03-12-09: When we talked to Ford Designer Doug Gaffka last November about the new 2010 Mustang we hadn’t yet seen the new 2010 GT-500. Even then, the significant styling differences between the faces of the Mustang GT and Mustang V6 were something of a conversation piece. Now the third model in the trilogy has been unveiled and we have had some time to really get an appreciation for the direction Ford has taken in separating the three ponies not only in horsepower and content, but in style and character.
For the 2010 Mustang, the emphasis was about adding drama and character that exudes a more modern and upscale feel. Unlike the linear lines and panels on the 2005 Mustang, this new car has shape and movement. It has sex appeal that speaks in terms of fluid emotion. “The 2010 has a strong power dome, fender flares; you have the whole basis of the car being sucked in. The front end is tighter. It’s just all about making the car more muscular and leaner,” says Gaffka.
When it came to creating an individual look and feel for each model the V6 was given a major shot of style. Given the fact that the V6 models sell as much and sometimes more than even the rip-snorting GT it only made sense to make the entry level Mustang more appealing. For 2010 Ford gave it an aggressive yet elegant front fascia that shares design DNA with last year’s GT-500. It has a forward and inward leaning grill surrounds and strong lower jaw line. Ford was wise to include the bold power dome hood from the GT on the base Mustang, further raising the bar.
Models with the Pony Package have a very upscale set of driving lights set in a ’67 style corral and cross bars. The lower fascia is completely unique to the V6 models and has a shape and curvature that is all its own. On the outboard corners there are black plastic blanks that can be a great place for optional driving lights or even brake cooling ducts should someone so equip. And even the V6 Mustang gets an aggressive looking chin splitter.
For the 2010 Mustang GT, Ford had a specific mission in mind. “We wanted to give the GT in particular a very sinister look. We created this band of black between the headlamps. Even the pony on the GT is black chrome. So we want to get almost a sort of super hero look where you get the little mask where the eyes come through as a black slot. So this is kind of the super hero of Mustangs,” says Gaffka. The GT grille center is a separate piece that is available in both pewter and black, offering a color choice. The large driving lights have a slight cut-line at the top that hammers home that sinister theme.
The lower fascia of the GT is again completely unique with its “fuzzy muzzle” look. While even somewhat busy with the origami-like folds and creases of the air splitter at outboard corners, it draws the look of the car down lower and therefore more aggressive. Though Ford uses the same headlamp assembly for all three models, the GT has a different background finish in the reflector that darkens up the look a lot.
The Shelby GT-500 takes on another whole persona with its taller grille opening, domed hood, and stronger lower jaw line. The grille has a continuous horseshoe surround that sits in front of the hood while the other models hood sits down on top. This detail brings a bolder look to the front end that ties in well with the beady eyed look of the headlamps. You almost think you are looking into the face of a Cobra snake. Speaking of the snake, that emblem is on the left side now and makes this car recognizable from any angle even it had no stripes.
Below the bumper line are a strong set of driving lights set low in the fascia. A pronounced air splitter juts out to really tie the car to the ground both visually and aerodynamically. While that hood vent assembly looks like an awkward hole from some angles, stand over it and you see a well executed vent that really looks well done. It is all about the angle. From behind the wheel, the wide domed hood gives you a completely different feel than in the other cars. The GT-500 feels more substantial and heavier, and it is.
This is not the first time that the look of Mustang models was well separated. In the 1980’s we had the SVO which stood on its own next to the GT and base models. In the 1990’s SVT made a point to have unique fascia. But there is no question that for 2010, Ford has raised the bar in giving each model its own unique identity and character that is noticeable from across the parking lot.