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When Ford launched it’s all-new retro-inspired Mustang in 2005, the car received plenty of improvements, but according to a recent report in Motor Trend it could have been even better. The chassis, the S197, was originally scheduled to have a fully-independent rear end which would have provided superior performance and comfort, but that plan was scrapped late in development so Ford could save $100 a car.
When the car was first introduced in 2004 the automotive press (and enthusiasts) almost assumed that Ford would do away with the live rear axle in favor of the more modern independent setup and when that never happened questions were asked. Back then we were all told that it would have cost Ford thousands to go this route.
Now, that story appears to be exaggerated. Originally the S197 chassis Mustang was supposed to get a fully-independent setup that was to be shared with the Ford Falcon in Australia. The problems with that setup stemmed from the very different purposes that both cars were designed for, with the Mustang needing just two seats and not much rear space, while the Falcon needed three seats and usable passenger room. Eventually the engineering teams in both Australia and the U.S. came up with their own separate designs.
That U.S. plan for an independent rear-end was, however, scrapped when project boss Phil Martens convinced Ford execs that the company could save $100 per car if they went with a solid rear axle. And so the retro looking Stang got a genuinely old school piece of equipment out back.
The Motor Trend report also points out the eventual irony of the decision to stick with old technology, claiming that it actually ended up costing Ford $98 extra per vehicle due to all the engineering required to make the setup livable by modern standards.