Does 999 Mean “Ford Performance” More Than SVT?


Based on a market research study commissioned by Ford Motor Company rumors are circulatingthat FoMoCo will change the branding for its high performance vehicles from SVT (for Special Vehicle Team) to 999, the name of Henry Ford’s second race car, popularized by barnstorming driver Barney Oldfield. Marketers have seized on “authenticity” as a lever by which they can move consumers and I suspect that reaching back over a century for a brand name may have something to do with that. As someone who likes history I can’t complain about Ford looking into reusing a historic name, but  while its true that the name 999 has been associated with Ford racing since before the establishment of the Ford Motor Company, the name SVT means something to today’s car enthusiasts and for most of them 999 is just the number before 1,000. Today’s performance consumers are more likely to recognize the name Ken Block than Barney Oldfield.


There was a time, though, when 999 was the name of the most famous racing car(s) of the early motoring age, holder of a land speed record and winner of numerous races and exhibition matches with Oldfield at the wheel, er, rather tiller. Unlike Henry Ford’s first racer, the Sweepstakes car, which was a nifty little runabout, 999 was a relatively primitive machine that was all about “brute force” in the words of the transportation curator of the Henry Ford Museum, Matt Anderson. Both the Sweepstakes car and 999 are in the Racing in America exhibit in the Museum’s Driving America display.


It’s not known exactly who first coined the phrase, “win on Sunday, sell on Monday”, but Henry Ford understood the publicity value in winning races with his automobiles. It was his 1901 win with the Sweepstakes car against established automaker Alexander Winton that gave him credibility with investors and allowed the information for the Henry Ford Company. Ford almost immediately ran into difficulties with his backers. Part of it was his dream of building an inexpensive car for the masses but also part of it was that Henry wanted to race cars and his partners wanted him to focus on building and selling them.


In early 1902, he told his brother in law, Milton Bryant that his interest in racing was all about dollars and cents: “… there is a barrel of money to be made in this business.… My company will kick about me following racing but they will get the Advertising and I expect to make $ where I can’t make ¢s at Manufacturing.”


By March of that year Henry had left the company that bore his name, taking with him $900 severance and the plans for a new race cars. With financial backing from bicycle racer Tom Cooper and the technical assistance of Ed “Spider Huff and C.H. Willis (who would later persuade Ford to use vanadium steel in the Model T to great success), in May 1902 Ford began construction of two race cars with huge engines and wooden frames. One was painted red and the other yellow, named respectively, Red Devil and Arrow. The had four cylinder inline engines with 7.25 inch bores and a stroke of 7 inches for a total displacement of a massive 1,155.3 cubic inches. It put out between 70 and 100 horsepower. There was no transmission. Power was transferred to the rear wheels via a wooden block clutch on the 230 lb exposed flywheel. There were also no universal joints nor was there a differential. A solid drive shaft connected to what was literally an open rear axle, just a ring and pinion gear setup. There was no rear suspension and steering was by a primitive tiller with two upright handles and a center pivot. Not only was the flywheel exposed, so was the valve gear and the crankshaft. With a bumpy ride and oil spraying everywhere, it wasn’t a pleasant drive.

Barney Oldfield and the car that made him and Henry Ford famous.

As primitive as 999 looks, it did have at least a couple of features that were advanced for its day like that simple drive shaft and rear axle. Most early automobiles had a chain drive for each of the driving wheels. 999′s pneumatic “balloon” tires were also novel at the time.


Though he would later *drive Arrow to a land speed recordof 91.37 mph in the flying mile, Henry was said to be a bit intimidated by the machine. Instead he hired bicycle racer Barney Oldfield to pilot 999 in the five-mile Manufacturers’ Challenge Cup race on Oct. 25, 1902, in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. In a way it was a rematch between Ford and Winton, but while the 999 became firmly associated with Henry Ford in the public mind, by the time of the actual race Ford had backed out of the venture, selling his interest to Cooper because of a poor test session a couple of weeks before the race.

According to legend, Oldfield had never driven an automobile before the race, which he won going away, covering the five miles in 5 minutes and 28 seconds, a record for the distance on a closed course. Though he sold his interest in 999, Ford, though, retained publicity rights, which proved to be invaluable. Oldfield renamed Red Devil “999″ after a famous locomotive of the day. Oldfield and Cooper took the two cars around the country, setting speed records, winning races and establishing Oldfield as the first celebrity race driver in America. Having made a name for himself driving a Ford, though, Oldfield switched to the competition, Winton, in the summer of 1903. By then Henry Ford was focusing on getting the Ford Motor Company off of the ground.

