Jim Smart
August 1, 2002
Photos By: The Mustang Monthly Archives

Team Mustang wasn't only about Mustang development, but a new way of thinking at Ford. Because the team was housed entirely under the same roof, typically complex scenarios were avoided completely. Translated-no bureaucracy, no waiting. Instead of it taking days or weeks to get answers and make decisions, it took minutes and hours. Ford has been using this team approach platform development ever since.

Once it was determined the Arnold Schwarzenegger was doable, Team Mustang went to work on a very complex redesign. You would be amazed at what it takes to redesign a carline. For one thing, it takes all members of a team working together to determine what will work together and what won't. In mid-1991, Team Mustang completed its first structural SN95 prototype. It was the team's first opportunity to see in steel what they had seen in clay since the beginning of the project. Not only was that first structural prototype a rolling chassis, it was a running, drivable vehicle. Ford executives who drove the car were crazy about it. Other structural prototypes would follow for development purposes. After that, confirmation prototypes assembled at Body and Assembly for extensive real world testing and demonstration.

On Monday, October 4, 1993, Ford had its symbolic Job 1 roll-off at the Dearborn assembly plant with a lot of splash and flash. With the public address system playing the "Have You Driven A Ford Lately..." jingle, through the curtains came Job 1, driven by Ford Chairman Red Poling under bright lights and hundreds of attentive eyes. Alex Trotman was in the passenger's seat. On that day, Poling handed Trotman the keys to the company across the hood of Job 1.

We call 1994's Job 1 a "symbolic" roll-off because the "first" '94 Mustang wasn't 100001 at all. It was 100296, a red GT convertible with white leather interior assembled for William Clay Ford II, currently Chairman of Ford Motor Company. The second unit off the line that day was 100106, also a red GT convertible, followed by 100256, a yellow GT convertible. Out on the plant holding lot were hundreds of new '94 Mustangs awaiting shipment. Serial numbers ranged from 100071 to 100557. On the line were units with numbers upward of 100600 and higher. Unit 100001 was never found that day and likely does not survive in private hands. The lowest VIN we located that day at Dearborn was 100071, an evaluation unit.

What also made the '94 Mustang different was the way it was assembled. Older, more conventional assembly methods used since 1964 were abandoned in favor of new technology. For the first time in Mustang history, robotics would become a more integral part of Mustang assembly. Instead of installing engines via an overhead hoist, engines and transmissions would be mounted on the color-keyed subframe and installed through the bottom of the engine compartment.

When we had our first opportunity to drive a '94 Mustang at a press introduction in Solvang, California, in September 1993, we found it was clearly a different Mustang altogether. For one thing, it felt like a heavier car with all that safety equipment on board-new side-impact protection, air bags, interior padding, and more. It wasn't the scalded dog the '93 Mustang GT was, because it was so much heavier with less power. In terms of driving comfort, the '94 Mustang was a better car with improved legroom in front, crisper handling, no cowl shake, and a solid feel thanks to the revised Fox-4 platform. Ford brought us a stiffer platform with more steel, a greater number of spot welds, glued joints, and additional bracing underneath.