Thursday, June 18, 2009

The real reason the 05 and forward Mustang doesn't have an IRS, let's do away with the lies and excuses

Since the earliest days of MyFordDreams one of my biggest criticisms of Ford has been the lack of an Independent Rear Suspension when they redesisgned for model year 2005. After all the Mustang was designed down from the latest rear wheel drive chassis Ford had at the time, and that was the Lincoln LS and Ford Thunderbird chassis and both of those cars had IRS. But it's misleading to say that the Mustang was based on these two cars, it was engineered down from them, sharing mostly the front part of the chassis. Excuses at the time, that continue to this day are that in order to keep the Mustang at a profitable pricepoint it was decided to leave out the IRS. And when the Mustang was the only real Pony car available in 2005 you could almost buy that. But let's clear some of the bullshit away ok?
Many have argued that the complexity and weight of the IRS were too much for the Mustang's "low" price of entry. But if that's true, how can Chrysler afford to have an IRS on the 300/Magnum/Charger/Challenger chassis? Well, they did inherit that from Mercedes previous generation E-Class, so the development costs were less. How about the new Camaro? That has a new chassis, with IRS and the price jump over the Mustang isn't extreme. And let's not forget Hyundai's new Genesis Coupe, that matches Mustang's pricepoint and power, but does so with an IRS.

As I mentioned in my last post, some have argued that the Mustang had an IRS offered in 1999 and 2000 SVT Cobra models, but owners took them out to save weight and increase strenght for drag racing. While that may fool some folks, that's part of the bullshit I want to clear the air on.
Firstly, the Cobra was a limited production model and yes owners of the SVT Cobra may want to take those beasts drag racing. But Corvettes race, Chargers and Magnums, maybe even 300Cs? You can bet your ass that Camaro owners will bring their new cars to the track. And all of those have IRS. And if you're modifying a car for strictly track duty, you're more than likely back halfing the chassis or doing a full tube chassis anyway. No my friends, that's just bullshit.
Ford Motor Company wasn't responding to pressure from devoted Pony Car customers who wanted to go racing.



They were responding to the customers who made the 2005 Mustang the hit it was.
Don't fool yourself or try and lie to me. It was rental fleets that bought the vast majority of 2005 and 2006 Mustangs. And it was for that reason the Mustang didn't get an IRS. The rental companies wanted to keep it simple, because they knew they'd have to service and repair the cars. As P.J. O'Rourke said in Driving Like Crazy, the best car for driving fast is a Rental car.
And one of the ways to keep those rental cars profitable, is to keep them simple, keep them mediocre. Keep a live axle under the Mustang for the Rental fleets, not he enthusiasts.
In 2006 and 2007 there were a flood of "Program" Mustangs on Ford dealer lots, because they'd all done their first year in Rental fleets. And let's face it, that boosted Mustang sales in a big way. If I recall Ford sold 190,000 Mustangs in 2005, more than they anticipated. And how many of them do you want to guess went to Florida, Las Vegas, Southern California rental fleets?


But now Ford has pledged as part of the Way Forward to cut the umbilical cord of Fleet Sales, because they know that it's not good for their image. Who wants to buy a Rental car?
Of course you have to keep the live axle if you're selling to rental fleets at discounted prices and then force feeding your dealer network those rental rejects a year later.
But let's assume Ford wants to truly be competative with the Mustang. They'll need that IRS and we'll end up paying a couple of thousand dollars more for the car as a result. But they'll make more profit per unit and improve their global image. Who hasn't seen Top Gear's reviews of the Mustangs over the last few years and heard Hammond, May and Clarkson refer to the Mustangs chassis as being like a Conastoga Wagon?
An IRS will add weight to the car, complexity and cost, but it will also make the car more sure footed and safer on choppy roads. Take this from a former Mustang owner, who's had his Mustang up to 130 mph on public highways in dry weather, but gotten passed by Honda Civics in bad weather and on twisty parkways with rough pavement.
No more lies, no more excuses, no more bullshit. Let's tell it how it is. And let's get an IRS under that Pony soon
Update, Motor Trend has similar piece, that has more information;
I know Jeff at http://www.drivingenthusiasts.net/ has a clearer point of view on this and if I'm not mistaken has written on it in the past. He may also be able to clear up some of my mistakes.

Jeff's blog post! I can always count on Jeff at drivingenthusiasts.net to clear up any mistakes I make on this subject. Jeff's knowledge is encyclopedic.

1 comment:

Cat said...

Joe is "right on" - I agree with everything he says. And I've written up more on the IRS topic - a whole lot more: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-blog/2009/06/18.html#a2692

-Jeff
DrivingEnthusiast.net