It's tempting to call that an "open differential" but there's no differential at all, just a ring & pinion gear set. Full gallery here.

In September of that year, both the 999 and the Arrow were entered into the inaugural car race at the Wisconsin state fair. Huff was driving 999 and Frank Day piloted the Arrow. Day, though, was killed when he crashed the car. The destroyed Arrow was returned to Detroit where Ford rebuilt it, planning on a land speed record attempt that winter on frozen Lake St. Clair. On Jan. 12, 1904, Ford set a new flying mile record. Though that record would stand for less than a month, the young Ford Motor Company benefited mightily from the publicity surrounding Ford’s LSR effort.

The Detroit Tribune described the record attempt: “As Ford flashed by it was noticed he wore no goggles or other face protection. Humped over his steering tiller, the tremendous speed throwing the machine in zig-zag fashion. Ford was taking chances that no man, not even that specialist in averted suicide, Barney Oldfield, had dared to attempt.”

Henry Ford driving the "999" in an Exhibition Run against Harry Harkness in a Mercedes Simplex, at the Detroit Driving Club's 1 Mile Track in Grosse Pointe.

Henry Ford driving the “999″ in an Exhibition Run against Harry Harkness in a Mercedes Simplex, at the Detroit Driving Club’s 1 Mile Track in Grosse Pointe.

Cooper sold the cars in 1904 and some years later Henry Ford would acquire it for the museum that bears his name. Shortly before his death, Henry Ford is said to have remarked to Barney Oldfield: “You made me and I made you.” Oldfield shook his head and replied “Old 999 made both of us.”


I’ll have to check with Matt Anderson to find out the current running status of “Old 999″. It was still in operating condition in 1963 when racer Dan Gurney visited the Henry Ford Museum while he was racing for Ford. Gurney would go on to win at LeMans with co-driver A.J. Foyt and as one of the leading American racers who happened to be driving for the blue oval, he was an honored guest. When the curator asked him if he’d like to drive it, Gurney jumped at the opportunity and soon afterwards the then over 60 year old race car was transported to Ford’s nearby test track where the all-American racer took it for a spin.

Dan Gurney drives Old 999 on Ford's Dearborn test track, 1963

Richard Barrett described the scene for Ford Times magazine:

It was a bone-chilling, blustery day nearly sixty years ago when Henry Ford drove his famous “999″ racer over the ice at Lake St. Clair, Michigan, to set a new world’s speed mark of ninety-two miles per hour. The Detroit Tribune of January 13, 1904, headlined the event as a “wild drive against time.” The article went on to say, “As Ford flashed by it was noticed he wore no goggles or other face protection. Humped over his steering tiller, the tremendous speed throwing the machine in zig-zag fashion. Ford was taking chances that no man, not even that specialist in averted suicide, Barney Oldfield, had dared to attempt.” As fate would surely be delighted to have it, the day last March when Dan Gurney, one of today’s racing greats, drove the same old “999″ at Ford Motor Company’s high-speed test track, the cold wind cut like a knife and a driving snow all but blinded the eyes. As the car was started up, and Gurney got his first close look, he whistled in wonder and said, “It’s a fire-breathing monster!” Henry Ford said exactly the same thing the first time he drove it.

Gurney, like Ford before him, proved his championship mettle that cold March day. With only a short briefing on the mechanics of the monster, a few questions asked and answered, he took the “999″ out on the infield track to get the “feel” of the car. A short time later, after the high-speed test track was cleared, Gurney got his flying start and roared into the “soup bowl” (a high-speed, steeply banked turn). Here’s how Gurney later described the sensation: “It’s quite a thrill. I was looking for the exhaust pipes and then I realized there are hardly any. They’re about two inches long and I could see flame coming out. The car is vibrating and everything is twisting every time it fires; you can feel everything from one end of the car to the other.

“The car is a little bit deceiving because it’s so high geared, but you’re really covering the ground. It’s sort of like comparing a running elephant to a deer. The low revs of the engine are what do it, and those four big cylinders. You can feel them working. Until it’s going forty to fifty miles an hour it doesn’t really settle down, and then it hardly seems to be turning over at all. It’s just chug, chug, chug with a lot of popping, smoke and roar. All the while you’re sitting there, straddling that big engine high on the single seat and remembering to keep your feet out of the way of that exposed flywheel. It’s as big as a man-hole cover.”

