Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
March 1, 2004
Photos By: Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

When asked about the project goal for the '05 Mustang, Chief Engineer Hau Thai-Tang was quick and precise with his response: "We wanted to build the best Mustang ever."

And we think Thai-Tang and his team may have hit the mark. Now that we've seen the photos and read the press releases and specs, it's clear there will be a lot to like about the next-generation Mustang. The new DEW chassis is much stouter than the previous Fox-body, and thankfully it shouldn't weigh much more than the '04 Mustang. That's good news because both the GT and V-6 will boast more horsepower and torque, with the GT's 300 hp representing the first time a mainstream Mustang has offered that much go-grunt. The styling remains aggressive, with a wider front grille and outboard headlights to resemble the Mustangs from '67-'68. The new Mustang also has a retro-modern interior, optional five-speed automatic transmission, new standard equipment, a color-configurable instrument cluster, optional 18-inch wheels for the GT, bigger brakes, new suspension, and more interior room.

Basically, nearly everything about the '05 is new-and better than the previous Fox-body. Even with the "clean-sheet" design approach, the '05 is modern, yet unmistakably Mustang.

"The new Mustang is pure American muscle," said J Mays, Ford's vice president of design. "But, rest assured, we're not insisting on history at the expense of our future. We weren't just redesigning a car, we were adding another chapter to an epic."

The '05 Mustang debuts this fall as a coupe only, either GT or V-6. The convertible will follow in early 2005. Pricing will be announced later in the year, but look for the V-6 coupe to come in under $20,000 and the GT to fall somewhere around $25,000.

Here's an overview of the major '05 Mustang changes and equipment:

Chassis. For the first time in over a quarter of a century, the Mustang will not be based on the dated Fox platform. Instead, the new-generation Mustang will be built on a modified version of the Lincoln LS and Thunderbird DEW platform. In fact, Thai-Tang goes so far as to call the chassis "all-new," based on the fact that so much was changed to make it work for the Mustang. According to Thai-Tang, many of the '05 Mustang team members came from the Lincoln LS and Thunderbird programs, so they had a working knowledge of the DEW platform.

The "unique, all-purpose" Mustang chassis doubles the torsional stiffness of the Mustang over the previous SN-95 cars, improving handling and eliminating many of the former car's inherent squeaks and rattles. The new chassis should be a huge improvement for the convertible.

With the DEW-based chassis, the wheels are pushed to the corners, gaining 6 inches of wheelbase to better anchor the car, visually and physically, to the road. The wheelbase gain also helps provide more interior room.

One early concern was weight, but Thai-Tang says the new Mustang weighs in "within spitting distance" of the previous Mustang. Listed weight for the 2005 GT is "estimated under 3,450 pounds," compared to 3,347 pounds for last year's GT.

Suspension. Nope, no independent rear suspension for the V-6 or GT models. Thai-Tang says his group listened to core Mustang enthusiasts, who indicated their preference for the solid rear axle due to its reliability, durability, and drag racing prowess. IRS will be standard in the future SVT Cobra model and possibly in some special editions.

The solid rear axle is supported by a unique three-link rear suspension with coil springs, Panhard rod, and stabilizer bar. A central torque control arm fastens to the upper front of the differential, while trailing arms are located near each end of the axle. The tubular Panhard rod, which attaches to the body at one end and the axle at the other, stabilizes the rear-axle side-to-side movement and helps control the axle during hard cornering.