1963 Ford F-100 Custom on 2040-cars
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Auto blogMon, 17 Nov 2014
If there's one thing you can count on, it's that the renewed rivalry between the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro will never, ever cease. For every version of Ford's pony car, there's an equally potent Chevrolet. And so with the debut of the Camaro Z/28 earlier this year, Ford has responded with a track-focused 'Stang of its own, resurrecting the Shelby GT350 name.
It looks to be a fine piece of work, this Mustang, with power coming from a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V8 that will produce "more than 500 horsepower" and "above 400" pound-feet of torque. That grunt runs to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission, and a Torsen limited-slip differential keeps everything in line.
But that's hardly the most impressive piece of the GT350 puzzle. Ford has increased the Mustang GT's chassis stiffness for duty here in the Shelby, and the coupe employs MagneRide damping which automatically adjusts based on road conditions and driver inputs. It's a first both for the Blue Oval and for the segment. And speaking of firsts, the GT350 uses a flat-plane crankshaft - something Ford has never included in a production V8 before.
It's taken four years of study, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has finally closed the books on its investigation into rollaway accusations surrounding 1.56-million Ford SUV models.
The probe, which centered on the 2002-2005 Ford Explorer, 2002-2005 Mercury Mountaineer and 2003-2005 Lincoln Aviator, ends without the federal agency calling for a recall. According to The Detroit News, the investigation was closed due to a "low number of complaints" - NHTSA documented 180 such complaints that resulted in 14 crashes and six minor injuries, but the number of incidents have been slowing. The suspected defect rate for the trucks' automatic transmissions was found to be 4.4 per 100,000 units, and the brake-shift interlock mechanism failure rate was judged to be even lower at 3.4 per 100k.
Here's the thing about China: The folks buying cars there have a very different set of standards than shoppers in many other markets around the globe. While we all drool over hot metal with bold designs, and while we appreciate automakers going an extra step to inject even their cheapest offerings with aggressive and interesting cues, that sort of sheetmetal sex appeal doesn't always sell in the People's Republic. Case in point is Jaguar, which may be designing a more traditional-looking version of its XJ for the Chinese market, or more to the point of this story, Ford currently sells the less-exciting, last-generation Focus compact in China right alongside the new one.
So consider this new Shanghai-bound C-segment concept a preview of what's to come for that more traditional, budget-minded, less-sexy market. More proof of this pudding: Ford's even calling this concept the Escort - a nod to the Blue Oval's compact car days of yore, and a name that stirs up thoughts of basic, affordable transportation rather than great driving dynamics or bold design. "Customers in China described seeking a vehicle that is stylish - but not one that is arrogant or pretentious," Ford states. And this new Escort concept previews a possibility of providing exactly that for this rapidly expanding automotive market.
What you're looking at, then, is one of the most simple Ford designs we've seen of late, though it still incorporates all of the automaker's latest DNA. The signature hexagonal grille is front and center, flanked by attractive LED headlamps and chrome-rimmed foglamp housings. The entire car's design focuses on clean, smooth surfaces, with one strong character line flowing from front to back just below the beltline. We will say that the car looks decidedly more premium from the rear view, where narrow, horizontal taillamps with an LED accent give the car added visual width. Bland as it may be, it's a handsome little concept, though fear what would likely happen if all of the conceptual details get dumbed down for a production model.