Asked if he was concerned about controlling the flying “999″ Gurney smiled and answered, “I just prayed nobody would get in front of me. There were patches of ice and snow on the track, and at the speed I was going it would take at least two hundred yards to stop. I can imagine Henry Ford driving that thing ninety-two miles an hour on ice. Very, very tricky. You’d have to be extremely delicate with the tiller and braking or you’d really be in trouble. Having good eyesight would be a help in a panic stop, although with all the engine racket they could probably hear you coming far enough so they could get out of the way.”

Gurney later recounted the experience for the Car Crazy television show.

Car hacking: who’s monitoring (or controlling) your car?

As vehicles become computers on wheels, the risk of car hacking is real, according to Australia-based Queensland University of Technology (QUT) road-safety expert Professor Andry Rakotonirainy from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS).

He has researched the security systems of existing fleet and future autonomous and connected cars and found there is little protection against hacking.

“The security protection on cars is virtually non-existent; it is at a level of protection that a desktop computer system had in the 1980s,” he said. “The basic security requirements such as authentication, confidentiality and integrity are not strong.

Accessing the “brains” of a car

“What this means is that as vehicles become more and more connected and autonomous, with the ability to communicate to other vehicles and infrastructure through wireless networks, the threat of cyber attack increases putting people’s safety and security at risk.”

The development of intelligent transport systems means future cars will be connected to wireless networks as standard. He said technology called CAN bus (controller area network), accessible under the steering wheel, provides access to the “brain” of a car and will allow anyone to check the health of a vehicle and control it.

“CAN bus allows all microcontrollers within a car to communicate to each other and is accessible via a mere plug,” he said. “It can be used to control almost everything such as the airbags, brakes, cruise control and power steering systems” and can be accessed locally or remotely with simple devices.

However, “applications of the future will depend on high data rates that cannot possibly be supported by today’s CAN” and other systems, according to an EE Times blog. “Parking cameras, HD digital infotainment, ADAS sensors like Radar and eventually the ‘eyes and ears’ for self-driving systems of the future will all be built on a high bandwidth Ethernet backbone…. [driven by the need to] minimize the additional cabling in the car. …  For example, BMW’s camera based driver assistance system is supported by Ethernet.”

Connected cars


“This is just the tip of the iceberg, as future cars will feature a tremendous mix of wireless networks and offer numerous opportunities to improve safety, entertainment and comfort,” Rakotonirainy continued.

“For example, cars will be wirelessly connected to other cars,” he said. “If a vehicle stops ahead, a warning can be issued to drivers behind to slow down, or vehicles can automatically take control and slowdown without the driver’s intervention. (KurzweilAI has covered this coming “vehicle-to-vehicle, V2V, technology in several articles.)

“It will also be possible for vehicles to connect with infrastructure. For example, if a light turned red, but an approaching vehicle failed to slow, perhaps because the driver was distracted, a warning could be issued or action taken to automatically control the vehicle.”

Rakotonirainy said that while these features had the potential to improve road safety, if someone hacks into a vehicle’s electronics via a wireless network and exploits the current security loophole, they can track or take control of it.

He said it was vital for car makers, government and road safety experts to turn their attention to this global security threat. “We need to be analyzing the types of risk that that these intelligent vehicles are facing and work to provide a secure, reliable and trusted protection system.

“A vehicle’s communication security over wireless networks cannot be an afterthought and needs to be comprehensively considered at the early stages of design and deployment of these high-tech systems from the hardware, software, user and policy point of view.”

Nightmare scenarios

“Modern vehicles can have as many as 200 CPUs and multiple communications networks between internal computer systems,” according to Ken Schneider, vice president of technology strategy at software security company Symantec, as Computerworld notes. “While most systems are isolated within the car, others are used to transmit data back to manufacturers, dealers or even the government. …

For example, “Ford says it’s collecting location data and call data if you use [Ford] SYNC to dictate emails. Ford then shares that data with business partners … according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.”

Schnenider said nightmare scenarios could include traffic violations being issued without law enforcement officers on the scene or federal agencies having the ability to track your every move in a car.

“Perhaps even worse, if it were possible to hack into on-board systems, malicious software could be downloaded to a car’s computers, with potentially deadly outcomes. Among other things, a piece of malware could, for example, “tell the braking control system to suddenly activate,” Schneider said.

Meet Tornado Hunter Chris Chittick. This is his Real Story

Chris Chittick is a tornado hunting pro when it comes to getting unbelievable video footage of some of North America’s most devastating storms. Whether he and the rest of the Tornado Hunters are driving their F-150 towards or away from danger, Chris is always armed with his video camera.

