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

Up front is an independent MacPherson strut suspension with a stabilizer bar and reverse "L" lower control arms. A firm bushing is positioned where the shorter, forward leg of the L-arm connects to the chassis to control side-to-side motion and quicken the steering response. Fore-and-aft movements are directed through a softer bushing at the longer, rear L-arm leg, which damps road shocks.

Exterior. When the Concept GTs were unveiled last year at the North American Auto Show, we were told the prototype show cars were a good indicator of the '05 Mustang's exterior styling. To a point, it was true. It is easy to see the overall design and styling similarities, although the production cars won't have the hoodscoops (possibly reserved for the Cobra?), glass roof, 20-inch wheels, functional side scoops, or full-width taillights.

Thai-Tang says his team studied all of the previous 38 years of Mustangs, and finally settled on the '67-'68 models. "We kept coming back to the '67-'68s," Thai-Tang said, "because they were the models that bridged the Mustang's transition from ponycar to musclecar." The Mustang's signature long hood and short rear deck are retained.

The most obvious change from the previous '99-'04 Mustangs is the more aggressive front-end treatment with a mouthy grille and round outboard headlights, very similar to the '67-'68 Mustangs. While the roofline and fender flares resemble the previous SN-95s, the hood has no sign of a scoop or nostrils, and the side scoops are much less pronounced than before. Rear quarter-windows, which remind us of the '66 Shelby, serve as both a styling touch and visibility enhancement. At the rear, you can visualize the full-width taillights of the Concept GTs (aftermarket, are you listening?), but the production versions get tri-element taillights at each corner. A bit hokey is the fake gas cap on the rear panel; the actual gas filler is on the driver-side rear quarter-panel.

GT models also get the huge, round driving lights in the grille (can you say '67 Shelby?), GT fender emblems, rear wing, GT rear panel emblem, and twin tailpipes exiting beneath the rear valance.

Wheels. We haven't had a chance to see all of the available 2005 wheels. But we do know the V-6 gets a 16-inch wheel standard, with a sportier 16-inch wheel (pictured on previous page) as an option. The GT comes with a base 17-inch wheel along with a more modern 17-incher as an option. An optional 18-inch wheel (pictured) will be available at a later date.

Brakes. The '05 Mustang's braking system will feature the largest rotors and stiffest calipers ever used on a mainstream Mustang. Twin-piston aluminum calipers clamp down on 12.4-inch rotors on the GT-15 percent larger than last year-while the V-6 models get 11.4-inch ventilated rotors. At the rear, the rotors on all models are 11.8 inches in diameter, over 12 percent larger than the previous '04 Mustang. The rear rotors are vented on the GT and solid on the V-6.

ABS is also available, and it will be bundled with an all-speed intelligent traction control that utilizes sensors to monitor road conditions and feed the information to a dedicated computer capable of determining, within milliseconds, whether the car is on dry pavement or a slippery surface. For occasions when traction control isn't desired, such as burnouts at the dragstrip, it can be turned off with a button on the instrument panel

Interior. Big changes inside. The previous SN-95's rounded, dual cockpit is gone, replaced by a flatter, twin-eyebrow dashpad and instrument panel that is certainly reminiscent of the '67-'68 Mustang interior, especially with the aluminum panels. There is plenty of roundness, however, beginning with the twin "Rally-Pac" gauge clusters, large A/C vents, door speaker grilles, and, of course, the center pad on the modern-looking Tri-bar steering wheel. The console is more Lincoln LS style, with a recessed shifter handle and emergency-brake handle moved closer to the driver.