“Thou shall never do a slantback front end.” That was the commandment from Gene Bordinat, Ford’s vice president of design, “Henry Ford II only wants vertical front ends, and he’ll show us the door if we ever try anything like it.”
This mantra hung over the early development of the third-generation of Ford’s wildly successful Mustang. In 1975 Ford designers began the job of redesigning the iconic pony car for the coming 1980s. The car and country had been through a roller coaster 20-year period and both were in something of an identity crisis.
What defined a Mustang? Compact value and efficiency? A luxurious personal tourer? A muscle-bound performance bargain?
Two teams of designers in Dearborn and a third from the Ford-owned Ghia studio in Italy began competing for the privilege of crafting an all-new Mustang. By the fall of 1975, full scale sketches and clay models were being turned out and refined.
From the outset the only thing that was certain was that the finished product would be a very different sort of steed from Mustang II. That car had been a response to growing concerns in the late-1960s about fuel economy, creeping vehicle size, and safety.