Storm footage is difficult to come by, but amazing storm footage from some of the most dangerous areas in the world is actually Chris’s specialty. Tornados, blizzards, hurricanes, water spouts, anything Mother Nature can throw at Chris, he’s going to capture it on video, edit it, and share it on Facebook and YouTube.

But don’t think for a second that Chris is just in this for the thrill. For him, it’s all about safety. It’s about getting the best images, capturing mind-blowing visuals, and providing real time storm information to those who need it. Chris is an expert on weather phenomena and often gives lectures on extreme weather safety. He works closely with emergency technicians, engineers and disaster relief organizations to help educate on prevention and survival in the field.

And when it comes to safety, Chris and the team team rely on their F-150.

“You need to have faith in your driver; you need to have faith in the vehicle itself; and I have complete faith in the vehicle.”

-Tornado Hunter Chris Chittick

Chris and the Tornado Hunters have named their F-150 “Flash,” and they rely on their truck to not only get out of danger, but also to get ahead of it to warn people. Chris has seen over 400 tornados since he started chasing and capturing storm footage in 1998, but not once has he taken safety for granted. And with the toughness of an F-150, he can focus on getting footage without having to worry if the truck can withstand the rigours of tornado hunting.


Brad Keselowski and Ford win first 2014 NASCAR Chase race

SEPTEMBER 14, 2014

Brad Keselowski and Ford win first 2014 NASCAR Chase race

Brad Keselowski won the first Chase race of the season on Sunday.PHOTO BY LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC


For Brad Keselowski, this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup started the same way it did in 2012 — with a victory at Chicagoland Speedway.

Clearly, Keselowski would love to see the Chase end the same way it did two years ago — with a series championship.

Needing an extra pit stop to tighten a loose wheel under caution on lap 183 of 267 in Sunday’s 400 at the 1.5-mile track, Keselowski restarted 16th on lap 187, mired in traffic behind a gaggle of lapped cars.

But with a determined charge through the field and a couple of opportune cautions in the final 35 laps, Keselowski regained lost track position and put himself in position to make a dramatic race-winning move after a restart on lap 250.

With third-place finisher Kyle Larson battling Kevin Harvick for the lead on lap 252, Keselowski powered between the two cars off turn two and grabbed the lead.

“I just saw a hole, and I went for it,” Keselowski said.

He held the top spot for a restart on lap 262, after an accident involving the cars of Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and pulled away to win his fifth race of the year and the 15th of his career by 1.759 seconds over Jeff Gordon, who passed Larson for the second spot in the closing laps.

Joey Logano ran fourth and Harvick fifth, as Chase drivers took eight of the top 10 finishing positions.

With his second victory at Chicagoland, Keselowski ensured he would advance to the next round of the Chase under a new format that features a trio of three-race elimination rounds and a final race at Homestead to settle the championship between the last four eligible drivers.

With the starting order set according to speeds in opening Sprint Cup practice because of a qualifying rainout, Keselowski started 25th and worked his way to the front, only to fall back again when he brought the No. 2 Team Penske Ford to pit road to have the loose wheel tightened.

“I’m not really sure what to say,” said Keselowski, who can race for the next two weeks without fear of falling out of the Chase. “I don’t really know what happened. I just know we got to the lead. There was traffic and I was just digging and in the zone. The recorder was turned off, so I don’t remember what happened.

“I had my head down doing all I could do. We had a great Miller Lite Ford Fusion that I knew from the start would be good, but, man, it was really awesome the last few runs. We really dialed it in and the 2 crew did an excellent job. What a day! Man, I am still pumped!”

Larson, driving a backup car after a brush with the outside wall in Saturday morning practice, appeared headed for the first victory of his fledgling Cup career, before Carl Edwards’ cut tire brought out the fourth caution on lap 231. That yellow, which interrupted a cycle of green-flag pit stops, leap-frogged Keselowski to the fourth spot for a restart on lap 238.

Seven laps later, caution for Clint Bowyer’s contact with the turn one wall set up Keselowski’s opportunity to make the winning move.

“Man, I was so close,” a rueful Larson said of his lost opportunity. “I didn’t need that caution there. I was just cruising out front, and then we got that yellow, and I had to battle Harvick really hard then. That allowed Brad to get by both of us. It really ended our shot at a win there. We had one more shot there at the last restart, but just didn’t have enough for Brad.

“He was really good around the bottom. He was about the only car that I thought could get around the bottom all race long. I had a lot of fun gripping the wall. I ran inches off of it the whole race and finally got into it there battling Jeff. Man, for a backup car, that was amazing… I just hate it that we came up short.”

