, disassemble the car first. Nothing looks worse than a paint job that continues onto the window mouldings or emblems.
As far as color, this is your opportunity to get crazy. Sure Grabber Blue or Competition Orange are cool colors that look amazing on almost all Mustangs, but you can also be creative.
Airbrushing is another way to add a unique look to your Stang, and it doesn't take very much to be very effective.
5. Stripes and Decals
LeMans stripes are standard on the Shelby GT500, and to mimic it, many people do the stripe upgrade. Some are painted on and some are stuck on with adhesive. Either way, stripes can and will give your Pony a flashier, racy look. No, there aren't any performance improvements to be had by installing stripes, or any other graphic for that matter, but they sure look cool, especially when paired with a body kit.