If Larson had speed, Chase drivers Carl Edwards, AJ Allmendinger and Greg Biffle did not. None of the three drivers was quick enough to stay on the lead lap, and with respective finishes of 20th, 22nd and 23rd, all are in jeopardy of elimination after the third race of the Chase at Dover.

The real casualty of Sunday’s race, however, was Aric Almirola, who was running sixth just before the engine in his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford failed as he was coming to pit road for a green-flag stop on Lap 231.

Almirola finished 41st and is in grave danger of missing the cut.


               1. (25) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 267, $364473.
               2. (8) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 267, $263641.
               3. (10) Kyle Larson #, Chevrolet, 267, $219750.
               4. (28) Joey Logano, Ford, 267, $182346.
               5. (12) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 267, $180538.
               6. (24) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267, $131045.
               7. (1) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 267, $172611.
               8. (14) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 267, $114070.
               9. (11) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 267, $144284.
               10. (5) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 267, $155681.
               11. (13) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 267, $116685.
               12. (7) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 267, $156721.
               13. (19) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 267, $120685.
               14. (27) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 267, $132818.
               15. (2) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 267, $113510.
               16. (15) Austin Dillon #, Chevrolet, 267, $148046.
               17. (4) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 267, $139135.
               18. (22) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 267, $136268.
               19. (18) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 267, $109310.
               20. (3) Carl Edwards, Ford, 266, $117110.
               21. (9) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 266, $127224.
               22. (17) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 265, $117468.
               23. (20) Greg Biffle, Ford, 265, $139660.
               24. (16) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 265, $130060.
               25. (21) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 265, $124230.
               26. (29) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 264, $120718.
               27. (26) Justin Allgaier #, Chevrolet, 264, $118018.
               28. (38) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 263, $95160.
               29. (36) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 262, $106518.
               30. (33) Cole Whitt #, Toyota, 262, $96110.
               31. (39) David Ragan, Ford, 262, $111457.
               32. (32) Michael McDowell, Ford, 262, $91210.
               33. (34) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 262, $91010.
               34. (30) David Gilliland, Ford, 261, $98810.
               35. (37) Alex Bowman #, Toyota, 261, $90575.
               36. (41) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, 258, $98385.
               37. (43) Joey Gase(i), Ford, 257, $90156.
               38. (42) Travis Kvapil, Chevrolet, 256, $84465.
               39. (6) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, Accident, 244, $115456.
               40. (35) Michael Annett #, Chevrolet, 233, $76465.
               41. (23) Aric Almirola, Ford, Engine, 230, $109401.
               42. (31) Ryan Truex #, Toyota, Brakes, 184, $68465.
               43. (40) Mike Bliss(i), Chevrolet, Vibration, 13, $64965.

- See more at:

Ford’s amazing new tech: Park your car from outside the car


Ford can now park cars in spaces so tight you couldn’t get out of the door even if you could get the car in the space. The Fully Assisted Parking Aid for backing into perpendicular and angled parking spaces was demonstrated this week in Belgium, along with Obstacle Avoidance technology that deals with slow cars and slower pedestrians in front of you, by braking or steering around them.

Others have demonstrated these technologies before and even shipped some of thetech — particularly the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and E-Class sedans — but with Ford in the game, these technologies are likely to be affordable as well as available.

Push-button parking

The Full Assisted Parking Aid (FAPA?) is a follow-on to Ford’s Active Parking Assist (also FAPA?) for automated parallel parking, done with the driver in the car. As with APA, FAPA uses ultrasonic sensors to scan for an open parking space at speeds as high as 19 mph (30 kph). When the car finds a suitable spot it alerts the driver, who can stay in the car or get out and use a remote to finish the parking job. The car then backs itself in to the parking space.

The car would automatically switch gears, accelerate, steer, and brake. The driver’s function is to keep his or her finger on the button during the maneuver. It wasn’t clear if the car can also park head-first; some communities in the US require head-in parking.

Cars have gotten 16% wider, on average, in the past 25 years, Ford says. Also, people buy bigger cars as they move on in life. Typical parking spaces are 7.5-9.0 feet wide in the US (the typical garage door is 8.0 feet wide). So it’s not just your imagination: it is harder to park your current Dodge Durango than the rust-streaked Toyota Corolla you had just after college. Fully assisted parking also would benefit people with big cars in old houses with tiny garages. That’s especially important in Europe and Asia. Even in the US, the garage may be big inside but a car with its mirrors extended may have less than five inches of clearance on either side of the garage door frame.

Obstacle Avoidance

The other technology unveiled by Ford is Obstacle Avoidance. Sensors direct the steering and brakes to avoid hitting cars and people that are stopped or slowed in the lane ahead. The system first warns the driver with a chime (if there’s time) and if there’s no response from the driver, it assumes control momentarily, scans the roadway for gaps to the left or right of the hazard, and either brakes or moves the car to the side. Ford says a third of drivers who sense a rear-end collision coming don’t take evasive action.


Obstacle Avoidance uses multiple sensors: three radar units, ultrasonic sensors, and a camera to scan as far out as 660 feet (200 meters, or three football fields). Ford’s projectwas part of a European research project comprising 29 groups, called Accident Avoidance by Active Intervention of Intelligent Vehicles.

Ford already has some other forms of active safety including Active City Stop — what others called city safety — to scan the road and prevent low-speed collisions. Ford also has Lane Keeping Aid (lane departure warning or lane keep assist) to steer the car back into lane if the driver drifts off. A half-dozen automakers offer semi-automated parallel parking, including Audi, BMW, Ford, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Volvo, Ford, Kia, and Volkswagen. Outside the US, Volkswagen offers perpendicular self-parking and others have shown prototypes. Virtually any automaker could do automated parallel parking since the underlying components can be sourced from third parties.

Ford didn’t say how soon the two technologies will come to market. We estimate it would be within the year. Ford sees itself as the leader in democratizing technology, or bringing technologies down in price so almost everyone can afford them. Active Parking Assist, for instance, is already on cars as small as the compact Ford Focus.

All-New 2015 Ford Mustang Begins Production at Flat Rock Assembly Plant; Marks Global Availability of Iconic Pony Car

mustang production begins flatrock assembly
  • 2015 Mustang starts production at Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant; car to be exported globally for the first time in its 50-year history
  • New Mustang goes on sale this fall in the United States, and in more than 120 countries next year
  • Mustang sets new performance and dynamics benchmarks for the brand with world-class handling, more precise steering control and enhanced ride comfort

FLATROCK, MICH., Aug. 28, 2014 - The highly anticipated, all-new Ford Mustang rolls off the line today at Flat Rock Assembly Plant, marking production of the sixth-generation pony car. For the first time in its 50-year history, Mustang will be available globally to customers in more than 120 countries around the world.

The addition of a right-hand-drive Mustang to Ford’s global vehicle lineup will allow the iconic pony car to be exported to more than 25 right-hand-drive markets around the world, including the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa.

“Mustang is and will continue to be an automotive icon,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of The Americas. “Expanding its availability globally affords our customers around the world the opportunity to have a true firsthand Mustang experience – one unlike any other.”

In April, Ford celebrated the 50th anniversary of the original Mustang. In commemoration of this, each 2015 model will be adorned with a badge on the instrument panel that includes the galloping pony logo and the words “Mustang – Since 1964.”

Mustang’s impact goes well beyond the more than 9.2 million cars sold in its 50 years of continuous production. It has made thousands of appearances in film, television, music and video games, and is the most-liked vehicle on Facebook, with close to 8 million likes.

An enhanced experience, but still a true Mustang

The way Mustang looks, drives and sounds is key to the visceral experience that makes drivers want to get in and hit the open road. The clean-sheet design of both Mustang fastback and convertible evokes the essential character of the brand, retaining key design elements – including the long sculpted hood and short rear deck – in a contemporary execution.

mustang outside flatrock assembly plant

With more options to choose from, there is a Mustang to fit any lifestyle. The upgraded V8 is joined by a 3.7-liter V6 and an all-new 2.3-liter EcoBoost® engine that brings state-of-the-art technology to Mustang.

Mustang GT continues with the latest edition of the throaty 5.0-liter V8 – now featuring upgraded valvetrain, new intake manifold and improved cylinder heads – that yields 435 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque.

The Mustang 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine uses direct injection, variable cam timing and a twin-scroll turbocharger to deliver the performance Mustang drivers expect with an output of 310 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque.

With Mustang, it’s all in the ride

When life throws drivers a curve, the all-new Mustang sets new handling benchmarks for the brand, delivering world-class dynamics and ride quality.

mustang assembly at flatrock plant

Mustang features all-new front and rear suspension systems. At the front, a new perimeter subframe helps to stiffen the structure while reducing mass, providing a better foundation for more predictable wheel control that benefits handling, steering and ride.

At the rear is an all-new integral-link independent suspension. Geometry, springs, dampers and bushings are all specially tuned for this high-performance application. New aluminum rear knuckles help reduce unsprung mass for improved ride and handling.

Transformed Flat Rock Assembly Plant

In 2013, nine years after moving Mustang production there, Flat Rock Assembly Plant celebrated the 1 millionth Mustang built at the facility.

ford mustang engine assembly flatrock plant

“What an honor it is for the hardworking and dedicated UAW Local 3000 workers of Flat Rock Assembly Plant to build the next-generation Mustang,” said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles. “I don’t think there is any place in the world where this vehicle is not known. To build it right here in Michigan is something to be proud of.”

In the last year, the plant has been transformed. As part of a $555 million investment, it has added a state-of-the-art, fully flexible body shop to allow multiple models to be produced on the same line, supporting Ford’s flexible manufacturing efforts. Other technologies recently incorporated at Flat Rock include three-wet paint processdirt detection and laser brazing.

In addition to Mustang, Flat Rock Assembly Plant also produces Ford Fusion. The facility has approximately 3,000 employees working two shifts at full line speed.

Flat Rock Assembly Plant has been producing vehicles since 1987, when it opened as Mazda Motor Manufacturing USA and built Mazda MX-6. Ford purchased a 50 percent share in the facility in 1992, and it was renamed AutoAlliance International. Over the years, the plant has produced Mazda 626, Mazda6, Mercury Cougar and Ford Probe.

Ford Fusion, Escape Post Best August Sales Ever; Explorer Achieves Best August Performance Since 2004

• Ford Fusion has best August ever; year-to-date sales best since its launch in 2005

• Ford Escape posts record for August and for year-to-date sales

• Ford Explorer achieves its best August sales results since 2004

• Ford F-Series posts sixth consecutive month above 60,000

• Ford Motor Company U.S. sales of 222,174 vehicles for August, up slightly – providing best August sales in eight years

Ford Motor Company U.S. sales totaled 222,174 vehicles
in August, up 0.4 percent from a year ago and the best August sales in eight years. Retail sales
of 178,800 vehicles increased 2 percent, while fleet sales of 43,374 vehicles declined 6 percent.
“Both Fusion and Escape set records in August, each continuing on a strong pace toward 2014
being a best-ever sales year,” said John Felice, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and
Service. “It also was another solid month for F-Series, which again topped 60,000 sales and
maintained its lead as the best-selling pickup in the U.S.”

Fusion’s best-ever August sales totaled 29,452 vehicles – an increase of 19 percent. Retail sales
for the month were up 23 percent. Fusion posted retail sales gains in every region, with the car’s
largest increase coming from the West – up 27 percent.

Escape sales of 28,996 vehicles were up 9 percent, while retail sales of Escape were up 23
percent. This provides Escape with record August sales for both total and retail sales.
Explorer sales surged 25 percent for the best August since 2004, with 17,748 vehicles sold.
Explorer is on pace to be America’s best-selling midsize utility for a fourth straight year.
F-Series monthly sales totaled 68,109 vehicles. This marks the sixth consecutive month above
the 60,000 vehicle threshold.

Inventory and sales continue to build steadily for Lincoln MKC, with 1,760 vehicles sold in
August. Dealers are nearing full stock of the all-new small premium utility, which coincides with
the kickoff of the luxury brand’s new national advertising campaign. Lincoln sales are up
13 percent year-to-date through August – a pace expected to increase the rest of the year.

Ford Mustang Likely to Adopt 10-Speed Auto in the Future

As we speak, Ford and General Motors are working on an advanced 10-speed automatic transmission with each other. Set to debut on models like large Ford pickup trucks and future Lincoln models, there is also a possibility that the Ford Mustang will be offered with this engine in the future.

Beyond the possibility of the latest generation Mustang receiving this new gearbox, there is absolutely no further information about it available. That includes when the 10-speed ‘box could launch and when the Mustang could eventually adopt it.

The 2015 Ford Mustang is currently available with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. The 10-speed would replace the current six-speed auto and inevitably provide quite considerable fuel efficiency improvements.

Ford testing right-hand drive Mustang

right-hand drive Mustang

Ford is building and testing right-hand drive Mustangs for other markets.PHOTO BY FORD


DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. has begun testing the first prototype of the right-hand-drive Mustang pony car.

Ford said today its engineers recently finished building the handmade prototype, which will be used in various developmental tests in coming months.

The redesigned 2015 Mustang was developed to sell more widely in global markets for the first time. Ford plans to market right-hand-drive Mustangs in 25 markets including the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa.

Until now, the Mustang has been a left-hand-drive vehicle only, designed and manufactured primarily to sell in its home North American market.

The first right-hand-drive Mustangs will go on sale sometime in the first half of next year after the home-market launch this fall. All Mustangs will be made in Ford’s Flat Rock, Mich., assembly plant.

2015 Ford Mustang engine suspension and brake tech specs

The right-hand-drive version is part of Ford’s effort to globalize its iconic pony car. Ford now will sell the Mustang in more than 120 countries, including 56 new left-hand-drive markets and 25 right-hand-drive countries.

Mustangs have been sold in small numbers outside the U.S. since the car debuted in 1964 — about 161,000 cars in total. But the only right-hand-drive versions were created by do-it-yourself enthusiasts using often-expensive conversion kits.

Ford says about 4,000 Mustangs were sold in 35 countries outside North America last year including the United Arab Emirates, Chile and the Philippines.

For the 50th anniversary of its launch, Ford redesigned the Mustang with features that would make it more appealing to customers around the world. Among those are an independent rear suspension and a 2.3-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine.

What driving a car will be like 25 years from now

In the next 25 years, what it means to build, own, or simply drive a car will have fundamentally changed. This will become a matter of necessity and the result of innovation.

Bill Ford Jr.

Andy Kropa| Getty Images
Bill Ford Jr.

When Henry Ford founded the company bearing his name in 1903, he saw the car as a means of providing freedom of mobility to people around the world. But over a hundred years later, a number of emerging trends threaten that promise of freedom.

We already see it happening. Long commutes and traffic jams once associated with older, established cities such as London, New York or Tokyo are spreading throughout the world’s emerging economies. What became known as the “longest traffic jam ever” — a nearly two-week, 60-plus mile gridlock — took place a few years ago, not in a huge Western metropolis, but in the northern China province of Hebei.

As the world’s population grows and prosperity expands, the number of vehicles on the road could double to two billion or more by 2050. At the same time, it is expected that more than 50 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities. That means more congestion, longer commutes and a growing thirst for fuel, unless we act now.

With these trends, it is clear that our current approach to transportation is not sustainable. What is required is an approach that sees the car not as an individual vehicle, but as part of a broader transportation network. Cars in the future must become smarter and fully integrated into the transportation ecosystem.

Cars will talk to each other and the world around them to make driving both safer and more efficient. “Vehicle-to-vehicle” and “vehicle-to-infrastructure” connectivity will become commonplace. Manufacturers will collaborate with traffic experts and city planners so that real-time vehicle data can improve the entire transportation network by managing energy consumption and identify and solving issues as they are developing.

Connectivity will become the backbone of transportation system. The most profound changes may come from the development of a truly intelligent car — vehicles with increasing levels of knowledge about the driver and driving conditions, from the road itself to traffic patterns to even the weather. A vehicle equipped with these features will be able to use that information to provide drivers a level of assistance, convenience and safety far beyond current expectations.

As these innovations take hold, the automobile manufacturer will become more of a personal mobility company, constantly innovating how vehicles interact with the world around them. We are seeing the first signs of this transformation right now, in car features such as wireless connectivity, limited autonomous driving and parking assistance.

With more cars on the road, energy consumption and C02 emissions will drive demand for even more efficiencies and change how cars are made. The use of aluminum, high-strength steel and even carbon fiber, currently found in race cars and million dollar exotic vehicles, will find their way into mainstream production. These new materials will complement efforts to develop even cleaner powertrains. Some experts see this one area alone as a $130 billion opportunity for the automotive industry. It is a future of both challenge and opportunity.

What society once called vehicle “ownership” will be redefined as vehicle “access.” Programs such as Lyft, Uber and Zipcar already are enabling alternative ways to get from Point A to Point B. Combine software (an app) with hardware (a vehicle) and you quickly expand the transportation options available to customers.

Finally, the act of driving itself will change. “Autonomous driving,” vehicles that drive themselves, will be commonly used in certain situations. As the technology is developed, autonomous driving could provide driving opportunities for the physically challenged or enable the elderly to continue driving longer. This will be vital as many nations experience an aging population.

Across the entire industry, the past 25 years have seen tremendous innovation in areas such as engine performance, fuel economy and safety features. The decades to come, however, will see an even greater transformation of our industry in these areas, as well as in connectivity and transportation management. If we embrace both the need and opportunity to change, we will ensure that my great-grandfather’s vision of opening the highways for all mankind remains alive and well for generations to come.